WORCESTER, Mass. – Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) scored three goals and Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) made six saves to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Wednesday afternoon's 8-5 non-conference victory against the College of the Holy Cross at Hart Turf Field.
This marked the third consecutive year UNH has won its season opener. The Wildcats have opened against Holy Cross five of the last seven years and are 4-1 in those meetings. Holy Cross is winless in two games this season.
Keagins, whose three goals led the 'Cat attack, also recorded two ground balls, two caused turnovers and one draw control. Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) contributed two goals, two GB and two CTO. UNH's other goal scorers were Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.), Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) and Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn.), who was also credited with three ground balls.
HC goalie Amy Martin was credited with two saves.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 16:13 of the first half when Simpson rolled from behind the net around the right post to the front of the net and fired a shot into the upper-left corner.
HC tied the score, 1-1, at 13:25 when Kat Sutton one-timed Cassie Rudden's pass from behind the net.
UNH scored three consecutive goals to build a 4-1 advantage. Duclos scored on a free position from the left wing at 11:36 to put the 'Cats back in front, 2-1. Keagins scored a free-position goal at 9:05 when she charged from the right wing and fired a low shot inside the far post.
O'Keefe preserved that two-goal lead with six minutes remaining in the first half when she denied Meg O'Leary on a free position from the top of the fan.
Keagins struck again on a free position – this time on a low shot from the top of the fan – to give New Hampshire a 4-1 lead at 3:15.
One minute later, O'Keefe appeared to be caught out of position when Sara Hennessey caught the ball at the left doorstep but she lunged towards the upper-left corner to make the save. The Crusaders did trim the deficit to 4-2 on Taylor Zebrowski's free-position goal at 1:48.
Cohen scored with 48 seconds remaining in the first half to send the Wildcats into halftime with a 5-2 lead. From the top of the fan, she maneuvered to the right side and fired a low shot inside the far post.
Neither team scored in the opening 12 minutes of the second half – O'Keefe made another impressive point-blank stop against Catherine Furman at the right post with 20:00 on the clock --- then Holy Cross scored three goals spanning seven minutes to once again level the score, 5-5.
Zebrowski started the comeback with an unassisted goal at 17:25, then O'Leary (at 12:56) and Annie Boylan (10:26) scored on free-position shots.
Holy Cross gained possession on the ensuing draw control – the Crusaders had a 12-3 edge in that statistic – and O'Keefe kept the game deadlocked at 9:45 when she denied Maddie Carrellas' shot from the middle of the fan.
At the other end of the field, Keagins rang a shot off the post. The teams exchanged possessions and UNH regained the lead at 5:31 when Cohen attacked from the left wing and sent a low shot into the net.
After the Crusaders won the ensuing draw, O'Keefe forced a turnover in which Duclos won the battle for the loose ball. Rausch, deep on the right wing, drove towards the net and place a shot into the upper-right corner to give the 'Cats a 7-5 lead at 3:52.
HC once again gained possession on the draw, but Cara Dowdle (Northbrook, Ill.) got the ball back for UNH with 3:15 remaining. Keagins' third goal of the game at 1:34 put the 'Cats ahead 8-5 to match the team's largest lead of the game.
Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.) helped secure the victory when she corralled a ground ball with 1:00 on the clock. The 'Cats advanced the ball into the attack zone and maintained possession to run out the remaining time.
In addition to the edge in draw controls, the home team also recorded a 21-15 shot advantage. UNH finished with more ground balls (19-14) and committed fewer turnovers (15-18).
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 26 (12 p.m.) at Dartmouth College. The Wildcats' home opener is March 2 against the University of Massachusetts. Game time at Memorial Field is 4 p.m.