Minutewomen face-offs and defense stimulate successful offensive runs

UMass women’s lacrosse command its win over Vermont, 20-7

Hannah Murphy (17). UMass Women's Lacrosse plays St. Joseph's on April 2, 2017 at Garber Field. Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian)

Hannah Murphy (17). UMass Women’s Lacrosse plays St. Joseph’s on April 2, 2017 at Garber Field. Caroline O’Connor/Daily Collegian)

By Olivia Sault, Collegian Correspondent

It took the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team just 30 seconds to score the first goal of the game against Vermont. To open the game, Caitlyn Petro dominated the draw control and made a beautiful play for Kaitlyn Cerasi to go to goal and score.

Since the beginning of the season, the Minutewomen (5-2) have been notorious for their domination in draw control as well as caused turnovers. In this past Wednesday’s game, the team yet again proved themselves in these statistics.

“We were extremely aggressive and carrying the same momentum of Holy Cross to this game,” head coach Angela McMahon said postgame. “This momentum helps us build more consistency on the offensive side.”

The first half of the game, UMass led the Catamounts (3-2) in caused turnovers, 9-3 and 13-5 in draw controls. With just under 13 minutes left in the first, senior Courtney Barrett caused a turnover, was able to steal the groundball from Vermont and run the field for a successful goal for the Minutewomen. For the entirety of the first half, UMass continued to be aggressive on defense, picking up ground balls and forcing turnovers, which stimulated its aggression on the offensive side. Consistently getting on the board, the Minutewomen closed out the half with 14 goals, and only let up four.

Everything about the second half showed that UMass had control of this game from start to finish. The Minutewomen capitalized on ground balls and were able to gain control and hold possession for the majority of the second. The defensive side worked synchronously to hold the Catamounts at just six goals for the game. The Minutewomen dominated UVM 20-7.

“I thought our defense played great, one of the better games they have played all season,” McMahon said of the Minutewomen defense. “Being very aggressive, taking risks and chances, putting pressure on the ball, but also picking passes off as well and causing turnovers.”

Petro took the trophy over Vermont for draw controls knowing how to exploit face-offs and make successful offensive runs. Petro has a season total of 45 draw controls with a season high of 16 against Holy Cross. With an amazing 12 controls against UVM, Petro’s combative skill on face-offs led the Minutewomen to its victory.

“Getting the circles players around her, sort of really recognizing what she’s trying to do so they can do their jobs and there is a nice clear lane for [Petro] to collect the ball,” McMahon said of Petro. “She just reads situations well, she’s quick and athletic and all around a team player.”

Draw control is just one factor of the game, but caused turnovers and ground balls are just as important. Barrett advanced the Minutewomen in Wednesday’s game with her three ground balls and three caused turnovers. Barrett has consistently dominated ground ball possession, having a season-high of four, and an additional season-high of three caused turnovers.

“So, I thought we were just relentless and then as soon as we get the ball, they did a great job at pushing the pace and trying to get transitional goals,” McMahon said. “We had a great defender; Courtney Barrett scored a goal off pushing the ball and transitioning off one of those turnovers. It just adds a whole other element for us and more weapons for our team.”

Having both Petro and Barret for this game was crucial as they led the Minutewomen to Wednesday’s victory and extended the teams’ winning streak to four games.

Olivia Sault can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @Olivia_Sault.