UMass controls Colorado, advance in NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament

  • HUNTER MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHYHannah Murphy (center) and the UMass women's lacrosse team beat Colorado, 13-7 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday. HUNTER MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Friday, May 12, 2017

On Wednesday, UMass women’s lacrosse coach Angela McMahon said the key to beating Colorado in the first game of the NCAA Tournament was controlling possession.

Even she couldn’t have dreamed how well her team would heed those instructions after intermission.

Colorado barely touched the ball in the second half as the Minutewomen pulled away for a dominant 13-7 win, Friday at Penn.

“We spent the first half on defense and the second half on offense,” McMahon said. “Everybody stepped up. It took us a little too long to find our offensive rhythm in the first half, but once we found it in the second, we’re the type of team that can go on a run, which we did.”

UMass (17-3) will take on Navy (15-4), Sunday at 1 p.m. The Midshipmen upset No. 7 Penn, 11-10, in the first game in Philadelphia.

At halftime it looked like UMass and Colorado would be another tough game for fan fingernails on both sides.

UMass had a tight regular season finale and a down-to-the-wire Atlantic 10 championship game. So a 6-5 lead after a tight back-and-forth half looked like familiar territory.

Colorado scored 2 minutes, 58 seconds into the second half and had a chance to take a lead, but two big saves just over a minute apart seemed to spur UMass.

The Minutewomen scored the game’s next five goals. Hannah Burnett and Holly Turner each had two, and Hannah Murphy had the other as UMass led 11-6 with 13:58 remaining.

The Buffaloes never really threatened after that. As the clock wound down Colorado was forced to hurry and gamble, and UMass took advantage.

Lauren Hiller, UMass’ freshman keeper stopped 16 shots.

“Our defense did a good job of forcing some of their players into taking some lower angle shots that allowed Lauren to see the ball and track it,” McMahon said. “Any time you make stops like that, we’re pushing transition hard which gives you instant opportunities.”

The Minutewomen won 15 of 22 draws, including eight of 10 in the second half. Murphy won 12 of them to go with her two goals and two assists.

Turner finished with four goals and two assists, while Burnett had three.

The victory over the Quakers (13-4) was the first for Navy over a ranked opponent in school history. In addition, it was the second NCAA Tournament win in program history.

“They’re well coached, they’re disciplined and they work really hard. They’re tough. They’re gritty,” McMahon said. “They’re a really good team with a couple really strong players. We’re going to have to come out, have a good start and make sure we set the tone early and use the momentum coming off this win. For us this isn’t enough. We want to keep this going. This is a really special group.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage