This past weekend UNH (8-9, 2-3) entered the weekend with one game left on their regular season slate. They would take on UMaine (8-9, 4-1) Friday for senior night, which was also their last home game of the season.
The game started relatively slow as both teams played some great defense in the first quarter. UNH made a great stop as a UMaine attacker got by UNH first-year goalie Jemma Woods only to be met and stopped before finishing the goal. UNH would also get another scoring chance late into the period, but UMaine would be able to also tip away the chance. Shots were tied 1-1 after the first.
Into the second the pace of the game would slow down even more. UNH and Maine both has some great midfield play, but neither team managed to record a shot through the quarter.
After the half, UNH was able to quickly pick up the tempo. Sophomore forward Finn Caron deflected a long pass just wide of the cage on a great play. UMaine responded as they quickly moved the ball down to the other end of the field. They got a good chance right in front of the cage, but UNH’s Woods slid out to keep the game tied at zero. Several minutes later, UMaine got another opportunity that they did not miss as they snuck one into the goal to go up 1-0.
At the start of the fourth quarter, UMaine would retain momentum as they scored one minute in to make the game 2-0. UNH was reluctant to go down without a fight as junior midfielder Bloem van der Brekel blasted a shot that was barley knocked away by the UMaine defense. UNH pulled their goalie with 2:56 remaining. The Wildcats managed to generate a handful of opportunities including a couple corners in the final minutes of play. Yet, they ended up losing the game 2-0.
After the game Coach Balducci commented on the teams play saying she was proud of how they managed the game, “I really felt like we played good hockey, I’m really happy… our play between the twenty-fives has been awesome”. Balducci was also complementary of UMaine, “We held Maine, and Maine’s a good team”. The Black Bears have been a top two team in the America East all year.
Looking forward to this weekend, UNH will be competing the America East Field Hockey Championship starting on Thursday when they take on the University of California (7-10, 1-3) who they have faced in the past two years ago. Balducci commented on the game saying “I think it’s a really good matchup and it’s slated to be a really good game… They are a team we can be comfortable playing with”.
If UNH secures a win Thursday against Cal, they will be slated to play on Friday against Monmouth who they lost to in earlier this season 5-1 in a much closer game than what the final score shows. If UNH wins they will play in the Championship Saturday against either UMaine, UAlbany (11-7, 2-3) or Stanford (12-6, 5-1).
Coach Balducci had a very positive outlook for the weekend saying, “If we can be diligent and structured with what we’re doing in our attacking 25, and just be tough on defense and do a good job of keeping the ball high, that’ll help our overall play”
UNH looks to be the surprise of the tournament as they bring together their season this weekend with consistent play and solid fundamentals to hopefully bring home the America East title.