Cassy Izzo saved her best for last.
The senior walk-on drew enormous praise for her work ethic from UNH head coach Gail Goodspeed in the week leading up to Friday night’s meet against Maryland. But in her final performance at Lundholm Gymnasium, Izzo dazzled en route to a career-high score on floor, which helped propel the Wildcats past the Terrapins by a score of 195.325-195.125.
“I mean, I was crying during the routine,” Izzo said. “I was really excited to end on one of my best routines I’ve done all year. It was really rewarding.”
Izzo was not alone, however. Five UNH gymnasts—Kelsey Aucoin, Lia Breeden, Danielle Doolin, Meghan Pflieger and Izzo—scored 9.850 on floor. UNH recorded a season-high 49.250 on the apparatus.
“Probably the best floor we’ve done all year,” Goodspeed said, citing Izzo as the spark the team needed. “She works her butt off every day in practice and has all four years…She was ready to go when it counted.”
The stunning floor performances came just when the ‘Cats needed them most. UNH and Maryland were neck-and-neck through two rotations, but UNH’s 48.425 score on beam was uncharacteristically low, and included a fall that counted. Maryland, meanwhile, scored a 49.025 on floor to gain a 146.625-146.075 advantage through three rotations.
“We’re better than a 195.325,” Goodspeed said, acknowledging that a better beam routine would have had the team over the 196-point score. “That’s the first score we’ve counted all year [on beam]. It’s the lowest score and our worst performance.”
UNH’s day could have been much worse, but Pflieger scored an impressive 9.850 on beam. The undisputed star, however, was the team’s senior co-captain, Aucoin. Her 9.875 score sparked a rally that helped UNH make the comeback and had the talented senior visibly fired up.
“It’s nice to be able to put up a score to help the team,” Aucoin said. “We have a great team and it’s really nice to be a part of that.”
On bars, the ‘Cats were led by talented specialists Makenzie Kerouac and Danielle Mulligan, who tied for first place overall with identical scores of 9.875. In total, the team tallied a respectable 48.825 on the event.
Perhaps the most impressive event for UNH was the vault, which has been an area of concern for the Wildcats all season. Each of UNH’s five scoring vaulters landed at least a 9.725, led again by Pflieger and her 9.800 score. The 48.825 score was the team’s second-highest mark of the season, and came without vault specialists Casey Lauter and Marissa Toci, who are both training to return from injuries.
“I think that’s the best vaulting we’ve done all year,” Goodspeed said. “We had a couple people step up that haven’t been vaulting.”
As important as Friday was for keeping alive UNH’s chances to make the NCAA Regional Meet, it was equally important as the last home meet for the team’s four seniors. Aucoin, fellow co-captain Lauren Brodie, Catarina Broccoli and Izzo were recognized for their dedication to the sport and to the UNH program.
“I think we ended on a good note. Everyone went out and gave it their all and left it all on the floor,” Brodie said after her final home meet and a post-meet ceremony honoring the seniors. Brodie was able to compete as an exhibition performer on bars in her first meet back from injury, and performed a solid routine.
The final home meet was a bittersweet experience for the seniors, who have helped UNH to three NCAA Regional Meets already in their careers. When asked what the highlight of her career had been in Lundholm, Broccoli had no doubts.
“Favorite memory would be [East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships]. It was a once in a lifetime chance to be here, home, conference championships and taking it home, winning it with the team,” Broccoli said. UNH hosted and won the EAGL Championships in 2014.
While UNH may be done competing at home, the season isn’t over yet. The Wildcats still have two away meets to solidify and improve upon their No. 29 national ranking, beginning with a meet at Utah on March 4. The team is also in the hunt for another EAGL crown. Championships will be hosted by Pittsburgh on March 19.
Finding a way: Despite injuries, UNH wins on Senior Night
Cassy Izzo saved her best for last.