Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse set for season opener against Dartmouth

After losing key draw specialist, UMass looks to collectively fill gap

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Ryan Beaton, Collegian Correspondent

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Entering her seventh season as coach of the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team, Angela McMahon looks to lead her team to its 10th straight Atlantic 10 title. That journey begins Saturday with Dartmouth at home.

Dartmouth, a member of the Ivy League will try to make waves early in the season, scheduling a competitively ranked UMass team.

“[We’ll need to execute] ball possession and some of those loose balls—the 50/50 ones—we’ve got to make sure end up ours,” McMahon said. “That’s a key thing for us right now. We have to put ourselves in an advantage to come up with every single one of those balls because, obviously, you need the ball to score. As much as we can have ball control, I like our chances.”

No. 20 UMass looks to continue its impressive reign atop the A-10 despite losing some key players. After losing senior draw specialist Hannah Murphy, the Minutewomen will fill her absence by focusing more on team aspects when it comes to draw controls.

“With Hannah, we could just rely on her to make a great play on her own, but now we are really homing in on [the need for] all three people around the circle to do their job,” said McMahon. We have some veteran players right now between Abby Walker and Kiley Anderson that have really stepped up in developing younger players like Caitlyn Petro. Between them, we have a lot of different looks, both physically and capability wise, so it will be a little bit of a committee.”

Murphy, an Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association All-American, holds the team record for draw controls, with 310.

“We’ve got a good crew of people that have been putting a lot of time and effort into the draws,” said McMahon. “A couple of those people really benefited from going against [Hannah] in practice. I feel good about our draw game and I think the focus point we’ve been putting on is that it’s not just one person, we have a few people around the circle. We’ve taken a heightened sense of importance to those other people’s jobs.”

The Minutewomen boast an impressive 24-1 record when playing at home over the past three seasons.

“I think it’s just the pride in the program and the pride in UMass,” McMahon said about home field advantage. “Especially, when we’re at home, we always have such good energy, so we’re looking to bring that energy, but also have a poised confidence about ourselves to really take care of the ball. We have to make sure we don’t get too excited out there. The energy our players bring, on the field or off, really carry us through some of those home games.

Coach McMahon holds high expectations for her players, especially when it comes to playing at Garber Field.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing our program, our alumni, and all the people who have worked so hard to make our program successful [justice, so] that we’re going out there and really playing the best we possibly can when we’re at home,” McMahon said.

Dartmouth will be the first of eight non-conference games that the Minutewomen will play before league play begins.

UMass won all nine conference games last season, adding to their impressive streak of seven straight undefeated seasons in the A-10.

After Dartmouth, the Minutewomen will be on the road for six straight games, not playing again at home until a contest vs. Harvard on March 21.

Saturday’s game against Dartmouth at Garber Field is set to start at 1 p.m.

Ryan Beaton can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @Ry_Beaton.

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