DURHAM, N.H. – Senior forward Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) recorded two goals and an assist to propel the 10th-ranked University of New Hampshire field hockey team to Sunday afternoon's 4-2 victory against 17th-ranked Boston University to win the 2011 America East Field Hockey Championship tournament.
UNH, the America East regular-season co-champions and tournament top seed, takes home the conference title for the second time overall and first since 1998. The Wildcats improve to 17-4 overall – the 17 victories equals the program single-season record set by the 1986 national runner-up team – and 9-1 at home with the victory. The Terriers drop to 11-9 on the year with the loss.
New Hampshire receives the America East automatic qualifier berth into the 2011 NCAA Field Hockey Championship, which begins Nov. 11. The selection show, which will be shown exclusively online at ncaa.com, is Nov. 8 (8 p.m.). This will mark UNH's ninth overall NCAA tourney appearance and first since the 2000 season.
Rausch, a 2011 America East All-Conference First Team selection, was named Most Outstanding Player of the America East Field Hockey Championship. She recorded seven points (three goals, one assist) in the two games, and that included the game's only goal in UNH's 1-0 semifinal victory against 12th-ranked University at Albany on Friday. With Sunday's five-point effort, Rausch broke the program's single-season point record by increasing her total to 58; Karen Geromini's mark of 57 points had stood since 1986.
Rausch was joined on the All-Championship Team by teammates Whitney Frates (Woodstock, Vt.), Kyle Lyons (White River Junction, Vt.) and Katherine Nagengast (Westborough, Mass.) BU's Kate Murphy, Macey Gaumond and Nicole van Oosterom were selected to the All-Championship team, as were Albany's Nina Walters and Brianna Schwoyer and Maine's Lelia Sacre and Annabelle Hamilton.
Nagengast, an All-Conference Second Team honoree, finished with three saves – she stopped seven of nine shots in the tourney. BU counterpart Valentina Cerda, the America East co-Rookie of the Year, was credited with seven saves.
UNH jumped on the board first when Rausch scored her 24th goal of the season. Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.) initiated the sequence by driving along the right end line and passing the ball back to the top-right of the circle. Frates, the America East Offensive Player of the Year, made a quick touch pass forward to Rausch and she put the ball inside the far post at 2:13. It marked Frates' 35th career assist, which ties the program benchmark established by Becky Craigue (1995-98).
The Wildcats continued to pressure and generated a penalty corner in the 11th minute. Rausch pushed the ball to the top of the circle for stopper Kendall Deck (Bridgewater, N.J.; two assists), and she sent a pass to Lyons on the left wing. Lyons' shot was stopped by Cerda, but the 'Cats were awarded another corner. UNH's battery once again set up Lyons on the left side and this time she lifted a shot over the cage.
Three minutes later, UNH once again earned consecutive corners – this time with Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.) at the start of the battery. Lyons struck a low, diagonal ball towards the right post that was redirected by Frates, but Cerda turned aside the shot to keep the score 1-0.
BU called time out at 15:52 and scored on its first shot of the game at 17:20 to tie the game at 1-1. Nicole van Oosterom drove the ball deep into the circle along the right end line and slid a low pass past Nagengast to Macey Gaumond on the left side and she put the ball into open cage for her 10th goal of the season.
It didn't take long for New Hampshire to reclaim the lead, as the home team punched in a pair of goals less than five minutes apart to build a 3-1 advantage. Meghan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), another All-Conference Second Team selection, scored the first of the two goals on the offensive flurry, finding the back of the goal at 22:21 on a penalty corner. Bozek earned the corner for the 'Cats when she executed a tackle at the 25 and maneuvered around four Terriers into the circle, where she drew a foul. On the corner, the battery of Rausch and Deck set up Bozek's direct shot from the top of the circle that found the left side of the goal to put UNH ahead 2-1.
New Hampshire capitalized on another penalty corner to gain a two-goal lead at 27:09. Rausch put the ball in play to Deck, an All-Conference Second Team honoree who once again swung a pass to the left wing for Lyons and her shot caromed off a BU defender into the cage.
The Terrriers responded with a goal 1:45 later to once again pull within one goal, 3-2. Ysi Schieb advanced from the top-left side of the circle to the top, where she struck a high, hard shot that sailed past Nagengast under the crossbar at 28:54.
UNH took that one-goal lead, as well as the advantage in both shots (8-3) and corners (7-0) into halftime.
In the 38th minute, the Wildcats generated another penalty corner and the pressure within the circle led to Pohlmeyer's shot from deep on the right wing that was turned away by Cerda.
In the 52nd minute, New Hampshire attacked in transition as Frates advanced down the right wing and lifted a shot that Cerda, who charged off the goal line, blocked aside. The 'Cats were awarded a corner, however, and Bozek's low, direct shot was stopped by Cerda. Pohlmeyer pulled the rebound to Rausch at the left doorstep, and she deposited the ball into the cage for her 50th career goal to give UNH a 4-2 lead at 52:44.
With 12 minutes remaining, BU's Madeleine Hackett entered the circle at the top-left side and struck a high, reverse-stick shot high of the cage. Two minutes later, the Terriers generated their first penalty corner of the game. The battery of Kat Spring and Schieb set up Jacinda McLeod's direct shot, but it was blocked by an oncoming Wildcat defender. The visitors were awarded another corner, however, and this time Spring immediately put the ball in play to the left wing, where Murphy hit a low shot that was stopped by Nagengast.
UNH generated another dangerous scoring opportunity with four minutes on the clock. Frates again attacked on the right wing and struck an entry pass to the middle of the circle. The ball caromed off Rausch's stick towards the top-left and she reverse-sticked a low shot that Cerda directed away.
BU generated a penalty corner in the closing minute and did not record a shot, but did earn another corner. Murphy's low shot was turned aside by Nagengast, and on the third corner – in the waning seconds – Murphy's shot was blocked by Erler out of the circle.
In addition to climbing to the top of UNH's single-season points list, Rausch ascended into second place on the list of single-season superlatives in goals (25). Frates is tied for third (23) with current volunteer assistant coach Meg Shea. Frates is also tied for third on the single-season points list (55) with Shea, who set both of her marks in 2009.
Rausch became just the fourth UNH Wildcat to record 50+ career goals. Frates accomplished the feat earlier this season and has 51 career tallies.