Women’s lacrosse: UMass takes down Richmond in battle of top A-10 teams

Staff Writer 
Published: 4/10/2022 7:22:10 PM
Modified: 4/10/2022 7:20:59 PM

AMHERST – For the last few years, the UMass women’s lacrosse team’s way into the NCAA Tournament went through Richmond. Along with the Minutewomen, the Spiders have been a perennial contender at the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference, and the two teams have battled for conference dominance time and time again. 

On Sunday, the Minutewomen reigned supreme over the Spiders in a 15-9 victory at Garber Field, extending their win streak to nine games and giving them the No. 1 spot atop the A-10 with a perfect 6-0 record in conference play. UMass is 12-2 on the season overall.

UMass goalie Gina Carroll admitted to being a little “starstruck” when she saw Richmond, one of the Minutewomen’s fiercest rivals. The last time that UMass faced the Spiders was a heartbreaking 19-18 OT loss in the 2019 A-10 championship game. Carroll was on the sidelines for that game, watching the Spiders celebrate as the Minutewomen’s dreams of a title were dashed. This time she was in net and got to walk away with a much more satisfying outcome.

“It's a relief,” Carroll said. “A couple of us have been holding that grudge a little bit, especially for me since freshman year. It's been three years since we got to play them but it's nice to come out on top.” 

If anything, the win proved that this Minutewomen team has what it takes to once again sit atop the A-10 when tournament time rolls around. If they do, they’ll earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, another feat that has become an expectation since head coach Angela McMahon-Serpone took over the program 12 years ago.

This group in particular had to do some soul-searching early this season after dropping two of their first five games, including a 22-5 blowout loss against defending national champion Boston College. When they hit another road bump in a tight 17-14 loss to UConn, the team took a long look in the mirror before their next game in Nashville against Vanderbilt. They haven’t looked back from there. 

“I think the Vanderbilt game for us was a really key turning point. Just finding our identity and figuring out our style of play and really buying into that,” McMahon-Serpone said. “Really it's a mindset for us. When we're aggressive and we're locked in, really focused on the details and the fundamentals, I think we're a really tough team to stop.” 

That aggressive style of play has been prevalent in both their offensive and defensive play. The Minutewomen swarmed the Spiders on Sunday, particularly in the first half, where they limited the visitors to just 12 shots over the first two quarters. As of April 7, UMass was ranked fourth in the country in scoring offense, averaging 17.17 goals per game; they’re also tied for 13th overall in scoring defense, allowing just 9.58 goals per game. 

The team’s depth has keyed that success. Seven players on the UMass roster have scored at least 20 points in 14 games this season, and its lead scorer, Kendra Harbinger, scored her 50th point of the season against Richmond on Sunday. Harbinger is new to the team this season, transferring from the University of Albany, and she’s made an immediate impact. 

“She’s just so dynamic and hard to stop. She can go either way. She plays really well with her teammates,” McMahon-Serpon said. “She sees her teammates well, but most importantly, she's just a great fit from a culture perspective and what she brings personality-wise. She's so positive, she always has a smile on her face, and just really brings great energy every single day.” 

Harbinger said it’s been easy to fit in with her new team, despite only knowing her teammates for nine months.

“I think we all have a team mentality. No one is selfish,” Harbinger said. “Connecting off the field is a huge part of it. I feel like everyone loves each other, we're all best friends. So I think that you can see that on the field when we play.”  

The Minutewomen will look to extend their win streak to 12 in their final three games of the regular season before they defend their A-10 title on home turf at Garber Field. The first round of the A-10 championships will be on April 28.


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