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Field Hockey: America East playoff hope still alive, UNH eyes Albany


UNH split their weekend play with a loss to UMass Lowell (8-8. 2-5 in conference) and a win at Vermont (7-9, 3-3 in conference). The Wildcats (4-11, 2-5 in conference) will need some help if they want to make it to the America East playoffs in Palo Alto, Calif.
New Hampshire and UMass Lowell are battling for the final spot in the conference playoffs. Both teams have one conference game remaining. The River Hawks currently own the tie breaker between the two teams with a better overall record.
In order to make the playoffs, the Wildcats must win their final America East regular season game of the season versus Albany (12-3, 5-1 in conference) on Oct. 26 and UMass Lowell must lose their final conference game of the season.
UMass Lowell will conclude their conference play versus Maine (13-3, 4-2 in conference) on Oct. 28.
UNH had a good opportunity to control their own playoff destiny going into their matchup with the River Hawks on Oct. 19, but were unable to get the victory in a 2-1 home loss.
UMass Lowell started the scoring late in the first half. Senior back Brooke Roberts initiated the score with a low shot to the left side of the cage. The ball was redirected by first-year midfielder Jenna Berger. Berger’s redirect found the back of the cage, just inside the left post.
Although they had the advantage in both shots (4-2) and corners (6-3), the ‘Cats found themselves down 1-0 at the half.
The Wildcats were able to tie it up halfway through the second half when they were able to convert a corner into a score in the 57th minute of the match. First-year forward Finn Caron and senior midfielder Rachel Bossi were able to set up sophomore forward Bloem van den Brekel for the lone Wildcat score. Brekel fired a direct shot from the top of the circle and the ball made its way past the River Cats keeper and just inside the right post.
With the assist, Caron leads the Wildcats in total points (9) in her first collegiate season.
The game wasn’t tied for long, though.
Just one minute and 20 seconds later, UMass Lowell was able to answer with a goal of their own. This time, Berger did it herself as she carried the ball into the circle and got her shot past UNH senior goalkeeper Kelsey Rudert for the second time of the day, and the River Cats regained the lead, 2-1.
UNH Head Coach Robin Balducci tried to get aggressive late in hopes of tying the game and forcing overtime. Balducci pulled Rudert with just under five minutes remaining for an extra field player, and the ‘Cats generated a scoring opportunity with three minutes to go. UNH was awarded a corner, but Brekel’s shot sailed left of the post. UNH fell in an important America East matchup.
The Wildcats were able to bounce back on Oct. 21 with a 2-1 victory over America East foe Vermont. The win kept the ‘Cats playoff hopes alive.
This game started slow, as neither team recorder a shot in the first 15 minutes of the game. UNH finally recorded their first shot of the game with just two minutes and 30 seconds until halftime. The ‘Cats capitalized on their first opportunity of the game, as Brekel gained possession of the ball on the left side of the field, spun and fired a rolling shot that found its way through traffic and past Vermont’s goalkeeper to put UNH up 1-0 right before the end of the half.
Vermont finished the half out strong, as junior midfielder Rachel Phillips converted the corner into a goal to tie the game 1-1 in the 33rd minute. Phillips was set up by first-year backer Clodagh Ferry.
The game was tied 1-1 going into halftime.
UNH’s Caron continued her strong play as she gave the ‘Cats the lead in the 50th minute on an unassisted goal. She was able to chip the ball into an open cage after teammate and junior forward Tiana Morin’s shot went off the post. Caron’s goal would be the game winner, as there was no more scoring in this matchup.
The Wildcats were able to capitalize on shaky play from Vermont’s goalkeeper. UNH totaled just five total shots, but two of them found their way into the cage for the win.
Next up for UNH is the most important game of the season, their matchup with America East leading Albany. The Wildcats must upset the top team in the division to keep their playoff hopes alive.
UNH concludes their regular season play with an Oct. 28 matchup versus the Dartmouth Big Green in Durham at 2 p.m.

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