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Nerbonne’s hat trick leads UNH to a win

The UNH field hockey team wrapped up the regular season by beating intrastate rival Dartmouth 6-2 on Sunday. On senior day, Lindsey Nerbonne recorded a hat trick to lead the Wildcats. The Wildcats end the season 7-11 overall and 4-4 in America East as they wait to play the University of Pacific next Friday, Nov. 4.

At 9:55, Ashley Mendonca scored her 12th goal of the season as she drove up to the top of the circle and ripped a shot past Emma Plumb to make it 1-0. At 13:09, Nerbonne scored her 10th goal of the season as she corralled the ball low circle, turned to her right while falling and took a low shot past Plumb.

“I thought it was awesome, big confidence boost going into the playoffs. We got a lot of people on the field playing a lot of minutes which is good for team morale,” Nerbonne said.

The Wildcats kept the momentum going in the first half when Jessica Schmidt scored her third goal of the season coming off a direct shot on the penalty corner. Rachel Bossi retrieved the setup pass from Katie Audino that Schmidt finished on. Executing penalty corners was an issue at the start of the season, but as of late, the Wildcats have edged opponents in that category. 

“Really excited that our corner execution was very good. I was really pleased with our midfield play. That was one thing that we talked about from our Friday game in which we didn’t do a very good job at all,” head coach Robin Balducci said. “I think for me as a coach that is the most important thing– have something that we need to work on, we address it and do better.”

Nerbonne struck once again at 21:11 to make it 4-0. Audino set up the corner play and Nerbonne ripped a shot from the near side circle that went off Plumb’s pads but trickled in for the score.

Then at 31:21, Dartmouth was able to capitalize off Morgan Phillie’s seventh goal of the season. Sarah Tabeek received the corner pass and swung it left to Phillie who took a low shot that skipped past Kelsey Rudert. Rudert ended the day making two saves.

After Dartmouth cut the lead to 4-2 in the second half, Nerbonne completed the hat trick and registered her 12th goal of the season coming off a penalty stroke. Up 5-2 late in the second half, the Wildcats were able to catch a glimpse of the future as freshman Tiana Morin scored her second goal of the season unassisted to make it 6-2.

The Wildcats now have built momentum against their rival to wrap up the regular season, but seniors Nerbonne and Jackie Hozza played their final game at Memorial Field. Balducci had much praise for two of her strongest players in program history.

“Hozza and Nerbonne are phenomenal players. They’re great leaders. [Nerbonne] has been a force since she got here. Has a heart and and a hustle that is incredible. [Hozza] is such a smart player that is so composed and poised and those are shoes that you don’t fill,” Balducci said.

The Wildcats will head out to California to take on Pacific as the number three seed in the East Division of the America East conference playoffs. Hozza knows how big Sunday’s win was. She also was happy to reflect on her great career.

“Good momentum booster going into playoffs by getting some goals in. Getting focused and continuing to get better will be the mindset this week. A lot of lessons learned through the game and a lot of good times,” Hozza said.

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