DURHAM, N.H. – Second-half goals by Lynne Lehman (Landisburg, Pa.), Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) and Molly Heaney (East Kingston, N.H.) propelled the 20th-ranked University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Friday afternoon's 4-2 America East conference victory against the University of Vermont at Memorial Field.
UNH, which has alternated wins and losses the past seven games, improved to 7-6 overall and remained atop the conference standings with an unbeaten mark of 3-0. UVM fell to 1-12, 0-3 with its fourth consecutive loss.
The Wildcats trailed 2-1 at halftime despite recording the first-half edge in both shots (11-4) and penalty corners (7-0), then outscored the Catamounts 3-0 in the second half on the strength of a 15-1 shot advantage.
UVM opened the game scoring at 9:38. UNH goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell (Wakefield, Mass.; two saves), the reigning America East Defensive Player of the Week, stopped the initial shot by Molly Higgins as she drove along the right end line. The rebound continued across towards the left post and Whitlee Burghardt jammed the ball into the cage for her first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
UNH responded with immediate pressure to generate a corner, but the shot by Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) rolled wide.
Richard would not be denied moments later in a transition attack, as she dribbled the ball from the 25 to the top-right side of the circle and blasted a low shot inside the right post to tie the score, 1-1, at 12:00 on her team-leading 12th goal of the season.
The Wildcats earned another corner in the 14th minute. Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) inserted the ball to stick-stop Chandler Giese (Trappe, Pa.) at the top of the circle, and then the hit by Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) was redirected wide right by Meg Carroll (Mansfield, Mass.).
Higgins was tripped on a breakaway in the circle and UVM was awarded a penalty stroke at 17:11. Angie DeBellis lifted a shot past the outstretched Tarbell into the upper-left corner of the cage to put the visitors back in front, 2-1.
New Hampshire had a two-player advantage for a minute when Catamounts were sent off for cards at 20:55 and 21:57, but the Wildcats did not record a shot during that 60-second span.
In the 25th minute, Mary Quill (Greenland, N.H.) penetrated on the left side of the circle and struck a low diagonal shot that UVM goalie Stephanie Zygmunt (13 saves) kicked aside with her left leg pad. Emma Compagna (Canton, Mass.) corralled the rebound in the middle of the circle and fired a shot wide of the right post.
UNH generated another corner with five minutes remaining in the first half. This time Erler inserted the ball to Pohlmeyer outside the circle on the top-left, and her hit into the middle of the circle was redirected wide left by Bozek. One minute later, Kellie Joyce (South Pomfret, Vt.) penetrated on the right side and lifted a shot from 10 yards that Zygmunt hit aside with a blocker save.
The Wildcats continued to press for the game-tying goal in the opening minutes of the second half. In the 38th minute on another corner, Bozek's initial shot was stopped by Zygmunt and her shot off the rebound sailed wide. Two minutes later the Wildcats earned a corner and this time Zygmunt was in position to deny Pohlmeyer's direct, low shot.
Vermont called time out at 42:28, but it was the home team that continued to attack. Within a minute, Zygmunt had to turn away a Heaney shot. After another minute, Giese struck a shot wide of the cage.
UNH earned consecutive corners in the 51st minute, and on the latter Zygmunt stopped Joyce's initial shot from the top of the circle. Erler, who charged to the left post after insterting the ball, lifted a shot off the rebound that deflected off Zygmunt across the goalmouth and wide of the right post.
The Wildcats converted its next corner into a game-tying goal. With Erler and Giese as the insert to stick-stop, Pohlmeyer hit a low blast towards the right post, where Lehman redirected the ball into the open right side of the cage for a 2-2 score at 53:46.
New Hampshire's offensive onslaught continued with a shot by Joyce blocked at 57:58 and Pohlmeyer's shot stopped by Zygmunt less than a minute later.
UVM created its first pressure of the second half and was awarded a corner in the 61st minute. Sally Snickenberger's direct shot was blocked by the charging Erler, but the Catamounts gained a second corner. UNH cleared the ball, however, and went into a quick counterattack that resulted in a penalty stroke. Bozek struck a low, hard shot past the diving Zygmunt to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game, 3-2, at 61:49.
UNH's Meg Flatley (Townsend, Mass.) was denied twice by Zygmunt in a 27-second span, but Heaney extended the advantage to 4-2 at 64:11 when she drove along the right end line and her shot ricocheted off a defensive player's stick into the cage.
The Wildcats kept the Catamounts at bay the rest of the way to preserve the lead.
New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 14 (3 p.m.) at 24th-ranked Boston College. The Wildcats' next home game is Oct. 19 (7 p.m.) against Boston University.