DURHAM, N.H. – Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) recorded a game-high six points to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Wednesday afternoon's 11-7 non-conference victory against the University of Connecticut at Bremner Field.
UNH improved to 2-2 at home and 2-3 overall while UConn lost its third consecutive game to fall to 1-4.
McHoul, who finished with two goals and four points, was one of four Wildcats to record multiple points. Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) recorded a season-high four goals and Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) also tallied four points with a personal-best three goals and an assist. Nicole Grote (Ellicott City, Md.) recorded a goal and an assist.
Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.) made eight of her 11 saves in the first half, when she helped backbone UNH to a 6-2 halftime lead. UConn starting goalie Shannon Nee exited the game at 4:36 of the first half with the Huskies trailing 6-2; she was credited with one save and charged with the loss. Marya Fratoni played the final 34:36 of the game and stopped five of the 10 shots on goal.
UConn's offense was led by Alexandra Crofts (3g) and Lauren Kahn (1g, 1a).
New Hampshire quickly took a 1-0 lead when McHoul, from behind the net, found Puccia in front of the crease for her ninth goal of the season. Neither team scored for more than six minutes – Hurwitz made three saves in that span – before UConn leveled the score, 1-1, on Crofts' free-position goal at 23:20.
The Huskies gained possession of the ensuing draw control but Hurwitz stopped Emily Anderson's shot at 21:37 to keep the game deadlocked. The teams exchanged possessions before Hinkle was awarded a free position, but shot wide of the cage at 18:06.
The Wildcats maintained control, however, and Hinkle's goal at 17:11 ignited a 5-0 run and gave the home team a lead it would not relinquish. McHoul, once again operating from behind the net, fed a pass to the front of the goal and Hinkle one-timed a high shot under the crossbar for the 2-1 lead.
Following another scoreless stretch of almost seven minutes, UNH struck three times in 81 seconds to quickly extend the advantage to 5-1. Hinkle converted another McHoul pass into a goal at 10:24. Grote controlled the ensuing draw, and this time McHoul curled around the left post and deposited a high shot into the net for a 4-1 lead at 9:43.
UConn called time out and Crofts gained possession of the draw control, but Hinkle's stick check forced a turnover in which Grote corralled the ground ball, which led to an unassisted goal by Hinkle at 9:03.
Nee recorded her only save of the game when she denied Brooke McGillis (Berwyn, Pa.) at 6:33. Emma Kriss (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) gathered the rebound to keep possession for the Wildcats and Puccia converted a free position at the top of the fan into a goal and 6-1 lead at 5:39.
The Huskies stopped UNH's run of five consecutive goals to trim the deficit to 6-2 at 4:36. On the right wing, Kahn found Katherine Finkelston in the middle of the fan for her eighth goal of the season.
Fratoni entered the game at that point and made consecutive saves against Puccia, McHoul and Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) in a 30-second span to keep the visitors within four goals. Fratoni then stopped Grote on a free position with 23 seconds remaining. UConn advanced the ball to the other end of the field and earned a free position in the waning seconds, but Hurwitz made the save against Ally Fazio just before the buzzer to keep the score 6-2.
At the half, the shots were even 13-13 while UNH had the edge in ground balls (10-5) and UConn had a 7-2 advantage in draw controls.
Just as they had done in the first half, the Wildcats struck early in the second half on Nock's goal, with the assistance of Grote, at 29:21. Grote, in the middle of the fan, caught a Molly Gaffey (North Hampton, N.H.) pass from the right wing and scored to give the 'Cats a 8-2 lead at 27:39. Puccia, off Hinkle's feed, made it 9-2 at 24:25.
The Huskies netted consecutive goals 32 seconds apart – at 22:59 and 22:17 – to quickly close within 9-4. Kacey Pippitt scored on a free position to stop UNH's 3-0 spurt and then Crofts drove down the left wing for her second strike of the game.
Fratoni once again denied Puccia at 17:56 and then, one minute later at the other end of the field, Hurwitz recorded a save against Karaline Smith shot. The 'Cats cleared the ball to its offensive zone and McHoul curled around the left post and scored on a high shot to give UNH a 10-4 lead at 16:00.
UConn responded with goals 34 seconds apart – at 13:32 and 12:56 – to close within 10-6. Crofts' unassisted goal was followed by Kahn's goal in transition down the middle of the fan.
Puccia gained possession of the next draw control and then scored at the right doorstep – on another McHoul feed from behind the net – to give the Wildcats an 11-6 lead at 11:34.
Molly O'Reilly, on a free position from the top of the fan, scored a man-up goal at 7:45 to lift UConn within 11-7.
Puccia against controlled the draw, and UNH called a timeout at 7:32. The 'Cats lost the ball 10 seconds later, however, but Hurwitz turned aside Pippitt at 6:16 to keep the margin at four goals.
Cori Rees (East Hampstead, N.H.) grabbed a ground ball in the defensive zone with three minutes remaining. UNH's spread offense and perimeter passing kept the ball away from UConn until 18 seconds remained on the clock to preserve the win.
UConn recorded a 10-6 shot advantage in the second half for an overall edge of 23-19. The Huskies also finished with the 12-8 edge in draw controls. UNH led in ground balls (14-11) and the turnovers were even at 14.
New Hampshire returns to action March 8 at the University of Massachusetts and continues on the road March 10 at Iona College. Both games begin at 3 p.m. The Wildcats' next home game is March 14 vs. Fairfield University.