STONY BROOK, N.Y. – In a game that the University of New Hampshire needed to win to advance to the America East Championship tournament, the Wildcats built a 9-5 halftime lead but were outscored 7-1 in the second half as Stony Brook University rallied to defeat UNH, 12-10, Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium.
UNH, which had advanced to the league tourney each of the past 14 years, falls to 5-10 overall and 2-4 in America East. SBU improved to 13-4, 5-1; the Seawolves are the second seed in next week's America East tourney.
Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.), UNH's America East Player of the Game, recorded three goals and two assists for a season-high five points. Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) led four other multiple-point 'Cats with two goals and two assists. She was followed by Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.; three goals), Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.; two goals, one assist) and Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.; two assists), who extended her point-scoring streak to 20 games.
UNH goalkeeper Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.) finished with a career-high 10 saves. SBU counterpart Hannah Perruccio was credited with six stops. The Seawolves' attack was led by Claire Petersen (3g, 4a), Demmianee Cook (3g, 1a) and Janine Hillier (3g).
SBU opened the game scoring with goals 38 seconds apart by Amber Kupres at 29:11 and Cook at 28:33 to quickly build a 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats responded with three goals in less than two minutes to take a 3-2 lead. Casiano finished a feed from Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) to score the first of her three first-half goals at 23:52, then Puccia converted Hinkle's pass into a goal 32 seconds later to tie the score, 2-2. Casiano then set up Cohen to give the 'Cats their first lead of the game, 3-2, at 21:58.
Hillier leveled the score at 19:12, but New Hampshire responded with three more consecutive goals to build a 6-3 advantage. Cohen's second strike of the half – 16th of the season – gave the Wildcats a 4-3 lead at 17:53. Hinkle, with the assistance of Casiano, scored 51 seconds later to give the 'Cats a two-goal cushion. Puccia potted her second goal of the game – and team-leading 30th of the season – off a feed from Keagins to extend the margin to 6-3 at 13:24.
Hurwitz denied Cook at 12:10 and Kupres at 11:37, but Cook scored on the home team's extended possession to trim the deficit to 6-4 at 11:27.
Less than one minute later, Hurwitz once again turned aside a shot by Kupres and at the other end of the field Casiano, with the assistance of Cohen, reestablished a three-goal margin of 7-4 at 7:38.
Petersen set up Hillier for the second time in the game – and tallied her third assist to lift Stony Brook within 7-5 at 4:33.
Casiano, again from Cohen, netted her 20th goal of the season to extend the lead to 8-5 at 3:34.The Seawolves controlled the ensuing draw control, but Petersen's shot was snared by Hurwitz. The 'Cats went into a patient attack and Keagins set up Hinkle to give UNH a 9-5 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
UNH took that four-goal lead, as well as a 16-13 shot advantage and 7-6 edge in ground balls, into halftime.
SBU opened the second half on a 3-0 run to close within 9-8. Michelle Rubino began the surge at 23:13, then Hillier – on a free position – and Cook scored 22 seconds apart, at 21:28 and 21:06, respectively, to lift the home team within one goal.
Puccia's unassisted tally – her third goal of the game – extended UNH's lead to 10-8 at 20:00.
Perruccio would not allow another goal the rest of the game, however, as the Seawolves closed the game on a 4-0 run to record a two-goal victory. Petersen advanced the score to 10-9 at 17:16, which prompted the Wildcats to call time out.
Three minutes later, Hurwitz preserved UNH's one-goal lead with a save against Hillier. Petersen leveled the score, 10-10 at 13:15 and she struck again at 10:06 to put give the home team its first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Kupres, who opened the game scoring 49 seconds into the game, closed the scoring at 7:04 of the second half.
SBU recorded a 13-5 shot advantage in the decisive second half and 26-21 overall. The Seawolves also had the total edge in ground balls (15-14) and draw controls (14-10) while committing fewer turnovers (13-17).
New Hampshire concludes the 2012 regular season May 1 (4 p.m.) at Boston College.