Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Seniors leading attack for UMass women’s lacrosse

Seniors have scored 67 of UMass’ 134 goals

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Seniors leading attack for UMass women’s lacrosse

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

(Parker Peters/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

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Heading into 2019, the story around the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team was how much experience it had lost.

The two leading scorers for UMass (5-3) in 2018, Holly Turner and Hannah Burnett, a duo that had powered the Minutewomen to three Atlantic 10 titles and sustained a record-breaking conference wins streak, graduated at the end of last year. With only two seniors and one redshirt senior on the top of the roster, UMass looked to retool behind deep freshman and sophomore classes.

Instead, it’s been those three veterans – Kiley Anderson, Cassidy Doster and Hannah Palau – who have stepped into the void, leading the Minutewomen in scoring through the first half of the year.

“Obviously Kiley has done some really great things, especially in the statistical standpoint,” coach Angela McMahon said, “but her fellow seniors, Cassidy and Hannah, they’re quietly doing a lot of work behind the scenes, whether or not it translates into statistics.”

Anderson’s torrid start to the season has turned a lot of heads, as the redshirt senior’s 38 goals nearly laps the Atlantic 10 field (Richmond’s Mia Castagnero ranks second with 23). Palau and Doster, meanwhile, are easily outpacing their own career highs – Palau’s 16 goals already surpasses her career high of 15 from 2018, while Doster is on pace to almost double her career high in goals.

As the Minutewomen try to work in a deep crop of younger players, those three have been the leaders for the UMass attack, both on the field and on the sidelines.

“Their freshman year is when we went to the Elite Eight,” McMahon said. “They’ve had tremendous experience, had some amazing leaders in their time, and they’ve just learned and grown up so much. So for their experience, their knowledge, their understanding of that ‘do whatever it takes’ mentality and how important every little detail is in the game, they’ve been really great leaders.”

Facing a leadership vacuum after the departures of Turner and Burnett, the three seniors helped steady the Minutewomen after ugly losses to No. 1 Boston College and Harvard. Now almost halfway through the season, the Minutewomen are fourth in the A-10, with conference play starting Friday at Davidson.

Coming off another bad loss, this one to Dartmouth in a game where Anderson couldn’t go, UMass will again be relying on them to turn things around.

“Coming off the loss to Dartmouth, that’s a really tough one to say that I feel good about [where the team is], as well as Harvard,” Doster said. “BC, I think we could have played better against them, but they’re the No. 1 team, so you have to expect something to happen in that regard. But I think that we’re having a turning point right now, with our entire culture.”

Doster also credited her own improvement to having to fill Turner and Burnett’s shoes in the clubhouse.

“I think that being a leader really changed my perspective on the whole game,” Doster said. “I’m helping other girls while coaching myself at the same time. When I’m teaching somebody I’m also learning. I’m learning what I could do when I’m talking to people, so I think that really helps.”

While the Minutewomen don’t depend entirely on Anderson and the other seniors to bring the offense, the three of them have picked up a lot of the slack on the field, helping UMass to a 5-3 record despite the general inexperience and an injury to starting goalie Lauren Hiller, which has kept her out for the first eight games.

“I think that the team does look to me and multiple others,” Doster said. “To score, get goals and stops on defense and win draws, and I take full responsibility for those things. I don’t really feel the pressure, because I feel like I’m just going out there and playing lacrosse, trying my absolute hardest for the girls next to me.”

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

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