SIMPSON SCORES FIVE GOALS; WOMEN'S LAX FENDS OFF FAIRFIELD, 14-10

JENNY SIMPSON
KATHLEEN O'KEEFE

DURHAM, N.H. -- Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) recorded six points with five goals and an assist as the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team fended off Fairfield University's second-half rally to record a 14-10 non-conference victory Sunday afternoon at Memorial Field.

UNH, which has won four of five home games this season, and Fairfield are both 5-3 overall. Both teams wore red armbands in memory of Maureen O'Shea, the coach of the Connecticut Lacrosse Futures club team who passed away March 12 following a battle with cancer.

Simpson, the America East Player of the Game, finished with personal bests in both goals and assists, and Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) scored a career-high three goals to match her best of three points. Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.; 2g, 1a), Allie Bratton (Windermere, Fla.; 2g) and Shaunna Kaplan (Framingham, Mass.; 1g, 1a) also tallied multiple points for the Wildcats.

UNH goalkeeper Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) recorded her first career victory with a nine-save effort; she was also credited with five ground balls. Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn.) finished with five GB and two caused turnovers while Jess Cassotis (York, Maine) had two GB, two CTO one one draw control. Bratton finished with a team-high three DC while Rausch also contributed three ground balls, two caused turnovers and one draw control.

The Stags were led by Kristin Coleman (4g, 1a) and Caitlin Young (4g), who also tallied five ground balls, three caused turnovers and three draw controls. Coleman was also credited with two GB, two CTO and two DC. Katie Keenan stopped five shots in goal.

UNH scored the initial six goals of the game and held a 7-3 halftime lead, but Fairfield scored goals 14 seconds apart early in the second half to quickly trim the deficit to two goals. Coleman, off a feed from Katie MacKay, scored her first goal of the game on a shot from the right wing at 28:14. Moments later, Young collected a ground ball near midfield, raced down the center and fired a shot from the top of the fan into the goal at 28:00.

Simpson gave the 'Cats an 8-5 lead at 26:03 when she curled behind the net and scored at the right doorstep for her third goal of the afternoon.

The Stags responded with free-position goals by Young at 26:03 and Coleman at 23:08 to pull within 8-7.

Two minutes later, Keenan kept the visitors within one goal with a save against Kaplan from point-blank range on the right side. With 16 minutes remaining, O'Keefe preserved UNH's advantage by denying Chloe Mangan.

The Wildcats went ahead 9-7 at 15:14 when Cohen, cutting down the middle of the fan, one-timed Rausch's pass from behind the net into the cage. Simpson's fourth tally of the game gave UNH a three-goal advantage of 10-7 at 13:13. Rausch, deep on the right side of the fan, passed the ball across the goal mouth to Simpson, who maintained her balance to keep out of the goalie crease and release a low shot into the goal.

Fairfield scored man-up goals 43 seconds apart -- at 11:56 and 11:13 -- to once again pull within one goal, 10-9. Brittany Bare's shot from the top of the fan found Coleman on the right side and her shot sailed inside the near post, and Coleman scored again on a similar shot less than a minute later.

The Stags, who won 11 of 15 draw controls in the second half and 15 of 25 overall, gained possession off the ensuing draw control but committed a turnover. UNH cleared the ball the length of the field and Cohen, from 20 yards out, charged down the middle of the fan and fired a low shot past Keenan to give New Hampshire an 11-9 lead.

Young was awarded a free position at the top of the fan and placed a shot into the low-right corner of the cage to once again make it a one-goal game, 11-10, at 9:00.

O'Keefe made three saves in the ensuing 4:30 to preserve UNH's one-goal cushion. On the draw control following Young's tally, Fairfield gained possession and Amanda Best fired a shot over the crossbar; the visitors maintained control but the UNH goalie denied Mangan with 8:03 on the clock.

Following a save by Keenan at the other end of the field with 6:53 remaining, O'Keefe once again kept UNH in front with a save against Bare. Coleman was awarded a free position with 5:26 to play, O'Keefe also denied that opportunity to keep the score 11-10 in favor of the 'Cats.

Fairfield maintained possession, however, but then UNH's Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.) forced a turnover to give possession to the Wildcats with just over five minutes remaining.

New Hampshire went into a perimeter attack and that produced a scoring opportunity in which Kaplan curled behind the net to the left post for a goal and 12-10 lead at 3:38.

Following a Fairfield timeout, UNH won the ensuing draw control. Young, however, immediately blocked a pass and scooped up the ground ball to give possession to the Stags. Moments later, her shot from the right wing caromed off the near post. The teams battled for possession, and O'Keefe emerged from the scrum with the ball with just under three minutes to play.

The 'Cats initially were patient in the defensive end, but then quickly went into a transition attack in which Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.), from the top-right, sent a pass diagonally across the fan and Simpson tallied her fifth goal of the game at 2:07 to give UNH a 13-10 advantage. The assist marked Casiano's first career point.

Bratton closed the scoring with 55 seconds on the clock. With her back to the goal, she corralled Kaplan's entry pass and rocked back-and-forth with steps to the right and left twice before turning and firing a shot into the goal.

Young won an extended battle for control of the ensuing draw control and found Bare alone in the offensive end. Bare then fired a shot from the top-left of the fan that was stopped by O'Keefe.

Fairfield ended the game with a 28-23 edge in shots as well as the 15-10 advantage in draw controls. UNH had a slight edge in ground balls, 20-18, and the turnovers were also nearly even -- UNH 18, Fairfield 17.

UNH held the visitors scoreless for the opening 23 minutes of the game to build a 6-0 lead. Simpston netted unassisted goals on low shots at 27:13 and 25:57 to give the 'Cats a 2-0 advantage. Bratton's unassisted tally advanced the score to 3-0 at 23:47 and Rausch, off a feed from Simpson, struck at 21:24 for a four-goal cushion.

Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) collected a pass on the top-right side and continued towards the center of the fan, where she fired a shot into the net at 12:46. Cohen then scored a free-position goal at 11:17 to give the home team a six-goal advantage.

The Stags scored three of the last four goals of the half to pull within 7-3. Young scored on a free position at 6:57 and Mangan, with the assistance of Coleman, made the score 6-2 at 2:35.

JoJo Curro (Amherst, N.H.) one-timed a pass from Kaplan into the goal to reestablish a five-goal cushion just 11 seconds later. Reardon scored an unassisted goal with 12 seconds remaining in the first half.

Curro and Rausch have tallied a point in all eight games this season. Kaplan's second-half goal was the 90th of her career.

New Hampshire returns to action March 31 (4 p.m.) at Yale. The Wildcats' next home game is April 3 vs. UMBC. Game time at Memorial Field is 1 p.m.

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