BOSTON  -- Sarah Von Bargen (East Setauket, N.Y.) scored five goals and Ashley Milley (Sudbury, Mass.) recorded a career-high 15 saves to propel the 14th-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s lacrosse team to Friday afternoon’s 15-6 victory against the University of Vermont in a semifinal game of the America East Championship tournament at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

            UNH, the tourney’s third seed by virtue of a 4-2 league record, improves to 13-4 overall to advance to the America East title game for the sixth time in seven years. New Hampshire will play top-seeded Boston University, a 17-6 winner in the other semifinal, in Sunday’s one o’clock championship game at Nickerson Field. The game will be videostreamed live online at www.americaeast.com.

UVM, which ended a 13-game losing streak to the Wildcats with a 9-8 win at home earlier this month, ends the year with an 8-9 record; the Catamounts were the tourney’s second seed with a 5-1 league record.

Shaunna Kaplan (Framingham, Mass.) finished with four points (2g, 2a) while Michaela Hardy (Reading, Mass.) tallied three goals and both Ashley Crook (South Burlington, Vt.; 2g) and Susie Piotrkowski (Franklin, N.H.; 2a) recorded two points. In addition to her 15 saves, nine of which came in the second half, Milley had five ground balls.

UVM was led offensively by Emilie Clark and Megan MacDonald, both of whom netted two goals. Starting goalie Meaghan Hanley allowed 10 goals in 41:04; she made four saves and was charged with the loss. Ali Trainor stopped three of eight shots on goal in the last 18:56.

With the scored tied 4-4 at halftime, the opening draw was caught by Kaplan at the offensive restraining line. With only Hanley between her and the goal, Kaplan raced down the middle and fired a shot into the goal to give UNH a 5-4 lead. The Wildcats, who won only three of nine first-half draw controls, won possession on the ensuing draw control and converted it into a 6-4 advantage at 28:51 when Hardy cut down the middle of the fan and shot low inside the left post.

UVM pulled within 6-5 less than one minute later, however, as Clark moved from the right wing to behind the net, then spun back to the right post for the score.

Milley, who was named to the America East All-Conference Team the eve before the tourney, preserved New Hampshire’s one-goal cushion with saves against MacDonald and Kristen Millar from point-blank range in front.

The Wildcats then extended its lead to 7-5 at 24:01 when Piotrkowski, from behind the net, connected with Crook in the middle and her shot sailed inside the left post.

Von Bargen, another First Team honoree, then scored four consecutive goals – the first three in a span of 3:22 – to push UNH’s advantage to 11-5 with 7:09 to play. From the left wing, Piotrkowski made an entry pass to Von Bargen deep on the left side for the score.

UVM called time out at that juncture, but UNH maintained momentum behind Von Bargen’s onslaught. She struck again at 19:52 when she cut down the right side of the fan, suddenly stopped near the right post and contorted her body to lift a backhand into the net.

Vermont won possession on the ensuing draw, but Beth Sabiston (Bay Shore, N.Y.) corralled a loose ball in the fan to record one of her three ground balls. That set up a quick transition attack in which Kaplan raced through the middle of the field and, from the top of the fan, found Von Bargen down low for a 10-5 lead at 18:56.

Milley then made three saves in the next six minutes to keep the Catamounts at arm’s length, and Tori Wasson’s apparent goal on a free-position shot at 9:02 was disallowed because of an illegal crosse.

Von Bargen scored her fifth goal of the game – 36th of the season – at 7:09 to give UNH an 11-5 advantage. Hardy’s third tally of the day – her 50th of the year – capped the Wildcats’ six-goal run to extend the differential to 12-5 at 6:05.

Vermont ended its scoreless drought of 23:22 with Millar’s goal at 4:35.

Crook responded with a tally 1:24 later by cutting from the left wing to the front of the net to make the score 13-6, and Maureen Wark (Yarmouth, Maine), off a pass from Kaplan, scored from point-blank range on the left side just 20 seconds later (at 2:51). Kaplan’s unassisted goal with one second on the clock closed the scoring.

In a turnover-filled first half in which the Wildcats struggled to maintain possession in the offensive zone but the Catamounts struggled to clear the ball beyond midfield, UNH committed nine turnovers and UVM had 10.

Von Bargen opened the game scoring at 26:46 on a free position shot. The Catamounts then took a 2-1 lead – their only lead of the game – on tallies by Alison Haigh at 26:10 and MacDonald at 24:52.

Moira Talbot (Marblehead, Mass.) potted the 97th goal of her career at 22:20 on a free position from the top of the fan in which she fired a shot inside the right post. Hardy put the Wildcats back in front, 3-2, at 20:13 when she drove the right side and shot the ball inside the near post.

MacDonald tied the score, 3-3, at 17:03, then Deb Dale (East Northport, N.Y.) gave UNH a 4-3 lead at 15:23 by cutting from the left side to the middle of the fan and depositing a shot inside the right side of the net.

Clark’s goal at 5:18 – and two saves by Milley in the last 2:40 of the half -- sent the teams tied at 4 into halftime.

New Hampshire had a 28-27 shot advantage and a 21-14 edge in ground balls. The Wildcats also committed fewer turnovers (15-18) as they were a perfect 16-for-16 in clear attempts in comparison to UVM’s 7 of 14..


NOTES: The 13 wins is tied for the second-highest single-season total; the 1987 ‘Cats also finished with 13 victories and the 2004 team holds the benchmark of 15 … Hardy extended her goal-scoring streak to 14 games … Kaplan extended her point-scoring streak to 16 games … Von Bargen extended her goal-scoring streak to 10 … UNH has a 3-0 lifetime record vs. UVM in the America East tourney (all semifinal games) … UNH has a 1-4 record in America East title games, and all five games have been against Boston University.

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