FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Leah Boody (Ambesbury, Mass.) scored the game-tying goal and set up the game-winning goal to ignite the University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 come-from-behind victory against Fairfield University in America East action. UNH clinched one of four berths in the America East Championship tournament with the win.
UNH, winners of three of its last four games, is now 8-9 overall and 3-1 in America East. Fairfield is now 4-12, 1-3.
“This is an important win for us, and it’s more than just because we put ourselves in the playoffs,” UNH head coach Robin Balducci stated. “Fairfield came out very tough, very emotional and with a lot of energy – and we handled it. We showed great leadership and maturity the way we came back after falling behind 2-1. We worked very hard for this.”
With the score tied 1-1 at halftime, the Stags took a 2-1 lead at 38:12 when Marit Westenberg corralled Emily Janis’ pass on the left side and flicked the ball past UNH goalkeeper Jenna Lehman (Kingston, Pa.).
The Wildcats tied the score 93 seconds later, however, when Boody scored off a pass from Sarah Craigue (Concord, N.H.) for her second goal in as many games.
UNH continued to pressure, and in the 49th minute Fairfield goalie Jennifer Utz kept the game tied at 2 with a save against Craigue off a penalty corner and against Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.) off the rebound.
The Wildcats were awarded their second corner of the half and capitalized to take a 3-2 lead at 53:17. Boody initiated the play with the hit to stopper Kendall Deck (Brigewater, N.J.) at the top of the circle and Brittany Jacobs (Frederick, Md.) fired a high shot into the cage.
Kate Collins Smith (Parteen, County Claire, Ireland) increased UNH’s advantage to 4-2 at 59:04 when she controlled Craigue’s pass and pushed a shot into the cage.
Neither team recorded a shot the rest of the game.
Lehman recorded all three saves in the first half. Utz made four of her six saves in the first half.
UNH took a 1-0 lead at 8:01 when Shea scored her ninth goal of the season off a pass from Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.).
Fairfield pulled even, 1-1, at 9:53 with a penalty-corner goal by Carly McCullough that was set up by Melanie Leo and Janis.
UNH’s defensive effort was anchored by the solid play of Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) and Kara Napolitano (Waltham, Mass.). Hannah Colestock (Oak Park, Ill.) didn’t record any stats but was impressive in playing out of her natural position.
The Wildcats recorded a 14-6 shot advantage, including 5-1 in the second half. The ‘Cats had a 9-3 edge in penalty corners and had the only three of the second half.
New Hampshire concludes the regular season Nov. 2 (12 p.m.) at home against Albany. The teams are tied for first place in the standings and the winner of that game will be the regular-season champion and play host to the America East Championship Tournament.