The UNH field hockey team came out strong in the second half, but ultimately did not have enough to stop James Madison University in a 5-2 loss Friday night at the JMU Field Hockey Complex.
“In the second half, I was very happy with the way we came out,” head coach Robin Balducci said. “We came out hard. We got a little out-shot. I think right now we are struggling on defense. And to top it off, we’re not readily scoring when we’re generating shots. I think that’s just putting us in a hole.”
The Wildcats found themselves down early in Friday’s game. JMU put UNH down with a pair of quick goals within roughly three minutes a part from each other.
Miranda Rigg got James Madison on the board first with a redirection off the right post to put JMU up 1-0 at the 13:40 mark. Melanie Kusakavitch and Florien Sondern then solidified a three-goal lead at 23:14. in the first half.
The second half was a different story for the ‘Cats. Rachel Bossi scored her first career goal as a Wildcat in the opening 10 minutes of the second half to make it a 3-1 game.
Rigg gave JMU the comfortable lead again at 49:57, but the Wildcats’ Ashley Mendonca found the back of the net late in the game at 60:22 to make it 4-2.
Mendonca’s goal has gotten her within reach of the top goal-scorers for UNH. She now makes it three out of the last four games she’s found the back of the net. She had four shots on goal during Friday’s loss. She’s now tied on UNH’s goal-scoring leaderboard with Lindsey Nerbonne with six goals. Mendonca contributed on the defense as well, as she was credited with a defensive save in the loss, helping UNH goaltender Kelsey Rudert on a night when JMU found the back of the net five times.
Despite Mendonca’s efforts to rally, the team could not make good on it as the struggles continued defensively when Rigg capitalized at 63:09 netting her third goal of the night.
“We’re not going about it in a good way,” said Balducci. “Everybody is trying to do a little too much. We have to be a little tougher defensively. We’re a little gun-shy right now, so we’re sitting back on our heels.”
Rudert’s night in goal was not an easy one. She faced just seven shots, allowing five goals while playing the entire match.
The Wildcats have now lost three games in a row, all of which were played on the road. UNH won’t return to Memorial Field until Sept. 30 when they host the University at Albany.
UNH’s next opponent, Northeastern, is currently 4-3 while the Cats have now fallen to 2-5 on the season. The ‘Cats will next head to Boston and take on the Huskies on Sunday, but until then, something has to change.
“I think right now we’re not playing simply,” said Balducci. “We’re not doing the simple things.”