Seniors Gunts and Keagins Propel Women's Lax to 12-11 Victory Against UMBC


DURHAM, N.H. – Senior midfielder Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) recorded four points and senior goalkeeper Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn.) made seven saves to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to a 12-11 America East victory against UMBC in Saturday afternoon's Senior Day game at Memorial Field.

UNH won its second consecutive game to improve to 5-9 overall, 2-3 in America East and 10-1 lifetime against the Retrievers. UMBC, which entered the game on a three-game winning streak, is now 7-8, 3-3.

Keagins tallied two goals, two assists, four ground balls, two draw controls and two caused turnovers; she extended her point-scoring streak to 19 game and goal streak to 17.  Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) led four other multiple-point Wildcats with four goals. Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) recorded three goals, followed by Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) with two goals and Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) with a goal and an assist. Casiano was also credited with five draw controls, two ground balls and one caused turnover.

Gunts, UNH's America East Player of the Game, received the starting nod and backboned UNH to a 10-2 lead with 23:00 remaining in the second half. UMBC netted six consecutive goals to chase Gunts from the game at 12:29. Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) allowed two goals and exited the game when she received a yellow card with the 'Cats ahead 11-10 at 1:30. Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.) played the final 1:30 and allowed a goal with 13 seconds left that pulled the Retrievers within one goal, 12-11.

UMBC was led offensively by its America East Player of the Game, Alicia Krause, who finished with four goals and an assist. Emily Coady (2g, 1a), Lindsay Cox (2g) and Michelle Platz (1g, 1a) were the other multiple-point scorers. Kendall Mason was credited with seven of her 11 saves in the first half, as UNH recorded a 17-6 first-half shot advantage to build a 7-2 halftime lead.

At the start of the second half, Casiano gained possession of the draw control to set up Simpson's third goal of the game as she dodged through the middle of the fan and fired a high shot into the cage to give New Hampshire an 8-2 lead at 29:22.

After a save by Gunts against Krause at 28:00, Hinkle, set up behind the right post, combined with Casiano, who caught the pass just off the ground and shot low into the goal, to extend the advantage to seven goals at 26:19.

Gunts made two more saves – one to deny Coady at 26:00 and another on Coady's free-position shot at 25:06 – and Puccia scored on a free position from the top of the fan at 23:00 to give the 'Cats their largest lead of the game, 10-2.

Simpson was issued a yellow card at 22:56 and UMBC called time out 10 seconds later. Abby Wilson converted Platz's pass into a man-up goal at 21:17 that sparked a 7-0 run by the visiting team.

Krause set up Cox's tally at 19:00 and then scored at 17:57 to trim the deficit to 10-5. UNH called a timeout, but Jamie Fahey controlled the ensuing draw control and Coady potted an unassisted goal at 16:58 to lift the Retrievers within 10-6. UMBC also won the next draw control and Krause struck again at 15:54 to reduce the margin to three goals.

Mason turned aside Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) twice – at 15:39 and 14:10 – and Coady scored her second goals of the game to reduce the differential to 10-8 at 12:29.

With O'Keefe now in goal for the 'Cats, UMBC's Krsiten Bilney controlled the draw and that led to Shannon Harkey's unassisted goal that pulled the Retrievers within one goal, 10-9, at 11:39; it marked UNH's smallest lead since 2-1 at 26:26 of the first half.

Casiano gained possession of the draw control and following a perimeter attack, Puccia was awarded a free position at 8:16. From the top-left, she charged and fired a low shot into the goal to extend the lead to 11-9 at 8:14.

Puccia corralled the next draw control to keep momentum in UNH's favor. Following nearly three minutes of possession, the 'Cats lost the ball. The teams then traded turnovers and UMBC, with possession, called time out at 4:39.

Krause caught a pass as she was cutting from the right wing to the middle, then reversed direction to beat the defender and rifled a shot inside the right post to once again make it a one-goal game, 11-10.

In an attempt to protect its lead, UNH passed the ball backward to O'Keefe. Cox's pressure forced a turnover behind the goal, however, and O'Keefe was carded as Cox corralled the ground ball at 1:30.

With the advantage of an open net on the restart, UMBC quickly slipped a pass to Coady in front. Keagins quickly closed the gap, however, knocked the ball out of Coady's crosse with a stick check and picked up the ground ball to preserve New Hampshire's 11-10 lead.

UNH advanced the ball downfield and Keagins, just outside the eight-meter arc on the right wing, was fouled with Mason away from the goal. On the restart, Keagins snapped a diagonal pass to Puccia, who scored her fourth goal of the game into an open net to give the Wildcats a 12-10 lead with 51 seconds remaining.

Keagins gained control of the ensuing draw and UNH called a timeout with 34 seconds on the clock. UMBC got the ball back, however, and Cox scored a man-up free-position goal at 13 seconds to trim the deficit to 12-11.

With draw controls even, 12-12, at this juncture, Simpson snared the draw control and the Wildcats maintained possession the rest of the way to secure the victory.

UNH recorded the edge in shots (28-21), ground balls (16-9) and draw controls (13-12). Turnovers were even at 15.

The Wildcats struck first to take a 1-0 lead at 28:59 when Casiano finished Keagins' pass from behind the net into a goal.

UMBC tied the score, 1-1, on Platz's free-position goal at 27:32. UNH responded with three consecutive goals and closed the half on a 6-1 spurt to build a five-goal halftime advantage.

Puccia (at 26:26), Keagins (23:20) and Simpson (11:46) netted unassisted goals to give the 'Cats a 4-1 lead. Krause, with the assistance of Coady, stopped the run at 9:24 to trim the deficit to 4-2.

Hinkle responded with an unassisted tally at 7:31 as she stick-checked the ball out of Mason's crosse at the left post, corralled the ball and calmly placed a bounce shot into the open net. Simpson caught a Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) entry pass on the top-left side, split a pair of defenders and scored on a low shot to make the score 6-2 at 3:46. Keagins potted an unassisted man-up goal with 40 seconds remaining in the first half to extend the advantage to five goals.

This marked the final home game in the four-year Wildcat careers of Keagins, Gunts, Cohen and Erin Levesque (Duxbury, Mass.), all of whom were honored prior to the game.

The Wildcats' playoff hopes are still alive. UMBC is currently third at 3-3, followed by UNH, University at Albany and University of Vermont at 2-3. The top four teams advance to the America East tournament (May 3 &5). The 'Cats lost to both Albany and UVM, who face off in the regular-season finale.

New Hampshire concludes the 2012 regular season on the road against Stony Brook (April 28, 2 p.m.) and Boston College (May 1, 4 p.m.).

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