UMass falls to Saint Joseph’s in Atlantic 10 championship, 15-11

Second half momentum shift led the Hawks victory

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Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian

By Sophie Weller, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team fell to Saint Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 championship after a second half momentum shift and a breakdown on defense led the Hawks (14-6, 7-2 A-10) to victory.

“They were the better team today,” head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone said. “We fought nonstop, we stayed positive and stayed connected. That to me is really important in terms of how you’re going to lose, you are going to lose with the people that are going to have you back and support you.”

After Saint Joseph’s took a five-goal lead in the fourth quarter, UMass (16-3, 9-0 A-10) looked defeated with time ticking down and its first conference loss in sight. With less than five minutes remaining, Kylee Bowen’s shot was blocked by Hawks goalkeeper Jorden Concordia, but as the ball bobbled in front of goal, no Minutewomen attacker charged forward to try and pick up the rebound.

“Just aggressive physicality,” McMahon-Serpone said about Saint Joseph’s defense in the second half. “They kind of dictated how we played, where we usually dictate how aggressive we are.”

However, Haley Connaughton recorded the last goal of the game, finishing off an impressive career over the last five years on Garber Field. Connaughton and fellow captain Amy Moreau each notched two goals, while Julia Smith ended with a hat trick.

Connaughton’s efforts extended far beyond goal scoring, also contributing on defense. In the second quarter, UMass gave up a turnover in the offensive end, and Concordia picked up the ball looking to find a teammate and clear it away. However, Connaughton had other plans, not allowing her to have any room and forcing Concordia to run outside of the crease to find a teammate. Before she had the opportunity, Connaughton knocked the ball from her stick and scooped it up providing the Minutewomen with an opportunity to extend their lead. From Connaughton’s efforts, Julia Smith found the back of the net.

“I think that’s something we just take a lot of pride in our effort and I think it gives us extra offensive possessions,” McMahon-Serpone said. “Our first line of defense is our offense.”

UMass shined in the first half, with each player not sticking solely to their positions and looking to help wherever it was needed. This allowed for the offense to step up on defense and for the defensive players to move up and contribute around the crease.

The Minutewomen recorded the first points of the contest after Kelly Marra tossed a light pass over the heads of the St. Joseph’s defenders, finding Moreau who tucked it away. UMass would go on to score two more goals, but the Hawks quickly worked their way back. St. Joseph’s success stemmed from its movement on offense, always having a player open on the back post.

With its victory, the Hawks won their first A-10 championship in program history and secured their first bid to the NCAA tournament. Saint Joseph’s had five players named to the All-Championship team including Lauren Figura who won the A-10 Offensive Player of the Year. The Minutewomen’s Smith and Kendra Harbinger were also named to the team.

“I think [St. Joseph’s] put together a full 60-minute game,” Moreau said. “We had some ups and downs and had some trouble coming back from it.”

As the UMass players walked off the field, the atmosphere was filled with emotions. The underclassmen were met with hugs and words of encouragement as this was possibly their last game of the season for the Minutewomen. For some of the seniors and graduate students, the last of their UMass career.

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