Strong faceoffs and outstanding defense lead the Minutewomen to their first win

UMass beat BU thanks to 21-17 faceoff advantage

By Olivia Sault, Collegian Contributor

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team started its season with a 23-13 win over Boston University. Both teams had to bring competition to the field as this was the first time the two teams had met for a game since 2016. The Minutewomen (1-0) came out strong and their success with both draw control and defense led them to their first win of the season.

Going into the game UMass knew it had to step-up their draw control given they were facing Jennifer Barry of BU (0-2) who is ranked as one of the top draw controllers in the nation.

Barry jumped out with a win in the draw to start the game, but Caitlyn Petro of UMass kept up with Barry. In the first half, each player won six faceoffs and in the second half Petro led Barry 9-4 in draws.

Caitlyn Petro is a senior draw specialist and was named a Preseason Second Team All-American. The attacker had a total of 15 draws and forced a turnover alongside a groundball for the game.

UMass head coach Angela McMahon made sure Petro and the rest of the team were always prepared for what they might be facing.

“There are so many changes and nuances on the draw,” McMahon said, “and we trust her to figure out what is going to work for her best. There are so many things in that moment, and she has to make a judgment call to put our team in the best position to win it.”

Petro used Barry’s inconsistency to her advantage and executed each draw. The effort lead UMass to a 21-17 advantage in total draw controls over BU.

On the defensive side, UMass was equally strong, leading the game in caused turnovers over the Terriers, 9-5.

In the beginning of the first half, UMass found itself struggling defensively after BU scored twice in a row. But the Minutewomen came back at the end of the first and kept their consistency the entirety of the second half.

McMahon had her team press BU for most of the game which was an effective defensive tactic.

“Solid team defense and not overly focusing on one offender helps,” McMahon said of her team’s defensive success, “as well as playing on a string and being in sync with one another and drag the opponent into lower percentages of scoring.”

In addition to pressing, the Minutewomen worked in harmony on the field to double team, making it difficult for the Terriers to score on their offensive runs.

A major setback for the Terriers on offense was the amount of turnovers caused by UMass’ defense. On defense, the Minutewomen and Terriers found themselves in a turnover battle. UMass forced BU turnovers and then turned them into offensive runs.

Courtney Barrett dominated on defense, racking up three forced turnovers in the contest. Capitalizing off turnovers was not the only positive aspect of defense in the game. UMass pressed BU in each transition and outshined BU in closing speed. Even if the Minutewomen fell a step-behind defensively they seemed to force a mistake or turnover for the Terriers.

Going forward into the season, McMahon plans to keep the defense the way it is and hopes it grants UMass more victories.

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