In a road trip down to North Carolina, the Wildcats suffered their first two losses of the 2016 season.
In the Demon Deacon Challenge down in Winstem-Salem, North Carolina UNH fell to the Gardner-Webb University Runnin’ Bulldogs by a 1-0 final score in overtime. Two days later, the ‘Cats were defeated by No. 29 Wake Forest University 4-0. UNH tallied 21 shots on goal throughout both games this past weekend, but ultimately could not find the back of the net. The team now stands at an even .500 at 2-2-2 overall.
The matchup against Gardner-Webb was a highly contested defensive battle. Senior goalkeeper and captain Mimi Borkan made a season high 11 saves in the matchup, keeping the match scoreless and within grasp through the regulation time period. Brandi Arey of the Bulldogs was able to seal the victory for Gardner-Webb in overtime when she found an opening past Borkan at the 96:39 mark.
“[Borkan] had a good day, and she has been playing very well for us. Very consistent,” head coach Steve Welham said. “It had to be a good shot to beat an in-form [Borkan] right now, and it was.”
It was the first time the Wildcats were held to zero goals offensively in a losing effort this season. Ultimately, according to Welham, the Bulldog’s efficiency was too tough to break.
“We went after Gardner-Webb, and we just weren’t able to break them down, we had our chances,” Welham said. “It took a special goal to beat us and they did, so credit to [Gardner-Webb].”
On Sept. 4, the ‘Cats faced the challenge of Demon Deacon Challenge host Wake Forest University. The Wildcats kept the Demon Deacons scoreless in the first half while putting two shots on goal from freshman midfielder Liz Lane. The same could not be said for the second.
Four unanswered goals from Wake Forest in the second half was too much for UNH to overcome, as the game concluded with a 4-0 defeat to a strong ACC conference team.
“[Wake Forest] play with a high speed of play, high speed thought of play. They move the ball quickly again and they interchange very well,” Welham said. “We saw what it was like to play a team that could expose you if you are not on your best.”
Despite the results, the weekend road trip provided an opportunity for the team to grow and test its limits against some high-caliber competition in Gardner-Webb and Wake Forest. The competitiveness the ‘Cats showed was something Welham took as a positive out of the weekend.
“We left Wake Forest feeling that on a lot of different levels that was a success in some ways where our team battled for everything,” Welham said. “There is a lot of positive we take out of that.”
The Wildcats remain on the road when they travel more locally to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the Crusaders of Holy Cross on Sunday Sept. 11.
follow Brian on Twitter @bdunny17