Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Seniors lead strong charge against Duquesne for huge win

Seniors honored in last game at Garber Field

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Justin Ekstrom, Collegian Staff

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In a one-sided affair, Massachusetts (13-4, 8-1 Atlantic 10) came out on top 21-6 against Duquesne (4-12, 2-7 A10). A solid defensive stand built the base for an electric offense that was eager to score for a full 60 minutes. It was the seniors who, fittingly, led the charge in UMass’ final home game of the season.

The Saturday afternoon was full of excitement before the final results were even in, because it was Senior Day, which meant it was time to celebrate this year’s senior class with their family and friends.

Redshirt senior Hannah Burnett has been the heart and soul of this lacrosse team for several years now. Saturday was no different. She led the team in the first half by collecting a hat trick with more than six minutes left in the first, and even added one more in the second half.

“The past four years with [my senior teammates] has been unforgettable,” recalled Burnett, who scored 57 goals this year alone. “It’s been awesome…I’m glad we could connect and experience [Senior Day] today.”

Burnett is one of eight players who were honored at Garber Field. They will be remembered for their character, records and accomplishments, including making it to the Elite Eight of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The group also included Kristen LoManto, Abby Walker, Holly Turner, Ashley Faulhaber, Alex Flobeck, Kasey Keane, Bella O’Connor and junior Sam Walters, who will be graduating early.

Walters played the entire second half, where she went on to make several outstanding saves and played with an aggressive style. Only three shots found their way behind Walters as she solidified a strong regular season with a strong second half against the Dukes.

“She did great,” coach Angela McMahon said. “She saw the ball well, she was playing aggressive[ly] and she was working with her defenders around her really well. I’m really happy she had success.”

In front of Walters was a defense led by Alex Flobeck and Kristen LoManto. They were the key to the game’s dominance because of their ability to cause turnovers and minimize the number of opportunities for the Dukes. They were able to convert hard defense into quick transitions, even getting involved as goal scorers themselves.

LoManto scored her first career goal 13 minutes into the second half. It was a moment that captured the excitement and allure of Senior Day. As soon as LoManto put it behind Duquesne’s Emily McMinimee, her teammates on the field rushed to surround her.

“All season I’ve been trying to get a goal and I thought that since it was the last time on Garber Field I wanted to push myself,” LoManto said. “I pushed the fast break and it ended up being positive and I scored and I’m so excited about that. It felt unreal for it to happen on Senior Day and my whole family is here and just the sidelines where everyone was going crazy was awesome.”

Every senior has played exceptionally well this season, which has seen several special moments like LoManto’s. McMahon offered praise for the class.

“This is a great class, an amazing group and a lot of times you really need to spend a lot of time with leadership development, but these girls just had that,” McMahon said. “They came in with these amazing leadership qualities and just really carried this team in terms of steering them in the directions of where we wanted to go…This group of seniors is special. They have been great leaders and are a group that I do not have to worry about. They are like the extension of our coaching staff.”

Holly Turner ended her record-breaking season with a hat trick in style. Turner faked a pass as she went around the Dukes’ net, and launched a shot past the unsuspecting goaltender. It was the 20th goal of the day for the Minutewomen.

Her big day pushed her season points total past 80, another remarkable feat for last year’s A-10 offensive player of the year. Her absence from the roster next year will be highly noticeable. Turner scored 131 goals in her time at UMass and is currently second all-time in career points in the A-10.

Bella O’Connor is another senior who led by example this game and this whole season through her consistency and effort. Although not a regular goal scorer, O’Connor played in every single game this season and scored her fifth goal of the season to put UMass up 5-1 early in the game.

At the end of the game, each senior was honored in the middle of the field with their families. Their season and career accomplishments were noted and they enjoyed a beautiful day on Garber Field for one last time.

“Before the game, we came together and said this is our last time on Garber Field and it was just a surreal moment,” LoManto said.

It was another memorable and dominant regular season for the Minutewomen, which is why they still have the playoffs to look forward to.

The A-10 Championships kicks off May 4 in Richmond, Virginia. Massachusetts enters as the No. 1 seed.

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

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