Lacrosse: Wildcats can't overearly deficit, fall to Vermont 15-12

By Josh Sullivan
On April 1, 2014

The University of New Hampshire lacrosse team saw its two-game-winning streak come to an end on Saturday, as the team lost its first conference game in a thriller to the University of Vermont 15-12. In a game that went back and forth through its entirety and was comprised of big plays from both sides, no lead was large enough, and both teams fought until the very end in what was one of the most exciting contests of the year.

Despite scoring first on a Nicole Grote goal from Laura McHoul, the 'Cats lead was short lived after UVM's Jessica Roach scored under a minute later on a wraparound goal from behind the net. The Catamounts went on to score three unanswered goals until Molly Gaffey caught a pass from Kayleigh Hinkle and fired a shot on net that beat UVM goalie Mackenzie Maher. But UVM powered ahead to a 9 - 2 lead for most of the first half, and looked on pace to absolute dominate the rest of the game. 

UVM senior attack Sydney Mas was dominant, scoring two goals back-to-back by driving down the right side, beating UNH goalie Taylor Hurwitz on a sly bounce shot that found its way to the back of the net via five-hole for the first goal and firing a rocket to beat Hurwitz far side on the second. 

A huge momentum swing around the twelve minute mark - one that can be attributed to a combination of the 'Cats patience and poise in the offensive zone and several key stops by Hurwitz - resulted in four UNH goals in the last 11:09 in the first half, and a team that struggled to keep the ball in UVM's half of the field suddenly looked calm and in control going into halftime.

"We had high expectations coming into the game," junior Rachael Nock said. "Obviously we came out a little flat in the beginning but we definitely started to pick it up and we started to figure out their offense a little more. I think what happens with our team is the trickle effect, you know? The D makes a stop and we get a quick goal and our momentum picks up. I think everyone's mentality just changed at that point and we just said 'let's fight to win this game.'"

The Wildcats got things going right away in the second half with Grote once again leading the way, taking yet another pass from McHoul in front and sending it home to cut the deficit to three. Several shots and a ball off the post later, Hinkle scored off of a free position shot to bring the 'Cats within two, but that's as close as they would get for the rest of the day. 

Less than a minute later, Mas scored her third goal of the game, grabbing a hat trick and her 47th goal of the season, good enough for second in the NCAA. UVM scored once more before junior Becca Graves scored her second of the game on a free position shot, but it was what she did before that goal that was most impressive. In an attempt to evade two defenders who were forcing her to the outside, Graves cradled the ball away from them and in a last-ditch effort, threw the ball behind her back and over her left shoulder to see it beat Maher top left. The goal was disallowed because of a crease violation, but that didn't make it any less impressive.

"I was kind of bobbling it and I was like 'I'm just going to throw this at the net', Graves said  while laughing. "They took back my behind the back one, so I had to capitalize [on the free position shot]."

Nock would score soon after on a feed from behind the net from McHoul, her fourth assist of the day, bringing UNH back within two goals, but UVM would finally seal the deal and score three more goals in the last three minutes to lengthen their lead to five. Nock scored two more goals with under 30 seconds remaining to make her total on the day a career-high four, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback and UNH fell victim to a Catamounts team that wouldn't back down.

"We know that UVM's a great team and they were kind of on a roll," head coach Sarah Albrecht said. "For us I was hoping we would come out with a little bit more energy from the start, and I thought we were back on our heels for a little bit."

The 'Cats will take on Boston University Wednesday at 4 pm. The game will be a similar test for the team, and will be held at BU.

"I think we're going to come out even harder than we did today, and I think after today we're just ready to go," Graves said.

 "They definitely bring the energy every single game and we need to make sure that we're matching and succeeding in that," Albrecht said. "We need to make sure we're bringing it right from the start and learning from this game."

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