DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell (Wakefield, Mass.) recorded 11 saves -- one less than her career-high -- but the 20th ranked Wildcats were defeated 3-1 by 21st-ranked University at Albany in Sunday afternoon's America East Field Hockey Championship title game at Memorial Field.
UNH, the tournament top seed as the regular-season champion by virtue of a 5-0 America East record, ends its season at 12-8. Second-seeded Albany, which lost a 2-1 overtime road game to the 'Cats in early October as part of a 3-2 conference record, improves to 13-7 overall and will discover its NCAA postseason fate Nov. 6 during the online selection show.
UA was led offensively by Corrine McConville (two goals), Daphne Voormolen (goal) and Jessica Longstreth (assist), all of whom were named to the All-Championship Team – Nina Walters was the fourth Great Dane representative. Voormolen also received the Most Outstanding Player Award.
Albany goalie Kristi Troch was credited with one save.
UNH's goal-producing tandem of Casey Pohlmeyer (Millersville, Md.; goal) and Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.; assist) were also selected to the All-Championship Team, as was senior captain Emma Erler (New Hampton, N.H.).
Albany controlled play early and, in the fifth minute, Longstreth edged past a defender at the top of the circle and fired a low shot that Tarbell knocked aside with her left leg pad.
The Great Danes took a 1-0 lead on a penalty stroke at 9:55 when McConville sent a low shot inside the right post.
New Hampshire, which had been unable to penetrate the circle in the opening 15 minutes due to UA's stifling team defense, generated a dangerous scoring chance in the 20th minute. On the right wing, Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) hit a reverse-stick shot low toward the far post, but Troch kicked the ball away with her right leg pad.
Two minutes later, Albany extended the lead to 2-0 and it marked just the third time this season the 'Cats yielded the game's first two goals. Longstreth sent a through-ball from midfield that Voormolen tracked down near the top of the circle. She then fended off a defender and drifted to the right before sending a shot past the charging Tarbell inside the left post at 21:15.
The Great Danes threatened again in the closing minutes on their second penalty corner. Longstreth inserted the ball directly to Laura Page on the top-left side, and her drive to the far post was stopped by Tarbell. Kelly Bonner corralled the rebound in the middle of the circle and her low shot was also turned away by Tarbell.
UA held that 2-0 lead at halftime with the advantage in both shots (9-1) and corners (2-0).
In the 42nd minute, the visitors attacked in transition with Longstreth advancing down the middle of the field to the top of the circle. With UNH's defenders covering the passing lanes, Longstreth continued unabated toward the cage and lifted a shot that Tarbell batted aside with her blocker.
UNH converted a series of two consecutive penalty corners into a goal at 45:00 to trim the deficit to 2-1. Erler inserted the ball to the top of the circle and Bozek, instead of taking the direct shot, shifted to the right and then sent a pass across to the top-left, where Pohlmeyer's low shot through traffic went into the cage.
Albany, which responded with two goals within four minutes of surrendering a goal to the University of Maine in Friday's semifinal game, scored 3:15 later to reestablish a two-goal lead of 3-1 at 48:15. Longstreth's insert on a corner was mishandled at the top of the circle, but McConville reentered and hit a low blast for her second goal of the game.
New Hampshire called timeout at 51:51 but did not record a shot the rest of the way.
The Great Danes were awarded a corner in the 60th minute and McConville rifled a low shot toward the left post that Tarbell cleared with a head-first diving save. UA generated another corner five minutes later, and this time Tarbell went down and stacked her pads to stop Voormolen's low blast down the middle.
UNH pressured deep on the right wing with seven minutes remaining, but Bozek's reverse-stick entry pass was kicked out by Troch with Mary Quill (Greenland, N.H.) lurking at the doorstep.
Albany finished with a 19-4 shot advantage – UNH's lowest shot total of the season – and a 6-3 edge in corners.
The Wildcats have been the America East regular-season champion and advanced to the conference championship game three consecutive years. UNH has an 18-3 overall record vs. America East foes spanning the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. All three losses were to Albany – the 2010 and 2012 championship game and 2011 in the regular season.
The end of the 2012 season marks the end of UNH Wildcat careers for seniors Claire Grogan (Canton, Mass.), Erler and Quill. In four years, the 'Cats were 55-27 with three America East regular-season titles, an America East tournament title, two runner-up finishes and an NCAA Championship appearance.