In 21 seasons at the helm of the University of New Hampshire
field hockey program, Robin Balducci – a
four-time America East Coach of the Year recipient (1998,
2000-10-11) and two-time Northeast Region Coach of the Year honoree
(1998, 2011) – is the program’s all-time winningest
head coach by guiding the Wildcats to 210 victories and 17
Balducci reached the 200-win milestone last season when UNH defeated the College of the Holy Cross, 5-0, at Memorial Field on Sept. 16. She recorded her 100th career victory October 14, 2000 when the Blue and White defeated the University of Vermont in Durham.
Balducci enters her 22nd season with an overall record of 210-209-4 that includes 77-57-2 in America East conference play. Under her tutelage, 15 Wildcats have received All-America honors and that includes First Team selections Stacy Fimple and Rebecca Provost in 1994 as well as Marcie Boyer in 2002 and Whitney Frates in 2011. A UNH Wildcat has been selected America East Offensive Player of the Year three of the last four years (2008-09-11).
In 2011, UNH recorded one of its most successful seasons in program history and Balducci received two Coach of the Year awards – America East and NFHCA Northeast Region. The Wildcats won the America East regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2000 en route to tying the school record for single-season victories (17). The 2011 ‘Cats broke the program record for goals (78), assists (61) and points (217). UNH ascended to #7 in the nation and finished at #9.
One year earlier, the ‘Cats completed their first unbeaten league season (5-0 record) and won their first outright league title since 2000 (they shared the ‘02 crown). New Hampshire, ranked #19 in the nation – the Wildcats had not been ranked since the 2000 season, then lost in overtime of the conference championship game to fall one goal short of advancing to the NCAA tournament. UNH ended the season with a 14-7 record to tie the fourth-highest win total in program history. The ‘Cats tied for the highest number of representatives on both the America East All-Conference First Team and All-Rookie Team (three apiece).
In 2009, the Wildcats broke the program record for points in a season (170). UNH advanced to the America East tournament for the third consecutive year and ended ‘09 with a 12-7 overall record. The ‘Cats won a pair of games against nationally-ranked teams in October as part of a four-game win streak.
In 2008, the Wildcats boasted the highest-scoring offense in America East and finished as league runner-up in both the regular season standings and tournament. UNH had a league-high four representatives on the All-Rookie Team. The ‘Cats finished with nine wins for the second consecutive year and had four overtime losses (three to nationally-ranked teams).
UNH won six of the initial nine games of the 2007 season and consecutive shutout victories against Davidson and Fairfield gave the ‘Cats a 9-8 record late in the season. UNH advanced to the America East tournament and was ousted in the semifinals. The Wildcats finished ‘05 with a 7-12 overall record and missed the league tourney by virtue of a tiebreaker.
In 2004, Balducci led the ‘Cats to their third consecutive appearance in the America East Championships. She guided the ‘03 team to second place in the league standings with a 5-1 mark and UNH finished with a 10-11 overall record to reach double digits in the win column for the sixth time in seven seasons. In 2002, UNH won a share of the America East regular-season title and finished with a 12-8 overall record.
In ‘00, Balducci guided UNH to the America East regular-season title, a runner-up finish in the conference tourney and an NCAA Tournament appearance for the second time in a three-year span. In recognition of her team’s accomplishments, Balducci was named America East Coach of the Year. In 1999, Balducci led UNH to a 12-7 overall record that included a 7-1 mark in America East. The ‘Cats earned the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament but fell short in their quest to defend the league title.
In 1998, she guided the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament and they concluded the season with a 14-7 record, 6-2 America East mark and a conference championship. She was honored as NFHCA Division I Northeast Region Coach of the Year and America East Coach of the Year. In 1997, UNH reemerged on the national scene, ascended to No. 8 in the nation and capped a successful 11-10 campaign with a loss in the ECAC championship game.
Balducci is also a prominent figure on the national field hockey scene. In 1995, she was selected as a member of the United States National Team coaching staff. In the summer of ‘96, Balducci travelled to Germany with the U.S. National Team to compete in the Champions Trophy and the team finished in sixth place. The year before that, Coach Balducci embarked on a tour of Holland with the U-21 National team. During the 1995 calendar year, she toured Australia with the U.S. National Team, travelled to Spain with the U-21 squad and was a member of the coaching staff at the Pan American Games in Argentina, where the U.S. won the silver medal.
Balducci, a Milford, Mass. native, has been involved in United States Field Hockey Association developmental camps since 1985 and continues to work at both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ camp levels.
In 1991, her first year at the helm
of the Wildcats, Balducci led UNH to an 11-6-2 record, a semifinal
North Atlantic Conference playoff berth and a final national
ranking of No. 12. In 1992, she kept the Wildcats in the national
picture by leading her team to the NAC final. The following season,
Balducci led the ‘Cats to a national ranking of No. 19 when
UNH posted a 12-6-2 record.
In her fourth season, Balducci guided New Hampshire to its best record in five years with a 14-8 mark in ‘94. The team was ranked 14th in the country that year and advanced to the NAC championship game. Without a place to call home in 1995 – Memorial Field was unplayable because of the Whittemore Center construction – Balducci coached the ‘Cats to a 7-12 mark.
Balducci, a 1985 graduate of UNH,
was a three-sport standout for the Wildcats and served as captain
for each team. As a four-year starter in both field hockey and ice
hockey, as well as a three-year starter in lacrosse, Balducci led
UNH to both regional and national prominence.
She earned Regional All-America honors in both field hockey and lacrosse, and still ranks sixth on the ice hockey all-time point scoring list. In 1985, Balducci was the starting goalkeeper for the Wildcat lacrosse team that won the only NCAA championship in UNH athletics’ history. The entire national championship lacrosse team was inducted into the inaugural class of the UNH Department of Women’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 1994 and Balducci herself was inducted in 1998 in recognition of her individual accomplishments.
As starting goalkeeper her senior year, Balducci led the Wildcat field hockey team to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In 1984, she was selected to the U.S. National Field Hockey Squad. She still holds the UNH school record for career shutouts with 31.
Before returning to her alma mater, Balducci served as an assistant coach at Northeastern University for three years. During that time, the field hockey team earned two NCAA tournament bids and was consistently ranked among the top teams in the country.