STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) recorded five points but the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to was defeated 13-6 Friday night by the University at Albany in an America East Championship semifinal game at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium.
UNH, the tourney No. 3 seed by virtue of a 3-3 conference record, ends the 2013 season with a 6-11 overall record. Second-seeded Albany, which recorded an 11-6 home win against the Wildcats in late March and ousted the 'Cats in the 2011 America East semifinals, advances to play host and top-seeded Stony Brook in the May 5 championship game.
McHoul, the America East co-Rookie of the Year, finished with two goals and three assists. Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.), Nicole Grote (Ellicott City, Md.) Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) netted UNH's other goals and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) was credited with an assist. Puccia also tallied one ground ball, two draw controls and two caused turnovers while Simpson had one GB, two DC and one CTO.
UNH goalkeeper Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) made three saves and UA counterpart Anna Berman stopped four shots. The Great Danes' attack was led by Rachel Burek (four goals, one assist), Nichole Eamer (2g, 2a), Allie Phelan (2g, 2a), Rachel Bowles (3g) and Whitney Corby (3a).
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 25:55 when Puccia raced down the right sideline and passed the ball behind the net, where McHoul curled around the left post and fired a high shot into the cage.
Bowles leveled the score at 23:54 and then gave the Great Danes a 2-1 lead at 21:13.
UNH pulled even, 2-2, just 67 seconds later when McHoul, behind the right post, slipped a pass to the front of the cage, where Hinkle was cutting across the fan from left to right to catch the pass and deposit the ball inside the right post at 20:06
O'Keefe denied Eamer's low shot on a free position at 16:45 to keep the score deadlocked and with Corby unmarked on the right post, O'Keefe quickly shifted across the goalmouth to stop the one-timer from point blank range at 15:00.
UNH had an opportunity to go back in front, but Simpson's shot from six meters on the right wing ricocheted off the near post.
Albany regained the lead, 3-2, at 6:07 when Corby set up Eamer. On minute later at the other end of the field, McHoul was once again set up behind the net and this time she connected with Hannah Wohltmann (Towson, Md.) at the right post, but Berman snared the one-timer. Bowles netted her third goal of the game on a free position as she cur from the right side to the middle and shot back inside the right post to extend the advantage to 4-2 at 4:05.
The 'Cats answered one minute later to trim the deficit to one goal, 4-3. McHoul, off a pass from Jamie DePetris (Radnor, Pa.), once again rolled from behind the net to the left post, but this time she cut inside the defender en route to the top of the crease and placing a shot under the crossbar at 3:06.
Eamer struck again at 1:42 – she outran the defense down the right wing in a transition attack -- to give UA a 5-3 lead they took into halftime; the 'Cats advanced the ball into the attack zone in the waning seconds and Puccia, from the middle of the fan, turned and fired a shot just wide of the left post. The Great Danes also recorded the first-half edge in shots (11-9) and ground balls (12-6); UNH tallied the 6-3 edge in draw controls.
The teams alternated scores the opening 12:30 of the second half to advance the score to 8-5 in favor of Albany, which then outscored New Hampshire 5-1 the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Burek opened the second-half scoring at 28:33 as Phelan drove the right wing two draw a double team that left Burek alone at the left doorstep.
McHoul recorded her fourth point of the night to lift UNH within 6-4 at 27:13. Set up behind the net, McHoul threaded a pass to Grote cutting down the middle of the fan and she buried a shot inside the right post.
The Wildcats had two extended possession with an opportunity to narrow the margin, but Grote shot wide at 26:23 and a one-timer by a driving Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) sailed high at 22:12.
Jess Antelmi sliced down the middle of the fan to get open and convert Burek's pass from behind the cage into a goal and 7-4 lead at 19:11.
The Wildcats had a quick retaliation and once again closed within two goals, 7-5, at 18:46 when Simpson curled from behind the net and fed a pass on the left wing to Puccia, who ripped a sidearm shot inside the far post.
Burek responded with goals at 17:32 and 16:19 to give Albany its largest lead. Corby, from way behind the net, found her alone at the right post to make the score 8-5. Then Phelan's attempted pass across the crease was deflected high In the air by O'Keefe but Burek, on the left doorstep, swept the ball into the open cage.
UNH called time out at that point. McHoul won the ensuing draw and then deep on the left wing she found Casiano cutting down the middle of the fan for a catch-and-shoot that lifted the Wildcats within 9-6 at 15:39.
Phelan netted a free-position goal at 14:00 to reestablish a four-goal cushion of 10-6. UA gained possession of the draw, but Puccia intercepted a pass at midfield, which led to a pair of shots off target from McHoul's crosse at 12:32 and 11:53. The 'Cats did not record a shot the rest of the way.
After a prolonged set attack, Burek curled around the left post but was stoned by O'Keefe. UNH turned the ball over, however, and the Great Danes called a timeout at 7:12. New Hampshire pressed in attempt to regain possession, but that led to Corby driving the right side of the fan and finding Antelmi at the near post for an 11-6 advantage at 4:24.
With O'Keefe out of the cage to try to allow UNH's defense to pressure the ball, Phelan scored into an open net at 2:16. UA controlled the draw and Eamer set up Burek to close the scoring at 1:13.