DURHAM, N.H. – Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) set up a pair of penalty-corner goals for the University of New Hampshire, but the Wildcats' comeback bid fell short in a 3-2 loss to the 10th-ranked University of Louisville field hockey team at Memorial Field on Sunday afternoon.
UNH is now 12-6 overall, including 7-2 at home and 1-4 against nationally-ranked teams. Louisville won its fourth consecutive game to improve to 13-5.
The Cardinals were awarded their first of seven first-half penalty corners five minutes into the game and Jenna Ahearn's low drive from the top-right corner towards the far post was blocked aside on a lunging stick save by UNH goalkeeper Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.).
New Hampshire generated back-to-back corners but shots by Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) – the reigning America East Rookie of the Week – and Kara Connolly (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) were blocked by U of L defenders.
The Wildcats capitalized on their next corner to take a 1-0 lead at 15:34. Rausch, the reigning America East Player of the Week, struck the ball into play to the top of the cricle, where Connolly executed the stop and Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.) scored her second goal in as many games on a low shot.
Louisville tied the score, 1-1, at 21:05 following a UNH foul just outside the 25-yard line. Jenna Ahearn swept a low entry pass towards the top of the circle and Nicole Youman (goal, assist) angled her stick to redirect the ball inside the left post.
The Cardinals created two more dangerous scoring chances on penalty corners in the 25th minute. On the first, Youman, instead of shooting, directed the ball towards the left post and Turner, who had pushed the ball into play, redirected a shot on goal that was stopped by Nagengast's diving effort. Youman took aim at the cage on the ensuing corner but was denied by Nagengast.
The visitors were awarded a corner in the waning moments of the first half and, after a foul gave U of L a second corner, Karah Nall sent a shot wide right of the cage to send the teams into halftime tied 1-1.
In the 42nd minute, UNH generated a corner in which Connolly's low blast from the top of the circle was blocked wide of the right post by a Cardinals' defender positioned just meters in front of the right post.
Louisville took a 2-1 lead at 45:39 off a penalty corner. Nagengast made the initial save on Youman's shot from the top of the circle but Turner, positioned near the left post, redirected the rebound into the cage.
Less than two minutes later, UNH responded with pressure and another corner in which Lyons' low blast through traffic was kicked aside by U of L goalie Erin Conrad's left leg pad.
In the 55th minute, Louisville quickly advanced the ball into the middle of the circle and Nagengast made a diving stick save to deny Nikki Auker's bid towards the left post.
The Cardinals extended the lead to 3-1 at 56:21 by converting another corner into a goal. Following the set up by the battery of Turner and Tuli Lim, Youman sent the ball wide of the left post for Turner, whose sweeping motion sent a knee-high shot into the cage from close range.
The Wildcats called time out at that point and responded with a goal at 59:39 to trim the deficit to 3-2. On a penalty corner, Rausch pushed the ball into play to the top-right, where Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.) made the stop and Bozek struck a low shot that trickled past Conrad and across the goal line.
In the last minute of play, the 'Cats attacked down the right wing and Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) made a centering pass that Rausch stopped five yards from the cage. She could not maintain possession, however, and UNH was whistled for an infraction that gave possession to Louisville.
Nagengast stopped six shots defending the Wildcats' goal. Conrad was credited with two saves for U of L.
UNH concludes the regular season Oct. 30 (1 p.m.) at home against the University at Albany. The Wildcats, who are unbeaten in league play, will win the America East regular-season title and play host to the tournament with a Senior Day victory vs. the Great Danes.