UMass women’s lacrosse falls to Temple in NCAA Tournament

  • UMass' Haley Connaughton drives toward the goal while defended by Temple's Courtney Taylor during the first round of the NCAA women's lacrosse tournament in Chestnut Hill on Friday. UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/14/2021 8:51:28 PM

A valiant second-half comeback by the shorthanded UMass women’s lacrosse team fell just short on Friday. 

Taking on Temple in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Chestnut Hill, the Minutewomen found themselves down seven players — including top two goal-scorers Kelly Marra and Stephanie Croke — due to COVID-19 protocols. The announcement came just before the game, yet there was no quit in UMass. 

The Owls raced out to a 9-4 lead at the half and extended the lead to 12-6 with 22 minutes to play. That’s when the Minutewomen rallied, tallying five straight to cut the Temple lead to 12-11 with 15:19 to go. The two teams traded goals the rest of the way but the Owls never relinquished their lead, ultimately coming away with a 14-13 victory. 

“I’m so proud of this team,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “They battled so hard. I was so confident in them. They elevated their game and stepped up and put themselves in a position to win the game. Being down 10-4 against a strong and well coached Temple team, to be able to make that comeback shows how much we’ve grown. So many people had to step up and play different roles that they haven’t played before. Some attackers played defense, defenders were playing attack and in the midfield and they took it all in stride and put their best foot forward and did what was best for the team.” 

The Owls (13-5) move on to play Boston College in the second round at 1 p.m. on Sunday after BC defeated Fairfield, 19-6, on Friday. 

UMass (15-3) had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds off a shot from Kaitlyn Cerasi, but the shot sailed over the goal and the Minutewomen didn’t have enough time to get another shot off. 

“We got a great shot off at the end,” McMahon said. “It just went a couple inches over the goal. We were just a second or two short in terms of getting the second shot but we fought right until the final whistle.”

Cerasi looked to even the score for UMass in the final two minutes on the possession prior, but her shot hit the top of the crossbar and dropped down right near the goal line, with the refs ruling it a no-goal. 

Cerasi finished with five goals and an assist for the Minutewomen, three of her goals coming in the first half. Haley Connaughton had a pair of goals and assists in the loss. 

Belle Mastropietro was the thorn in the UMass defense’s side, finishing with five goals and an assist, four of her goals coming in the first 30 minutes of play to give Temple its lead. 

With a challenging season like no other in the books, McMahon is proud of the fight her team showed throughout the year and the commitment they had to one another. Friday was the first game all season a Minutewomen player missed due to COVID protocols. 

“I felt so confident in the group we had,” McMahon said. “Your heart breaks for the kids who couldn’t play. It’s so disappointing for the players who end their career that way. They’ve given so much to this program, the fifth-years who came back for this reason to see this through and help our team advance as far as we could go. I’m devastated for them. At the same time, the work that they’ve done and where they’ve put our program, they’ve left behind a great legacy and culture. They’ve elevated our program to a whole other level.

“Not only can they be proud of what they’re leaving behind, they’ve instilled those values to the younger kids who can now go on and continue building on that legacy and culture.”

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