By ANDREW YOURELL
The UNH field hockey team has had issues this season with consistency, and, unfortunately, Friday’s game against the No. 19-ranked Maine Black Bears. The good news is that the ‘Cats were able to recover quickly and stifle the Harvard Crimson on Sunday.
Despite getting out to an early lead, the Wildcats couldn’t keep the pressure on the Black Bears, and they lost the game on Friday by a score of 4-1.
Lindsay Nerbonne, the Wildcats’ leading scorer this season, tallied her eighth goal early in the Maine game. Nerbonne’s goal was an unassisted effort that went five-hole to put UNH up 1-0.
But Maine, which has a 14-2 overall record this season, broke out on offense. Four different Black Bears scored goals for Maine, led by Jessica Skillings, who added two assists on the day.
At 18:48, Maine’s Marissa Shaw got open in front of the net and converted the scoring chance by depositing the goal into the left side of the goal past UNH goalkeeper Melissa Rize, who had four saves. Less than three minutes later, Skillings tallied her own goal, scoring off of an Adriana Martineau pass to give Maine a lead they would not revoke.
Sunday’s game was a different story, as the Wildcats came out firing, notching three goals in the first half as they cruised past Harvard at Harvard FH Stadium.
The win was the first road win of the season for the Wildcats, who raised their overall record to 6-8 but did not improve in the conference. Scoring for the Wildcats were Katie Audino, Jackie Hozza, and Meg Flatley.
“Obviously good game today with a 3-1 win over Harvard,” head coach Robin Balducci said. “Important part was scoring three goals in the first half.”
The Wildcats have struggled to capitalize early at times this season, but they scored their first goal on their first corner play of the game, only 16 minutes into the action.
Audino inserted the ball on the corner, and sophomore Ashley Mendonca ripped a shot that was stopped. Audino grabbed the rebound on the doorstep and quickly notched her third goal of the season.
At 19:08, Hozza took another penalty corner shot, which found the back of the net to launch UNH out in front, 2-0.
Flatley, the team’s senior captain, fired a pass left, but Harvard blocked the attempt. Flatley corralled the loose ball and beat two Crimson defenders to score her sixth goal.
“We were able to get everyone in and try some new combinations,” she said. That included spelling Rize with backup goalkeeper Kelsey Rudert. Rize stopped five shots and earned the win. Rudert also played well in some of her first action, saving two of the three shots on goal that she faced.
Harvard’s lone goal came at 68:00, when Marissa Balleza beat Rudert. But with less than 10 minutes to play, it was too little too late for the Crimson.
UNH will play each of its conference opponents once more. The next tilt will be in Burlington, Vermont, at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23.