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Wildcats struggle on the road

After a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory against Harvard last week, the Wildcats went on their first road trip of the season. The result was rather disappointing for head coach Robin Balducci and the rest of the team as they lost both matchups against the University of Miami Ohio and Indiana University over the weekend.

The Wildcats had taken control of every category throughout the weekend, but could not capitalize when it mattered most.

“Stats rolled in our favor. Disappointing that we are not finishing,” Balducci said.

In the first game against Miami, the Redhawks shutout the Wildcats 4-0, the first shutout loss for UNH this season. The Wildcats, led by junior forward Taylor Scafidi’s two shots on goal, could not find an answer for Miami goalkeeper Alysa Xavier. Outshooting the Redhawks 13-12, Xavier was peppered by eight shots and she was able to stop all of them. The Wildcats dominated the penalty corner opportunities with 10, but struggled to capitalize on them. UNH fell behind early, a trend that Balducci recognizes as costly when trying to build momentum.

“We had a bad start again letting up a goal within the first five minutes of the game and then in the first five minutes of the second half, we are getting ourselves into a hole,” she said.

Paulina Portugal had a hat trick to lead the Redhawks offensively, but regardless of the score, Balducci was pleased that they generated the offense they did in hopes to have it shape into goals down the road.

On Sunday, the Wildcats encountered a similar result against Indiana. Although they were tied 1-1 going into the half against the Hoosiers, they fell behind 5-1 in the second half and could not catch up, losing 5-3.

Balducci was disappointed in how the team played inside the half circle, and the lack of finishing has started to become a constant struggle for the ‘Cats who now fall to 2-4 on the year.

“Once again stats rolled in our favor, first half: 13 shots, 10 corners and one goal. Disappointing,” she said. “Still outstated Indiana in the corner category. Fifteen corners to their four. Disappointed we are not finishing.”

Lindsey Nerbonne got the scoring started for her sixth tally of the year and at the half it was 1-1. After an offensive flurry from the Hoosiers resulting in a 5-1 lead, Ashley Mendonca was able to cut the lead to 5-2 after registering her fifth goal of the year. The Hoosiers would not let up, as they held strong defensively to secure the win. Wildcat goalkeeper Kelsey Rudert, who did play well against Miami, was not able to stand as strong against Indiana as she gave up five goals on 11 shots faced.

Balducci knows that moving forward, the goal for the team will be to the finish the job and execute better.

“We are pushing, pushing, pushing but not being able to chip away,” Balducci said.

The Wildcats will continue their four-game road trip as they travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take on James Madison University on Friday at 6 p.m. and then take on Northeastern University at 2 p.m. in Boston, Massachusetts on Sept. 25.

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