COLUMBUS, Ohio – Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) matched her career high of 12 saves to backbone the University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 3-1 road victory against sixth-ranked The Ohio State University at Buckeye University Field.
UNH, playing its 2011 season opener, scored on the first shot of the game en route to building a 3-0 halftime lead. The top two point producers from a year ago combined to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 3:23 when 2010 NFHCA All-America Second Team selection Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) found Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) in the middle of the circle and Rausch fired a shot into the right side of the cage.
"Whit set up that first goal by Hayley, yes, but she also set up most of our attack in the first half," 21-year head coach Robin Balducci said. "She was just dominating play."
OSU, which lost in overtime to Duke University on Friday, responded with a barrage of shots on goal spanning the next 15 minutes, but Nagengast turned aside all nine shots on target to preserve the 1-0 lead.
"Kat, in a couple of critical moments, made the big saves and that allowed us to pull away later," Balducci said.
The 'Cats scored goals 3:25 apart – at 19:23 and 22:48 – to quickly extend a one-goal lead into a three-goal advantage. UNH was awarded a penalty corner at 18:43 and 40 seconds later, Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) scored off a pass from Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.).
New Hampshire continued to pressure and converted a series of three consecutive corners into a 3-0 lead. Lyons was denied by OSU goalie Ally Tunitis (six saves) on the initial corner and then had a shot blocked on the next corner. Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.) would not be denied on the third corner, however, as she scored off a rebound.
"(Emma) Erler played very well and did an excellent job of drawing corners for us," Balducci said. "She was one of the main reasons we had 11 corners, nine of them in the first half."
The Buckeyes called time out, but UNH continued to produce offensive pressure. On a corner at 30:30, Lyons' shot beat Tunitis but Jenn Sciulli was in position to turn aside the shot and keep the home team within three goals. UNH had an untimed corner at the conclusion of the first half, but both of Lyons' shots were blocked by the defense.
OSU pulled within 3-1 at 45:32 on a goal by Danica Deckard, but UNH limited the Buckeyes to just three shots the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
The Wildcats recorded a 17-16 shot advantage, including 12-11 in the first half. They also had the edge in penalty corners, 11-5.
New Hampshire returns to action Aug. 28 against Kent State University at Buckeye University Field. The Wildcats' home opener is Sept. 2 against Brown University. Game time at Memorial Field is 3 p.m.