#3 Massachusetts (8-8) vs. #2 La Salle (9-6)
Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament Semifinals
Pittsburgh, Pa. Duquesne University Rooney Field
Friday, April 23, 2010 3:30 PM
Broadcast: Gametracker & Streaming Video
UMass, La Salle Re-Match In Atlantic 10 Semifinals
It is a rematch of the Atlantic 10 Regular-Season finale from just five days ago as the No. 3 seed UMass women's lacrosse team (8-8) faces the No. 2 seed La Salle Explorers (9-6) in the Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals on Friday afternoon (3:30 PM) at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The Minutewomen have qualified for their third straight Atlantic 10 Tournament after making Championship Game appearances in each of the last two. In 2009, UMass won the Atlantic 10 Tournament for its first berth in the NCAA Tournament in 25 years.
This will be the first time UMass and La Salle have faced each other in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 seeded Richmond will face No. 4 seed Temple in the first semifinal game at Rooney Field.
UMass entered last Sunday's game against La Salle with a chance to win the A-10 Regular-Season title, but lost 10-9 as the Explorers scored twice in the final 26 seconds of play. UMass had been tied with Richmond for the A-10 league, but had beaten the Spiders earlier in the season. The loss coupled with a Richmond win gave the Spiders the top seed in the tourney and gave the Explorers the No. 2 seed over UMass.
Fans can follow all the action with GameTracker live stats and live streaming video from Rooney Field. If UMass makes the championship game on Sunday, fans can watch live on CBS College Sports.
How They Got Here
UMass started the season with a 2-1 record after losing the season opener to No. 1 Northwestern in San Diego before picking up convincing wins at Holy Cross and Connecticut. The offense that combined for 33 goals in those two wins, however, stalled as the Minutewomen scored just eight goals in the next three games - all loses - against No. 10 Boston University, Harvard, and #19 New Hampshire.
After a 9-5 win over Yale, the Minutewomen dropped a pair of road games at Stony Brook and Albany to start a six-game road stand.
UMass jumped out to a 3-0 start in Atlantic 10 play with wins at George Washington, Richmond and Temple. The road trip was closed out with a tough 12-10 loss at Duquesne before the Minutewomen defeated St. Bonaventure in the first home game for nearly a month.
As the A-10 schedule hit its final weekend, it took a double-overtime effort with heroics from Jackie Lyons and freshman goalie Christina Fey for the Minutewomen to pull out a 14-13 win over Saint Joseph's setting them up to win the A-10 Regular Season Title.
La Salle, in the midst of one of its best seasons ever, however, had other plans in mind defeating the Minutewomen 10-9 leap-frogging UMass in the standings and giving Richmond the No. 1 seed in the A-10 Tournament. The La Salle loss also meant that the two teams would face each other again just five days later in Pittsburgh.
Season Video Highlights & Interviews
Jackie Lyons and Jesse O'Donnell have led the Minutewomen offensively throughout the season. Lyons leads the team in points with 38 goals and 16 assists, while O'Donnell has recorded 33 goals and 8 assists. O'Donnell has posted a point in every game this season, while Lyons has had a point in every game but one.
Katie Florence stands strong in net for the Minutewomen with a 9.94 goals-against-average and a .431 save percentage. She has shaved nearly a goal-and-a-half off her 2009 goals-against-average.
After 16 games UMass averages 10.6 goals a game and has a .436 shooting percentage.
UMass In The Atlantic 10 Tournament
In 10 appearances in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, UMass sports a 6-7 overall record. UMass made it to the Championship Game in 2000, 2003, 2008 and 2009 - winning the Tournament title in 2000 and 2009.
This will be the first time UMass and La Salle have met in the A-10 Tournament. UMass has played Temple four times; Richmond four times; Virginia Tech twice; and Duquesne, George Washington and Saint Joseph's once. UMass is 2-2 all-time against Richmond in the A-10 Tournament including the dramatic 10-9 overtime win in 2008 where UMass tied the game with one second left in regulations.
UMass has played four overtime games in its A-10 Tournament history posting a 4-0 record. Two of those OT wins were for the league championship titles.
The Series With La Salle
UMass is 11-1 all-time against La Salle with the lone loss coming last Sunday in the final A-10 game of the year. Last season the Minutewomen defeated the Explorers 17-2. This will be the first-ever neutral site game between the two teams.
In last week's meeting, La Salle scored four of the final five goals of the game including the game-tying and game-winning goals in the final 26 seconds of the game. Melanie Sarcinello tied the game on a free position shot with 26 seconds left, while Lauren McDermott scored the game-winning goal with 2 seconds to play. Jackie Lyons led UMass with three goals, while McDermott led La Salle with four goals alongside Jill Davis who had three goals and two assists.
Venechanos Era Keeps Improving
In head coach Alexis Venechanos' fourth season, UMass has seen improvement in each year of her tenure. The Minutewomen were 8-9 in her inaugural campaign finished 3-4 in the A-10 (5th Place). In 2008, UMass was 7-11 overall, but earned the fourth-seed into the A-10 Tournament with a 4-3 record reaching the Championship Game. Last year, a team that looked to be rebuilding with a large freshman class and needing to replace the bulk of its offense and defense, Venechanos guided the team through a tough non-conference slate to the A-10 Regular-Season title, the A-10 Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in 25 years finishing the year with an 11-8 overall record.
This will mark the third time in Venechanos' four years that UMass has made the A-10 Tournament.
Since joining the UMass women's lacrosse team Venechanos has an overall record of 34-36, an Atlantic 10 regular season record of 18-10, and an A-10 Tournament record of 3-1.
Last Time Out: UMass 9, La Salle 10
La Salle scored a pair of goals in the final 26 seconds of play, including the game-winner with two seconds to go, as the Explorers defeated the UMass women's lacrosse team 10-9 at McGuirk Stadium.
After trailing by three with 6:48 remaining in the game, La Salle used a three-goal run to tie the game on a Melanie Sarcinello free position shot with 26 seconds to go. On the ensuing draw control, both teams fought to control the ball before a foul was called on UMass just outside it's offensive restraining line. La Salle took possession and Lauren McDermott streaked down the field to score the game-winning goal with just two seconds left on the clock.
Overall, the game was a back-and-forth affair. The Minutewomen jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the first four minutes of the game. Following the Senior Day ceremonies, seniors Stephanie Hopkins and Merritt Cosgrove scored two of the opening three goals.
Both teams traded goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half before Dayna Defliese, Sarcona and Jackie Lyons all scored consecutive goals to put UMass up 8-5 with 9:26 to go.
Stefany McKee stopped the run to bring La Salle back within two, but Lyons scored her third of the day with 6:48 left on a free position shot making it 9-6.
Jill Davis answered 39 seconds later with an unassisted tally and McDermott netted her third of the day with 2:50 remaining to make it a one-goal game.
Katie Florence took the loss in goal making five saves, while Megan Corliss made six to earn the win for La Salle.
Tough Non-Conference Slate
Three of UMass' first six games were against nationally ranked opponents including No. 1 and five-time defending National Champion Northwestern. Following the A-10 Tournament, UMass still has No. 3 Maryland remaining on the regular-season schedule.
vs. #1 Northwestern - L, 6-18 - Feb. 6
at #10 Boston University - L, 8-10 - Feb. 24
at #13 New Hampshire - L, 8-11 - Mar. 3
Even the non-conference team's that UMass played who were not ranked proved tough foes for the Minutewomen. Albany is currently 11-2 on the year and 4-0 in America East, while UConn is on the rise after former UMass assistant coach Angela McMahon took over two years ago putting together an 8-6 record in 2010. Both Harvard and Yale are both near .500 overall and in the race for the Ivy League.
10 To Win
UMass is 7-1 this season when scoring 10 or more goals in a game. The lone loss was on the road at Duquesne on April 9 (L, 10-12). The Minutewomen are also 7-3 in games where the hold opponents under 10 goals.
Closer Than You Think
Of UMass' eight loses this year, five were by three-or-fewer goals. The two A-10 losses were by a combined three goals including the one-goal 10-9 loss to La Salle to close out the regular season. In the non-conference season, UMass dropped a tough 10-8 decision to No. 10 Boston University and suffered an 11-8 loss to No. 19 New Hampshire.
Tops Among The A-10
Overall, UMass has the best defense in the Atlantic 10 ranking first in goals allowed average (9.73) while ranking fourth in caused turnovers (7.06). The Minutewomen are also one of the top team's in the league for possession stats. UMass commits the second fewest misues (14.25) while holding the second highest draw control average (12.56).
In A-10 games, UMass' GAA average dips to 8.83 while the caused turnovers is tops at 8/game. UMass is also the second leading scoring team behind Richmond.
Lyons Roaring Into Postseason
Sophomore attack Jackie Lyons is the engine that runs the Minutewomen. She leads the team in scoring this season for the second straight year. Last season, she was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team and the A-10 Tournament MVP.
This season, she has 38 goals and 16 assists leading UMass in both categories. Her 24 goals in Atlantic 10 play also leads the conference.
For the year, she has scored at least a point in every game but one and has 10 multi-goal games. Her productivity has skyrocketed in April where she has 20 goals, 8 assists and two game-winning goals.
For her career, she has 11 game-winning goals.
Lyons Moves Into UMass Record Books
Jackie Lyons has added her name to the UMass top-10 career assists and points lists. Lyons reached the mark after recording a total of three assists against George Washington and Richmond. With the addition of an assist against Saint Joseph's, Lyons has moved up for sixth all-time at UMass for career assists (47) and needs just one more to move into fifth with Kerri Connerty.
The three goals Lyons scored against La Salle gives her 138 for her career which moves her into 8th all-time career points. She needs two points to move into 7th and 36 to move into 6th.
Lyons is closing in on reaching the mark for top 10 career goals; she has 91 needing only five more to tie for 10th (96, Ginny Armstrong) and 10 more for 9th (98, Laura Korutz).
The Streak Is Alive
Jesse O'Donnell scored her first collegiate goal last season against Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament First Round and hasn't stopped scoring since. She enters the A-10 Tournament with a 17 game point streak in place have produced at least a point in every game of the season plus last year's Northwestern game. She is the only Minutewoman to produce a point in every game. She had scored a goal in every game dating back to the Northwestern game, but that was broken up against La Salle last Sunday.
Four of UMass' players have provided double-duty throughout the course of the year. Midfielders Haley Smith and Dayna Defliese and defenders Ali Houlis and Riley Perry have spent time contributing on both sides of midfield. Smith and Defliese have turned into solid defensive players with Defliese one of the team's leaders in caused turnovers and groundballs. Smith has become a tough defensive player as well and her speed lends itself to the transition game. Houlis and Perry each have strong passing skills which have pulled them into the offensive attack zone. The defensive duo have also put home a few goals to help the scoring cause.
Offense Spreads the Wealth
Paced by the scoring duo of Jackie Lyons and Jesse O'Donnell, seven players have posted double-digit scoring totals for the season. Lyons leads the team with 54 points followed by O'Donnell's 41 points giving the pair nearly half of UMass' point production.
Danielle Pelletier and Nina Sarcona are also have career season's to date. Pelletier has 19 goals and 11 assists followed by Sarcona's 17 goals, 10 assists.
Captain Merritt Cosgrove is having her best goal scoring season after playing for Team Ireland in the 2009 FIL World Cup. Cosgrove has 19 goals and 3 assists to round out UMass' 20+ point scorers.
Taking On New Roles
While Danielle Pelletier, Nina Sarcona and Dayna Defliese certainly played major roles in their rookie campaigns, the 2009 season has seen the trio flourish in new roles. Pelletier and Sarcona have become key parts of the offense as both goal scorers and feeders, while Defliese has become a fixture in the defense - so much so that she led the team in caused turnovers during the A-10 season. Pelletier and Sarcona have lightened the scoring load from Lyons and O'Donnell give other teams two more threats to concentrate on, while Defliese has added to a solid defensive corps that is the best in the Atlantic 10.
Cosgrove Closing In On Games Played Record
Senior captain Merritt Cosgrove has started all 70 games of her career and needs just two more games to tie the program's games played and games started records. Both were set last season by Jackie Rosenzweig who started 72 consecutive games from 2006-09. Cosgrove is just the fifth player in program history to play in 70 games and only she and Rosenzweig have started 70 or more contests.
`Flo' One Of A-10' Top Goalkeepers
With Head Coach Alexis Venechanos being one of the top goalies in the country and in the Atlantic Coast Conference during her career at Maryland, it was a given that recruiting and training a top goalie would be part of her strengths. She has done that the last two years with sophomore Katie "Flo" Florence (Norfolk, Mass.) who has started every game of the last two seasons turning out to be one of the best keepers in the Atlantic 10.
Three times this year, Florence has been named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Week. While she does not have as many saves this year as she did in 2009 (118-to-186), she has lowered her GAA from 11.43 in 2009 to 9.94 in 2010.
Against Temple, Florence allowed only seven goals while making 10 saves, picking up three groundballs and causing one turnover. Florence also helped lead UMass to wins over Richmond and George Washington the previous weekend - allowing 15 goals while making 17 saves.
For her career, Florence is now 18-16 overall with a 10.76 goals against average and a .449 save percentage. She has allowed 10-or-fewer goals 17 times in her two years. She also eclipsed the 2,000 minute barrier this year entering the weekend having played 2,080 minutes.
As a freshman in 2009, Katie Florence established herself as one of the up-and-coming goalies in the country and one of the best in the Atlantic 10. She finished the year with 11.43 goals against average and a .462 save percentage along with an 11-8-0 record. She started all 20 games playing nearly 1,200 minutes in cage.
Young Defense Is The A-10's Best Unit
One of the biggest losses from 2009 was that of four-year started defender Jackie Rosenzweig. The oldest true defensive player was junior Nazy Kerr with senior Merritt Cosgrove having played as a defensive midfielder in 2009. Three of the returning defensive starters were sophomores Riley Perry and Ali Sabitus with fellow sophomore Katie Florence in goal. The fourth defensive starter proved to be freshman Jordan Renna which allowed Cosgrove to play more on the attack.
The result has been a defense that ranks as the top in the Atlantic 10. UMass has allowed nearly 20 fewer goals in 2010 (157) than 2009 (174) through 16 games and has dropped the goals-against-average down nearly two goals (9.73-to-11.44).
UMass has also allowed 10-or-fewer goals in a game on 10 occassions in 2010 compared to eight times in 2009 (including the A-10 semifinal game against George Washington).
Fey Earns First Career Win In Dramatic Fashion
After playing spot duty in just three games this year, freshman Christina Fey earned her first career win in dramatic fashion making four key saves in UMass' 14-13 double-overtime win against Saint Joseph's. Fey played the final 5:37 of regulation which included a save with just 22 second to go keeping the game tied. In the first six minute overtime, Fey made a pair of critical saves to again keep the Hawks off the scoreboard which forced the sudden-death OT perido whern Jackie Lyons scored the game-winning goal.
Cosgrove, Walker Go International
Senior Merritt Cosgrove and associate head coach Acacia Walker each spent time abroad over the summer in the FIL World Cup held in Prague. Cosgrove played for Team Ireland along with former teammate Jackie Rosenzweig, while Walker played for Gold medalist Team USA. Cosgrove and Rosenzweig helped the Irish to a fifth-place finish in their first FIL World Cup competition.
Big Shoes To Fill
Although only losing three starters, all seniors, from last season's squad, Alexis Venechanos will need to find some players to fill the voids left by the key trio of Holly Drown, Meghan Reddy and Jackie Rosenzweig.
Reddy and Drown were the second and fourth leading scorers on the team, respectively. Reddy notched 35 goals and 11 assists to go with a school-record 78 draw controls. Twice she had 12 draw controls in a game which is among the best in NCAA history. Drown had 30 goals and 5 assists along with 44 draw controls and 22 groundballs - second most on the team in both.
Rosenzweig started every game of her career and was one of the best defensive players ever at UMass. She finished her career with 84 caused turnovers and 100 groundballs and was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection in 2009.
What A Season 2009 Was
It was a magical finish to 2009 as the Minutewomen won eight of their final nine games to make the first NCAA Tournament since 1984. UMass tied a school record for wins in A-10 play (6-1) and posted the most overall wins (11) since 2003. With 204 goals scored, UMass set a new single-season team scoring record as well as a new team record for draw controls (258). The 269 points were also the second best mark in school history.