Simpson's Six Points Sparks Women's Lax Past Binghamton, 16-9

JENNY SIMPSON

DURHAM, N.H.Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) recorded four goals and two assists to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Saturday afternoon's 16-9 victory against Binghamton University at Memorial Field.

UNH, which has won all 11 games in the series against Binghamton, improved to 2-5 overall and 1-0 in America East by winning the conference opener for both teams. The Bearcats fell to 3-5, 0-1.

The two assists and six points matched personal-best efforts for Simpson, the America East Player of the Game who was one of six Wildcats to record multiple points. Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) recorded career highs in both goals (three) and points (four) while Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.; 3g), Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.; 2g, 1a) and Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.; 2g, 1a) tallied three points apiece; the three points are a personal best for Hinkle.

Keagins was also credited with four draw controls, three ground balls and three caused turnovers while Puccia had three DC, one GB and one CTO and Cohen finished with three GB and two CTO.

Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) tallied her 50th career point on the second of her two points, a second-half assist at 3:01 that capped a four-goal run. Kate Gunts (Wilton, Conn.) made nine saves and corralled two ground balls.

Binghamton was led offensively by Katherine Hunsberger (3g), who was the Bearcats' America East Player of the Game. She also recorded four draw controls and one ground ball. Renee Kiviat (2g, 1a) and Kimberly McGeever (1g, 2a) tallied three points apiece, and Kara Pafumi stopped 10 shots and had a team-high three ground balls.

After an exchange of multiple fruitless possessions at the start of the game, Hunsberger gave the Bearcats a 1-0 lead when her free-position shot from the top of the fan sailed under the crossbar at 22:48.

Keagins gained possession of the ensuing draw control, dodged defenders on a drive through the right side of the fan and placed a shot into the upper-left corner to tie the score, 1-1, at 22:34.

The Bearcats regained the lead, 2-1, at 21:03 on Lis Zuern's first of two goals of the game as she drove deep on the left wing, cut under a defender to the top of the circle and fired a low shot into the cage.

New Hampshire closed the half on a 6-0 run to take an 8-2 lead into halftime. Simpson ignited the rally by tying the score, 2-2, at 15:44 when she scored in front of the cage off a feed from Hinkle, who was double-teamed at the left post. Keagins gave the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish, 3-2, with an unassisted tally at 14:09 and Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) fired a shot inside the right post to extend the advantage to 4-2 at 10:19.

Puccia navigated down the middle of the fan to score an unassisted goal at 9:06, which pushed the margin to three goals and prompted the visitors to call a timeout.

Cohen and Puccia executed a give-and-go to give UNH a 6-2 lead at 3:41. Cohen, off the left post, moved the ball behind the net to Puccia, who sent a return pass to the front of the cage and Cohen put the ball into the upper-right corner.

Cara Dowdle (Northbrook, Ill.) forced a turnover with 1:26 remaining in the first half, which set up Simpson's first of four goals, an unassisted tally with 28 seconds on the clock.

UNH extended its streak to seven consecutive goals when Hinkle maneuvered through the middle of the fan and fired low into the goal to make the score 8-2 at 28:26 of the second half.

Binghamton scored three of the next four goals to pull within 9-5. Hunsberger finished a feed from Lauren Lukefahr at 26:31, but Casiano responded with a free-position goal at 25:16 for a 9-3 Wildcat lead. McGeever set up Kiviat's strike at 22:19 and Emma Hayes-Hurley netted a man-up goal at 20:28 to trim the deficit to four goals.

New Hampshire responded quickly, however. Simpson, from behind the net, found Cohen slicing through the left side of the fan and she deposited a high shot into the cage for a 10-5 lead at 20:11. Hinkle corralled a loose ball in the middle of the fan and scored at 18:43 to extend the advantage to six goals, 11-5.

The Bearcats clawed back on goals by Zuern (at 16:30) and Kiviat (15:37) and then Hunsberger gained control of the ensuing draw control. Hunsberger fired two shots wide of the target, but the visitor's extended possession continued and Hunsberger was denied by Gunts on a free position at 14:06. Binghamton retained control, however, and one minute later Zuern was turned aside by Gunts. Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.) picked up the ground ball and UNH quickly advanced the ball to the other end of the field, where Cohen slipped a pass low on the right side to Puccia for a goal and 12-7 lead at 12:47.

Puccia struck again – this time in front of the cage off Simpson's pass from the top-left side – to extend the Wildcats' advantage to 13-7 at 9:10. Simpson then potted consecutive goals at 5:28 and 3:01 to give UNH a commanding 15-7 lead.

Hunsberger and McGeever scored at 1:53 and 1:04, respectively, to lift the visitors within 15-9 and Keagins capped the scoring with five seconds remaining.

UNH matched its season high of 37 shots (previously recorded March 14 at Fresno State); Binghamton had 24 shots. The Wildcats had the slight edge in ground balls (16-14) and committed fewer turnovers (13-18). Draw controls were even at 13.

New Hampshire concludes its three-game homestand March 28 against 11th-ranked Vanderbilt University. Game time at Memorial Field is 12:30 p.m.

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