Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse looks to maintain momentum against George Mason

The Minutewomen face the Patriots on Friday evening

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Emilia Beuger, Collegian Staff

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On Friday evening, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will take on George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia.

After a close contest last year, where the Minutewomen (9-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10) narrowly defeated the Patriots (9-3, 3-1 A-10) 18-17, the Minutewomen are ready to get on the road.

The match marks the beginning of a four-game road trip for the Minutewomen, which comes after playing three straight home games at Garber Field. The long road trip contains many key A-10 matchups, with games against top A-10 opponents, such as George Washington and Richmond.

“We knew it was coming and I think our non-conference schedule and being on the road definitely helped us at least for the upcoming road trips and having a lot of travel,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “But the returners are used to it. Every year it’s our conference schedule and every team is in the same boat because every team is playing that Friday-Sunday schedule. I think for us it’s finding that fine balance between knowing when to push and knowing when it’s lighter but still focused and intense. So I think we try to find that balance.”

The Minutewomen are undefeated in conference play this season, going 4-0 in the A-10. They have a streak of 58 consecutive wins in the A-10 and look to maintain that on the road this week.

This is one of the Minutewomen’s tougher opponents, as the Patriots have not only high-scoring offensive players, but also one of the top goalies in the Atlantic 10, Melissa Semkiw. On Sunday, the Patriots had a strong performance against Duquesne, defeating the Dukes 14-6. Strong performances from George Mason’s top scorers Corinne Wessels and Chachi Kelehan show that their offense is strong, as well as their defense and goalie, with Semkiw recording 12 saves.

“[George Mason] is a really good team,” McMahon said. “They’re really competitive. I think they’ll be focused and ready to play. At the same time, we have been playing really well.”

The Patriots currently sit in third place in the A-10, right behind the Minutewomen, who are tied with Richmond for first—both teams have 4-0 records. With a high-scoring match last year, one can expect that there will be a large defensive and offensive effort by both teams.

George Mason boasts a free position percentage of .392, compared to A-10 opponents who average .246. The team has a 4-1 record when playing at home, so the game will be a tough matchup for the Minutewomen. The Patriots are also strong in terms of draw controls, which will be an interesting matchup for Kiley Anderson and the rest of the draw specialists from UMass.

Both teams’ offenses are putting up many goals every game and this game should shape up to be the same. UMass will have to rely heavily on its defense and its goaltender Lauren Hiller.

Riding a five game winning streak dating back to the middle of March, the Minutewomen have momentum heading to Fairfax.

“We had a lot of different scorers and people who have really been contributing, so I like our tempo and our overall team chemistry right now,” McMahon said. “We do our scout and stuff, and we make sure that we’re familiar with what they do, and their players and their systems, but really, the emphasis and focus is on us playing the way we’re capable of, using these past few games as momentum going into the weekend.”

McMahon added that maintaining possession will be key to getting a win on Friday.

“I think that any time we have the ball, no matter where it is, whether it’s on a clear, whether it’s on a draw, after causing a turnover, I think that it’s within our scope and our capability to score,” McMahon said. “It’s just whether we’re on the same page and making the best decision possible. I really want to push it, take our shots and just play our game.”

The Minutewomen play at 6 p.m. on Friday in Fairfax, Virginia against the Patriots.

Emilia Beuger can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ebeuger.

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