By ANDREW YOURELL
After a promising 4-0 start in America East play, the Wildcats are falling back to earth. They’ve dropped three straight games, including Thursday’s 2-1 overtime decision against Maine and Sunday’s 2-0 shutout at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Thursday was UNH’s final home game of the regular season, and the ‘Cats came out firing early. Talented sophomore Brooke Murphy scored her 11th goal of the season in the 26th minute. Murphy took a pass from Caroline Murray and buried it bottom left to give the team a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last, as Maine stormed right back. In the 28th minute, freshman Jenna Soucy fired a shot past UNH’s Mimi Borkan. It ricocheted off the top left post and into the net, evening the game at 1-1.
“It’s very disappointing,” head coach Steve Welham said. “We worked hard, we had the lead, and we conceded early, right after scoring.”
The game was knotted at one until the end of regulation, and both teams geared up for overtime. But Maine spoiled the mood early in the overtime period.
Maine sophomore Kaitlin Saulter grabbed a loose ball deep in the Wildcats’ defensive end, on an apparent miscommunication between UNH defenders. She fired a shot that bounced off a UNH player and into the net.
The weekend was no kinder for the Wildcats, as they travelled to Maryland to take on the UMBC Retrievers.
The Wildcats were shut out for the first time since Sept. 20, despite logging a 16-5 shot advantage.
UMBC, celebrating Senior Day, was aided by goals from junior Destinee Morris and senior Amanda Dailey, and improved its record to 4-9-3 and 2-2-2 in conference play entering the final week of conference play.
The Wildcats have one game remaining in the regular season, a tilt at the University of Hartford. Hartford and UNH are tied atop the America East standings with 12 points, though Hartford has yet to lose a conference game, with a 3-0-3 record.
For Welham and the Wildcats, the good news is that they’ve been close in many of their losses this season, and a few adjustments could lead to a repeat of last year’s Cinderella story, which saw UNH win its first conference title.
“We always feel like we’re going to be in every game and have a chance to win every single game,” Welham said after the Maine loss. “No doubt about it.”