– Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) scored at
6:27 of the first overtime session to lift the University of New
Hampshire field hockey team to Tuesday night’s 5-4 victory
against Harvard University in the team’s regular-season
finale at Jordan Field.
UNH extended its winning streak to four games – the Wildcats have won seven of their last eight games– to improve to 12-6. Harvard is now 5-11.
Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.) led the charge with two goals and an assist to extend her school-record point-scoring streak to 18 games. Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) and Kate Collins Smyth (Parteen, County Claire/Ireland) both tallied a goal and an assist while both Kara Connolly (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) and Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) were credited with two assists in a balanced UNH attack.
Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) finished the game with six saves. Harvard counterpart Cynthia Tassopoulos stopped 11 shots.
“We opened the game very strong,” 19th-year head coach Robin Balducci said. “It was an exciting overtime win, and we had three goals on corners, so that was a very positive part of the day’s performance.”
The Wildcats quickly built a 2-0 advantage in the opening five minutes of the game. Shea scored her 22nd goal of the season at 1:33 on a shot into the upper corner from the front doorstep. Cooke set up the tally with a crossing pass.
UNH then capitalized on a penalty corner to extend its lead to 2-0 at 5:02. Rausch initiated the sequence with the push to Connolly at the top of the circle, where Collins Smyth fired a shot into the cage.
The Crimson, who recorded just four first-half shots, rallied to tie the score on goals by Nina Kucharczyk at 15:04 and Carly Dickson at 27:46.
The ‘Cats regained the lead, 3-2, with 1:22 remaining in the first half and took that one-goal advantage into halftime when Shea, with the assistance of Collins Smyth, scored her second goal of the game.
New Hampshire generated the edge in both shots (13-4) and penalty corners (6-1) in the first half.
The Wildcats extended their advantage to 4-2 on another penalty corner at 41:00. Rausch once again pushed the ball to Connolly for the stop, and this time Cooke scored from the top of the circle.
Harvard erased another two-goal deficit to level the score, 4-4. Allie Kimmel struck at 47:24 and Dickson potted her second goal of the game at 54:25.
UNH pressured in the last three minutes of the second half to generate three shots on goal, but Tassopoulos turned aside each opportunity to send the game into the extra session.
New Hampshire scored on the first shot of overtime to record the 5-4 victory at 76:27 when Frates redirected Shea’s crossing pass into the cage. It marked the third consecutive game with a goal for Frates, who has a total of 10 this season.
The Wildcats finished with a decisive edge in both shots (24-15) and corners (11-5).
Shea now has 23 goals and nine assists for 25 points this season, and those numbers rank second on UNH’s list of single-season superlatives in both goals and points. She increased her career totals to 42 goals (fourth), 15 assists (14th) and 99 points (third).
UNH is now 2-0 in overtime games this season. Both OT games were played at Jordan Field, where the ‘Cats were 3-2 victors in double overtime against Michigan on Oct. 11.
New Hampshire begins postseason play Friday, Nov. 6 (1 p.m.) in the America East Championships at Albany (N.Y.). The fourth-seeded Wildcats play top-seeded – and 17th ranked – University at Albany in a semifinal matchup. The winner of that game advances to the league title game that will be played Nov. 7 (4 p.m.), also at Albany’s Alumni Turf Field.