UMass women’s lacrosse bests St. Joe’s for first A-10 title since 2017

  • UMass’ Courtney Barrett and Amy Moreau celerbate the team capturing the Atlantic 10 women’s lacrosse championship Sunday at Garber Field in Amherst. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass senior Kaitlyn Cerasi finished with seven points and was named the most outstanding player of Sunday’s Atlantic 10 women’s lacrosse championship. The Minutewomen defeated St. Joseph’s 18-7 to capture their first conference title and NCAA Tournament berth since 2017. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The UMass women’s lacrosee team celebrated winning its first Atlantic 10 championship since 2017 on Sunday at Garber Field in Amherst. The Minutewomen defeated St. Joseph’s 18-7. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The UMass women’s lacrosee team celebrated winning its first Atlantic 10 championship since 2017 on Sunday at Garber Field in Amherst. The Minutewomen defeated St. Joseph’s 18-7. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The UMass women’s lacrosee team celebrated winning its first Atlantic 10 championship since 2017 on Sunday at Garber Field in Amherst. The Minutewomen defeated St. Joseph’s 18-7. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2021 4:50:35 PM

Caitlyn Petro suffocated any chance St. Joseph’s had at the Atlantic 10 women’s lacrosse championship.

UMass’ senior draw control savant won 16 of 17 opportunities to gain possession – UMass went 25-of-27 overall – as the Minutewomen dominated the Hawks 18-7 at Garber Field on Sunday. She has 220 draw controls this year, which set UMass’ single-season mark and is four away from the NCAA record. Hailey Wagner of Marist grabbed 224 in 2019.

Petro leads the nation controlling 14.29 draws per game. Duke’s Maddie Jenner is second at 10.06. The gap between Petro and No. 2 is as large of a gap as between Jenner and No. 28, Loyola Maryland’s Livy Rosezweig.

“I think it was the key element of the game for us, especially in the beginning there when it seemed like both teams were feeling each other out,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “Midway through that first half when she really became dominant on the draws  and we started converting offensively... it felt like 20 minutes went by there where we were hardly playing any defense.”

They won their first conference tournament title and clinched their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2017. UMass has captured 10 of the past 12 A-10 championships. The Minutewomen will learn their opponent and seed during the May 9 selection show broadcast on the NCAA’s website.

It’s the first NCAA berth for any member of the team. Goalie Lauren Hiller, who made six saves, said after the game that opportunities like Sunday were one of the reasons she came back for a fifth year after last season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minutewomen had lost in their past two A-10 title game appearances in 2018 and 2019.

“It gives everything perspective when you lose. You don’t want to lose, but when you do lose you better learn something from it,” McMahon said. “We carried a lot of lessons from the past couple years.”

Petro’s dominance facilitated UMass’ offense, which ranks second in the nation averaging 18.27 goals per game. It only took the Minutewomen 55 seconds to open the scoring, as Kelly Marra found the net.

The second-seeded Minutewomen built a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Haley Connaughton and Kaitlyn Cerasi, but the No. 4 seed Hawks ripped off three consecutive goals to build a 4-3 advantage with 14 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first half. Two came from free position shots and a third was with a player advantage.

The lead lasted less than a minute. Olivia Muscella tied the game at 4, and UMass ripped off seven consecutive goals to build a 10-4 lead it didn’t look back from. 

“We were a little tight there. Once we started moving more off ball and had some nice assisted goals I think that’s when we started to find our rhythm a lot more,” McMahon said. “That’s key for us because it involves a lot more people in the offense. Once we come together and everyone’s involved, we’re really hard to stop.”

The Minutewomen opened the second half with six consecutive goals. Maddy Moloney’s tally with 17:46 remaining started a running clock after it put UMass up 15-5.

Cerasi led the Minutewomen with seven points on four goals and three assists. She was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Her third assist to Brinely Anderson with 10:05 remaining was the 144th of her career, which set a program career record.

“It’s a great representation of her as a person. She’s a connector on our team,” McMahon said. “She’s the nicest kid ever and cares about people and wanting everyone to be involved.”

Marra, Muscella and Stephanie Croke (assist) each had hat tricks, while Connaughton added two goals and two assists. Eight Minutewomen found their way on to the score sheet.

“Anyone can score at any time on our team. There are a lot of teams that do things differently and revolve their offense around one or two people I think it pay dividends for us,” McMahon said.

With so much time before the NCAA Tournament selection and the tournament itself, McMahon said UMass is going to try and schedule another game next weekend. But it might not happen due to so many teams playing conference tournaments over different dates.

“If it works, great, if it doesn’t, we’re heading into finals here,” McMahon said. “It’s a win either way for us.”




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