Top-seeded Field Hockey Welcomes Fairfield, Albany and Maine for America East Championship


The Matchup

    The University of New Hampshire field hockey team, ranked No. 20 in this week's national poll, enters the 2012 America East Championship with an 11-7 overall record that includes 5-0 in America East and begins defense of its tournament title Nov. 2 with a semifinal game against Fairfield University (10-9, 1-4) at Memorial Field. Game time is 2 p.m.
    UNH has won all six lifetime meetings against Fairfield and that includes a 3-2 double overtime victory on the road earlier this season (Sept. 28). Friday's semifinal will be the first postseason matchup between these programs.
    The Wildcats are 3-0 at home in this series by an aggregate score of 10-0. Last year, UNH prevailed 2-0. The 'Cats were 6-0 victors in 2009 and won by a 2-0 score in the inaugural meeting in October 2007.
    Back in late September, Fairfield took a 1-0 lead into halftime on Lindsey Hatch's goal in the 28th minute. New Hampshire turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead by scoring goals 25 seconds apart. Megan Bozek struck at 57:52, followed by Hannah Richard at 58:17. The Stags rallied to tie the score, 2-2, with 1:11 remaining in regulation to force overtime. UNH generated a 9-2 shot advantage in the first overtime session but could not break the deadlock. Then 10:46 into the second extra session, Richard scored off a rebound to give the 'Cats a 3-2 win at 95:46. UNH finished with the advantage in both shots (35-15) and penalty corners (14-8). Wildcat goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell made nine saves and FU counterpart Maddy Sposito stopped 15 shots. She was also helped by her defense, which recorded four defensive saves – three by Michelle Loor; to put that in perspective, UNH recorded four defensive saves the entire season and Fairfield finished with nine overall.

If You Can't Be Here...
     If you can't be in Durham to watch the America East Championship, you can follow live stats and free videostreaming of the semifinal games through the UNH Wildcats website. Sunday's championship game will be videostreamed via America East. Click here for the conference Championship page.

The State of New Hampshire
    UNH enters the postseason with an 11-7 overall record that includes 5-0 in America East and 5-3 at home – 3-0 at home in conference play. The Wildcats ended the regular season with a season-best four-game winning streak and went 6-2 in the month of October.
    The Wildcats traveled approximately 300 miles from Orono (Maine) to Durham to Hanover (N.H.) to play last weekend's back-to-back road games against Maine and Dartmouth. UNH won 2-1 against then-No. 25 Maine on Saturday (Oct. 27), then prevailed 5-4 in overtime at Dartmouth one day later.
    UNH, already assured of at least a share of the America East regular-season title prior to the game at Maine, won the conference title outright with its 2-1 victory vs. the Black Bears.
    New Hampshire completed America East conference play unbeaten at 5-0 for the second time in three years to win its third consecutive league regular-season title – UNH also claimed a share of last year's regular-season crown (with Boston U. at 4-1). The Wildcats had never won consecutive regular-season titles prior to the 2010-11-12 seasons.
    UNH has won a total of five America East regular-season titles. In addition to 2010-11-12, the 'Cats shared the '02 crown and won the 2000 title outright.
    The 'Cats are the America East Championship top seed and tourney host for the third consecutive year. They begin their quest to defend the 2011 championship Friday vs. Fairfield.
    UNH has recorded double-digit victories each of the last four years (11 in 2012; 17 in 2011; 14 in 2010; 12 in 2009), a feat last accomplished spanning the 1997 (11), 1998 (14), 1999 (12) and 2000 (14) seasons.
    Including postseason play, UNH is 17-2, including 11-1 at home, against America East teams spanning the 2010-11-12 seasons. That includes two perfect regular seasons, a tourney runner-up (2010) and tournament title (2011).
    Dating back to the 2009 America East semifinal game, the only league team to defeat UNH is Albany. The Wildcats have a 3-3 record vs. the Great Danes in that span (including two tourney losses) and are 14-0 against the other four America East teams (4-0 vs. Maine, including the 2010 semifinal, and BU; 3-0 vs. Fairfield and Vermont).

Eight Wildcats Receive America East Accolades & UNH Named Coaching Staff of the Year
    Eight UNH Wildcats received a total of 11 America East conference awards, including junior back Megan Bozek as Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced Oct. 31. Head coach Robin Balducci and her staff was voted Coaching Staff of the Year for the third consecutive year.
    Bozek, the first UNH player to be named Defensive Player of the Year since its 2001 inception, was joined on the All-Conference First Team by senior midfielder and captain Emma Erler and junior midfielder Casey Pohlmeyer; both Bozek and Pohlmeyer were unanimous selections.
Junior forward Hannah Richard and sophomore midfielder Kellie Joyce were voted to the All-Conference Second Team, while three 'Cats – Meg Flatley, Chandler Giese and Lynne Lehman were All-Rookie Team honorees; Flatley and Giese were unanimous selections.
    Erler was named to the All-Academic Team for the third consecutive year and Bozek received her third award with her second selection to the All-Academic Team in as many years.
    Balducci led the Wildcats, selected fourth in the America East Coaches' Preseason Poll back in mid-August, to a third consecutive conference regular-season title and tournament top seed with a perfect 5-0 record as part of an 11-7 overall record. The 22nd-year head coach of the 'Cats, whose staff includes assistant coaches Ross Gorham and Meg Shea, also received this accolade in 1998, 2000, 2010 and 2011.
    UNH is the first program to receive three consecutive America East Coach of the Year awards and Balducci ties three other league coaches for most overall awards with five.

Erler Selected to NFHCA Senior Game
    Senior midfielder and captain Emma Erler has been selected to play in the 2012 NFHCA Division I Senior Game. This is the fourth consecutive year the Wildcats will be represented at the event. Dating back to 2009, senior forward and current Wildcats' assistant coach Meg Shea was named to the squad. In 2010, it was midfielder Kara Connolly representing UNH in College Park, Md. In 2011, the game was held at the University of Maryland, where UNH sent a pair of seniors – forward Whitney Frates and back Kyle Lyons.

'Cat Nips
    Hannah Richard has had a breakout junior season. After recording just three points (1g, 1a) in 39 games spanning her first two years as a Wildcat, Richard leads the team in both goals (14) and points (32), as well as shooting percentage (.424) and percentage of shots on goal (.818; minimum 10 shots). In other stats, she is tied for fourth in assists.
    Junior back Megan Bozek has recorded career highs in goals (nine), assists (three) and points (21) in 2012. She recorded a point in seven of the last 10 regular-season games, which made her the most consistent point producer during that span.
    Junior midfielder Casey Pohlmeyer leads the 'Cats with her career-high nine assists, and her personal-best 17 points ranks fourth.
    Bozek, Richard and Pohlmeyer share the longest active point-scoring streak of two games. The longest point streak of the season belongs to Richard (seven games, Aug. 31-Sept. 8; 9g, 4a).
    Richard shares the longest goal-scoring streak of five games with redshirt freshman Meg Flatley; Richard tallied seven goals from Sept. 9-28, whereas Flatley potted six goals spanning Aug. 31-Sept. 16.
    The longest assist streak of the season belongs to senior midfielder and captain Emma Erler, who tallied an assist four straight games – Aug. 31 to Sept. 14 – and had five helpers in that span.
    UNH has had the same starting lineup in 16 of 18 games. Nine players have started all 18 games and one other started 17 of 18.

Postseason History
    UNH will be making its 18th America East Championship appearance this weekend; it is the sixth consecutive tourney appearance. The Wildcats have a 9-15 overall tournament record with titles in 1998 and 2011.
    This is the third consecutive year the 'Cats are the tourney host – prior to 2010, the America East Championship had not been in Durham.
    New Hampshire has a 7-10 record in semifinals but has advanced to the championship game with a semifinal victory three of the last four years, including both 2010 and 2011 on its home turf.
    The 'Cats have a 2-5 record in conference championship games, including 1-1 at home.
    UNH has never faced Fairfield in postseason play. The Wildcats have a 1-3 record vs. Albany in the conference tourney, and that includes 0-2 in finals; three of the four games were decided by one goal. They are 2-2 against Maine but have never faced the Black Bears in a title game; UNH has won each of the last two postseason meetings – the 2008 and 2010 semifinals, both by a score of 3-2.

How We Got Here
    New Hampshire initially clinched at least a share of the America East regular-season title by defeating then 13th-ranked Boston University, 1-0, at Memorial Field on Friday, Oct. 19 to improve to 4-0. One day later, Albany defeated Maine to guarantee UNH would be the top seed and host of the 2012 America East Championship. The Wildcats prevailed 2-1 at Maine on Saturday, Oct. 27 to claim the conference regular-season crown outright with a perfect league record of 5-0.

And then...
    The semifinal winners advance to the Nov. 4 championship game at Memorial Field, which begins at noon. The America East tournament champion earns an automatic qualifier berth into the NCAA Championship.

Home Sweet Home
    New Hampshire went 5-3 at Memorial Field this season and is eager to play at home after closing the regular season with three consecutive road games. UNH has won each of the last five home games.
    Six of UNH's opponents in Durham were nationally ranked and the Wildcats went 3-3 in those games – all six were decided by one goal. The 'Cats opened with back-to-back losses to UMass and Ohio State, both nationally-ranked, then dropped to 0-3 at home with a heartbreaking loss to No. 2 Syracuse University. UNH rebounded to defeat No. 7 Northeastern, No. 22 Albany and No. 13 Boston U. [Note: all listed rankings were at date of game.]
    Hannah Richard (5g, 2a) was UNH's top point producer at Memorial field with 12 points in eight games. Meg Flatley (4g, 1a), Megan Bozek (3g, 1a) and Casey Pohlmeyer (2g, 3a) were the other top scorers.
    In eight home games, Carlie Tarbell had a 1.44 GAA and .793 save percentage with one shutout.

Working Overtime
    New Hampshire played into overtime in eight of 18 regular-season games and had a 5-3 record; at home, UNH was 2-1 in OT. The Wildcats were 3-2 in games decided in the first extra session and 2-1 when the game ended in double overtime.
    The shortest OT game was the season opener, a 2-1 loss to UMass when the Minutewomen scored at 74:55 (4:55 of overtime); the longest game of the season was 95 minutes, 46 seconds (3-2 win at Fairfield on Sept. 28).
    UNH played beyond the 70 minutes of regulation five consecutive games spanning Sept. 16 through Oct. 5 – four of those contests were against nationally-ranked teams, and the initial three games of that stretch (Northeastern, UConn, Fairfield) all went to double overtime. The Wildcats alternated wins and losses during that stretch to go 3-2

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