CHANDLER, Ariz. – The University of New Hampshire field hockey team, led by 21st-year head coach Robin Balducci, ascended three spots to No. 7 in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll that was released Tuesday afternoon.
UNH (8-0, 0-0 America East) is one of just two unbeaten teams in Division I, and the other is top-ranked Old Dominion University (also 8-0). The Wildcats, who were listed as receiving votes in the preseason poll, were #10 a week ago and #12 in the first regular-season poll of the 2011 season that was released Sept. 6.
The last time New Hampshire was ranked higher than 10th in the nation was October 1997 (No. 8) and this is the team's highest national ranking since September 1995 (No. 5). The 8-0 start is the best by the 'Cats since the 1984 squad opened at 10-0.
UNH is also among the nation's statistical leaders. The Wildcats, coming off last weekend's consecutive shutout victories against College of the Holy Cross (5-0) and then-20th ranked Northeastern University (4-0), lead the country in defensive goals-against-average (0.75). The 'Cats rank fourth in offense (4.36 goals per game) as well as second in points per game (12.13), fourth in assists per game (3.38) and 10th in penalty corners (9.25 per game).
Senior forward Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) leads the nation in points per game (3.63) and is second in goals per game (1.63). Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.), another senior forward, ranks 13th in both points per game (2.63) and goals per game (1.00) while senior goalkeeper Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) is fourth in GAA (0.86) and eighth in save percentage (.833). Junior forward Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) is just outside the top 20 in assists at No. 21 (0.75 per game).
New Hampshire returns to action Sept. 24 vs. #15 Northwestern University (at the University of Louisville). UNH plays 19th-ranked Louisville on Sept. 25. Both games are at 2 p.m. The Wildcats' next home game is the America East conference opener vs. Fairfield University on Sept. 30 (3 p.m.).