UNH women’s lacrosse: Wildcats show fight in opening day loss to Siena



Joey Rizzi, Sports Writer

DURHAM, N.H. – On an unseasonably warm afternoon at Wildcat Stadium, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (0-1, 0-0) faced off against the Siena Saints (1-0, 0-0). This will be one to forget for the Wildcats as they were dominated from start to finish and lost 18-6. But with young talent, things seem destined to improve.  

While any good team will rely on their veteran leadership, the ‘Cats have some fantastic young players that are making impacts immediately. Beginning with arguably the most important position on the field, the starting goaltender in this game was first-year athlete Maria Hagan.  

Allowing eight goals in the first half and getting pulled for senior Issy Torres wasn’t the way she envisioned her career beginning, but context matters. Siena was able to penetrate the UNH defense and find open cutters on the crease consistently from the start.  

UNH was struggled with one-on-one matchups, which Siena exploited. On offense, the Bernies were able to isolate players on one side of the field and either score off the dodge, or dish to an open player for an easy goal.  

This led to a schematic change from the Wildcats. Head coach Kacie Lewis noticed that they weren’t holding up well defensively, making Hagan look like a slice of Swiss cheese. A change to zone defense sparked a minor comeback. The goalie change and a schematic change showed fight in this group and a strong awareness from the coaching staff. 

Senior Emily Curtis and third-year starter Liv Dunn led the way with scoring as one would expect, but sophomore midfielder Mackenzie MacEachern and first-year attacker Allie Connerty made some noise as well. The underclassmen showed signs of pure athleticism and skill that should only improve as the season progresses.  

Battling through growing pains is never fun for any team, but the Wildcats appear to be a strong and spirited team. Down 9-2 in the second quarter, some teams might completely collapse, but the ‘Cats continued to work and went to the half down just 11-5.  

The Wildcats certainly had their shortcomings on opening day, but it’s worth noting the resilient effort by New Hampshire in the first game under their new regime. With nine newcomers to the roster, mistakes were bound to be made, but UNH showed promise in Durham on Saturday. 

The Wildcats only failed two of eleven clear attempts, lost the turnover battle 8-7 and only lost 15 of 27 draw controls. What this should tell you, is that this team has their ducks in a row. The details are being focused on, and they are simply losing from unsettled offense and defense.  

The story coming out of this game is that the Wildcats are going have to work out some kinks early in the season. A mix of veterans and young players and a brand-new head coach should not yield high expectations in the early going.  

The Wildcats took the defeat, 18-6, but will have a chance to redeem themselves soon. They are back in action Saturday, Feb. 19 to take on Dartmouth at home. This might become a rocky February for the ‘Cats, but there’s certainly light at the end of the tunnel for this seemingly resilient squad.  

Photo courtesy of Andrew Yourell