Field Hockey: UNH goes undefeated in second spring tournament
After a successful 2013 campaign that saw the team go 15-7, finish the season ranked No. 16 in the nation and win the America East championship, the UNH field hockey team completed its second spring tournament on Saturday. The Wildcats hosted UMass-Lowell, Harvard and Maine, playing three 35-minute scrimmages and competing in two shootouts on the afternoon.
"We came off of three competition days last week, so we were battling a little bit of fatigue," head coach Robin Balducci said. "I was happy because we scored seven goals today in three games, so I thought that was positive."
The goals came from six different players: Jackie Hozza, Taylor Rideout, Lynne Lehman, Meg Flatley, Lindsay Nerbonne and Kellie Joyce.
UNH took on UMass-Lowell in the first game, jumping out to a quick lead off the stick of Hozza. After a corner attempt that went wide, Nerbonne was able to find space for Flatley, whose shot was tipped in by Nerbonne.
The teams traded chances for the rest of the game, but no one was able to find the net and UNH held on for the 2-0 victory.
"We talked about [applying] a little more pressure on the defensive side of the ball," Balducci said. "[I'm] pretty pleased with where we are right now. I have a key player out [backer Chandler Giese] ... some young players are stepping in and playing good hockey."
Last season, the Wildcats graduated four players: Casey Pohlmeyer, Hannah Richard, Melyssa Woods and Megan Bozek. The four combined to total 201 points (81g, 39a) in 316 combined games.
"Maegan Grew has been outstanding taking on the leadership in the middle of the backfield, which is where Megan Bozek was," Balducci said. "[Grew] spent two years as the 'young' backfield player [with Bozek] ... this spring has been unbelievable as far as her mental approach and seeing the field.
"Kellie Joyce has stepped up in the midfield, she's playing a little bit more like Casey's role in building the ball out of our backfield through our midfield. Flatley is still dangerous ... and Lindsay [Nerbonne], our transfer, who's skillful, outstanding talent and has bridged the gap down the middle of the field."
UNH faced Harvard in the second match and won again by a score of 2-0. Lehman scored her first of the day, while Flatley notched a goal on a great individual effort to beat two defenders and put the ball in the top corner of the net.
The last game saw UNH face their rival, Maine. The 'Cats struck first from Nerbonne on a rebound off a corner attempt that was set up by Joyce.
Just under two minutes later, Maine committed a foul and UNH was awarded a penalty stroke. Joyce stepped up and put her drag-flick into the top left corner past the Maine keeper.
Goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell played the first half of the Maine game, highlighting the action with a diving save at the 20-minute mark. On the ensuing possession, Maine was able to get a goal back after the centering pass slid underneath Tarbell's pad and was tucked in by Jessica Skillings.
UNH gained an insurance goal with 7:45 remaining in the game, when Flatley found Lehman on the baseline for her second goal of the day, bringing the score to its final of 3-1.
The Wildcats competed in two shootouts, facing off against Harvard and Maine. The shootouts were conducted after the games, with each team sending out 5 shooters against the goalie. The 'Cats connected on four of their five shots in the opening shootout to take down Harvard. Maine was able to combat the Wildcat shooters thanks to the aggressive play of Emma Cochran. UNH wasn't able to score on any of their attempts against Maine and fell 3-0.
"Our spring has been good, we've lost one game 1-0 out of ... ten games, so it's been pretty positive," Balducci said. "We've tried to use [the America East championship] as our motivation to represent and carry on this tradition.
"Maine is a huge opponent in-conference ... you're able to get some of the young [players] that didn't have as much experience in the season some minutes, now they've got a little comfort level because they've played them twice now [in the spring season]."
Along with the addition of Nerbonne, UNH will be adding five freshmen in the fall. Midfielder Katie Lawson was an NHIAA All-State First Team selection in 2013, while forward Brittany Marshall was a three-time First Team selection. Taylor Scafidi joins Ashley Mendonca and Jessica Schmidt as the rest of the signees for the 2014 class.
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