DURHAM, N.H. – Sophomore forward Meg Flatley (Townsend, Mass.) recorded a career-high five points to power the 20th-ranked University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Friday afternoon's 4-0 victory against Fairfield University at Memorial Field.
UNH extended its winning streak to five games – all by shutout and aggregate score of 22-0 – to improve to 12-6 overall and 5-0 in America East to complete the conference season unbeaten for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons. The last time the Wildcats shut out five consecutive opponents was September 1984.
Fairfield, which yielded the advantage in shots (16-3) and penalty corners (4-2), is now 10-6, 2-3.
Flatley, who matched her personal best of two goals and added an assist, recorded her 50th career point on her first goal of the contest. UNH's other goals were scored by seniors Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) and Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.).
Junior goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell (Wakefield, Mass.), the reigning America East Defensive Player of the Week, extended her shutout streak to a career-best 354 minutes, 54 seconds with a two-save performance. Stags' netminder Caitlin Bennett stopped six shots.
Prior to the start of the match, coaches, players, parents and fans honored four seniors who played their last home regular-season game as a Wildcat. The seniors consisted of midfielder Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.), forward Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.), midfielder Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) and back Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.).
In the opening minutes of the match, Fairfield generated the first scoring chance. Junior back Felicitas Heinen marched down the field and blasted a shot from the top of the arc. The Wildcats' defense was quick in transition, however, and knocked down the shot in the defensive zone.
After being hindered by the Fairfield defense early, UNH's offense settled in and created scoring opportunities. The Stags thwarted a pair of UNH chances midway through the half to keep the game scoreless.
Lynne Lehman (Landisburg, Pa.) scooped up a loose ball deep in the offensive zone. After being deflected off Bennett on a failed cleared attempt, Lehman could not find the ball between her legs as the Stags fended off the threat.
Flatley quickly followed with a scoring bid of her own. Finding space on the left wing, Flatley fired a low shot. Bennett was able to see the shot through traffic and made a kick save from her right side.
Richard broke the deadlock score at 28:54. Flatley corralled the ball near the end line, drawing out Bennett with a slide tackle. Richard gathered the ball in the midst of the Stags' defense and buried the shot for her 11th goal of the season, unassisted.
The Stags looked for the equalizer in the waning moments of the first half. With just 27 seconds remaining, Fairfield was awarded a penalty corner. Emily Leo dished out the pass to Heinen at the top of the arc. Tarbell managed to make the blocker save to preserve the 1-0 UNH lead into halftime.
New Hampshire pounced on the Fairfield defense in the second half and converted two scoring opportunities into goals in the opening 11 minutes.
Doubling UNH's lead at 40:18, Bozek sent a long pass to Richard in stride. Flatley corralled Richard's entry pass and finessed her way around the Stags' defense. She finished the play on a backhand shot, earning her 50th career point on an unassisted goal.
Flatley tallied her second goal of the contest just five minutes later at 45:27. Chandler Giese (Trappe, Pa.), trying to find an open target, dribbled the ball in the offensive zone. Fairfield's defense initially broke up the pass but Flatley gathered the ball and buried the shot past Bennett to give the 'Cats a 3-0 advantage.
Fairfield tried to rally in the latter stages of the match but the Wildcats kept the Stags' attack at bay.
New Hampshire earned a pair of penalty corners as time expired in regulation. Flatley's first penalty corner set up Giese from the left wing. However, Giese's bid was deflected, giving UNH a second penalty corner. The Wildcats capped off the shutout win by converting on the second attempt. Flatley guided the pass to Kellie Joyce (South Pomfret, Vt.). Bozek teed up from the top of the arc and her shot skimmed by the shoulder of Bennett for her seventh goal of the season.
New Hampshire, boasting an 8-0 mark against its conference foe in the all-time series, remains unbeaten against Fairfield.
Field hockey returns to action Sunday, Nov. 3 on the road against intrastate rival Dartmouth for the regular season finale. The Big Green and Wildcats are set to clash at 2 p.m. UNH is the top seed and host of the America East Championships, which will be played Nov. 7 & 9 at Memorial Field.