UMass women’s lacrosse humbled by No. 1 ranked Boston College in home opener

Charlotte North scored seven goals in three quarters for BC

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Nina Walat/Daily Collegian

By Joseph Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

Defending national champion Boston College forced its hand on the No. 21 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team, as UMass lost 22-5 in its home opener.

Charlotte North continued her goal-scoring habits in against the Minutewomen (1-1), scoring seven goals in three quarters for the Eagles (2-0). North was last year’s Tewaaraton Award winner in women’s college lacrosse, the equivalent to an MVP award in professional sports. She dominated all her opponents in 2021, scoring a nation’s-best 102 goals and finishing with 114 points. She now has 14 goals through two games in 2022.

“I thought in the beginning we did a really good job,” Minutewomen head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone said on her defense’s ability to contain North. “At the end of the day, they had other playmakers that really stepped up in the beginning there.”

North had three of her team’s 13 goals at the half, but Kayla Martello and Jenna Majid also earned a hat trick in the first half for BC. Belle Smith added two in the first half as well, giving McMahon-Serpone a multitude of problems to deal with on defense.

“[The Eagles] just have so many weapons,” McMahon-Serpone said. “Obviously [North] had seven goals, but I think it was really their other offensive weapons that got them going early on and then that’s when [North] stepped in, once we had to focus on [the other players].”

Time on attack orchestrated the massive lead for BC, which started with North’s ability in the draw control. Along with her 100-plus goals last season, North was third in the country in draw control wins with 174 in 2021. The Eagles had an 18-to-12 advantage on draw controls — North with eight — leaving UMass with few opportunities to find the back of the net. The number of shots on goal was a clear indicator of the outcome of the game, the Minutewomen had 10 in comparison to 33 for the Eagles.

“It definitely came down to a game of possession,” McMahon-Serpone said. “For a good chunk of that middle part of that game we didn’t have a lot of possession, whether it was losing draws or 50-50 loose balls. Playing against the number one team in the country you have to value the ball, making sure that you’re making every opportunity count [when] you have the ball, we just didn’t have the ball enough.”

UMass no longer has the luxury of relying on faceoff specialist Caitlyn Petro to win draw controls. Petro led the nation last season with 220 and averaged over three more draw controls per game than anyone else in the country.

“I don’t think it’s going to be one person, I think they’re all doing a good job,” McMahon-Serpone said of how she will replace Petro’s draw control ability. “It’s that they all provide different looks for us and they draw in different types of ways.”

Three of North’s goals came from free position attempts, and BC had 13 attempts with free position in comparison to the four opportunities that UMass received. Along with giving up the 13 free position attempts, the Minutewomen were handed two red cards while the Eagles didn’t receive any.

“We had a lot of fouls, yellow cards, green cards, all of those are discipline elements,” McMahon-Serpone said. “… [Discipline is] a controllable thing, it’s not a skill. When it’s things that are in our control then we got to make sure we have people that are having that similar mindset of our discipline.”

Graduate midfielder and captain Olivia Muscella agreed with her coach’s assessment of the flaws in the Minutewomen’s game, but also acknowledged even more needs to be done to defeat the best team in the country.

“I think we talked about a lot of communication,” Muscella said of what else went wrong. “…Staying on the same page, defense, communication, it should be very loud on the field. Everyone should be able to hear everyone… we’re definitely going to look to increase communication all over the field.”

Muscella also described the loss to the Eagles as “humbling”. This team is coming off a 15-3 season, an Atlantic 10 title and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

“We’ve been the BC for [opposing] teams,” Muscella said. “I think it helps us for not getting too high. We need that wake-up call of ‘oh we are not as great as we think we are’… [The loss] helps us not get too high. We’re humbled… and we’re ready to go back to practice and play harder.”

The next game for UMass is next Monday against Vermont, who will travel to Garber Field for a 2 p.m. start.

Joey Aliberti can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti1.