UMass women’s lacrosse surges past UConn

Kiley Anderson scored nine goals

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday afternoon, riding an offensive surge to defeat Connecticut 19-13 at Garber Field.

Kiley Anderson led UMass (2-2) on attack, scoring five goals in the first half to lead the Minutewomen to a six-goal lead at the half. Anderson finished with nine goals on 13 shots on goal, dominating UConn (0-5) inside as UMass slowly pulled away.

“She was just really aggressive, and when you’re aggressive you create opportunities for yourself,” coach Angela McMahon said. “Her teammates were aggressive and that created opportunities for her off of really nice passes inside. She’s a big target, and her ability to catch and finish inside is really exceptional. I think her focus was really good, and she did whatever her team needed her to do, whether it was score goals or come up with draw controls. I was proud of her, the way she sort of battled and was the aggressor throughout the game.”

Anderson’s dominance extended to the draw circle, as she helped UMass nearly double the Huskies’ draw controls in the first half. The Minutewomen finished with 23 draw controls to UConn’s 10, including winning seven straight early in the game to jump out to an 8-3 lead.

“I think sort of what ended up putting the game away for us was definitely the draw controls and sort of those 50-50 loose balls,” McMahon said. “I haven’t seen the stats, but I imagine we came out on top in the draw controls and ground balls today, and that’s the difference.”

After UConn scored their first goal 6:11 into the first half, UMass responded with three goals in four minutes to open up a 6-1 lead. That trend continued throughout the first half, as the Minutewomen would score several goals in quick succession before slowing down for several minutes. But the intermittent surges were enough to build up an 11-5 lead at halftime on a 29-15 shot advantage.

Every time UConn looked to be building some momentum, the Minutewomen would answer with another scoring blitz to deflate the Huskies and stretch the lead further. When the Huskies scored three straight goals early in the second half to cut the UMass lead to four, the Minutewomen answered right back with a 7-1 run to put the game away.

“I think we were able to identify when we were getting in that lull and really refocus,” Anderson said. “It’s been a work in progress for us this season, and every day in practice is focused on if we’re getting down, if a play didn’t go our way, really refocusing on the next play.”

After the Minutewomen briefly stretched the lead to 10 with just over 13 minutes to play, UConn went on to score the next four goals, but it proved too little too late, as too much time elapsed. The final goal came as the clock expired, leaving UMass with the 19-13 win.

Freshman Gina Carroll started her fourth straight game in goal as incumbent goalie Lauren Hiller remains out with an injury. Carroll finished with nine saves and held the Huskies to 2-of-7 on free-position shots, making a number of athletic plays to keep UConn from closing the gap.

“Gina’s doing awesome,” Anderson said. “It’s not easy as a freshman to step into a huge role like that, goalie, and I couldn’t be more proud of her and her attitude. She’s willing to do just about anything to save the ball – I call her my little ninja.”

The win snaps a two-game skid for UMass, which had taken losses to No. 1 Boston College and Harvard heading into the game. In the loss to Harvard, the attack stagnated in the second half, and a one-goal halftime deficit turned into a six-goal defeat.

“[The loss to Harvard] was a really big learning experience for us,” Anderson said. “I think we took away that we can’t ever put our foot off the gas pedal. We really have to attack, no matter what the score is.”

UMass will look to build on the momentum on Wednesday at home against Marist.

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