VESTAL, N.Y. – In a game to determine the fourth seed of the upcoming America East Championship tournament, Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn.) made a season-high 10 saves to backbone the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Sunday afternoon's 12-10 come-from-behind victory against Binghamton University in the regular season finale at the Bearcats Sports Complex.
UNH improved to 8-8 overall and 3-3 in America East to advance to the America East tourney for a league-record 14th consecutive season. The Wildcats will play top-seeded and host school University at Albany in a May 5 semifinal game at 1 p.m. Binghamton's season ends at 4-13, 1-5.
Gunts, who was named UNH's America East Player of the Game, held the Bearcats scoreless for the final 20:46 of the game and was credited with two ground balls in addition to 10 saves. She made six saves in that span, including two in the final minute to preserve the Wildcats' two-goal advantage.
Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) tallied three of her game-high five points (three goals, two assists) during UNH's closing 7-0 spurt, and she was also credited with three draw controls and one caused turnover. Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.), Hayley Rausch (Severna Park, Md.) and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) also tallied multiple points for the Wildcats. Keagins finished with a goal and two assists – as well as five draw controls, two ground balls and one caused turnover, Simpson netted two goals and Rausch had two assists.
Binghamton was led offensively by Lis Zuern (3g, 1a), Lizzie Wright (3g) and Beth Moore (2g), who broke the University's single-season goal record with her 40th and 41st of the season. Wright, who also had one GB, one DC and one CTO, was named the Bearcats' America East Player of the Game. Lauren Scott stopped eight shots defending the BU goal.
The Bearcats took a 10-5 lead at 20:46 of the second half when Casey Bulman scored a free-position shot from the top of the fan.
Gunts did not let another shot pass, however, as she denied Ali Castiglie with 19 minutes remaining. The Bearcats went into a spread attack in an attempt to maintain possession and their five-goal advantage. They called time out at 16:59, but Chelsea Cyester (Parker, Colo.) forced a turnover and gathered the ground ball with 15:30 on the clock.
New Hampshire then began its comeback, as the 'Cats advanced the ball downfield and Keagins, from the top-left of the fan, passéd the ball to Allie Duclos (South Windsor, Conn.) in the middle. Duclos, who caught the ball with her back to the goal, pivoted and fired a shot into the net at 14:43 to trim the deficit to 10-6.
Cohen gained possession on the ensuing draw control and quickly attacked to generate a 2-on-1 rush with Keagins, who was turned aside by Scott. UNH kept the ball and Casiano's low shot from the middle of the fan was also stopped by Scott.
The Bearcats advanced the ball into the attack zone but Duclos caused a turnover and gained possession for the visiting 'Cats by corralling the ground ball, and that led to a goal by Meghan Bridges (Sandy Hook, Conn.) that lifted UNH within 10-7 at 12:27. Cohen, deep on the right side, fed a high pass across the goalmouth and Bridges leapt to fire the ball into the goal.
Ally Stager (Reading, Mass.; three GB, two DC, one CTO) won the ensuing draw control, which set up a free position for Casiano. Her shot attempt from the top-right side was blocked, but the high-bounding ball continued towards the goal and Keagins swept a shot into the goal to make the score 10-8 at 11:53.
Binghamton gained possession on the draw control, but Duclos and Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.; three GB, three CTO) double teamed Castiglie behind the goal to force another turnover. UNH attacked in transition as Cori Rees (East Hampstead, N.H.) caught an outlet pass at midfield, attacked down the center and scored on a low, close-range shot at 9:36 to trim the deficit to 10-9; it was Rees' first career goal.
Binghamton called time out, but Cohen won the draw control and then finished a feed from Rausch at 9:05 to level the score, 10-10.
Gunts once again kept the Bearcats at bay when she stopped Casiglie's high shot with 7:45 remaining. Duclos picked up the rebound and Cohen drove down the right side of the fan and scored on a shot into the upper-right corner to give UNH its first lead of the game, 11-10, at 6:38.
Binghamton's Lindsay Angelillo caught a pass alone in the middle of the fan at 6:15, but Gunts stopped that high shot and Casiano picked up the ground ball.
UNH extended its lead to 12-10 at 4:50 when Rausch, from the top-right of the fan, found JoJo Curro (Amherst, N.H.) curling behind the net to the left post for a high shot into the goal.
With 58 seconds remaining, Gunts turned aside Wright at the left post, then Gunts denied Zuern at the left post with 28 seconds to play and Stager picked up the ground ball to secure the victory.
In the first half, Binghamton jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Zuern (at 27:15) and Moore (24:36). Simpson, with the assistance of Keagins, made the score 2-1 just 10 seconds later, but Zuern struck again at 24:02 to reestablish a two-goal lead, 3-1.
Sarah Campbell (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), cutting from left to right across the fan, caught a centering pass from Cohen and scored on a high shot at 20:04 to pull UNH within 3-2. The Bearcats once again had a quick response from Moore at 19:45 but Simpson, who initially dropped Rausch's entry pass, quickly picked the ball off the turf and scored on a low shot from the top of the crease at 19:06.
Goals by Zuern (17:11) and Wright (14:18) pushed Binghamton's lead to 6-3 before Cohen scored on a high free-position shot from the top of the fan at 12:50. Wright scored with 14 seconds remaining in the first half to give the home team a 7-4 halftime lead.
The Bearcats scored the initial two goals of the second half – Castiglie at 27:17 and Wright at 25:40 to push the advantage to 9-4. Casiano trimmed the deficit to 9-5 at 14:43 when she maneuvered from the right wing to the middle of the fan and scoring on a shot inside the left post.
New Hampshire finished with the edge in both ground balls (19-17) and draw controls (14-10) while Binghamton had the advantage in shots (29-23) and committed one less turnover (18-19).