May 4, 2010
Massachusetts (10-9) At #15 Stanford (14-5)
Stanford, Calif. Laird Q. Cagan Stadium
Saturday, May 8, 2010 4:00 PM (EST)/1:00 PM (PST)
Broadcast: Live Streaming Video
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UMass Heads To #15 Stanford For Chance To Dance
The UMass women's lacrosse team heads to No. 15 Stanford on Saturday (4 PM EST/1 PM PST) for the NCAA Play-In Game where the winner will advance to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The game pits the Atlantic 10 Champion Minutewomen against the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Champion. UMass (10-9) won its second straight A-10 Tournament Title, while Stanford (14-5) won its sixth straight MPSF Tournament Title. This is the first time the two schools have met on the lacrosse field.
UMass is playing for its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and second in the last two seasons. UMass won the 1982 NCAA National Title and had appearances in the 1983 and 1984 NCAA Tournament Semifinals.
UMass is coming off its second straight Atlantic 10 Tournament Title after the Minutewomen defeated La Salle in the Semifinals and Richmond in the Championship game. Jackie Lyons scored eight goals and added three assists on the weekend to earn her second-straight Tournament MVP honor.
In addition to Lyons being named to the All-Tournament Team, Merritt Cosgrove, Dayna Defliese, Jesse O'Donnell and Danielle Pelletier were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Fans can follow all the action with live streaming video from Laird Q. Cagan Stadium. A links to the broadcast can be found on UMassAthletics.com.
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, UMass 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 meet again just five days later in Pittsburgh.
In the rematch between UMass and La Salle in the A-10 Semifinals, the Minutewomen used a five-goal run midway through the first half to build a 7-4 cushion enroute to a 9-7 win advancing to the Championship game for the third straight year.
scored five goals and added two assists to lead UMass to its second straight A-10 Tournament title with a 12-10 win over Richmond. Lyons was named Tournament MVP for the second consecutive year. After the two teams were tied 9-9 with 16:29 to play, UMass scored three straight goals for the win.
Jackie Lyons and Jesse O'Donnell have led the Minutewomen offensively throughout the season. Lyons leads the team in points with 46 goals and 19 assists, while O'Donnell has recorded 37 goals and 9 assists. O'Donnell has posted a point in every game this season, while Lyons has had a point in every game but two.
Katie Florence stands strong in net for the Minutewomen with a 10.07 goals-against-average and a .432 save percentage. She has shaved nearly a goal-and-a-half off her 2009 goals-against-average (11.43).
After 19 games UMass averages 10.26 goals a game and has a .430 shooting percentage.
UMass In The NCAA Tournament
UMass has been to the NCAA Tournament on four prior occassions with the most recent being in 2009. Prior to that, UMass appeared in the Big Dance in 1982, 1983, and 1984. The Minutewomen won the 1982 National Championship - the first NCAA sponsored NCAA championship for women's lacrosse. In 1983 and 1984, UMass reached the semifinals. This is UMass' first-ever appearance in an NCAA Play-In Game.
UMass In The Atlantic 10 Tournament
In 10 appearances in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, UMass sports an 8-7 overall record. UMass made it to the Championship Game in 2000, 2003, 2008, 2009 and 2010 - winning the Tournament title in 2000, 2009, and 2010.
The Series: Stanford
Saturday's game at Stanford will be the first-ever meeting between the Minutewomen and the Cardinal. UMass and Stanford have met in several other sports most recently being the NCAA Softball Regional held in Amherst in 2008.
The only common opponent this year between the two teams is Northwestern. UMass lost the season-opener to the Wildcats 18-6, while Stanford fell 18-11 on Feb. 26 in Stanford.
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 marked the third time in Venechanos' four years that UMass made the A-10 Tournament Championship Game and the first time in program history that UMass won back-to-back tournament titles. Since joining the UMass women's lacrosse team Venechanos has an overall record of 36-37, an Atlantic 10 regular season record of 18-10, and an A-10 Tournament record of 5-1.
Last Time Out: UMass 4, #1 Maryland 14
No. 1 Maryland jumped out to a 7-0 start and never looked back as the Terps defeated UMass 14-4 last Saturday at Ludwig Field. UMass senior Merritt Cosgrove led the Minutewomen with two goals as she started her 73rd career game which is a new program record.
Maryland (17-1) held UMass to just one first half goal while jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first 18 minutes of play.
Cosgrove scored twice to lead the Minutewomen, while Jesse O'Donnell and Danielle Pelletier each scored a goal as well.
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 played the No. 1 team in the land once more - this time, however, it was at Maryland to finish out 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
at #1 Maryland - L, 4-14 - May 1
Even the non-conference team's that UMass played who were not ranked proved tough foes for the Minutewomen. Albany is currently 13-2 on the year and 6-0 in America East, while UConn is on the rise after former UMass assistant coach Angela McMahon took over two years ago putting together an 9-8 record in 2010. Both Harvard and Yale finished the season near .500 overall.
If UMass wins the NCAA Play-In game against the MPSF league champion, the Minutewomen could possibly face the No. 1 team in the country for the third time this year in the NCAA First Round.
10 To Win
UMass is 8-1 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 9-3 in games where the hold opponents to 10-or-fewer goals.
Closer Than You Think
Of UMass' nine 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 had the best defense in the Atlantic 10 ranking first in goals allowed average (9.60) while ranking fourth in caused turnovers (7.17). The Minutewomen are also one of the top team's in the league for possession stats. UMass committed the second fewest miscues (14.11) while holding the third highest draw control average (12.44).
Lyons Roaring Into Postseason
Junior attack Jackie Lyons is the engine that runs the Minutewomen. She leads the team in scoring this season for the second straight year. In 2010, she has been named the Atlantic 10's Offensive Player of the Year, was a First Team All-Conference selections for the second straight year, and was the A-10 Tournament MVP for the second straight year.
This season, she has 46 goals and 19 assists leading UMass in both categories. Her 24 goals in Atlantic 10 play also led the conference.
For the year, she has scored at least a point in every game but two and has 12 multi-goal games. Her productivity has skyrocketed in April where she has 28 goals, 11 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 goals, assists and points lists. With her 8 goal, 3 assist weekend at the A-10 Tournament, Lyons now ranks 7th for career points (149), 8th for career goals (99), and 5th for career assists (50).
Lyons needs 25 more points to reach Jeanne Hackett for 6th all-time and 30 for fifth place. She is on pace to break the school record for points by the end of her senior season - 219 held by Cari Nickerson from 1977-80.
Lyons' next goal will be her 100th which will make her just the eighth player in program history to hit the century mark.
She also needs 7 assists to move into fourth all-time and 9 to move into third.
Her 65 points this season is the sixth-best mark for a single season, while her 46 goals ranks fifth. She needs one more assist crack the top-10 single-season list.
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 Maryland game with a 20 game point streak in place. 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 in the A-10 regular-season finale.
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 65 points followed by O'Donnell's 46 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 24 goals and 11 assists followed by Sarcona's 18 goals, 12 assists.
Captain Merritt Cosgrove is having her best goal scoring season after playing for Team Ireland in the 2009 FIL World Cup. Cosgrove has 24 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 giving 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 Sets Games Played Record
Senior captain Merritt Cosgrove has started all 73 games of her career setting 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-or-more 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 (142-to-186), she has lowered her GAA from 11.43 in 2009 to 10.07 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 20-17 overall with a 10.76 goals against average and a .448 save percentage. She has allowed 10-or-fewer goals 19 times in her two years. She also eclipsed the 2,000 minute barrier this year entering the weekend having played 2,253 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 32 fewer goals in 2010 (188) than 2009 (220) through 19 games and has dropped the goals-against-average down nearly two goals (9.83-to-11.44).
UMass has also allowed 10-or-fewer goals in a game on 12 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 period when 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.