Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse using unity and leadership to give them edge in close games

Intensity and passion fuel confidence going into Ohio State matchup

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(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

(Caroline O'Connor/ Daily Collegian)

By Justin Ekstrom, Collegian Staff

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When Holly Turner scored the game-winner with seconds to play in the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team’s 12-11 overtime win against Connecticut last Saturday, she showed once again how vital she is to the Minutewomen’s success.

Early in the season, coach Angela McMahon spoke of her hope for new leaders to emerge and for experienced players to step up their game, as Turner has done.

“I think our experience on attack gave us the extra push,” said Kiley Anderson on Saturday’s game. “When we were tied with 25 seconds, no one was freaking out. We knew that we were going to get the ball, we were going to transition it and then [Turner] was able to finish it…We had a lot of confidence going into it.”

As a team, UMass exudes confidence before, during and after its games. Its confidence stems from constantly executing in tough situations to the point where experienced players have a sense of familiarity, and new players believe in the team to make plays happen.

Despite training diligently every week, the players are always quick to emphasize the fun they have together, which speaks to the unity of the group. In fact, one unique aspect of this team is the extent of trust they put in each other.

“Everyone has the mentality that we are going to win the game — that there’s nothing in our way,” said Turner. “That confidence really helps everyone on all sides of the field be able to make that big play or finish a big shot. I trust everyone on the team to be able to do that.”

The senior class is well represented on the field this year for UMass, all having different titles and responsibilities, making it easier for the 13 freshman to merge into the program.

The seniors provide the base of leadership for the team, but the name everyone instinctively looks to when it’s crunch time is Hannah Burnett.

“I think Hannah Burnett is a calming force on the field, especially when it is a high intensity game. She is someone I look to,” said Anderson.

Burnett has filled up the stat sheet so far this year, racking up 15 goals and 17 points in only five games.

The Minutewomen have not started the season on an incredibly dominant run, but that does not get in their heads.

“Our intensity and passion on the field [allow us to keep morale up],” said Anderson. “We have the mentality that if we do the little things, it’s going to play into the big picture — the win.”

UMass is now 3-2 on the season and will face Ohio State (1-3) this Sunday. The Buckeyes’ only victory came in their 20-5 win over Detroit Mercy with 11 different players tallying a goal.

Knowing Ohio State will not fall without a full 60 minutes of strenuous play, this week is an ideal time for the Minutewomen’s top players to lead them into basttle.

Turner put their approach to Ohio State simply: “Just kind of go play-by-play. One at a time.”

Justin Ekstrom can be reached at [email protected] or followed @JustinJEkstrom on Twitter.

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