UNH field hockey inks two recruits

DURHAM, N.H. -- Robin Balducci, 15th-year head coach of the UNH field hockey team, announced Friday that both Gabrielle Cafone (Fairfield, N.J.) and Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) have signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of New Hampshire and will join the program in the fall 2006 semester.

Cafone, a midfielder, led the West Essex High School field hockey team to the 2005 state championship and earned All-State Second Team honors. She was also named All-North Jersey Second Team, First Team All Group 2, All-Conference First Team, All-County First Team and Senior All-Star team as a senior, when she recorded eight goals and 21 assists. Cafone compiled 32 goals and 49 assists at West Essex and led the team to the state title game in 2004. She also plays for the New Heights club team and will close out her scholastic career with the West Essex lacrosse team this spring.

"Gabby has great speed, great skill level and her work ethic is very strong," Balducci said. "West Essex has a longstanding tradition of championships and athletes that have gone on to high levels of success at the collegiate level, and she's part of that."

Cooke captained the Newburyport High School field hockey team to the 2005 Northern Massachusetts championship and was named team MVP and Cape Ann League All-League Player as well as All-Scholastic honors from both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. She was named to the Futures Elite program in 2006 for the second consecutive year and was a National Futures Tournament participant in 2004 and 2005. Cooke has been a gold medallist at the National Field Hockey Festival (2005) and Bay State Games (2003 and 2004) as well as a bronze medallist at the 2004 Junior Olympics.

"Cally will come in and play immediately in a maturing backfield," Balducci said. "Her defensive skills are nothing short of exceptional and she's played at a competitive level outside of high school so she doesn't really come in as a freshman. And her leadership is something we'll benefit from."

Cafone and Cooke join a UNH field hockey program that has compiled a 322-222-32 record in 31 seasons and advanced to the postseason in 12 of 15 years under Balducci's direction.

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