Robin Balducci named Coach of the Year

BOSTON - Jessica Russell (Harrisville, R.I.), a senior co-captain on the University of New Hampshire field hockey team, was named Player of the Year by America East on Wednesday. Her mentor, UNH head coach Robin Balducci, was bestowed Coach of the Year honors by the conference for the second time in three seasons.

Russell, a three-time Player of the Week selection this season, was joined on the America East First Team by senior goalkeeper Amy Agulay (London, Ontario), and senior back Kelly Stowe (Topsfield, Mass.), both of whom were 1999 First Team selections. Teammates Allie Lehmann (Granby, Conn.) and Marcie Boyer (Dillsburg, Pa.) were named to the Second Team.

Russell leads the team and is second in the league in both goals (15; 0.97 per game) and points (35; 1.84 ppg). Both her goal and points total rank seventh on the school's single-season top performance lists. Highlights of Russell's 2000 season include three game-winning goals and an eight-game goal-scoring streak; she scored a goal in 12 of the 19 games. She recorded her 50th career point earlier this season against Vermont and has career totals of 24 goals and 12 assists for 60 points.

Balducci guided the Wildcats, who were picked third in the conference's preseason poll, to the No. 1 seed in the America East Championships with a 7-1 league record. She recorded her 100th career victory earlier this year against Vermont. Balducci, an '85 UNH alum, has guided the Wildcats to the conference tourney eight times in 10 seasons. Her career record stands at 104-91-4; therefore, Thursday's semifinal will be No. 200.

Agulay excelled in her role as last line of defense for New Hampshire. She played all 1412:06 in goal this season and has an .827 save percentage with a 1.78 goals-against-average. Agulay holds the America East record for saves in a tournament (41) and a tourney game (22). In her four-year career, she has a 45-29 record with a 1.88 GAA and a .848 save percentage.

Stowe, the other co-captain, has been the foundation of the backfield again in the 2000 season. She leads the team in defensive saves with three and is the sixth-leading scorer on the team with seven points on two goals and three assists.

Lehmann, not known for her scoring, is tied for the team lead in assists (nine) and is fourth in points (17). She produced game-winning goals in consecutive games against Harvard and Dartmouth. Lehmann is a pivotal player in the midfield and on both penalty corner units.

Boyer expanded upon her successful rookie campaign of 1999 to become the team's second-leading scorer with 21 points. She is also second in goals (seven) and assists (seven). She scored three game-winning goals this season and recorded a career-high five points (two goals, assist) in the regular-season finale at Towson.

New Hampshire is the No. 1 seed in the America East Championships, which is being played at Boston University's Nickerson Field. The Wildcats, who have won four straight, are 13-6 overall and 7-1 in the conference. They play fourth-seeded Drexel University on Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. The title game is Nov. 4 (1 p.m).

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