Sarah Craigue (Concord, N.H.), Meg Shea (Melrose, Mass.) and Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) spearheaded the University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Friday afternoon’s 5-2 non-conference victory against Brown University at Memorial Field.

UNH won its second consecutive game to improve to 2-1 while this marked the season opener for Brown.

Craigue, the reigning America East Player of the Week, tallied one goal and two assists to set a career high in assists and tie her personal best of four points. Shea scored the first goal of the game as well as the game-winning goal to finish with four points while Rausch recorded a goal and an assist for three points.

UNH starting goalkeeper Jenna Lehman (Kingston, Pa.) earned the win with three saves and one goal allowed in 64 minutes, 41 seconds. Fellow freshman Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) surrendered a goal and was not credited with a save in the final 5:19.

Brown goalie Lauren Kessler stopped nine shots and Abigail Taft scored both of the Bears’ goals.

Brown generated a dangerous scoring opportunity in the opening minute of the game when Kit Masini gained possession behind UNH’s defense at the top of the circle, but Lehman charged and made a sliding save.

New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead at 13:30 when Shea, in the middle of the circle, gathered a Cally Cooke (Newburyport, Mass.) entry pass and hit a low shot into the cage. The visitors pulled even just 51 seconds later with Taft’s redirection of a Sara Eaton entry pass from the top-right side.

The ‘Cats regained the lead, 2-1, when they capitalized on their eighth penalty corner of the half. Rausch and Kara Connolly (Washington, N.J.) formed the battery – as the hitter and stopper, respectively – and Brittany Jacobs (Frederick, Md.) blasted a low shot into the left side of the cage at 24:53.

The Bears’ attack slipped behind the Wildcat defense late in the half, but once again Lehman charged from the line to make a sliding save, this time against Taft, in the 31st minute.

UNH, which held the edge in both shots (12-7) and corners (9-4) at the half, extended its halftime lead to 3-1 at 37:25 off a flurry of shots. Shea was twice denied by Kessler at the left post, then Kessler stopped Craigue’s shot from in front. The rebound caromed back towards the left post, however, and Shea pushed the ball into the cage.

The Wildcats continued to carry play and took a 4-1 lead at 59:55 when they converted a 2-on-1 give-and-go transition break. From the top-right side, Craigue played to ball in to Rausch, whose return pass eluded Kessler and Craigue redirected a shot into the open cage.

Craigue struck again at 64:59 and Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.) recorded her first collegiate point on the play with an assist.

Taft capped the scoring with 1:29 remaining. On a rush down the right side, her shot slipped past the oncoming Nagengast and rolled inside the far post.

UNH finished the game with a 24-13 shot advantage and an 11-5 edge in corners. It marked the second consecutive game with 20+ shots for the Wildcats (20 in the 3-0 win Aug. 31 vs. Radford University) and the five goals marked the team’s highest goal output since Oct. 28, 2006, when the ‘Cats were 9-1 victors at UMBC.

New Hampshire returns to action Sept. 7 at home against Harvard University. Game time at Memorial Field is 11 a.m.
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