Minutewomen lacrosse avenge UConn loss with overtime buzzer beater, winning 15-14

Olivia Muscella scores game-winner as time expires

Nina+Walat

Nina Walat

By Dylan Corey, Collegian Correspondent

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team proved during Saturday’s overtime thriller that sometimes the sequel is even better.

UMass (3-2) took its revenge against UConn this weekend, edging the Huskies (4-2) 15-14 thanks to an Olivia Muscella buzzer beater in overtime at Garber Field.

Just six days ago, the Minutewomen lost to this same team in overtime 12-11. Back-to-back Big East Midfielder of the Week Sydney Watson scored six goals on twelve shots in that contest for UConn. Head coach Angela McMahon knew that to overcome the Huskies, she needed to control Watson’s impact.

“She’s a great player, she just got announced to the Tewaaraton watch list,” McMahon said. “We just wanted to limit that and felt like that was the difference in the game from last weekend.”

UMass swarmed Watson and refused to give her any daylight. The strategy kept Watson in check, but she still managed to score two goals and dish one assist. Where it hurt the Minutewomen, however, was on free position shots. UConn led UMass in that category 12-1, the only real disparity in the box score.

“We’ve got to do a better job moving our feet, but sometimes it’s a product of the fact that we’ve taken one of our defenders out of the mix to mark No. 11 (Watson),” McMahon said. “The six defenders that are left have a little bit more space to cover.”

That extra space led to scrambling on defense and the assortment of fouls. However, McMahon also pointed out that if the free position shots are closer to the edge, they aren’t as deadly as the ones in center.

Neither team could get more than two goals worth of separation, and there was a total of 11 ties with eight lead changes. The Minutewomen spent the majority of the time playing even or down one. The Huskies opened up a 14-12 lead with under six minutes to play, but UMass scored two goals in quick succession to force overtime.

One of those goals came from the eventual savior, Olivia Muscella. The senior midfielder was fed the ball in the center of the arc, spun to her inside shoulder, and shoveled a diving shot into the top right corner.

Eight minutes later, Muscella did it again as the clock ticked to zeroes. Except this time, she went low and inside on UConn goalie Landyn White.

 

 

Kelly Marra had career-highs in goals with five, and points with seven. Marra, a two-sport athlete, was responsible for four of the Minutewomen’s first five goals in the second half. Nine of her ten total shots were on target, and she never turned it over.

“Kelly’s just, she’s a stud…she’s tough as nails,” McMahon said. “Obviously she stepped up today, but she’s just one of those kids that will do anything for the team to win.”

Seven other Minutewomen found the back of the net, demonstrating a balanced attack that UMass needs to be at their best. Maddy Moloney, Kaitlyn Cerasi, and Muscella each scored a pair of goals.

Both goalkeepers were an absorbing presence in net. UMass graduate student Lauren Hiller saved 11 shots for a .440 save percentage. Landyn White had a career-high 16 saves for the Huskies in the loss.

Next up for the Minutewomen is a road game against Vermont on Wednesday, March 24 at 3 p.m. They will return home for the first conference matchup this season when they play La Salle on March 28.

Dylan Corey can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thedylancorey.