UMass lacrosse: Minutewomen can’t stay with Johns Hopkins in opening-round NCAA tourney loss

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-12-2023 6:19 PM

The little missteps or cracks that slipped by during the Atlantic 10 regular season cost the UMass women’s lacrosse team in the NCAA Tournament.

Johns Hopkins pounded the Minutewomen in the first quarter and held them off for a 19-8 victory in Friday’s opening round in Syracuse, N.Y. The Blue Jays amassed 10 assists and shot 70.3 percent.

“They just came quickly. For us, we had a little bit of a slower start. That's where Hopkins really exposed all of those little details,” UMass coach Jana Drummond said. “We did a great job of getting the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, we weren't getting the ground balls, but it was a good battle and we gave it everything.” 

UMass never led or had much of a chance to. Bailey Cheetham put the Blue Jays on the board 1 minute, 7 seconds in. 

The Minutewomen responded with a goal from Charlotte Wilmoth, their lone bright spot, 4:14 later from Alex Finn (four assists) that knotted the game at 1, but Johns Hopkins ran away from there. The Blue Jays (9-8) ripped off six goals in a row to close the first quarter up 7-1.

Campbell Case (four goals, assist) pushed Johns Hopkins ahead 2-1 with 5:08 remaining in the opening frame. Ava Angello (assist) scored two of her four goals during that spurt, while Ashley Mackin (four goals, two assists) also tallied twice.

The Blue Jays defense kept UMass (16-3) off the board for 10:24 until Charlotte Clavelli opened the second quarter with a goal from Fiona McGowan to trim the deficit to 7-2. 

That’s as close as the Minutewomen got. They played an even second quarter 3-3, and Wilmoth opened the second half with a goal 10 seconds in to make it 10-5 Johns Hopkins. The Blue Jays scored five of the next six goals to extend their lead to 16-7 with 7:39 remaining. They also ended the game on a 3-0 run.

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“Everyone can see the scoreboard. We all know how many we were down by, so I think those are just the little things we’re trying to not think about and focus the little details and fundamentals is the most important,” Drummond said “But it’s very difficult being in those moments and being on that platform to not think about those things, so I don’t blame them for thinking about them.”

Johns Hopkins out shot UMass 39-19 and held a 17-13 advantage on the draw. The Blue Jays picked up six more ground balls (18-12) and had seven fewer turnovers (13) than the Minutewomen (20). UMass was whistled for six of the game’s nine yellow cards.

“They suffocated us on their ride,” Drummond said. “Those are the little details that if we just possessed and took an extra second we would have found success.”

All-American Fiona McGowan had a goal and an assist for the Minutewomen, as did Kassidy Morris, Clavelli and Kylee Bowen.

It was UMass’ worst loss of the season, supplanting a 16-6 defeat against then-No. 3 Boston College in the second game of the year Feb. 15. Johns Hopkins will face No. 2 Syracuse for a trip to the Elite 8 on Sunday after the Orange received a bye into the Round of 16.

The Minutewomen were playing in their third consecutive NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round for the third time.

Drummond, an assistant for the previous five years, led the Minutewomen to their 12th consecutive Atlantic 10 regular season title. They won 15 games in a row but ended on a two-game losing streak in the Atlantic 10 championship game against Richmond and in Friday's NCAA Tournament’s opening round.

“These last two games were tough battles. If they happened two months ago, it could have been a different outcome. There’s only one team out there in the country that’s going to end on a win,” Drummond. “That’s where we’re really proud of the team and we can’t look at ourselves as identifying as those last two games, it’s us for the entire season, getting our program an at large bid for the second year in a row. That’s a testament to everything they did all year long. The future’s so bright for this program, and it’s really exciting.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>