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 emerges victorious in nail-biter over Saint Josephs

Hawks nearly come back from a six-goal deficit
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2024)

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team narrowly beat Saint Joseph’s University 10-9 in the Atlantic 10 semifinal at Rooney Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Minutewomen (13-4, 9-0 A-10) were named the A-10 regular season conference champions for the 2024 season and remain undefeated against conference opponents.

After seven unanswered goals in the first half for UMass, the Hawks (11-7, 6-3 A-10) slowly made a comeback in the second half. Sarah Groark scored a hat trick in under two minutes in the fourth quarter, tying the score at eight. Groark’s third goal came from a free position shot that got past UMass netminder Catrina Tobin.

Lil Hancock broke the tie a minute later, sliding through two defenders and getting the ball in the back of the net. The Hawks and Minutewomen went back and forth, with Emma O’Neill scoring a tying goal for SJU and Fiona McGowan taking the lead for UMass once again.

“[Friday] was definitely a battle,” head coach Jana Drummond said. “St. Joseph’s is such a respectable opponent and we knew that they were going to be tough, physical, aggressive, and they didn’t ever give up at any time, so for us it was just focusing on things we can control, the play-by-play at each moment, and just trying to execute as much as we could with our game plan.”

The Minutewomen started off strong, building a 7-1 lead in the first half. McGowan scored first on a quick wrap around the crease, and Charlotte Wilmoth scored 30 seconds later on a side-shot around a Hawks defender, giving Massachusetts the lead for the first time in the contest.

McGowan, Wilmoth and Skylar Simmonds all finished with two goals for the Minutewomen. Hancock, Tessa Shields, Kassidy Morris and Lauren Tolve each tallied one goal. Both of Simmonds’ goals were scored on woman-down opportunities for UMass.

“The mindset was just that we had to focus on us: be aggressive, be assertive, just dictating what we can and playing our game. That was the biggest thing, focusing on all the things we can do well, stick to the game plan, stick to our connectivity and our family dynamic and we will be just fine,” Drummond said.

The Hawks were led by Groark, Bonnie Yu and Maddie Yoder. Yu opened the game scoring the first goal in the first two minutes of regulation on a woman-up opportunity. Yoder broke the Hawk’s scoreless streak in the first half, scoring both the second and third goals for St. Josephs in the final minute of the second quarter. Kate Fuhrman also put up one goal for the Hawks on a woman-up opportunity.

“We just remind them that these are the controllables and focus on those things,” Drummond said. “When we have possession, let’s value it, and just going back to those game plans, they were getting a little bit of momentum so for us, it was just breathe, let’s go back to our fundamentals and focus on that.”

Both goalies put up strong performances against intense offenses. Tobin faced 23 shots on goal, finishing with 14 saves. The St. Joseph’s offense forced Tobin to make tough saves including free-position shots, a one on one between her and Yoder and a five-hole shot between her legs. Jorden Concordia was between the pipes for the Hawks, ending the game with 12 saves on 22 shots on goal.

“[Tobin] was just really dialed in,” Drummond said. “She was focused and committed to what she needed to do to make the saves, and really just brought a lot of energy to our team. She was always ready for those shots because they were coming at any point, especially when [St. Joseph’s] was down, they had to shoot a little bit more. She was tuned in to what was happening and helping keep that be the backbone of our defense.”

UMass struggled with cards throughout the entire game. The Minutewomen received two green cards and four yellow cards, with a total of 10 penalty minutes for UMass and woman-up opportunities for St. Josephs.

“We had to make sure we weren’t fouling,” Drummond said. “We were checking too much so then we just scaled that back a little bit, played defense with our feet, and that’s where we found way more success. It was those adjustments of just helping each other, moving our feet and not fouling to minimize that.”

The Minutewomen return to Rooney Field for the A-10 Championship game against the winner of Richmond/Davidson College on Sunday, May 5 at 12 p.m.

Devin Lippman can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @devinlippman.

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