Despite a tough loss, Haley Connaughton continues her dominance on the attack for UMass

Connaughton has scored eight in two games

By Kevin Schuster, Collegian Staff

With nationally ranked opponents in the first two weeks of the season, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team has been led by attacker Haley Connaughton, who has already scored eight goals against top competition.

After scoring four goals against No. 5 Boston College last weekend, Connaughton continued her offensive dominance by scoring four more for the Minutewomen (1-1) in today’s match against No. 22 Dartmouth.

“There is definitely still room for improvement,” Connaughton said. “But I still tried to bring the toughness and fearlessness that we practice in games. We were cut short this game but my teammates kept bringing me up all game which helped.”

Connaughton showed plenty of toughness against the Big Green (1-0), competing for the ball anywhere in the Minutemen’s offensive half of the field. Connaughton did a great job pressuring Dartmouth’s goalkeeper Kiera Vrindten whenever she made a save.

“We were just trying to pressure all aspects of the field,” Connaughton said. “Dartmouth was trying to push the fast break so I was trying to slow that down by pressuring the goalie when she had the ball.”

Even though UMass trailed by five with just over a minute to go, Connaughton still pushed forward, scoring a flashy behind-the-back goal cutting the deficit to four.

“I noticed that their goalie kept jumping high, so I thought maybe I’ll try that out,” Connaughton said.

UMass coach Angela McMahon gives Connaughton much of the credit in both of her team’s performances to open the season. She describes Connaughton as a leader who continually helps her side on and off the field.

“She [Connaughton] is always working so hard to get better,” McMahon said. “She’s a great teammate and someone who I think the team feels really comfortable going to if they have problems.”

Not only does Connaughton put in maximum effort on the field, but it stems from her dedication off the field to be a better player for her teammates.

“It’s all about the hard work and commitment she’s [Connaughton] been putting in,” McMahon said. “Throughout the off-season she tapped into her strength and conditioning, and being the fittest athlete she could be; honing in on her nutrition. She’s always out doing extra shooting trying to make herself better and I think she’s a great role model for all of our younger kids out there.”

Connaughton has played great in both of her previous two years playing for the Minutewomen but believes she’s more confident than ever going into this season.

“Last year was kind of my building year,” Connaughton said. “This year I’m really coming back full force with the motivation and my teammates who are always there to help me. I’ve kind of grown with them through the fall and last spring, and we just keep trying to build as a team.”

All of her determination has led her to have a very serious mentality when she’s on the field. However, she applies this same mentality when in practice, and hopes her teammates will follow that same frame of mind.

“I’ve really been trying to practice, and the whole team in general, not making games any different than practice,” Connaughton said. “We try to work our absolute hardest during practice so it’ll then showcase on the field. We bring everything every game and that’s all I could ask for out of my amazing teammates.”

Connaughton will hope to continue her strong beginning to the season Monday, Feb. 24 when UMass travels to face UMass Lowell at Cushing Field.

Kevin Schuster can be reached at [email protected]