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The University of New Hampshire field hockey team, ranked No. 10 in this week's national poll, enters the 2011 America East Championship as the league's regular-season co-champion and tournament top seed. The Wildcats play host to fourth-seeded and 18th-ranked University at Albany in the first game of the tourney, a Nov. 4 (1 p.m.) semifinal matchup at Memorial Field.
UNH has a 6-8 lifetime record, including a 3-2 road loss last Saturday, against Albany. The Wildcats have a 2-4 home record in this series, and that includes a 3-2 overtime loss to the Great Danes in the 2010 America East Championship title game. Four of the last six games have been decided by one goal (UNH went 1-3 in those one-goal margin games).
This will mark the fourth consecutive year UNH and Albany meet in the league tournament. UA has won each of the previous three meetings; in addition to the aforementioned 2010 title game, the Great Danes prevailed in the 2009 semifinal (3-0) and 2008 championship game (2-1); both of those games were at Albany.
UNH's most recent win vs. the Great Danes occurred here at Memorial Field during the 2010 regular season (Oct. 30; 4-1).
In this year's game at Alumni Turf Field, UA took a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute and led by that score at halftime with a 4-2 shot advantage and 2-0 edge in penalty corners. UNH tied the score on Melyssa Woods' goal in the 45th minute, but the home team went back in front, 2-1, in the 48th minute. The Wildcats leveled the score again in the 55th minute, only to see UA regain the lead, 3-2, on a penalty-stroke goal with 8:53 remaining in the game. Albany finished with the advantage in both shots (9-7) and corners (4-0).
The State of New Hampshire
UNH defended its 2010 America East regular-season championship as co-champions in 2011 (with a 4-1 conference record). It is the team's first back-to-back titles in program history.
The Wildcats have now won four America East regular-season titles. In addition to 2011 and 2010, the 'Cats shared the '02 crown and won the 2000 title outright.
New Hampshire's 15 victories is the highest total since the 1986 squad established the benchmark of 17; the 1984 and 1980 teams finished with 16 victories.
UNH has recorded double-digit victories each of the last three years (14 in 2010; 12 in 2009), a feat last accomplished spanning the 1989 (14), 1990 (10) and 1991 (11) seasons.
This year's Wildcat team has eclipsed the program's single-season record in goals (69) and points (188). The previous benchmark of 64 goals was established in 1984 squad and the 2009 'Cats amassed 170 points.
UNH has recorded 50 assists in 2011; that single-season record of 54 was set in 1994.
UNH has scored 5+ goals seven times this season – best in program history; the 1978 squad had accomplished that feat six times.
UNH is the America East Championship top seed and host of the tourney for the second consecutive year.
The America East regular-season champion has gone on to win five of the last six tournament titles (2005-09). The streak of five consecutive double champions (regular season and tourney in the same season) ended last year when UNH captured the regular season crown but Albany won the tourney.
New Hampshire is making its fifth consecutive appearance in the America East Championship. It is the team's longest streak since six straight appearances from 1990-95.
Hayley Rausch recorded a point in 18 of 19 regular-season games. She enters postseason play with a point in four consecutive games. Rausch scored a goal in 15 games, including a stretch of eight consecutive games, five multiple-goal efforts.
Whitney Frates recorded a point in 15 of 18 games. She scored a goal in 11 games with eight multiple-goal efforts. In eight October games, Frates recorded 12 goals and five assists for 29 points.
Kyle Lyons has had another stellar unit on the defensive unit as well as a member of the offensive penalty corner unit. She recorded a career-high two assists in the regular-season finale last Sunday at Harvard to increase her season total to eight, which is a personal single-season best. She has recorded a point in five of the last eight games and has 20 points overall in 2011.
Emma Erler, who recorded totals of two goals and two assists her first two years as a Wildcat, ranks second on this year's team in assists (nine) as well as fourth in points (17).
Megan Bozek recorded her third defensive save of the season in the Oct. 30 regular-season finale at Harvard University. She has three of the team's four defensive saves – Kyle Lyons has the other.
Casey Pohlmeyer recorded a career-high three points (goal, assist) last Sunday at Harvard.
UNH had the same starting lineup in 17 of 19 regular-season games. Nine players started all 19 regular-season games and two others started 18 of 19.
UNH will be making its 17th appearance in conference postseason play at this weekend's America East Field Hockey Championship.
The Wildcats have a 7-15 record in the America East Championship tourney and won their lone title in 1998. Last year at UNH's Memorial Field, the 'Cats prevailed 3-2 against Maine in the semifinals and then lost 3-2 in overtime to Albany in the title game.
The 'Cats have a 6-10 mark overall in conference semifinal games and a 1-5 ledger in title games.
How We Got Here
All four teams will get here – to Memorial Field in Durham, N.H. – because New Hampshire and Boston University tied for the America East regular-season title, but UNH earned the tiebreaker for the top seed by virtue of a 4-3 overtime win at BU (Oct. 17). The Wildcats outscored the league foes 13-7 with a 76-53 shot advantage.
With a win Friday afternoon, UNH will advance to Sunday's league title game that will be played at the University's Memorial Field at one o'clock.
The America East champion will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Home Sweet Home
New Hampshire went 7-1 at home, including 2-0 in America East and 3-1 against nationally-ranked teams, during the regular season. The Wildcats opened with six consecutive victories before falling 2-1 to 11th-ranked Boston College.
UNH outscored the opposition 28-6 with a 128-64 shot advantage; in the first half, those numbers were 18-4 and 76-30, respectively. All of the team's five shutouts were recorded at home.
Hayley Rausch tallied 24 points (11g, 2a) in eight home games and Whitney Frates finishes with 21 points (9g, 3a) in seven home game. Emma Erler (2g, 5a) was the next top scorer at Memorial Field.
Katherine Nagengast went 7-1 with a 0.83 GAA, .850 save percentage and three shutouts in eight games. Carlie Tarbell played in two home games and did not allow a goal (two saves) in 55 minutes, 57 seconds.
The Wildcats, who recorded a 102-34 shot advantage through six home games, were outshot, 20-12, by Boston College and that included 12-4 in the second half
UNH entered this week's action ranked #10 in the nation in offense and 13th in assists as well as 19th in save percentage and 22nd in defense.
On the individual leaderboards, Whitney Frates is #2 in points per game and fourth in goals per game while Hayley Rausch is seventh in points and sixth in goals.
Playing the Best Against the Best
UNH faced off against nine nationally-ranked teams during the regular season and went 5-4, including 3-1 at home, in those games. The Wildcats fared well in the first half with a 16-9 scoring advantage and 67-56 edge in shots. Overall, the 'Cats averaged 3.11 goals per game while yielding 2.22 per game.
Whitney Frates excelled against the top competition as she compiled 26 points (12g, 2a) in nine games, and Hayley Rausch followed with 18 points (8g, 2a). Katherine Nagengast went 5-4 with a 2.28 GAA, .753 save percentage and two shutouts.
Through the Gauntlet
New Hampshire ran a gauntlet of five consecutive games against nationally-ranked teams spanning Oct. 9-29 and went 3-2 overall (2-1 at home). [all rankings at date of game]
It began Oct. 9 at home with a 6-3 victory against #7 Stanford. Then the 'Cats played the first half at #15 Boston University on Oct. 14 (led 2-1 when the game was suspended), lost to 11th-ranked Boston College (2-1) on Oct. 16 and completed the game at BU on Oct. 17 with a 4-3 overtime victory.
The stretch continued Oct. 21 with a Senior Day game against interstate rival Maine in which UNH prevailed 3-0 against the 13th-ranked team in the nation, then concluded with a 3-2 loss at #18 Albany on Oct. 29.
Here is the conference ranking of the America East Championship field in overall statistics:
UNH Albany Boston U. Maine
Offense 2nd (3.58) 3rd (2.72) 4th (2.31) 1st (4.66)
Defense 4th (1.66) 1st (1.26) 2nd (1.50) 3rd (1.52)
A handful of UNH Wildcats are ranked among the league leaders (all games; all stats listed are per-game averages) and that includes the top two in both points and goals. Whitney Frates is atop the leaderboard in both of those statistics and is followed by Hayley Rausch. The 'Cats claim three of the top five spots in assists with Frates at #3, Emma Erler at #4 and Kyle Lyons at #5. Katherine Nagengast ranks second in saves and saves per game as well as third in save percentage and fourth in GAA.
Here is the conference ranking of the America East Championship field in league-only games:
UNH Albany Boston U. Maine
Offense 3rd (2.50) 2nd (2.65) 4th (1.98) 1st (2.98)
Defense 1st (1.35) 3rd (1.52) 2nd (1.44) 4th (1.79)
In league-only games, Frates once again leads the way in points (3.00 ppg) and goals (1.25 gpg), while Rausch is tied for the lead in assists (0.60 apg) and is fourth in points (1.80 ppg). Nagengast has a league-best 1.43 GAA and is second in save percentage (.750).
Climbing The Charts (career)
Senior forwards Whitney Frates and Hayley Rausch have quickly ascended the UNH career leaderboards in goals, assists and points in the 2011 season.
Frates climbed past Gaby Haroules (1977-80; 119 career points) to #2 on UNH's career points leaderboard with the last of her career-high seven points Oct. 9 vs. seventh-ranked Stanford;
Rausch jumped past Haroules to No. 3 on the program's all-time points list with a goal Oct. 17 at Boston U.
Here is a look at where the dynamic duo rank on UNH career leaderboards:
1. Karen Geromini (1983-86) 162
2. Whitney Frates (2008-11) 136
3. Hayley Rausch (2008-11) 125
4. Gaby Haroules (1977-80) 119
5. Meg Shea (2006-09) 99
1. Karen Geromini (1983-86) 71
2. Gaby Haroules (1977-80) 56
3. Whitney Frates (2008-11) 51
4. Hayley Rausch (2008-11) 47
5. Katie White (2002-05) 45
6. Meg Shea (2006-09) 42
1. Becky Craigue (1995-98) 35
2. Whitney Frates (2008-11) 34
3. Hayley Rausch (2008-11) 31
4. Kathy Cortez (1991-94) 25
Climbing The Charts (single-season)
Here is a look at where Whitney Frates and Hayley Rausch rank on UNH's list of single-season superlatives:
1. Karen Geromini 1986 57
2. Meg Shea 2009 55
3. Whitney Frates 2011 54
4. Hayley Rausch 2011 51
5. Katie White 2003 44
1. Karen Geromini 1986 27
2. Meg Shea 2009 23
3. Hayley Rausch 2011 22
Whitney Frates 2011 22
5. Katie White 2003 21
The Century Club
In 36 years, two UNH Wildcats recorded 100 career points. This year in back-to-back games, two more 'Cats joined that exclusive list.
Whitney Frates became the third UNH Wildcat to attain the 100-point milestone with the last of her career-high three goals at Dartmouth on Sept. 11.
Hayley Rausch became the fourth UNH Wildcat to reach the 100-point milestone with the second of her two goals vs. Holy Cross on Sept. 16.
50 / 50
Fifty goals in a career and 50 points in a single season are rare accomplishments. Whitney Frates has accomplished both.
The senior forward became just the third UNH player to score 50 career goals (Oct. 30). The other players to attain that milestone are Karen Geromini (71 goals; 1983-86) and Gaby Haroules (56; 1977-80).
Frates recorded her 50th point of the season with the second of her two goals Oct. 21 against 13th-ranked University of Maine, and she was also the third 'Cat to reach that benchmark. Frates enters postseason play with 54 points in 2011. Karen Geromini was the first to eclipse that number with 57 points in the 1986 season. Most recently, current volunteer assistant coach Meg Shea tallied 55 points in 2009.
You Gotta Shoot to Score
UNH has recorded the shot advantage in 14 of 19 games, and the Wildcats are 14-0 in those games. At the other end of the spectrum, the 'Cats are 1-3 when the opposition holds the edge in shots – with the win occurring at Boston U. (4-3 overtime win; 14-24 shots). UNH is also 0-1 (at Louisville) when the shots are even.
New Hampshire recorded a season-high 28 shots Sept. 2 against Brown University, and the second-highest total was 27 at Vermont (Oct. 7). The Wildcats tallied 20+ shots one other game –Sept. 4 at Providence (22 shots).
Three of UNH's four losses marked its three games with the lowest shot totals: seven at Albany (3-2 loss), nine at Louisville (3-1 loss) and 10 vs. Northwestern (5-4 loss).
Shooting to Score
UNH's top two goal scorers are also the top two 'Cats when it comes to shooting percentage. Hayley Rausch has a team-high .324 shooting percentage (22 goals/68 shots) and is followed closely by Whitney Frates at .314 (22/70). The rest of the squad combined for 25 goals on 158 shots, which calculates to a .143 shooting percentage.
The Wildcats limited an opponent to five or fewer shots four times in the regular season; five other teams were held to single digits, including four teams with six shots.
Cornering the Opposition
New Hampshire generated the advantage in penalty corners 12 times in 19 regular-season games for an overall margin of 136-97 that included a 82-48 edge in the first half. UNH did not generate a penalty corner in the 3-2 loss at 18th-ranked Albany (Oct. 29). The last time UNH did not have a penalty corner in a game was Sept. 24, 2006 (3-1 loss at Indiana).
The six-member senior class features the team's top three point scorers (Whitney Frates, Hayley Rausch, Kyle Lyons), top three goal scorers (Frates, Rausch, Lyons), top four of five in assists (Frates, Lyons, Rausch and Kendall Deck) and the goalkeeper who started 18 of 19 regular-season games (Katherine Nagengast).
Overall, the five field players account for 50 of 69 goals (72%), 32 of 50 assists (64%) and 132 of 188 points (70%).
UNH scored the game's first goal in 14 of 19 games and went on to victory all 14 times. The Wildcats have a 1-4 record when the opposition takes a 1-0 lead; the win came at Providence College (6-1), while the losses were to Northwestern (5-4), Louisville (3-1), Boston College (2-1) and Albany (3-2).
It's a 35-minute game?
When leading at halftime, New Hampshire went unbeaten at 12-0. The Wildcats were also 3-1 when tied at the half and winless (0-3) when trailing through 35 minutes of play.
Made of Granite
The University of New Hampshire roster features five Granite State natives on its 22-player roster. Juniors Emma Erler (New Hampton) and Mary Quill (Portsmouth) hail from New Hampshire, as do sophomores Hannah Richard (Hopkinton) and Tori Welch (East Hampstead) as well as freshman Maegan Grew (Hampton Falls).
New Hampshire played into overtime three times this season and prevailed every times. UNH upended Rutgers, 2-1, Sept. 10 at home, defeated nationally-ranked Boston University, 4-3, in mid-October on the road and outlasted Harvard, 4-3, in the regular-season finale in Cambridge, Mass.
The Wildcats most recent loss in extra time occurred in the 2010 America East Championship title game against Albany (3-2 on Nov. 6).
New Hampshire played six games on Friday (including one that was completed on a Monday) and won all six. That included a 4-0 record at Memorial Field.
UNH played nine games on Sunday and went 7-2 overall, including 2-1 at home.
Six of UNH's 19 regular-season games were decided by one goal and the Wildcats were 4-2 in those games. Five of the last seven games had a one-goal differential; the 'Cats won on the road against Vermont (2-1, Oct. 7) and 15th-ranked Boston University (4-3 in OT, Oct. 14&17) and Harvard (4-3 in OT, Oct. 30); they lost to 11th-ranked Boston College (2-1, Oct. 16) as well as on the road to 18th-ranked Albany (3-2, Oct. 29).
Not so Close
Eight of UNH's 19 regular-season games were decided by three or more goals, and the Wildcats were victorious in all eight of those games.
The Great Eight
UNH opened the 2011 season with eight consecutive victories to mark the team's longest win streak at the outset of a season since 1984 (10-0). The last time the Wildcats had an eight-game winning streak was 1986; the 1990 team had a 10-game unbeaten streak that included three ties.
Through eight games, UNH was the national leader in defense with six goals allowed (0.75 goals allowed per game).
In other national rankings through eight games, Rausch was #1 in points per game and #2 in goals per game... Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass./Westborough) also ranked in the top 10 in two statistics at #4 in goals-against-average and #8 in save percentage.
New Hampshire's eight-game winning streak began with a 3-1 victory at sixth-ranked Ohio State. It marked the Wildcats' first win vs. a top-10 team since defeating #7 Boston College in September, 1998.
The following weekend, Hayley Rausch established a career high of three goals vs. Brown, then matched that total and recorded a career-high seven points at Providence to help the 'Cats improve to 4-0. A Wildcat had not posted a three-goal game since October 2009, and no 'Cat had recorded back-to-back three-goal efforts since 1986 (Karen Geromini).
New Hampshire then upended Rutgers, 2-1, in overtime at Memorial Field and one day later traveled across the Granite State for a 5-2 win against Dartmouth. UNH scored five second-half goals at DC; it marked the highest total in a half since scoring five first-half goals vs. Davidson in September 2009.
UNH extended the win streak to eight games with shutout victories at home against both Holy Cross (5-0) and 20th-ranked Northeastern (4-0) in which the Wildcats outshot the opposition 33-10 and seven different players scored a goal.
Emma Erler factored in five of the team's nine goals that weekend as she recorded career highs in both assists (two) and points (four) vs. Holy Cross and then matched that assist total vs. NU.
The 'Cats went 7-2 in September to mark the highest win total in that month since the 2002 squad went 7-3.
UNH went 5-0 at home in September; the 'Cats outscored the opposition 18-1 with a 90-23 shot advantage in those five games.
Fast Track to 10
UNH reached double-digit victories for the third consecutive year with a 5-3 victory at Michigan State; this is the fastest the Wildcats attained their 10th win since the 1989 team also started 10-2.
The 12-2 record marked the team's best record through 14 games since the 1986 squad also went 12-2 en route to a 17-3 overall record.
UNH in the National Poll
New Hampshire has been a top 10 team in seven of nine regular-season NFHCA polls. The Wildcats entered the national polls at #12 on Sept. 6 to mark their highest ranking since September 1998 (#10).
The No. 7 national ranking (Sept. 20) marked the first time since October 1997 the team was ranked higher than 10th and the highest ranking since September 1995 (No. 5).
Here is a week-by-week recap of this season's polls (Synapse Sports oversees womensfieldhockey.com):
11.01 10 12
10.25 10 14
10.18 10 14
10.11 8 11
10.04 12 18
09.27 10 17
09.20 7 9
09.13 10 11
Balducci Commandeers 'Cats
Robin Balducci, the America East Coach of the Year in 1998, 2000, 2010 and 2011, has guided UNH to 17 postseason appearances in her 21-year tenure as head coach. The Wildcats are making their 16th America East tournament postseason appearance in 2011 and they won the title in 1998. Balducci led the 'Cats to NCAA tournament appearances in 1998 and 2000.
Balducci has compiled a 21-year record of 208-208-4 with a 77-57-2 America East mark. She is the winningest coach in the program's history.
Balducci recorded her 200th career victory Sept. 16, 2011, when the Wildcats were 5-0 victors against Holy Cross at Memorial Field.
A look back at the Future
Back in August, the America East league coaches picked UNH to finish in a tie for third place in the final conference standings, although the Wildcats did receive one first-place vote. Here is a comparison of the final standings and Preseason Poll:
Preseason Poll Final Standings
1. Boston U. (3) 23 1. UNH (15-4) 4-1
2. Albany (2) 21 Boston U. (10-8) 4-1
3. UNH (1) 16 3. Maine (16-3) 3-2
Maine 16 Albany (13-6) 3-2
5. Fairfield 7 5. Fairfield (9-8) 1-4
Vermont 7 6. Vermont (6-11) 0-5
Scouting the Great Danes
The University at Albany, ranked #12 in this week's national poll, enters the postseason with a 13-6 overall record that includes 3-2 in America East and 3-5 on the road. UA went 1-5 against nationally-ranked teams.
The Great Danes won five of the last six games of the season, including a 3-2 victory against UNH in the regular-season finale (Oct. 29). In that span, UA recorded four consecutive shutouts against Fairfield, UMass, Vermont and Delaware.
Albany is led offensively by Christina Patrick (13g, 6a), Corrine McConville (12g, 4a) and Daphne Voormolen (8g, 7a). In goal, Kristi Troch has started 17 of 19 games. She has an 11-6 record with a 1.35 GAA and .722 save percentage to rank 10th in the nation in GAA.
The Great Danes have outscored the opposition 54-25 and that includes 33-12 in the second half.
Scouting the Terriers
Boston University, ranked #17 in this week's national poll, enters the tourney with a 10-8 overall record that includes 4-1 in America East, 2-1 at neutral sites and 4-4 on the road. The Terriers have a 3-8 record against nationally-ranked teams.
BU went 2-3 in its last five regular-season games with overtime wins against both Albany and Fairfield as well as losses to UNH (in OT), UConn and Northeastern.
The Terriers are led offensively by Macey Gaumond (8g, 4a), Jacinda McLeod (7g, 4a) and Tabi Hatch (5g, 4a). Kate Murphy (5g, 2a) and Nicole van Oosterom (4g, 3a) have also reached double digits in points.
Valentina Cerda has started 12 of 18 games. She has a 7-6 record with a 1.43 GAA and .778 save percentage to rank 12th in the nation in both GAA and save percentage.
BU has outscored the opposition 43-28, including 23-12 in the second half.
Scouting the Black Bears
The University of Maine, ranked #13 in this week's national poll, enters the America East Championship with a 16-3 overall record that includes 3-2 in America East, 5-0 at neutral sites and 5-1 on the road. The Black Bears went 2-3 against nationally-ranked teams.
Maine's offense, which has already set a school record for goals in a single season (89 through 19 games), is led by Kelly Newton (13g, 25a); she is #1 in the nation in assists per game (1.32) and #7 in points per game (2.68). Stephanie Gardiner (12g, 7a), Holly Stewart (12g, 6a) and Alexa Binnendijk (14g, 1a) have also recorded double digits in goals, while Jocelyn Mitchell (9g, 5a) and Zoe Adkins (5g, 11a) have eclipsed 20 points.
Brittany Fleck started 13 of 19 games in goal and went 10-3 with a 1.76 GAA and .662 save percentage.
GAME DAY: 10th-Ranked, Top-Seeded Field Hockey to Battle 17th-Ranked Boston U in America East Title Game
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