By ANDREW YOURELL
The UNH team that hosted the No. 10 University at Albany on Sunday looked completely different from the team that travelled to Albany at the beginning of October.
The first time they played, UNH played flat and lost 4-1. This time they came out guns blazing, but still lost 4-3.
“We played very well,” head coach Robin Balducci. “We had a couple of opportunities to distance ourselves.”
Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, they faced Paula Heuser—Albany’s all-time leading scorer and the leading active player in goals in the NCAA—and she made them pay. Heuser already had two goals on the day, and with 1:44 left she was awarded a penalty stroke on a controversial call. It was Heuser’s second stroke of the day, and the third of the afternoon. The talented junior fired the ball under the diving effort of Melissa Rize. It was her 67th career goal and 21st of the season.
The loss brings UNH’s overall record to 7-9 and 3-3 in conference. Albany is 15-2 (6-1 America East).
UNH drew first blood, as Meg Flatley’s breakaway opportunity was stopped by a blatant foul. She netted the penalty stroke for her seventh goal of the season. Heuser netted her first stroke, equalizing the game at 15:06.
Barely over a minute later, Albany scored again to gain its first lead of the game. But Lynn Lehman evened the game with a rocket shot of her own, and the teams went to the half tied.
Meg Carroll took a Lindsey Nerbonne pass and capitalized to give UNH a 3-2 lead. But Heuser’s second goal tied the game in the 52nd minute, and then scored the penalty stroke to seal the win.
The loss was a tough break for the Wildcats, but Balducci had several reasons to be happy at the end of a doubleheader weekend.
UNH’s win at Vermont, 4-0, on Friday secured a playoff spot for the Wildcats, and the head coach is happy with her team’s progression this season.
“Really happy with the product we put on the field,” Balducci said. “We’re on the rise right now. We’re peaking at the right time and that’s exciting.”
The Wildcats travel to Lowell on Friday for a 3:30 p.m. tilt with the UMass Lowell River Hawks. On Sunday they host Maine to end the regular season.