UMass’ dynasty, women’s lacrosse, set out for another dominating season and look to reclaim the Atlantic 10

Minutewomen look to replace scoring from Turner and Burnett

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UMass’ dynasty, women’s lacrosse, set out for another dominating season and look to reclaim the Atlantic 10

(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

By Cameron Sibert, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is getting set for another dominating season, trying to reclaim the Atlantic 10 championship that they lost to Richmond at the end of last season.

Of the 19 Division I teams UMass has to offer, the women’s lacrosse team has been the most consistent over the years, having managed a 70-13 record over the past four seasons, while also having won three of the last four A-10 Championships.

This consistent success has to do with the strong leadership coming from the top, constantly bringing in fresh new talent to carry into the next year. Head coach Angela McMahon is going into her ninth season at the helm. During her years, she has been named the A-10 coach of the year a stunning six times, and has led UMass to a whopping seven A-10 titles and seven NCAA tournament berths.

Averaging more than 17 wins a season, McMahon has posted a 142-23 record while coaching the Minutewomen. After the 2016 season, McMahon passed Hall of Fame coach Pam Hixon as the winningest coach in program history.

Last year’s success could be largely credited to now-graduated seniors Holly Turner and Hannah Burnett. Although those players will be missed, the Minutewomen are still chock-full of talent going into 2019, with players like Kaitlyn Cerasi and redshirt senior Kiley Anderson on the attack.

“I feel like we have a new team, a new atmosphere,” Cerasi said. “We’re just ready to bring it, and win the A-10’s this year.”

Cerasi managed 69 points last season with 39 goals and 30 assists, along with four goals in the A-10 championship loss against Richmond. Cerasi now takes up a leadership position on this year’s team that only has nine upperclassmen.

“I think she really is just a great team player,” McMahon said. “Great leader, works very hard and probably this is the most confident I’ve seen her since she’s been here, and I think she’s just a little bit more relaxed, less tense. She’s just playing and enjoying having fun out there with her team mates, I’m really excited to see how she does this year and sort of being a go-to leader for us.”

Another key player on this UMass roster is Anderson. She put up staggering numbers last year, tallying 107 total draws controlled. She is also a goal scoring machine, finding the back of the net 47 times last season, including a seven-goal display against George Mason on the road. Anderson stands 6-foot-3 and uses her height to her advantage while on the attack.

Along with returning players, comes a long list of nine freshmen and 15 sophomores who will see opportunities at playing time this year. Without a doubt this team is young, but players are seeing no shortage in chances at proving themselves.

“I have full trust in all grades and all players on our team,” McMahon said. “Last year we had a lot of freshmen playing so now they’re sophomores and I think that extra year of confidence, and for them it’s a big group too and they’ve played a lot as freshmen so I think they’re not playing like freshmen and I think that they’re helping the now-freshmen really get up to speed pretty quickly and acclimated to the pace of play. We had some kids last year that also redshirted that were sitting and watching and learning and now are able to be back and be physically abled bodies for play, those players are really stepping up as well.”

A prime example of this comes in sophomore Ally Murphy, who was selected to the U-19 United States team, where she lines up as a defender. She looks to break out of her shell this year, and use her experience with the U-19 team to her advantage as a defensive midfielder.

“It’s just confidence, aggressiveness and her defensive skills have definitely improved because with us she’s a midfielder,” McMahon said. “And with the U.S. team she’s a defender, so you just see that like little extra boost in her confidence when she’s on that defensive end in aggressiveness. I just think confidence-wise, she’s not afraid of anything.”

UMass is full of skill players, capable of fulfilling multiple roles. Sophomore attack Kelly Marra finished play with the UMass soccer team back in October, where she is also on the attacking side of the field, and has since locked in for the upcoming lacrosse season. Marra looks to come into her own in 2019 after scoring four goals in 12 games last season.

“Since we’ve come back from January, we’ve seen a whole new level of her ability to work back with the team and she’s just a super dynamic player,” McMahon said. “She scored a lot of goals in soccer this past fall, and I view her in a really similar role for us.”

The last line of defense is Lauren Hiller. Over her two-year career at UMass, Hiller is 30-9. She has stopped 305 shot attempts, and holds a 43 percent save percentage.  She looks to continue her success, with two more years to play in the maroon and white.

The Minutewomen opened play with a 24-4 win over Bryant. They now look ahead to a big matchup against Boston College, who currently sit at number one in the DI women’s lacrosse poll.

Cameron Sibert can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @cameron_sibert.