Women's Lacrosse: Wildcats use first half dominance to earn fourth victory
Nicole Grote matched her career bests in assists (four) and points (seven) to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Sunday afternoon's 14-11 non-conference victory against the University of Colorado at Cowell Stadium.
UNH, which has alternated wins and losses the past six games, improved to 3-3 at home and 4-5 overall. CU is now 4-4.
Grote recorded a goal and three assists to propel the Wildcats to a 9-2 first-half lead, then tallied two goals and an assist in the second half to help the 'Cats fend off the Buffaloes, who scored six consecutive goals to trim the deficit to 10-9 at 20:59 of the second half.
Molly Gaffey scored a career-high three goals - the three points also equaled a personal best - and Laura Puccia also netted three goals. Kayleigh Hinkle and Emma Kriss scored two goals apiece; it marked the first multiple-point game for Kriss. UNH goalkeeper Taylor Hurwitz finished with 10 saves.
The Buffaloes' offense was led by Cali Castagnola and Johnna Fusco, both of whom tallied three goals and an assist. Amanda Salvadore scored twice and Paige Soenksen stopped 12 shots defending the CU goal.
New Hampshire struck first to take a 1-0 lead at 28:37 of the first half when Grote curled behind the net around the right post and scored on a high shot.
Colorado scored the next two goals to take its only lead of the game, 2-1. Fusco scored on a free position at 25:51 and Sarah Lautman struck 38 seconds later to put the visitors on top.
UNH responded with eight consecutive goals to build a 9-2 lead. Kriss finished a feed from Brooke McGillis to level the score, 2-2, at 21:50 and then Rachael Nock scored on a free position from the top of the fan at 19:27 to give the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish.
Hinkle scored off her own rebound to give the 'Cats a 5-2 lead at 12:40. Hinkle gained possession of the next draw control and Gaffey was stopped by Soenksen. Grote corralled the ground ball, however, to extend UNH's possession and Kriss, on a free position from the top-left side, scored on a low shot to create a four-goal lead at 12:01.
The combination of Grote-to-Puccia produced goals 30 seconds apart - at 10:39 and 10:09 - to extend the advantage to 8-2.
Grote recorded another assist - this time on Gaffey's goal - to give New Hampshire a 9-2 lead at 7:33.
Hinkle scored on a free position from the top of the fan at 4:42 to reestablish a seven-goal margin, 10-3, at 4:42.
Colorado closed the half on a 3-0 run to get within 10-6. Castagnola netted a free-position goal at 3:30 and Amelia Brown gained possession of the ensuing draw control, which led to Amanda Salvadore's goal at 3:08.
Colorado opened the second half with a 3-0 spurt to pull within 10-9. Castagnola continued the comeback effort with a free-position goal from the right wing at 28:14. Fusco struck again at 23:40 on a free position from the top-right side in which she drove down low and place a shot into the upper-right corner.
UNH ended the visitor's streak of six consecutive goals just 26 seconds later when Marissa Gurello, from the right wing, found Grote in front for the goal at 20:59. Grote struck again from point-blank range - this time by dropping her crosse low and firing a low shot into the cage - to give the 'Cats a 12-9 lead at 19:06.
Colorado's Perri Baker won the ensuing draw, which led to Castagnola's unassisted goal at 17:19 that trimmed the deficit to 12-10. Gaffey then dodged from the left wing to the middle to reestablish a three-goal cushion of 13-10 at 16:44. The rapid pace of goals continued at 15:15 when Katie Macleay once again pulled the Buffaloes within two goals, 13-11.
Following a spread offense, Gaffey's shot from the right side caromed off the left post at 4:31. UNH retained possession and Grote, from behind the right post, found a cutting Puccia who sidearmed a shot into the cage for a 14-11 lead at 3:49.
New Hampshire returns to action March 23 (12 p.m.) at Drexel University. The Wildcats' next home game is March 29 (1 p.m.) for the America East conference opener against the University of Vermont.
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