UMass’ scoring depth key against VCU

Six Minutewomen record goals in the first quarter on Friday

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Sophie-Zoe Schreyer/ Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

Since beginning conference play, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is undefeated and winning games by an average of over 14 goals, with depth in its offensive production being at the forefront of the success. UMass (9-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10) had 11 different goal scorers in Friday’s 20-7 win over Virginia Commonwealth.

“That’s something we’ve been working hard on is making your teammates look really good,” head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone said after the game. “Move the ball, be dynamic, everyone be a threat. We don’t want to be a one-dimensional team.”

Kelly Marra opened the scoring, and from there the Minutewomen went on an eight-goal unanswered run, with the Ram’s (5-5, 1-2 A-10) first goal not coming until the second quarter. The skill and movement that comes from so many different offensive players like Marra, Haley Connaughton, Alex Finn, and others, makes UMass a difficult team to defend.

Kendra Harbinger, who leads the team in goals this season and sits in second place for points behind Finn, continues to be a bright spot on offense. She is a new addition to the team after transferring from Albany, and her poise with and without the ball puts her in scoring position at any moment.

In the fourth quarter of Friday’s game, Harbinger sprinted into the offensive zone from the sidelines while UMass had the ball moving atop the arc. She found an opening while cutting, received the ball and tucked it in the back of the net for her fifth score of the day. Since her first game, Harbinger embodied the offensive efforts that the Minutewomen look to possess, and she meshes with the other top performers in the unit.

Throughout the second half of the contest, the scoring slowed, but Hannah Heller’s speed and Harbinger’s determination overwhelmed VCU, yet as the Rams began to narrow the deficit, there was an even bigger need for scoring depth, and UMass got that out of its group.

The Minutewomen opened conference play against St. Bonaventure, winning 22-4 on March 25 and had 13 players record goals. As the scoring margin widens, a wider range of players see time on the field, getting them more comfortable playing at the collegiate level. Confidence is the key for increasing the scoring depth and it’s already being seen with Heller picking up her first goal of the season in Friday’s matchup.

“You want to instill confidence … [but] learning from mistakes is also a big part of growth,” McMahon-Serpone said. “They work hard in practice and have really been performing really well. We just want to be as deep of a team as we possibly can.”

In the fourth quarter, Charlotte Clavelli entered the game and after receiving the ball behind the net, she ran all over the field, looking for an open player before finding Emma Farnham. That teamwork led to Farnham’s first goal of the afternoon, and Clavelli scored minutes later. The sophomore went from one goal during her freshman year to three goals and an assist already this season.

“It also makes for a great positive team experience and the fact that everyone’s involved at all times,” McMahon-Serpone said. “Everyone has a role to play, whether they’re on the field or not on the field.”

UMass will rely on its scoring depth down the late stretch in the season as it pushes for another conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

Sophie Weller can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieeWellerr.