Lacrosse: Wildcats win first game of the season
Laura Puccia recorded three goals and an assist to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to a 9-5 victory against Hofstra University in Saturday afternoon's season opener for both teams at snowy Bremner Field.
Puccia, who extended her goal-scoring streak to six games dating back to last season, was one of four Wildcats who recorded multiple points. Laura McHoul, the reigning America East co-Rookie of the Year, scored two goals to extend her point streak to eight games while both Molly Gaffey and Kayleigh Hinkle tallied a goal and an assist.
UNH goalkeeper Taylor Hurwitz, in her first start since April 28, 2012, made eight saves to earn the victory. Jamie DePetris was credited with a team-high four ground balls and two caused turnovers; Cori Rees also had four ground balls.
Hofstra was led offensively by Emily von Hollen (2g) and goalie Kelsey Gregerson tallied seven saves, four ground balls and three caused turnovers. Abby Wilson also tied the game high of four GBs.
The Pride took its only lead of the game on von Hollen's free-position goal from the top of the fan 28 seconds into the contest. Hurwitz kept the visitors scoreless the rest of the first half on five saves.
Hinkle leveled the score, 1-1, with an unassisted tally at 24:31. Rachael Nock helped give the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish when, on the right wing, she found McHoul in the middle of the fan for a goal at 13:03.
Gaffey, with the assistance of Puccia, scored to extend the lead to 3-1 and then she set up the first career goal by Marissa Gurello to give UNH a 4-1 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the first half.
HU's Brittain Altomare controlled the ensuing draw control, but Hurwitz denied Sam Lenox in the closing seconds. New Hampshire took that three-goal lead and a 12-8 shot advantage into halftime.
The teams exchanged goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second half to push the score to 5-3. The Pride pulled within 4-2 at 29:11 of the second half on Alexandra Mezzanotte's unassisted goal. Puccia's second goal of the game reestablished a three-goal advantage, 5-2, at 27:34 and then Lenox, in front off a Altomare's feed from behind the net, made it 5-3 on a man-up goal at 21:09.
After 12 scoreless minutes, UNH went on a 4-1 spurt in a span of 4:33 to pull away with a 9-4 advantage. Puccia converted a free position from the top-left side into her second goal of the game and a 6-3 lead at 9:07.
Hofstra's Tiana Parella, on a cut from the left wing to the low middle of the fan, potted a goal to once again pull the visitors within two goals, 6-4, at 8:20. UNH responded with a goal 13 seconds later as Hinkle gained possession of the ensuing draw control and quickly advanced the ball over the defense to McHoul, who charged down the fan and scored from close range to make it 7-4.
Puccia's third goal of the game gave UNH an 8-4 lead at 7:05. Nock's shot from the top-right ricocheted off the right post. Brooke McGillis gathered the ground ball, charged down the middle and scored from five meters to extend the advantage to 9-4 at 5:34.
Hinkle once again earned possession on the draw control and the 'Cats went into a ball-control perimeter attack to preserve the five-goal lead. Hofstra regained possession, however, and called time out with 4:29 remaining. The Pride cleared the ball into the offensive zone and von Hollen's second goal of the day trimmed the deficit to 9-5 at 3:17.
UNH advanced the ball into the attack zone and called a timeout with 2:03 to play. The 'Cats once again valued possession rather than attacking the goal, but turned the ball over with just over one minute remaining. Hofstra moved the ball downfield, but Hurwitz denied both Parrella and Erika Neumen in the last 30 seconds and DePetris corralled the loose ball on the second save to allow the Wildcats to end the game with possession.
UNH ended the game with a 24-19 shot advantage and a 17-13 edge in ground balls while committing fewer turnovers (18-22).
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 19 (4 p.m.) at Boston College. The Wildats' next home game is Feb. 22 (1 p.m.) against intrastate rival Dartmouth College at Cowell Stadium.
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