Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse continues to dominate in conference play

Minutewomen defeat George Washington 22-8
Sophia-Zoe Schreyer
Sophie-Zoe Schreyer/Daily Collegian

In dominant fashion yet again, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team won its fifth straight Atlantic 10 matchup against George Washington 22-8. The Minutewomen (11-2, 5-0 A-10) are now winners of 23 consecutive regular season conference games, dating back to 2018. Even crazier? Before that loss, UMass’ hadn’t lost a regular season conference game since 2010.

The dominance from the Minutewomen this year is most prevalent in the first quarter, this being the first season of women’s lacrosse in which the game is split up into quarters and not halves. In its five conference games, UMass outscored its opponents a combined 42-6 in the first.

For a second it looked like that wasn’t going to be the case Friday afternoon. The Colonials (4-9, 2-3 A-10) had a 3-2 lead halfway through the first, but it lasted less than 60 seconds. The Minutewomen scored eight unanswered goals in the final seven minutes of the first quarter, giving themselves a comfortable 10-3 lead.

“Those first five minutes I thought we came out a little bit sluggish, then we were able to get it going,” UMass coach Angela McMahon-Serpone said. “That’s the goal to be super aggressive and really dictate the tempo early on. That was one area we could’ve done a little bit better on.”

Maya Keenan-Gallagher took almost every draw control for the Minutewomen, which hasn’t been something McMahon-Serpone relies on one person for this season. Keenan-Gallagher is third on the team in draw controls. McMahon-Serpone credits the draw control ability of Keenan-Gallagher early as a shift in the direction the game was headed towards when her team was behind early.

“I thought just really using [Keenan-Gallagher’s] strength and her power to really get it out to the circle,” McMahon-Serpone said of the decision. “[Keenan-Gallagher] does a great job. She’s really more of like a draw specialist for us, where some of our other players are playing different positions, that’s Maya’s primary focus.”

Although UMass sits atop of the conference standings, it has the worst save percentage in the Atlantic 10 at 35 percent. Defensive pressure works to mask to that weakness, allowing by far the least shots on goal per game this season with 14.6. There were anywhere from two to four defenders on any GW player who had the ball, constantly forcing bad decisions and creating easy turnovers.

“We play a lot of different defenses, in general though our defensive identity has always been to be aggressive and allow our athleticism to thrive, so pressuring is what works,” McMahon-Serpone said.

The all-around dominance of the Minutewomen will be put to the test on Sunday when Richmond travels to Amherst. The Spiders (11-2, 5-0 A-10) share very similar success to UMass this season. While the Minutewomen haven’t lost to a conference opponent since 2018, they did lose to Richmond in overtime of the 2019 A-10 championship, which is the last time these two teams played. Graduate senior Kendra Harbinger was a sophomore at Albany while Courtney Barrett was one for UMass. With their final seasons in lacrosse coming to an end, their sense of urgency rises.

“There’s only a handful of games left for us to play and then I’m never playing this sport again,” Harbinger said. “Just leaving everything on the field, having fun with my teammates and that’s basically my mentally going into every game.”

“Time right now is in the back of our heads,” Barrett said. “It’s our last season, we want to make the most out of everything we have.”

Not a single one of the Minutewomen’s opponents so far hold a winning conference record this season. This makes Richmond the first — and likely hardest — challenge in conference play this season.

“We do exactly the same thing we’ve been doing in terms of our approach,” McMahon-Serpone said of facing a higher-level conference opponent. “[Richmond is] a great team, but so are we. We’re going to give it our best and try to be as consistent as possible.”

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

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