Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Hannah Burnett looks to lead Massachusetts women’s lacrosse on and off the field during final season

The redshirt senior must set a precedent in her final season

By Dan McGee, Collegian Staff

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The example set forth by redshirt senior and attacker Hannah Burnett may largely determine the success of the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team this season, as they aim to further last year’s success of making the NCAA Division I tournament.

Scoring a team-high 62 goals last season—along with 14 assists—allowed Burnett to place second on the team in points with 76, earning her first team Atlantic 10 All Conference honors. However, Burnett and coach Angela McMahon know the senior’s importance to the team goes beyond what she does on the field.

“It’s two-fold,” said McMahon. “It’s what she does on the field. She’s a great scorer, she can catch and finish in tight, high pressure situations in front of the cage. But she is just one of the best leaders that we’ve had out there. We’re really fortunate, of course with this being her fifth year, I think she has a really different and unique perspective as she gets older to what it all means. She’s been a valuable member of the team both on and off the field. She’s someone I and the team look to to keep the team together.”

Burnett, who transferred from the University of Florida before her sophomore year, is embracing her role as a leader. Being a redshirt senior has granted Burnett an extra year of playing eligibility, but perhaps more importantly it’s given her another year to earn experience as a person and as a leader. This type of experience may play an important role as the Minutewomen carry 13 freshmen this season.

“I think it’s kind of nice being a redshirt,” said Burnett. “I’ve had a lot of experience and I think that experience has helped me developed into a leader because, being a transfer, I’ve kind of seen both sides of the spectrum. I think that all my experiences from my freshman year until this fifth year have kind of molded me and help me become a leader.”

After scoring six goals in the season opener against Dartmouth, Burnett hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down on the field. The redshirt senior’s play energized the Minutewomen to the 17-13 victory over the Big Green.

Though Burnett has played for top-tier teams in the past, she doesn’t take things too seriously. A member of UMass teams that have made the NCAA Division I tournament the past two years, and have lost only six games in that span, Burnett’s big advice to her teammates: have fun.

“I think the main thing is just to have fun,” Burnett said. “We were kind of just preaching that before the game. Don’t let the moment get too big. It’s lacrosse, we’ve been doing it our whole lives. Just go out there, have fun, relax and just do your best.”

Getting to know the UMass roster, it becomes easy to understand the sort of fun, family-esque culture Burnett was molded by.

Her teammate, senior Ashley Faulhaber, was nearly unanimously voted as “most likely to appear on The Bachelor” and “best dancer” by the team for her lively personality. When asked, Burnett and multiple other players such as senior Kristen Lomanto cited their favorite thing about UMass lacrosse is the “family atmosphere.” Growing and developing with players like Faulhaber and Lomanto has shaped Burnett into the fun-spirited leader she is. She’ll look to help instill that spirit into the profusion of youth on the UMass roster.

“She leads in such a positive way,” McMahon said. “But she also has that credibility to hold people accountable. It’s just that sort of dual threat as both a person and as a leader that we’re so fortunate and lucky to have her on our team right now.”

McMahon also cites seniors Lomanto, Alex Flobeck and Kasey Keane as players that must step up as leaders this season, especially after losing a plethora of players in the midfield and on defense.

But Burnett and McMahon know that having fun won’t get in the way of their expectations this season. After tallying 128 wins over the past seven years, second-most behind only Maryland, the Minutewomen are still taking things one game at a time.

“As a team, obviously we are chasing our 10th consecutive [A-10] championship so that’s big for us,” said Burnett. “We want to take it game by game and just continue to win and win on our own field. As a whole we just want to keep improving.”

Though the expectations may seem as high as ever for the Minutewomen this season, Burnett is keeping her example as a leader as simple as ever. She’s just having fun with it.

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.

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