As the leaves begin to change and the winter season sweeps into Durham, it brings a moment of reflection. Early on back in July, there was a feeling in the air that this first semester would bring some memorable sporting events to the campus. Well from two-a-days to postseason play, UNH athletics had a lot to offer to the Seacoast.
Let’s begin with cross country, a team that brought hardware home and provided some of our finest athletes with unprecedented accolades. On the men’s side, junior Timothy Kenefick finished 13th at the America East Championships and has kept the Wildcats in full swing as they move toward the ECAC championships. For the women, Elinor Purrier has stolen the show this season as she most recently grabbed first place at the regional tournament. Her accolades range far and wide, but her attitude has inspired her teammates to compete harder than ever.
Making its way out west, the field hockey team was able to find their groove in the second half of the season as senior captain Lindsey Nerbonne and Jackie Hozza led the ‘Cats to a 7-12 record and a trip to California as they ultimately lost to Pacific 4-2 in the quarterfinals. Junior Ashley Mendonca and Nerbonne finished the season with a combined 54 points.
The field hockey team was not the only squad that had strong efforts in postseason play. UNH soccer, on both the men and women’s side, had terrific seasons that fell short in the playoffs. Sophomore Brooke Murphy continued her stellar Wildcat career by finishing with 25 points. Senior Lilly Radack scored her first goal of her career in the America East quarterfinals to help lead the Wildcats past rival Maine 1-0, sending them into the semifinals where they fell short to the defending champion Albany Great Danes 1-0.
Sophomore Chris Arling and senior Chris Wingate propelled men’s soccer to a 12-7 record and combined for 47 points. Arling had a team-leading 15 goals and pushed the team into the top 25 this season and third seed in the conference playoffs. In a heartbreaking finish, UNH fell to the University of Hartford 2-1 in the quarterfinals and left with a salty taste at the end. Although, an at-large bid remains in play so the season could have the potential to continue for the ‘Cats.
At 6-4, the UNH football team is on the cusp of yet again another playoff run. Yet, Maine looks to spoil the party next week as the rivals clash up north. Trevor Knight has answered the call this season throwing 14 touchdowns and a total of 1,642 yards. A loss to the University at Albany this past weekend will most likely end their chances of hosting a home football game at inaugural Wildcat Stadium, but at 5-2 in the CAA, UNH has played well throughout the year.
Demi Muses, who has been nominated for America East Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, helped inspire the Wildcats team to the No. 1 overall seed in the America East championship tournament thus having the road to a championship go through Durham. Her team leading 335 kills not only have set the tempo, but have paved the road for what was a dominating season. Sara Carlson has answered the bell at libero with a total of 341 digs while freshman Emily Tanski has taken the court by storm with 286 kills on the year. The Wildcats will host the tournament next weekend and will look for their fourth consecutive conference title.
Fall 2016 has brought a lot of enjoyable and heartbreaking sport spectacles this season and with hockey in full swing now, and the snow in the horizon, it great to watch these teams progress thorughout the season. As a senior, I will say that the fall sporting season is the best here at UNH and the future looks bright for years to come.
Break out that shovel and dress warm, because winter is coming and the Wildcats look to claw their way through.
Ben Nawn is a senior communication major, you can find more stories from Ben online at tnhdigital.com. Follow Ben on Twitter @nonawnsense.