January 10, 2013

#LMranks: No. 17 UMass Minutewomen

Katie Ferris set UMass' program record for points, goalie and assists in a season in 2012 and is the returning A10 Offensive Player of the Year.
© UMass Athletics

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Team Page/Schedule

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Friday with profiles of the 16th-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 4*
Defense: 2
Goalkeeping: 2
Draw: 3
* Out of 5

Top Returner

A Katie Ferris (Jr.)
Whitney Thayer scored 74 points in 1981 to set a UMass school record that stood for 31 years. Ferris smashed it in 2012, rattling off 98 points to set a new mark for the Minutewomen. Her goals (59) and assists (39) were new school records too, and her 98 points are now the all-time Atlantic 10 record. She was the 2012 A10 Offensive Player of the Year.

X-Factor

A Cori Murray (Sr.)
Murray came off the bench to become the Minutewomen's No. 4 scorer. She was named the MVP of the A10 tournament, memorably scoring five goals on five shots in a 14-9 championship game win over Richmond. With the loss of Jesse O'Donnell to graduation, expect to see a lot more of Murray in 2013.

What's New?

The goalie. Three-year starter Katie Florence graduated, and sophomore Rachael Vallarelli is the odds-on replacement. Vallarelli played in 12 games last year (although without any starts), making 46 saves and posting a .484 save percentage. She'll have the advantage of excellent coaching, since former Northwestern goalie Brianne LoManto is now a UMass assistant.

What's Not?

The likelihood that the Minutewomen will repeat as A10 champs. They've won four conference titles in a row, they haven't lost a league game since 2010 and they are the hosts of the 2013 A10 tournament.

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

Monday: No. 20 Princeton
Tuesday: No. 19 Boston College
Wednesday: No. 18 Stony Brook
Thursday: No. 17 UMass
Friday: No. 16

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

2012 Recap

Record: 19-2, 7-0 A10

In a Nutshell: UMass rode the No. 2 offense in the nation (15.81 goals per game) to a 19-2 record and a fourth straight A10 championship. They had to rally to defeat Canisius, 13-12, in an NCAA tournament play-in game, and then ran into the Maryland buzzsaw in the first round, losing 15-12.

High Point: A 12-11 OT win versus America East champion Albany on March 21. The game featured six ties and five lead changes, and was finally won when Nina Sarcona (one goal, one assist) scored on a Ferris (three goals, three assists) assist in the extra period.

Low Point: A 19-7 loss at Northwestern on March 17. It was the team's only regular season loss, and hardly any visitors succeed at Lakeside Field, but the blowout illustrated how far the Minutewomen have to go if they want to compete on the national stage. The Wildcats held Ferris to zero shots, raced to a 13-3 halftime lead and played their entire roster.

2013 Preview

Best Case: The offense keeps churning out points, especially Katie Ferris, who has a monster season and repeats as the A10 Offensive Player of the Year. The expanded NCAA tournament field of 26 benefits UMass, which doesn't get a bye in the first round but draws a relatively easy opponent. They gets their first NCAA tournament win since 1984.

Worst Case: The offense misses Jesse O'Donnell and Nina Sarcona too much, and the defense is soft without Ali Houlis (29 CT) and Riley Perry (42 CT). The Minutemen struggle against ranked opponents and get tripped up by an upstart (Richmond? Duquesne?) in the conference tournament. The Minutewomen finish the season with a decent win-loss record, but no hardware.


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