Leland, Blanchette lead 'Cats on Senior Day
DURHAM, N.H. -- Senior captains Kristin Blanchette (Sudbury, Mass.) and Katie Leland (Timonium, Md.) combined for seven goals and two assists to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Tuesday afternoon's 11-10 come-from-behind non-conference victory against the University of Connecticut at Memorial Field.
With the victory on Senior Day, UNH extended its winning streak to nine games to improve to 10-4 and the Wildcats are atop the America East conference standings at 4-0. UConn is now 4-9.
Leland led UNH's attack with four goals and an assist while Blanchette finished with three goals and an assist. Sarah Von Bargen (East Setauket, N.Y.) recorded three goals and Alexa Webster (Aurora, Colo.) scored the team's other tally. Ashley Milley (Sudbury, Mass.) finished with 10 saves to mark the seventh time this season she recorded double digits in saves.
UConn's Kristen Haldeman finished with 19 saves. Shannon Burke (three goals, assist) and Laura Trzasko (three goals) were the offensive leaders.
In a game highlighted by patient, perimeter attacks, the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead on Leland's free position goal at 4:51. Kristin Link scored the first of her two goals at 11:25 to pull the Huskies even, 1-1, then Burke struck 1:19 later to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
New Hampshire called time out at that point, but Burke and Link scored 51 seconds apart -- at 17:06 and 17:57 -- to give UConn a 4-1 lead. Von Bargen pulled the 'Cats within 4-2 at 18:31, however, and Leland scored 35 seconds later to trim the deficit to one goal.
Trzasko quickly put momentum back in favor of the Huskies with a tally at 19:38, then Abbey VanDeusen potted consecutive goals at 20:29 and 24:48 to extend UConn's advantage to 7-3. Blanchette's first tally made the score 7-4 at 28:32, but Burke struck with 29 seconds on the clock to re-establish a four-goal cushion of 8-4. The Wildcats won the ensuing draw control and Blanchette was awarded a free position with 18 seconds to play in the half. She drew the defense in and passed the ball across to Leland, who fired into an open net to pull the 'Cats within 8-5 at 29:46. UNH continued its comeback in the second half with three consecutive goals to pull even, 8-8. Von Bargen, off a pass from Leland, closed the gap to 8-6 at 30:36, then Blanchette netted back-to-back goals -- the second off a feed from Moira Talbot (Marblehead, Mass.) -- at 34:10 and 35:54.
Connecticut called time out at that time and regained the lead, 9-8, on Trzasko's free position goal at 38:38. Leland scored her fourth goal of the game to level the score at 41:58, then Webster gave the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish, 10-9, with an unassisted tally at 53:05. Von Bargen scored on a free position shot at 54:34 for an 11-9 advantage, and it forced UConn to use its second timeout.
UNH gained possession but could not extend its lead as Haldeman made three saves. Trzasko scored a free position goal to pull the visitors within 11-10 with 2:47 to play, but UNH won the ensuing draw control and passed the ball around the perimeter until turning the ball over with 1:29 remaining.
Milley preserved UNH's one-goal advantage by stopping Burke's shot with 63 seconds on the clock and the Wildcats were able to control possession the rest of the way to seal the victory.
In addition to Blanchette and Leland, UNH also honored goalkeeper Maghan Grahn (Roseau, Minn.) on Senior Day.
New Hampshire concludes the regular season with road games against Stony Brook (April 21) and Boston University (April 29). The America East regular-season champion will play host to the conference tournament May 5-7.