Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse to carry sizable group of midfielders this season

NCAA rule changes contribute to shape of team

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Beaton, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will carry an abundance of midfielders this spring going into the 2018 regular season. The Minutewomen will boast an extensive roster featuring a total of 36 players.

Head coach Angela McMahon announced the addition of two new coaches, Jana Drummond (Marist College) and Zoe Ochoa (Boston College), to help alleviate coaching responsibilities.

“We have three coaches including myself and a volunteer,” said McMahon on managing a large roster. “[Having that extra person] definitely helps on the days the volunteer coach can be there and do things.”

The UMass midfield squad will represent the majority of the team, with 15 players. 11 attackers, eight defensemen and two goaltenders rounding out the remaining players.

“The bulk of our larger population is in the midfield,” said McMahon. “We’ve taken a route similar to hockey—in lines and shifts—so having it segmented that way is good. We’ve got middies that can play on offense and middies that can play on defense. You need that many people in that position.”

The increase in roster size and depth at the midfield position comes after an NCAA rule change was made this past offseason.

The new rule change will primarily eliminate “major” and “minor” penalties in “free movement” as they will now be categorized as “delay fouls”. Offensive players will be allowed a “free movement” after penalty calls, enabling them to either take one step or pass from the spot of the foul before the defender is able to engage them.

“The speed of the game is going to be just that much greater,” McMahon said. “You’re full on sprinting at a high intensity for pretty much the whole time.”

Listed on NCAA.org in the “2018 and 2019 Women’s Lacrosse Rules Changes” manual, the rationale behind changing the rules is to “increase the pace of play … permit more consistency … and improve the safety of the game.”

“There’s a lot of new rules being implemented this year,” McMahon said. “In the past, we’d have to stop on every foul and you couldn’t move—now it’s free movement.”

With players likely to get fatigued quicker from high intensity sprinting due to rule changes, McMahon emphasizes strength in numbers. Being able to run multiple lines of midfielders this season will be beneficial to the Minutewomen, as this position requires a heavy load of in-game running.

“To have the bodies in the midfield, to be able to run through, is really helpful in carrying the workload,” McMahon said.

The Minutewomen’s bulk scoring came via committee last season as 246 of the 330 total team goals (74.5 percent) came from just five players: Hannah Burnett, Kiley Anderson, Hannah Murphy, Holly Turner and Callie Santos, each of whom had 40-plus goals on the season. Both Murphy and Anderson provided that scoring as midfielders, though Murphy has since graduated.

“I think the midfield depth—the amount of players—and the speed and skill they bring is a huge addition to our roster this spring,” said McMahon.

Anderson tallied four goals and an assist in Saturday’s season opener against Dartmouth College. Anderson, a redshirt junior, will be a veteran presence to lead the large midfield group.

“In the past, we’ve been a little thin in terms of quantity,” McMahon said of her midfielders. “Now, having those bodies is really going to help us in the transition game and [enable us to] have more than two solid units we can rotate through.”

UMass will look to capture a 10th straight Atlantic 10 title, as well as improve on last season’s overall record of 17-4.

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

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