The UNH Field Hockey team (6-5) entered last weekend coming off a tough loss to a very skilled and physical Harvard team. The challenge would not be any easier this past Friday for UNH as they took on another skillful team in Monmouth.
Monmouth controlled possession to start the game, keeping the ball in the attacking zone for most of the first quarter. After a couple of great defensive stops by UNH, Monmouth was able to get on the board first with 5:50 left in the opening period. Monmouth would eventually take a 3-0 shot lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter was rather quiet for both teams. There were countless possession changes as they rallied up and down the field. The second quarter went scoreless, with shots tied 2-2.
Halfway through the third quarter, UNH was able to get on the board for the first time with a goal squeezed in by junior midfielder Isabelle Danahy. With this goal, the ‘Cats gained momentum. UNH would ride out the rest of the quarter tied at one with Monmouth.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter is where UNH started to fall apart. With two back-to-back goals, Monmouth was able to jump out to a 3-1 lead over UNH. The pressure only continued as they scored again two minutes later. Monmouth wrapped up the game with a 5-1 lead as they again scored late into the fourth.
After the game, head coach Robin Balducci commented on the overall performance of the ‘Cats.
“…When we played them (Monmouth) we played them well, and then when our game dropped off, I felt they took it to us because they are just too good. We can’t play like that against anyone on our schedule and perform.”
Later in the weekend UNH would travel to Amherst, MA to take on UMASS. With just one day rest, Balducci noted some key changes they needed to make. “We’ve got to get back to some of the basic stuff which is passing the ball and moving early.”
UNH did just that to start the game as senior forward Bailey Fanikos took advantage of a UMASS turnover in their own zone and scored the Wildcats’ first goal. After that, the first quarter went back and forth with some more good chances from both teams. UNH led the period in shots 3-2.
In the second quarter, UMASS was quick to get on the board, as they scored a goal with ten minutes left in the period. They would continue to control the tempo for remainder of the quarter as they lead in shots 4-2.
In the third quarter, UMASS picked right back up where they left off. They continued to pressure the ball onto UNH’s cage, leading the period in shots 4-0.
UNH turned it around late in the fourth. With just over two minutes remaining, sophomore forward Finn Caron would put the ‘Cats up. Caron has been a star for the Wildcats all year and stepped up big when it counted most. UMASS would continue to pressure, but UNH would stick out the victory in the final minutes to win 2-1.
UNH will continue their season this weekend as they go on the road for two games. The first will come on Friday against in-conference powerhouse #21 UAlbany and they will travel to Providence on Sunday for the last of the two.