UMass women’s lacrosse leaves goaltending vulnerable in A-10 final loss

Minutewomen allowed 15 goals on 19 shots

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Dylan Nguyen/Daily Collegian

By Joey Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

Throughout the entire season, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team stood on top of the Atlantic 10 conference. Balanced offense aside, a pesty defense aided the Minutewomen’s undefeated conference record leading up to the conference championship Sunday.

UMass’ (15-2, 9-0 A-10) 15-11 loss to Saint Joseph’s was the first time this team wasn’t in control, leaving goaltending more vulnerable than it’s been all season

The Minutewomen dominated all season by allowing minimal shots on net, the only time they were outshot was against Boston College, currently the No. 2 team in the nation. UMass did end up outshooting the Hawks (13-5, 7-2 A-10) 20-19, but that difference was 11-8 in favor of Saint Joseph’s in the second half.

On average, UMass outshot opponents 28-15 this season, and without that disparity its goaltenders couldn’t keep up.

Gina Carroll started in net all season for the Minutewomen, and head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone made the decision to pull her near the end of the third quarter. Carroll allowed 11 goals on 12 shots to that point, which didn’t come as a surprise as UMass’ patented defensive pressure let up, primarily in the second half.

“It never falls on the goalie it’s a team play, and that substitution was a team play,” McMahon Serpone said on her decision to switch goaltenders. “…[Carroll] has had huge games for us all season long and I think we’re in this position because of the way that she’s played.”

“We definitely needed some saves. We didn’t have a lot saves in this game and we needed some saves. [Saint Joseph’s is] a potent attack… at the end of the day it was definitely a change in energy.”

Bridgette Wall subbed in for Carroll and performed better, allowing four goals on seven shots, but the damage was already done. The Hawks matched all the Minutewomen’s goals in the fourth quarter to keep the game out of hand.

Strong opposing goaltending left UMass’ offense in an uncomfortable position to try to scare, which had an indirect effect on Carroll and her ability. Goaltender Jordan Concordia saved 9-20 shots in Sunday’s championship.

“[Saint Joseph’s was] kind of pushing us around and we weren’t able to pinpoint those shots like we normally can,” McMahon-Serpone said. “They kind of dictated how we played where we usually dictate how aggressive we are.”

The Hawks controlled the offensive zone, and while Carroll wasn’t making saves, her teammates weren’t applying pressure. Not to mention Saint Joseph’s has the conference’s leading goal scorer, Lauren Figura. Figura averages 3.5 goals scored per game this season and netted five on Sunday. While goaltending is certainly not the Minutewomen’s strong point, a 21 percent save rate falls on much more than who stands in net.

“There’s a lot of pressure on goalies, I give them so much credit,” UMass captain Olivia Muscella said. “This is a team effort, it’s not all on them.”

“11 other girls to get to Gina,” Amy Moreau added.

While UMass has the worst save percentage in the conference (.363) Carroll has played strong in important games this season, most notably against Richmond, who held the second-best record in the conference. Carroll saved 11-20 shots in the April win over the Spiders, who had an undefeated conference record up to that point.

This loss leaves NCAA Tournament hopes up in the air for UMass, who was ranked No. 13 nationally (InsideLacrosse) before this game. 16 teams qualify for the Tournament and Saint Joseph’s earned an automatic bid after winning Sunday.

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