DURHAM, N.H. – In a battle for the America East regular-season title, the University at Albany field hockey team converted all three of its first-half penalty corners into goals and the Great Danes defeated the University of New Hampshire, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at Memorial Field.
UNH ends the regular season at 8-10 and 3-2 in America East. The Wildcats tied with the University of Maine and Boston University for second place in the league standings and earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of the third tiebreaker – conference goals scored (13 in comparison to Maine’s 11 and BU’s nine). The ‘Cats will play third-seeded Maine in a Nov. 7 semifinal at Albany, which enters the postseason at 10-9, 4-1.
New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead at 4:56 on one of the team’s six first-half penalty corners. Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) initiated the sequence with the hit to stopper Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.), who then pushed the ball to the left wing for Brittany Jacobs (Frederick, Md.). Jacobs then blasted a low shot towards the right post, where Kara Napolitano (Waltham, Mass.) redirected the ball into the open right side of the cage.
The Great Danes tied the game at 7:42. Jess Lindsey, who pushed the ball into play, scored when she scored off a rebound at the left post. UNH goalkeeper Jenna Lehman (Kingston, Pa.) made the initial save on Michelle Polizois’ shot from the top of the circle.
UA took a 2-1 lead at 9:54 when Polizois, instead of shooting, pushed the ball to the left for Nicole Savage, who blasted a low shot through traffic into the cage.
In the 12th minute, UNH’s Sarah Craigue (Concord, N.H.) had a shot blocked from the top of the circle, but it led to another penalty corner and a shot by Jacobs that was once again stopped by an Albany defensive player.
In the 27th minute, Savage gained possession behind the UNH defense on the left wing. She drove to the circle and was thwarted by the charging slide of Lehman.
The ‘Cats quickly went on a counterattack and Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.) one-timed a shot from the middle of the circle that bounced wide right.
Albany extended its lead to 3-1 at 30:34. Lindsey hit the ball into play for stopper Michelle Simpson, and Polizois struck a hard shot over Lehman’s stacked leg pads.
In the 40th minute, Albany nearly struck again on a penalty corner but Simpson’s shot from the middle of the circle was stopped by Lehman. Three minutes later, Polizois hit the left post and then, off a penalty corner, fired a shot that caromed off the right post.
UNH called time out at 47:22 and started to regain momentum. The ‘Cats were awarded a penalty corner in the 53rd minute and Shea, positioned on the right wing, redirected Jacobs’ shot just wide right of the cage.
In the 59th minute on another UNH corner, the Wildcats again swung the ball to the right side for Jacobs and yet again Shea, this time on the right doorstep, redirected a shot wide to the near side.
Albany called a timeout at 60:30 to stem UNH’s attack and effectively kept the Wildcats out of the circle the rest of the game to preserve the two-goal margin.
Lehman finished with three saves in both halves while UA counterpart Ashley Ross was credited with one save.
Albany tallied an 11-8 shot advantage but UNH had the 9-5 edge in corners.
UNH’s four-member senior class was honored prior to the game. Craigue, Jacobs, Napolitano and Hannah Colestock (Oak Park, Ill.) made their final appearance at Memorial Field wearing the Blue and White for the New Hampshire Wildcats.