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UMass women's lacrosse to play UConn in NCAA tourney 

The University of Massachusetts women's lacrosse team will play Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday. The Minutewomen are seen here with their Atlantic 10 championship trophy after defeating Duquesne April 28 at McGuirk Stadium.
GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

The University of Massachusetts women's lacrosse team will play Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday. The Minutewomen are seen here with their Atlantic 10 championship trophy after defeating Duquesne April 28 at McGuirk Stadium. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

The Minutewomen (17-2) will play Connecticut at a time to be determined Friday at State College, Pa. The victor will play Sunday against the winner of No. 7 overall seed Penn State and Canisius.

The first-round game will draw added interest from long-time UMass fans given the historic rivalry between the two New England state schools.

And there are personal connections between the coaching staffs as well. Minutewoman head coach Angela McMahon was the Huskies’ head coach before being hired at UMass in 2010. Minutewoman assistant Whitney Michelle is a UConn alum.

Huskie head coach Katie Woods went to Drew University and graduated with McMahon’s husband Justin Serpone, who was the student body president there.

“It’ll be really fun,” McMahon said. “Not just because it’s my old job, but because the New England state school rivalry. Those type of teams you get fired up to play against. The familiarity of the programs do make it special. It’s just really exciting.”

In the NCAA’s new 26-team field, the top eight seeds host regionals and the top six teams get byes in the first round. Penn State (12-6) is one of only two teams (No. 8 Navy is the other) hosting a regional that has to play a first-round game. Canisius, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs, is 14-4.

“All week we were hoping we would get a draw like this and we did,” junior attack Katie Ferris said. “This weekend will be a big step for us. We came into to this season saying this is a year for us to do better than we previously have. We’re in a good spot right now.”

This is the first NCAA bid in program history for UConn (13-4 , 5-3 Big East).

Penn State has been a rough postseason venue for UMass teams in 2012-13. Both the field hockey and men’s lacrosse teams had their seasons ended in tournament play at State College.

FERRIS HEALTHY — After playing limited minutes in last weekend’s conference tournament, Ferris, the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, is healthy and expects to play Friday.

“We’re excited to get her back on the field working with the team,” McMahon said.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.

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