CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team utilized a balanced attack to build a 6-0 first-half lead, but Harvard University rallied to defeat the Wildcats, 8-6, Friday night at Harvard Stadium.
UNH lost its second consecutive game to fall to 5-5, while Harvard won its third consecutive game to improve to 4-3.
The Wildcats were led offensively by Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.; two goals), JoJo Curro (Amherst, N.H.; 1g, 1a), Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn.; 1g, 1a) and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.; 1g, 1a).
Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) played the final 23 minutes of the game in goal and was charged with the loss; she surrendered two goals, including one with no time left on the clock, and made four saves. Starting goalie Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn.), who exited with the score tied at 6, was not credited with a save.
Harvard goalie Kerry Clark stopped five shots. Jen VanderMeulen scored three goals and Jess Halpern finished with two goals.
UNH scored on its first two shots of the game en route to building a 6-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes. Curro opened the scoring at 28:21 when she curled behind the net to the left post and scored on a high shot. Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) was at the right doorstep to finish off a feed from Simpson 53 seconds later.
A snowy wintry mix began to fall and Harvard won the ensuing draw control, but Duclos intercepted a pass in the middle of the fan and at the other end of the field, Curro set up behind the net and found Casiano in front for a goal and 3-0 advantage at 20:38.
The Crimson called time out, but Casiano struck again, this time off a pass from Duclos, at 16:37 to extend UNH's lead to 4-0. Duclos, cutting down the middle of the fan, then finished off a pass from behind the net by Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) at 12:17 to increase the lead to five goals.
Less than two minutes later on a UNH possession, Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) held the ball on the left wing and centered a pass to Simpson, who fired a shot into the upper-left corner of the cage to give the 'Cats a 6-0 lead at 10:27.
Clark and the Crimson defense, however, held New Hampshire scoreless spanning the final 40 minutes, 27 seconds.
Melanie Baskind began the comeback with an unassisted tally at 10:27. Harvard won the ensuing draw control and Halpern drove down the right wing to score 11 seconds later.
The Crimson scored three times in the final 1:23 of the first half to close within 6-5 at the half. Halpern opened the spurt at 1:23, followed by Danielle Tetreault at 17 seconds and VanderMeulen at four seconds.
VanderMeulen opened the second-half scoring on a free position at 25:33 to tie the score, 6-6.
O'Keefe entered the game soon thereafter and denied Kasey Uhlenhuth on a free-position shot from the left wing to keep the score deadlocked with 18 minutes remaining.
UNH called a timeout at 16:43, but afterwards lost possession on a turnover. The Crimson took its first lead of the game, 7-6, at 10:33 when VanderMeulen scored on a free position from the right wing on a low shot to the far post.
On the Wildcats' last possession of the game, Simpson executed a catch-and-shoot in the middle of the fan, but Clark stopped the low shot with 2:20 to play. Harvard advanced the ball to the other end of the field and utilized a spread formation to keep the 'Cats chasing the ball. Tyler Petropulos scored at the buzzer to cap the scoring.
New Hampshire returns to action April 6 (4 p.m.) against America East rival Boston University.