By BRIAN DUNN
It was the same Wildcats team, but a different atmosphere.
UNH women’s soccer played under the lights of Cowell Stadium on Thursday, once again grabbing points in the conference standings and defeating the UMass-Lowell River Hawks in the “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness game by a final score of 4-2.
UNH head coach Steve Welham addressed the difference in bounce control, and how the surface of the field at Cowell Stadium differs from Bremner.
“Cowell is a harder surface, you have to play the bounce” Welham said. “We needed to make sure we took a little bit off our pass and just adjust that.”
With that in mind, the Wildcats once again got the job done and pulled out their fourth straight win, extending their point lead in the America East conference.
“I think that win just really starts off the weekend right now,” junior Kelsey Pratt said. “It’s a good pull-away from everyone else in-conference with 12 points.”
Unlike in previous conference matchups, the Wildcats had to battle to come out with the win against a highly competitive River Hawks team. At one point, the River Hawks had a two-goal lead on the Wildcats and played a much tougher game than their record would indicate.
“They’re a very scrappy team, they work hard and throw us off our game plan,” Welham said about the River Hawks’ style of play. “We had to figure out a way to compensate for what we were not doing.”
One thing remained the same: for the fourth straight game, the Wildcats struck first. Leading goal-scorer Brooke Murphy gave the Wildcats the lead off of a penalty kick opportunity, putting the Wildcats on the board ten minutes into the game.
From there, both the Wildcats and the River Hawks began to trade goals. UMass-Lowell tied the game off of a goal from Shannon Groffie from a feed by Katelyn Viera. The goal kept the Wildcats from running away with the lead.
UNH answered right back, as Kelsey Pratt finished a crossing ball delivered from Veronica Hardy to put the Wildcats back up 2-1. The trend continued as the River Hawks again answered with a goal of their own, from Viera. Both teams tallied two goals apiece heading into the halftime break.
The first half was a struggle for both squads, and through the beginning of the second half the game remained even. But the Wildcats found another way to regain the lead, with a second goal coming from the sophomore striker Murphy to put them up by one. Provided with another opportunity to seal the victory, UNH did not miss. Kelsey Pratt recorded her second goal of the night with eight minutes left in the game to seal the win for the Wildcats at Cowell Stadium.
“[We’re] in good spirits. They know where they are, but we have to make sure we continue to take it one game at a time,” Welham said regarding the team’s overall effort to pull out the win. “Yes there’s four more games left, but the only one that matters is Sunday.”
The Wildcats finished off the weekend with a road trip to Stony Brook, where they could not pull out the win and suffered their first in-conference loss.
UNH fell to the Seawolves 3-2.
Gaby Dorsey and Murphy recorded goals in the second half, but they were not enough to beat the Seawolves. The ‘Cats finished the weekend with a 4-1 record in conference as they return to Durham for more America East play.
UNH hosts the University of Maine Black Bears at Bremner Field on Thursday at 7 p.m. Maine is 7-5-1, with a 2-1-1 record in-conference. The game will be the last regular season home game for the Wildcats, who will start postseason play on Oct. 29.
UNH wins “Think Pink” game, loses on road
By BRIAN DUNN