Coming off impressive weekend, La Salle up next for UMass women’s lacrosse

Final road game of the regular season for the Minutewomen

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Coming off impressive weekend, La Salle up next for UMass women’s lacrosse

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

By Cameron Sibert, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team continued stellar Atlantic 10 play over the weekend with its defeat of Duquesne in a 16-15 overtime thriller, along with a 19-8 win over St. Bonaventure on Sunday. Stephanie Croke led the Minutewomen in scoring over the weekend, putting up six points in each contest, while assisting on the winning play to teammate Hannah Palau, who netted the overtime winner in the matchup against Duquesne.

This Friday UMass (11-3, 6-0 A-10) will travel to Philadelphia to face off with La Salle (5-8, 3-3 A-10) in their final road game of the regular season. Last Sunday’s matchup with the Bonnies lacked Kiley Anderson, Kaitlyn Cerasi and Palau, who took the game off, but all three are expected to play again on Friday at La Salle.

“[La Salle is] always a really tough and feisty team, very physical, fast, athletic,” coach Angela McMahon said. “So, I’m expecting the same type of play that we’ve been seeing, just competitive games where we are getting a team’s best, and just doing our jobs and what we need to do to put a complete game together for ourselves.”

All season a main point of emphasis for the Minutewomen has been maintaining possession. In the overtime win over Duquesne, UMass turned the ball over 25 times, the second-most all season. With strong play on draw controls, maintaining possession after the draw is especially important for this team.

“It’s execution and efficiency when we have the ball, not having empty possessions, creating quality scoring opportunities for ourselves and playing together as a unit from top to bottom, goalie all the way up through offense.” McMahon said. “I think when we do that, we have really great plays, sets, games, all those things when we play together at a really high level, so it’s just connecting everything from the bottom up.”

La Salle is coming fresh off of a loss to Richmond, last year’s UMass kryptonite. Like the rest of the A-10, La Salle will be coming at the top-ranked Minutewomen with everything they’ve got, as UMass has made itself the team to beat after dominating the A-10 for nearly the past decade.

That domination took a hit last season, however, when Richmond took down the Minutewomen in a stunning 12-11 win in overtime in the A-10 Championship game. After La Salle, UMass will take on Richmond in Amherst on Garber Field, but is simply looking at the task at hand for now.

“We’re just trying to build momentum for La Salle, really more so trying to build momentum each and every day in practice and trusting the process,” McMahon said. “La Salle’s a great opponent, and that’s our focus.”

This La Salle game will also be the final regular season road game for the Minutewomen, who have made traveling on the road this season, taking advantage of time together and using it to bond in the limited time they have as a unit. This game will also mark the third away game in a row for UMass, where some slight adjustments have had to be made to suit the traveling lifestyle.

“I think it’s really just trying to keep practices short, but intense,” McMahon said. “Feeling like we’re getting good energy out at practice, getting some work done and then go do what you need to do, focusing in on everything else.”

Now that focus will be on the La Salle Explorers when UMass travels out to Philadelphia to play on Friday at 2 p.m. After that, the Minutewomen will make their way back to Amherst to take on Richmond in a rematch of last year’s A-10 championship, set for Sunday at 1 p.m.

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