FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) scored two goals, including the game-winning tally with 4:14 remaining in the second overtime session, to lift the 15th-ranked University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Friday afternoon's 3-2 America East victory against Fairfield University at University Field.
UNH improved to 5-4 overall this season as well as 3-1 on the road and 1-0 in America East by remaining undefeated in six lifetime meetings against Fairfield, which is now 6-5, 0-1.
At 95 minutes, 46 seconds, this marked the Wildcats' longest game since October 10, 2007, when Dartmouth College prevailed 3-2 by penalty strokes after 100 minutes of play. UNH is now 2-1 in OT this season, and all three games have been decided in the second extra session.
Richard, who entered the week ranked No. 9 nationally in both goals and points per game, matched her career high of two goals to extend her goal-scoring streak to five games and team-leading total to 10. Carlie Tarbell (Wakefield, Mass.) matched her personal best of nine saves, including two in the opening 15-minute overtime session.
Lindsey Hatch tallied a goal and an assist for the Stags. At the other end of the field, Maddy Sposito made 15 saves and the defense recorded four defensive saves – three by Michelle Loor and another by Nikki McLucas.
Fairfield tested Tarbell in the opening minutes, but she turned aside two Hatch shots and then watched Felicitas Heinen's shot off a penalty corner go wide of the cage.
UNH responded with pressure at the other end of the field, as Kellie Joyce (South Pomfret, Vt.) was denied by Sposito and then Meg Carroll (Mansfield, Mass.) fired a shot off the post. Then in the seventh minute, Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) beat Sposito but Loor was in position to steer the ball away from the cage and keep the game scoreless.
The Wildcats sustained pressure with consecutive corners in the eighth minute, but neither produced a shot. The 'Cats generated a third corner at 12:10, and this time Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) fired a shot on target and Meg Flatley (Townsend, Mass.) shot wide off the rebound.
New Hampshire earned another corner at 14:24, and this time Bozek's shot was blocked aside by Sposito, and then the Wildcats' fifth corner resulted in blocked shot off the stick of Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.).
Fairfield called time out at 17:34 and ended UNH's streak of eight consecutive shots in the 26th minute when Hatch's shot was blocked by a Wildcat defender. The Stags maintained pressure and Heinen's shot off a corner was stopped by Tarbell.
The home team took a 1-0 lead one minute later – at 27:20 – when Hillary Fitts' centering pass from the right side was redirected into the cage by Hatch.
UNH responded with immediate pressure, but Sposito preserved the one-goal advantage with saves against both Lynne Lehman (Landisburg, Pa.) and Taylor Rideout (Barrington, R.I.). Then in the 30th minute, Joyce's shot caromed off the post. The 'Cats had one last push in the closing minutes, but once again Bozek's shot off a corner was blocked by a defensive player.
The Wildcats trailed 1-0 at halftime despite recording the first-half advantage in both shots (12-6) and corners (6-2).
Momentum continued on the side of New Hampshire in the opening minutes of the second half. Less than a minute into resumption of play, Lehman was turned aside by Sposito. In the 39th minute on another corner with Erler as the insert, the Stags' defense blocked Pohlmeyer's bid.
At 44:44, UNH beat Sposito only to be denied for the second time on a defensive save by Loor; this time the Fairfield defender turned away Joyce. The 'Cats continued to press and were another corner in the 47th minute. Erler began the sequence that ended with Pohlmeyer's shot being turned away by Sposito.
Fairfield responded with back-to-back corners in the 48th minute, but Tarbell kept UNH's deficit at one goal by stopping Heinen. The Wildcats called a timeout at 50:02 and less than one minute later, Loor recorded her third defensive save of the game when she cleared away Carroll's shot.
New Hampshire's relentless pressure yielded two goals in a 25-second span to transform a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead of 2-1. The 12th corner of the game – third within a minute – produced Bozek's game-tying goal at 57:52 when she tipped in Pohlmeyer's blast. Richard, with the assistance of Carroll, gave UNH its first lead of the game at 58:17.
The 'Cats went back on the attack in the 61st minute, but Sposito turned aside shots by Flatley and Joyce to keep the home squad within one goal.
The Stags rallied late to send the game into overtime. Hatch's shot was stopped by Tarbell at 68:05, but then a subsequent penalty corner led to Christy Starsinic's game-tying goal at 68:49.
UNH recorded the second-half edge in both shots (10-6) and corners (6-4) for overall totals of 22-12 and 12-6, respectively, through regulation.
The Wildcats created the first two opportunities in OT, but Pohlmeyer's shot off a corner went wide in the 75th minute and Flatley's shot was also off target in the 77th minute.
Fairfield generated a corner in the 79th minute, but Tarbell denied Heinen to extend the game. That led to a transition attack for the 'Cats in which Richard's shot was turned aside by Sposito and Joyce fired wide off the rebound.
One minute later, New Hampshire was awarded a corner, but Sposito made saves against both Bozek and Erler. UNH sustained pressure and the Stags recorded a fourth defensive save – this time by Nikki McLucas to deny Joyce – to keep the score deadlocked at 2-2. Moments later, Pohlmeyer fired a shot wide and Richards' shot was stopped by Sposito.
Through 85 minutes, UNH led in shots (31-14) and corners (14-7).
Flatley and Joyce recorded shots wide in the opening three minutes of the second extra session. Fairfield had a corner in the 90th minute but was unable to shoot.
The Stags were forced to play shorthanded when whistled for a green card at 94:14 and UNH capitalized to produce the game-winning goal as Sposito stopped Pohlmeyer's initial shot but Richard scored off the rebound to end the game at 95:46.
The Wildcats recorded 30+ shots for the third time this season with a final differential of 35-15. They also finished with a 14-8 advantage in corners.
New Hampshire returns to action Sept. 30 (1 p.m.) at 20th-ranked Drexel University. The Wildcats' next home game is Oct. 5 (3 p.m.) against University at Albany.