UMass overpowers Saint Joseph’s, pushes winning streak to eight

The Minutewomen remain undefeated at home and undefeated in conference

Nina+Walat%2FDaily+Collegian

Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Dylan Corey, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team dominated Saint Joseph’s 21-12 at Garber Field on a warm Friday afternoon for its eighth-straight win.

Senior attacker Kelly Marra led the Minutewomen (9-2, 4-0 Atlantic 10) in goals, with five, for the fourth time in their last seven games. Stephanie Croke followed closely with four, and three other players had a hat trick. A balanced, deadly and selfless offensive game plan is something head coach Angela McMahon prides the team on executing so well.

“We don’t care who gets the stats, we don’t mold our offense around one person in particular,” McMahon said. “We just spread the ball, and we make sure every single person that touches the ball is a threat at all times.”

One of those threats is senior attacker Haley Connaughton, who spends a majority of time on offense making plays out of the X. Connaughton dialed up a career-high six assists, with the next highest total on either team being two. She added two goals herself and caused two turnovers.

“It’s a dual threat. She’s getting them open because she’ll also take it to cage when she’s open,” McMahon said. “If the defense isn’t aggressive with her, she’ll go to cage.”

UMass led Saint Joseph’s (6-5, 3-1 A-10) in almost every statistic. They had the same amount of free position shots, a win for this Minutewomen squad that has struggled with penalties in the past. The Hawks did secure three more saves, but they can thank the 31-19 advantage UMass had for shots on goal.

Of the 21 Minutewomen goals, 12 came off assists. Connaughton displayed an optimal balance of scoring and playmaking, including a dime to Croke who faked the shot before eventually going low.

The only team to reel in more draw controls than UMass this season has been UConn. In the last six games, the Minutewomen lead their opponents 125-50 on draw control. In cage, their defense is steady as ever. Graduate student Lauren Hiller saved five shots on Friday, before the appropriately named backup goalkeeper Bridgette Wall saved two shots in 4:44 of playing time.

Though it’s hard to tell from the final score, the first half was evenly matched. Neither team extended a lead past two for the first 20 minutes. After that mark, UMass rattled off a 12-3 run as it eclipsed 20 goals for the fifth time this season.

Undefeated in conference play, the Minutewomen will now play their remaining four regular season games all against the last four teams they beat. They won those contests by an average of more than 11 goals per game, but McMahon knows any given day can provide new challenges.

“We’ve got to make sure that no matter what a team throws at us, we’re ready to respond,” she said. “That’s what we’re definitely going to see. We’re going to see a lot of adjustments and changes made, and we’ve just got to be adaptable.”

Next up is another home game versus La Salle on Friday, April 16. Opening draw is set for 2 p.m.

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