Best breaks school record to lift UNH into semifinals
DURHAM, N.H. -- Chiara Best (Rose Valley, Pa.) recorded a goal and an assist to become the all-time leading point scorer at the University of New Hampshire and lift the UNH women's soccer team to Tuesday afternoon's 4-0 victory against the University of Hartford in first-round action of the America East Championships at Lewis Fields.
Third-seeded UNH, which finished in a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings with a 6-3-0 record, won its third consecutive game to improve to 11-7-2 overall. The 11 wins is tied for the second-highest total in a single season (1990, 1998) and the Wildcats will now play second-seeded Maine in a Nov. 5 (1:30 p.m.) semifinal at Binghamton University.
Hartford, which also lost 3-1 at UNH in the regular season, ends the season at 5-12-2.
Hillary Mefferd (Portland, Ore.) tied the America East Championships single-game record with two assists, Shannon Oltman (Edmonds, Wash.) scored her first two goals of the season and Marianne Rivard (West Kingston, R.I.) recorded her first collegiate points with a goal and assist to spark the UNH offense. Lynn Gugliuzza (Kenmore, N.Y.) recorded her second shutout of the season - and her career - with eight saves.
Best, who entered the game with 85 career points, moved into a tie for second on UNH's career points list with an assist on a goal by Rivard that gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 33:53. Best played the ball into the right corner, where Mefferd's crossing pass sailed over Hartford goalkeeper Liz Cook to Rivard, who trapped the ball and touched it into the open net.
Oltman scored 4:38 later to extend UNH's lead to 2-0. Mefferd's service on a corner kick from the right side was headed into the net by Oltman.
The Wildcats took that 2-0 lead into halftime - the 'Cats went 4-0-0 with a halftime lead as well as 8-2-2 when scoring the first goal during the regular season - and another Oltman header on a corner kick, this time on a left corner service by Lia Barros (Sammamish, Wash.), gave UNH a 3-0 lead at 53:02.
Best became UNH's all-time points leader when she netted her 14th goal of the season at 79:10 as she collected a pass from Rivard, beat Cook in a 1-v-1 situation and fired the ball into the open net. That tally increased her career point total to 88 to surpass the previous benchmark of 87 points held by Diane McLoughlin (1987-90). Best now has 31 points this season, which is No. 2 on UNH's list of single-season superlatives.
Malin Engman had two of Hartford's most dangerous scoring opportunities. In the 31st minute, her direct kick from 28 yards went over UNH's defensive wall but directly to Gugliuzza. In the 64th minute, her shot on a direct kick from 23 yards once again cleared the wall right to Gugliuzza.
Hartford's Cook finished with three saves.