On Wednesday, the UNH men’s hockey team traded in their skates and helmets for field hockey sticks as they battled the field hockey team in the second annual “Turf ‘Cats vs. Ice ‘Cats” game at 4 p.m. The two teams combined their efforts to raise money for the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Although the main goal was accomplished, the Turf ‘Cats were determined to take revenge after losing to the Ice ‘Cats last year.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation was created in 2005 by the Murphy family. Their daughter, Jaclyn, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, in 2004. She was named an honorary team member to a local NCAA lacrosse team. That team went undefeated and won the national championship.
Jaclyn’s wish was for every sick child to find a team that showed them love, support and friendship.
Since then the foundation has created a mission statement regarding their objectives. According to the foundation’s website, “The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers by pairing them with local high school and other college sports teams,” according to the website.
Starting with only one school in 2005, the foundation has grown to be involved with 620 college and high school teams domestically and internationally. The UNH field hockey and men’s ice hockey teams are few of the teams contributing to this great cause.
“Friends of Jaclyn is a great organization so we were excited to come together and raise money and raise awareness for a great cause,” field hockey senior Chandler Giese said.
Head coaches Robin Balducci and Dick Umile, some of the most decorated coaches in UNH history, squared off for some friendly competition at Memorial Field. The two great competitors rarely take games easy, but they knew they were coming together for a good cause.
“We’re a close family atmosphere here at UNH and so any of these types of events are really a lot of fun for the athletes and really everyone involved,” field hockey head coach Robin Balducci said.
The friendly vibe didn’t stop the teams from competing, and it didn’t stop fans from showing their support of the teams as well as the charity. Luckily, the men’s hockey team had a practice session before the game to get acquainted with the AstroTurf and the bouncing white ball, as opposed to a hockey puck. The practice seemed to pay off as the charity game turned into an intense match.
The Ice ‘Cats stormed out of the gate and took a quick 1-0 lead, but the Turf ‘Cats tied the score before halftime. After a well played and hard fought second half, history was made. For the first time in UNH field hockey history, an official shootout was held. Both teams were tied at one at the end of regulation and they turned to a shootout to determine the winner.
Kelsey Rudert stood tall in goal as she led the Turf ‘Cats to their first win over the Ice ‘Cats in their second showdown in history.
“It was pretty nerve racking, but it was fun. It was cool that it happened,” Rudert said.
“We got redemption from last year so that’s always a plus,” Giese said.
Only one team could be crowned the winner, but beneficiaries of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation were tha real winners of the event.
For more information, visit unhwildcats.com.