DURHAM, N.H. – Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) scored a game-high four goals, including one with 11 seconds remaining in regulation, but the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team was fended off by the University at Albany, 9-8, in Saturday afternoon's America East lacrosse action at Memorial Field.
UNH falls to 3-9 overall and 1-3 in America East with its fourth consecutive loss. Albany, which has won four straight in the series vs. the Wildcats, is now 9-4, 2-2.
Keagins, named UNH's America East Player of the Game, also tallied five draw controls, two caused turnovers and one ground ball; with those numbers, she eclipsed the century mark in both DC (102) and GB (101) for her career. Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) also tallied multiple points with a goal and an assist, while Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) finished with one goal, two DC, two CTO and one GB.
UNH goalkeeper Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) was credited with eight saves, including six in the second half, and two ground balls. UA counterpart Anna Berman stopped five shots. The Great Danes' attack was led by Rachael Burek, who was selected the UA America East Player of the Game with four goals, one GB and one DC. Ariana Parker (2g, 1a), Nicole Eamer (1g, 1a) and Jess Antelmi (2a) had multi-point efforts.
Leading 9-7 with three minutes remaining in regulation, Albany gained possession on a failed clear attempt by UNH. The visitors went into a spread offense to protect the ball, but Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) corralled a ground ball at the restraining line with 27 seconds on the clock. She charged downfield and drew a free position with 20 seconds to play. Puccia's shot sailed wide, but the 'Cats retained possession and Keagins, dodging across the fan from right to left, fired a shot into the goal to trim the deficit to 9-8 at 11 seconds.
The ensuing draw control was directed towards the UA goal and Keagins was fouled immediately upon gathering the ball. On the restart with seven seconds remaining, Keagins was slowed by three defenders, lost her footing and then the ball fell out of her crosse to the turf. UA's Eamer corralled the ball in the waning seconds to secure the victory.
The Great Danes opened the game on a 3-0 run. O'Keefe denied Parker on a free-position shot at 28:18, but Day collected a loose ball in front of the cage and scored at 28:12. Antelmi, positioned deep on the left wing, centered a low pass to Burek cutting down the middle and her one-timer extended the lead to 2-0 at 23:28.
New Hampshire was awarded a free position at the top-left of the arc at 20:10. Puccia immediately fired a pass to Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) at the near post, but Berman quickly moved into position to preserve the two-goal margin. Albany advanced the ball to the other end of the field, where Eamer rolled behind the net around the right post and placed a high shot into the goal to give UA a 3-0 lead at 19:31.
The Wildcats scored three goals in 31 seconds to quickly level the score. Nock, at the left post, set up the first tally when she fired a pass across the goal mouth to Puccia, who scored into the open right side at 16:35 to extend her goal-scoring streak to six games. The ensuing draw control bounded into UNH's offensive zone, where Keagins gained possession behind the defense, raced down the left portion of the fan and rifled a shot inside the far post at 16:24.
Keagins once again gathered the ball on the draw control and slipped a pass ahead to Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.), who pivoted to her right to elude a pair of defenders and then scored on a high shot to tie the score, 3-3, at 16:04.
UNH won the battle for the draw control for the third consecutive time – this one by Cori Rees (East Hampstead, N.H.) – which led to Puccia's shot at 15:02 that caromed off the post.
Albany successfully cleared the ball to its offensive end, where the combination of Antelmi and Burek produced a carbon copy of the team's second goal to put the visitors back on top, 4-3, at 13:41. Mel Rorie's free-position shot at 12:56 ricocheted off the crossbar, but Burek gathered the ground ball and Parker maneuvered deep through the left wing to extend the advantage to 5-3 at 12:45.
Cohen was awarded a free position at the top of the fan. After a few steps, she placed a bounce shot over Berman and under the crossbar to lift the Wildcats within 5-4 at 6:30.
Parker drove down the middle of the fan to reestablish a two-goal lead, 6-4, at 3:18 and that was the halftime score.
Albany opened second-half play with possession. Parker hit the post and then was denied by O'Keefe, who also turned aside Rorie's free-position shot. The Great Danes' extended possession continued, however, and Parker, from the top of the fan, lobbed a pass over a double team to the middle of the fan, where Burek caught the pass and scored for a 7-4 lead at 26:10.
Keagins netted a free-position goal, her second tally of the game and 20th of the season, to trim the deficit to 7-5 at 24:38. Nock was awarded a free position on the far-right side of the fan, advanced to the near post and dropped her crosse low to beat Berman and make the score 7-6 at 18:31.
O'Keefe kept the 'Cats within one goal by denying Antelmi at 16:14 and Parker at 15:58, then at the other end of the field Berman robbed Simpson, who fired a one-timer off Cohen's feed from the middle of the fan at 13:20.
Burek scored a man-up free-position goal at 12:51 to give the Great Danes an 8-6 lead at 12:51. Cohen gained possession of the ensuing draw, but Nock's shot sailed high and Berman snared Puccia's attempt to keep UNH at bay. An Albany turnover led to a free position for the Wildcats, and Keagins dodged from the top-left of the fan to the middle before firing a shot into the goal that lifted the home squad within 8-7 at 10:23.
Pollock, in front of the goal, converted Eamer's pass into her 21st goal of the season and a 9-7 lead at 8:27.
UNH finished with a 23-22 shot advantage, as well as an 11-8 edge in draw controls. UA had the advantage in ground balls (14-8) and turnovers (9-11).
New Hampshire returns to action April 18 (6 p.m.) at Columbia University. The Wildcats' next home game is Senior Day on April 21 against UMBC. Game time at Memorial Field is 12 p.m.