Minutewomen punch ticket to NCAA tourney after dominating Saint Josephs

Caitlyn Petro grabs 16 draw controls over the Hawks

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Kira Johnson/Daily Collegian

By Olivia Sault, Collegian Staff

The No. 22 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team successfully became Atlantic 10 champions after dominating Saint Josephs 18-7 Sunday.

UMass (15-2, 9-0 A-10) earned itself an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

Kelly Marra commenced the scoring for the Minutewomen, scoring three goals. Marra has a total of 47 goals for the season.

“I think once we started moving more off-ball and had some nice, assisted goals, I think that’s when we started to find our rhythm a lot more,” head coach Angela McMahon said postgame. “This is key for us because it involves a lot more people in the offense and when we come together and everyone is involved, we are hard to stop.”

Today’s game would not have been as successful if it weren’t for a draw specialist Caitlyn Petro. The ability to gain possession and emerge from the draw came at ease for UMass. Petro contributed 16 of the 25 successful draw controls the Minutewomen had today, having another historic type of performance. Petro had the help of Stephanie Croke and together led the Hawks 25-2 in draw controls.

UMass collectively was more confident on offense than it had been in Friday’s game against Davidson. In the first half, Olivia Muscella, Kaitlyn Cerasi, Croke, Haley Connaughton and Marra supplied six goals in the span of just five and a half minutes. The Minutewomen had the ability to find the openings on net and place the ball for a 10-5 lead closing out the half.

“Cerasi is so steady for us, even when we are struggling or not shooting well, she is just a consistent presence, specifically in terms of her physical game but she also rubs off on others with her leadership skills,” McMahon said of Cerasi’s efforts. “The type of passion she puts out there rubs off on the team and helps us get momentum.”

With under 18 minutes left in the second half, UMass commanded a 10-point lead over SJU. The Minutewomen were in mercy rule territory and the clock ran continuously for the last 18 minutes.

“I think its confidence in the preparation, you know, it’s all the days and the practices and film sessions and lifts and all of that is where the confidence comes from,” McMahon said of UMass’ increased confidence in today’s game. “It is about how we prepare but I think we prepared well. Obviously there have been some obstacles this year but I think that we did not let that derail or distract us from the ultimate goal which is to win.”

The Minutewomen are the powerhouse of the A-10 and ended with a perfect home record. Six of the players were recognized as the All-Championship team: Muscella, Connaughton, Petro, Croke, Lauren Hiller and Cerasi.

This upcoming Sunday the NCAA women’s lacrosse bracket will be released, and UMass will continue its season.