DURHAM, N.H. – Hannah Richard (Hopkinton, N.H.) scored two goals to lead the University of New Hampshire field hockey team to a 3-2 victory against 16th-ranked University at Albany in Saturday afternoon's America East Championship title game at Memorial Field.
UNH, top seed of the tournament by virtue of a 5-0 conference record, extended its winning streak to eight games to improve to 15-6 overall and win the tourney title for the second time in three years, third time overall (1998, 2011, 2013).
New Hampshire gained the America East automatic qualifier berth into the 2013 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship. The bracket is announced Nov. 10 at 10 p.m. online at NCAA.com.
Albany, the second seed with a 4-1 America East record – the only conference loss was 3-0 at home to UNH on Oct. 18, is now 16-5.
Richard matched her career highs in both goals (two) and points (four). Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), who was tabbed the conference's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year prior to the start of the tourney, scored UNH's other goal and was named the Championship's Most Outstanding Player.
Tarbell, the America East Goalkeeper of the Year, recorded five saves against Albany and had a three-save effort in Thursday's 3-0 semifinal win against Fairfield University. Flatley tallied three points in the tourney, including an assist vs. the Great Danes.
UA goalie Maxi Primus, who was pulled in favor of an extra field player for the final 4:27 of regulation, was credited with one save.
Albany's Corrine McConville, Paula Heuser and Daphne Voormolen were also selected to the All-Championship Team, which also included Fairfield's Felicitas Heinen and Shealyn Testa as well as Maine's Natasha Ford and Annabelle Hamilton.
New Hampshire scored goals 4:32 apart to quickly build a 2-0 lead. Flatley dribbled into the circle at the top-left, evaded a defender and then attacked the cage. Primus, who had charged from the goal line, made a sliding tackle attempt, but Flatley pulled around the goalie and chipped the ball toward the right post. She followed the ball, but teammate Richard was in position to tap a shot into the open cage for her 12th goal of the season at 4:43.
The Wildcats were awarded a penalty stroke at 9:15 when Melyssa Woods (Glens Falls, N.Y.) was taken down in the circle by a Great Danes' defender. Bozek, who converted two of four penalty strokes in the regular season, calmly blasted a low shot into the left corner of the cage to give the home team a two-goal advantage.
UNH carried that 2-0 lead into halftime despite Albany's edge in both shots (7-4) and penalty corners (5-2).
Less than two minutes into the second half, the 'Cats nearly increased the lead when both Richard and Flatley snuck behind the defense. On the top-right side, Richard slipped the ball past Primus to Flatley, who one-timed a shot wide right of the cage.
Albany pulled within 2-1 at 39:04 on an individual effort by Heuser, the America East Rookie of the Year and Midfielder of the Year. She carried the ball into the top of the circle and maneuvered to the left past a defender. Then, while falling down, fired a reverse-stick shot inside the right post.
That goal ended UNH's shutout streak against America East foes, including the semifinal, at 434 minutes, 50 seconds as well as the team's home shutout streak at 464:50.
New Hampshire reestablished a two-goal lead just 26-seconds later. Flatley once again shifted around Primus and took aim at an open cage, but Jordyn Homyak retreated to the goal line to deny a goal. Richard was in position at the left post, however, and deposited the rebound into the open cage.
The Great Danes were awarded a corner in the 46th minute and Fiori van Rijswijk's insert went to the top-left, where Heuser's low blast was kicked out by Tarbell. It resulted in another corner, however, and this time Heuser's shot from the top right bounded wide of the far post.
Albany called time out at 56:26, and one minute later Van Rijswijk's low drive from the right side was stopped by Tarbell.
UA pulled Primus in favor of an extra field player with 4:27 remaining in the second half. The Great Danes capitalized on a penalty corner to trim the deficit to 3-2 at 67:05 when Heuser's blast was redirected in by Amy Nicklin on the right side high into the cage.
Albany was awarded another corner with 1:32 on the clock, and this time Heuser's shot was blocked by a Wildcat defender and UNH did not allow another shot the rest of the way to secure the victory and conference title.
The visitors finished with a 14-8 shot advantage and 9-2 edge in corners.