After dealing with two tough losses, the UNH field hockey team needed some home cooking to get back on track, and with some very important games on the horizon, the timing couldn't have been better.
The Wildcats snapped their two game losing streak by defeating Fairfield 2-0 at Memorial Field Friday afternoon. It was the first game for UNH in America East play.
The game featured more of the same lockdown defense that the Wildcats have shown at home this year, while on the other side of the field, UNH had trouble capitalizing on numerous scoring opportunities.
In the early moments, it looked as though UNH was going to have no problem scoring as Casey Pohlmeyer pushed a redirect into the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead only 6:25 into the game.
Fairfield did hold its ground and kep UNH from scoring again for the majority of the game, despite being outshot 14-4 by the pressing Wildcat offense.
UNH did feel as though they let some scoring chances slip through their grasp, but won't let it take away from their victory.
"I think we could have definitely generated some more scoring opportunities with passing patterns," Pohlmeyer said. "It can only go forward from here."
Pohlmeyer was involved in a scary moment in the later moments of the second half, when she was hit under the eye off of a redirect. She managed to walk off on her own power and said that she would not miss any time because of it.
Pohlmeyer's injury was a tough blow for a team that was already playing without star forward Whitney Frates, who was not at the game after a passing in her family.
Despite the losses of some of their best players, the Wildcats held strong to keep Fairfield out of the net.
Tensions mounted as Fairfield had some good opportunities to score, including a heart-stopping moment when Fairfield got past a diving Katherine Nagengast, only for a storming Kyle Lyons to come and knock the ball away seconds before it trickled in.
UNH was finally able to breathe easy after Mary Quill scored with less than two minutes to go on an empty net to seal the game.
"It kind of took the stress off our shoulders," Hayley Rausch said after handing out two assists on the day. "If they were to happen to score it would be a tie game, so it was nice to have that cushion."
The victory was more important that the average game for the Wildcats, as they managed to secure their first America East conference game on their schedule.
UNH knows that the team needs to play its best in conference games. The Wildcats have to compete with some quality teams, including 10-1 Maine and 8-3 Albany, who knocked out the Wildcats in the America East Championship Game last year.
Head coach Robin Balducci knows how important these games are, and she had to make sure the team started out this vital stretch strong.
"Well that's game one of the conference and that's really how we have to look at it," Balducci said. "It's a season within a season, and you got to get the first conference win under your belt. That's really important and that has to be a focus for sure."
The Wildcats beat Michigan State, 5-3, on the road on Sunday to improve to 10-2. UNH continues its road trip when it takes on Vermont this Friday before returning to Memorial Field on Sunday, Oct. 9, to play Stanford.