Blistering first half propels UMass women’s lacrosse to 18-8 win over Marist

A 10-1 run in first half staked Minutewomen to insurmountable lead

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Blistering first half propels UMass women’s lacrosse to 18-8 win over Marist

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

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A barrage of shots in the first half launched the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team to a 14-3 halftime lead Wednesday afternoon, and the Minutewomen secured their second straight win with an 18-8 victory over Marist.

UMass (3-2) was firing on all cylinders in the first half, taking 26 shots compared to Marist’s (2-3) seven and ripping off a 10-1 run over the final 19:50 heading into halftime. Four of those goals came in a 2:12 stretch midway through the half that quickly stretched the Minutewomen’s lead to nine.

“We just wanted to attack, that was the name of the game,” redshirt senior Kiley Anderson said. “We said it before the start, we said, ‘for 60 minutes, we want to be in attack mode.’ And I think we carried that out throughout the game.”

After a pregame illegal stick penalty on Marist gave UMass a man-up for the first two minutes, the Minutewomen took advantage. Anderson took a pass from Haley Connaughton less than a minute into the game and buried it for her 21st goal of the season. Connaughton added a goal of her own on the man-up a minute later to give UMass a 2-0 lead, and the Minutewomen never trailed from there.

“The second we got the ball, we were decisive, we were aggressive,” Connaughton said. “I think we just really wanted to come right off the bat in the first 10 minutes. That’s the most important. And we were really aggressive in the first two minutes.”

Throughout the game, UMass controlled the ball, preventing Marist from generating sustained offense or making a run. In the first half alone, the Minutewomen won 14 of 18 draw controls and snagged 11 ground balls, while Marist coughed up 12 turnovers.

“We really took away from our two losses that we need the ball, and possession is so key,” Connaughton said. “From the first minute to the last minute, that’s the most important thing. That’s what we took away from our losses, that it won’t happen again.”

Every time the Red Foxes put together some offense or had a chance to gain momentum, UMass squashed it with a well-timed goal or suffocating defense. After each of Marist’s first two goals, the Minutewomen answered with a goal of their own – within 30 seconds. By the time the Red Foxes scored their third, they were down 11.

Marist’s one glimmer of hope came early in the second half, as the Minutewomen faltered on offense coming out of halftime. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, UMass took just two shots, one on goal, and Marist picked up two goals to cut the lead to nine and stop the clock.

After UMass coach Angela McMahon called timeout with just under 20 minutes remaining, the Minutewomen came out and scored back-to-back goals in the next two minutes to bring the lead back to 11 and essentially put the game away.

“I think we had a couple empty possessions there, where we had the ball and we were trying to get to gauge and sort of dropped the ball or had a turnover,” McMahon said. “Just a couple unforced errors where I think mentally, we just lost our focus for a little bit. But I think we did get back to it, especially out of that timeout. I really liked our execution out of the timeout that we called there in the second half. They settled down and got back to playing a little bit more level.”

Now riding a two-game win streak, the Minutewomen won’t return to Garber Field until after the start of Atlantic 10 play. UMass goes on the road for two games in Florida over spring break and a game at Dartmouth on St. Patrick’s Day to wrap up its non-conference schedule.

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @thainessports.