Drama was aplenty in the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse final home game of the season Sunday, as UMass (13-3, 8-0 Atlantic-10) beat George Mason 18-17 at Garber Field in a back-and-forth battle.
Redshirt junior Hannah Burnett tied her career-high and the Minutewomen record in goals with eight, senior Hannah Murphy set a single-season record with 155 draw controls (15 on the day) and senior Sarah Crowley also set a single-season program record with 40 caused turnovers (three on the afternoon).
Suffice to say, the best players for UMass stepped up against a Patriots team (10-6, 7-2 A-10) that almost ended the Minutewomen’s conference unbeaten streak, which now stretches to 53 consecutive wins.
“I think any win is valuable,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “There’s learning lessons in all of it, but to come from behind and score that many goals I think is great. Our team has a lot of heart and they exhibited that in this situation.”
The Minutewomen had to fight back after a falling into a deep hole to start the game. George Mason put five goals on the board in what seemed like a blink of an eye and UMass looked flustered.
“It’s easy to give up and they kept fighting on all fronts, all areas of the field just fought, fought our way back,” McMahon said.
Burnett ended the Patriots early push when she scored her first of eight at 21:50. Burnett and junior Holly Turner would add additional goals to make it 5-3 just over 10 minutes in.
“I think once we were able to get a couple of goals and get our run going that did help settle us down, because that’s where we thrive on, when we’re in tight, pressure situations,” Burnett said.
“You never know what you can face, and playing a high-pressure game like this it teaches you to work well under pressure and I think it’s good that we experienced that,” Murphy added. “I think we have a lot of cleaning up to do, but we showed our heart and our fight so that’s exciting.”
Shots favored the Minutewomen, who put 24 shots to the George Mason cage in the opening 30 minutes, but Patriot freshman goalkeeper Melissa Semkiw turned 10 aside in what was an impressive performance, finishing with 19 total saves.
Burnett, Turner and senior Hannah Murphy potted one each before the half to tie the game at six, but George Mason scored three unanswered goals prior to make it 9-6 at the conclusion of the half.
Goals weren’t coming easily for UMass in the first frame because of Semkiw’s athletic play, yet the Minutewomen adjusted and found success going low in the second stanza.
“She was making some really good saves on us up high so we talked about it at halftime that we had to start shooting low,” Burnett said. “We made that adjustment and we were able to get some goals in the second half.”
UMass didn’t lead in the contest until 12:56 of the second half and after a couple goals from the Patriots, the Minutewomen scored four straight, proving to be just enough of a cushion with George Mason scoring two more to bring the final to 18-17.
The Minutewomen threw 50 shots (37 on goal), corralled 22 draw controls and recorded 12 caused turnovers in the heart-pounding win.
“I think the intensity of it and the tight moments that we’re seeing, I think that definitely will pay us dividends moving forward,” McMahon said. “We also have to be ready to clean some things up. We can’t be giving up that many goals. I think we have to put ourselves in a better situation to make more holds, so we’re going to work on that moving forward.”
Minutewomen Roll Past George Washington
On Friday, UMass earned a gutsy 19-9 victory over the Colonials on a rainy afternoon in Amherst.
Holly Turner catapulted the Minutewomen to the win, compiling a career-best nine points (three goals, six assists) in the contest.
George Washington scored the first goal of the contest but UMass responded with seven straight goals, and 13 in the first half, to cement a lead that the Minutewomen would not relinquish.
Burnett and senior Callie Santos each had four goals for UMass, good for most on the team, redshirt sophomore Kiley Anderson netted three and junior Ashley Faulhaber added two.
Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Hiller had a light workload, making only four saves in 52 minutes. Sophomore Aileen Kelly finished the final eight minutes making two saves.
Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.