UNH women's lax draws Dartmouth in NCAA first round

DURHAM, N.H. -- The 18th-ranked University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team will travel to play ninth-ranked Dartmouth College in a NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship first round game on May 13, the NCAA announced Sunday night. Game time is 4 p.m. at Scully-Fahey Field.

UNH, which earned automatic qualifier status to the NCAA tournament by virtue of Saturday's 11-9 victory against Boston University in the America East championship game, will be making is sixth NCAA tournament appearance and first since the 1991 Wildcats advanced to the semifinals. UNH won the 1985 national championship and also played in the NCAA tourney in 1987, 1986 and 1984. The 'Cats are 4-4 in NCAA tournament play.

The Wildcats have a 12-13 lifetime record against Dartmouth but DC has won eight consecutive games in the series dating back to UNH's most recent victory, 8-7 in 1992. The teams opened the 2004 season at UNH's Memorial Field and the Big Green outscored UNH 8-3 in the second half to record a 10-5 victory. This will be the third postseason meeting between these programs, as New Hampshire defeated Dartmouth 15-8 in a 1986 ECAC semifinal game and DC upended UNH 6-4 in the 1979 NEWLA tourney.

New Hampshire (15-4 overall, 6-0 America East) has won a school-record 14 consecutive games en route to breaking the benchmark for wins in a single season. The 2004 Wildcats have also broke the program's single-season records for both goals (260) and points (344) and are currently ranked No. 4 in the nation in offense as well as No. 7 in defense.

UNH boasts the 2004 America East Player of the Year in junior attack Jess Burnap (New Canaan, Conn.) and the Rookie of the Year in Cristina Covucci (Concord, Mass.), and Sandy Bridgeman was named Coach of the Year for the third time in the past four seasons.

Burnap broke the UNH single-season goal record with 69 and her 78 points also surpassed the school's single-season point record, but that total is second on this year's team to sophomore attack Katie Leland (Timonium, Md.), who has recorded 86 points on 57 goals and 29 assists. Leland, named the Most Outstanding Performer of the America East Championships, and both Burnap and Covucci were among seven Wildcats who were selected to the America East All-Conference First Team.

Defensively, UNH is anchored by rookie goalkeeper Stacey Plati (Nashua, N.H.), who led the league and is ranked No. 8 in the nation in goals-against-average. She has a 15-3 record with a 7.82 GAA and .515 save percentage in starting all 19 games.

Dartmouth received one of eight at-large bids to the NCAA tournament following a 10-3 regular season (6-1 Ivy League) that ended with back-to-back losses to Duke University (11-7) and North Carolina (5-3).

Following the first round games, the NCAA tournament continues May 16 with four quarterfinal games at on-campus sites. The semifinals and title game are May 21-23 at Princeton University.

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