#10 Field Hockey Stymies Fairfield For 2-0 Victory in America East Opener


DURHAM, N.H.Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) extended her point-scoring streak to 11 games with a pair of assists in the 10th-ranked University of New Hampshire field hockey team's 2-0 victory Friday afternoon against Fairfield University at Memorial Field. It was the America East conference opener for both teams. 

UNH improved to 5-0 at home, 9-2 overall and 1-0 in America East by winning its eight consecutive conference game dating back to October 2009. Fairfield, which entered the game with a five-game winning streak, is now 7-3 overall, 0-1 in the league.

New Hampshire goalkeeper Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) was credited with one save for her second shutout – and fourth shutout by the Wildcats – this season. Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.) made a defensive save in the waning minutes that preserved a 1-0 lead. 

Fairfield goalie Maddy Spositio, who entered the game ranked 10th nationally in goals-against-average, was credited with four saves and surrendered one goal in 67 minutes, 43 seconds. The Stags played with an extra field player the final 2:17.

The Wildcats scored on the first shot of the game to take a 1-0 lead at 6:25. On a penalty corner, Rausch pushed the ball to battery mate Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.) at the top of the circle, and then Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) blasted a low shot into the cage. 

UNH generated another corner two minutes later, and Lyons' direct shot was lifted wide left. In the 21st minute, the Wildcats threatened again on a corner. Sposito denied Lyons' initial shot from the top of the circle, then Pohlmeyer's shot was blocked aside. That play resulted in another corner for the 'Cats, however. Pohlmeyer's shot was once again blocked, then Rausch's redirection from the left doorstep was tipped wide of the near post.

Fairfield generated its first pressure of the game with a corner in the 25th minute. Emily Leo pushed the ball into Hilary Burns to set up a direct shot by Felicitas Heinen, but Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) rushed from the line to easily block the shot to the left sideline. 

With four minutes remaining in the first half, UNH turned the ball over deep in its defensive end and Fairfield's Christy Starsinic corralled the loose ball in the middle of the circle. Nagengast charged from the line and Starsinic pushed the ball wide left of the cage.

UNH entered halftime with a 1-0 lead, 9-2 shot advantage and 5-1 edge in penalty corners.

The Stags generated another dangerous scoring chance in the opening minutes of the second half. Mari Westenberg, alone on the top-right of the circle, was denied as Nagengast stacked the pads to make the save. 

In the 40th minute, UNH's Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.) fired a reverse-stick shot from the left wing to the far post, but Sposito kicked the ball aside with her left leg pad.

Five minutes later, Erler's entry pass connected with Rausch in the middle of the circle, but her shot bounded wide right. 

UNH called time out at 52:24, but it was the visitors that generated a corner less than a minute later. The Stags did not record a shot, however.

In the 67th minute, Fairfield attacked in transition and, from the top of the circle, Westenberg fired a low shot past the oncoming Nagengast. Lyons, racing back towards the cage, swept the ball aside from five yards out to preserve the 1-0 lead. 

The Stags were awarded a corner – and called a timeout – at 67:07. Nikki McLucas pushed the ball into play for Westenberg, who struck an illegal shot to give possession to UNH.

Thirty-six seconds later – at 67:43 – Fairfield pulled Sposito for an extra field player and UNH capitalized on the empty cage to take a 2-0 lead at 68:03. Rausch, from 35 yards near the left sideline, struck a low, hard entry pass into the circle that Mary Quill (Portsmouth, N.H.) chased down and tipped into the cage for her second goal of the season. 

Fairfield generated two more penalty corners in the closing minutes, but neither team recorded a shot the remainder of regulation. UNH finished with a 14-4 shot advantage and the corners were even at 5.

The Wildcats are 5-0 lifetime against Fairfield, including 3-0 at home with a 10-0 scoring advantage in those three games. 

In five home games this season, UNH has outscored the opposition 18-1 with a 90-23 shot advantage.

New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 2 (12 p.m.) at Michigan State University. The Wildcats' next home game is Oct. 9 against sixth-ranked Stanford University. Game time at Memorial Field is 1 p.m.

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