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Playoff hopes revived

UNH Field Hockey entered the weekend 7-8 overall with a 1-2 record in the America East. Looking outside of the playoff picture, head coach Robin Balducci stated that the team “understood the urgency” coming into the weekend.  

Dropping a tough loss two weeks ago to UMASS Lowell in a shootout pushed UNH outside the playoffs with a chance to get back in and clinch against UVM this past weekend.  

UNH traveled up to Vermont Thursday night to prepare for the Friday night game. UNH split games with UVM last year and had an “understanding of what they had to do” going into the game according to Balducci. 

The game started off relatively slow as neither team recorded a shot in the first seven minutes of play. UNH was first to break the scoring drought as senior forward Bailey Fanikos scored on the game’s first shot on a pass from first year forward Ava Mariani. Late in the period, UNH was able to come up with another attack as several Wildcats were able to get shots on cage to no avail. UNH led the quarter in shots 4-0.  

UNH rode that momentum into the second quarter as they kept the pressure on UVM’s defense. Junior forward Bloem van den Brekel was able to put a hard shot on net that was turned away by UVM’s junior goalkeeper Sierra Espeland. Soon after, UNH set up a corner where once again the ball missed just wide of the cage. With five minutes left in the half, UNH extended their lead to 2-0 as sophomore forward Tia Raspante scored off a mishandle by UVM deep in their defensive zone. Entering halftime, UNH had a 12-0 shot advantage with four corners to UVM’s zero.  

Coming out of the halftime break things settled down in the third quarter. There was a lot of midfield play with each team fighting to take advantage of the game. UNH was able to get a couple shot on net, leading the quarter 2-0 in shots, but no avail the quarter remained scoreless.  

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, UVM was able to cut the lead to one as they snuck one by UNH first year goalkeeper Jemma Woods. This was the first goal recorded for the Catamounts. UNH pulled their defense together and did not let UVM record another shot for the rest of the game, even after UVM put an extra attacker on the field with two minutes remaining. The final score of the game was 2-1 UNH.  

Sunday’s match against Columbia (7-7) was canceled due to rain, leaving the Wildcats record at 8-8 with a 2-2 record in the America East.  

UNH will take on UMaine (7-8, 3-1) next week with a game that will have major playoff implications for the ‘Cats as they look to carry momentum into their ever important senior night on Friday.   

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