Game Notes: Women's Lax Plays Home Opener Feb. 23 vs. UMass

Game 2: Feb. 23 vs. #14 UMass || Durham, NH || 1 pm

The State of New Hampshire || The UNH women's lacrosse team enters this weekend's action with an 0-1 record following a 13-12 season-opening loss at Hofstra University last Saturday, Feb. 16 ... UNH has 19 returning letterwinners and six newcomers on its 2013 roster. Six of the eight double-digit point scorers and two of three goalkeepers return to the fold.

Captain of the 'Cats || Seniors Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.), Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) are captains of the 2013 Wildcats. Simpson, an attacker, is the team's second leading returning scorer – she produced 30 points on 24 goals and six assists, and earned America East All-Academic Team recognition for the second consecutive year in 2012. She led the 'Cats in shooting percentage (54.5%) and scored a goal in 13 of 16 games with five multiple-goal efforts as part of seven multiple-point games.
    O'Keefe saw action in 10 games (seven starts) a year ago and played 416:56 of a possible 960 minutes in goal. In four games in the month of March, she recorded a .468 save percentage and her goals-against-average improved each month with a season-best 10.99 in three April games. O'Keefe is an athletic goalie who has a penchant for stepping out of the crease to intercept passes.  She was an America East All-Conference Second Team selection in 2011.
    Doyle has started 48 of 49 games in her three-year career with 16 starts in '12. She became a leader of UNH's defensive unit last season, when she ranked fourth on the squad in caused turnovers and fifth in ground balls. One year earlier as a sophomore, Doyle was also among the statistical leaders in ground balls (third) and caused turnovers (fourth).

'Cat Nips || Senior midfielder Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) matched her career high of four goals and also had an assist for a total of five points at Hofstra. The second of Casiano's four goals  marked the 50th of her career ... Freshman attack Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) recorded five points, all on assists, in her collegiate debut and she was honored as America East Rookie of the Week on Monday ... Junior defender Cori Rees (East Hempstead, N.H.) recorded a career-high five ground balls and equaled a personal best of three caused turnovers … Casey Doyle played in her 50th career game, the most among active 'Cats … Doyle matched her career high of  four ground balls ... Kathleen O'Keefe made 11 saves and was credited with five ground balls, which tied her career high, in the season opener.

Streaking || Sophomore midfielder Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) extended her goal- and point-scoring streak to 11 games with a three-goal effort against the Pride. She has 37 points (31g, 6a) in that span ... Jenny Simpson has the team's second-longest active point-scoring streak of five games. She tallied four points (3g, 1a) at Hofstra and has 12 points (7g, 5a) during the five-game streak.

Opening Act || UNH has a 20-12 record in home openers. The Wildcats lost 13-7 to Dartmouth College last year (Feb. 25) and were upended 11-4 by UMass in 2011. Prior to that, the 'Cats won the home opener in 2008 (16-7 vs. Holy Cross), 2009 (19-2 vs. Bryant) and 2010 (10-4 vs. Holy Cross). Saturday will mark the fifth time UNH plays UMass in a home opener. In addition to the aforementioned 2011 meeting, the Minutewomen prevailed in 2003; the 'Cats won in 2001 (at MIT) and 1989.

A New Era Begins || UNH's first-year head coach Sarah Albrecht made her debut as a head coach Feb. 16 at Hofstra. Albrecht was recently selected to the 18-player U.S. Women's National Team that will compete in the 2013 FIL World Cup in Ontario. She was a member of the U.S. gold-medal team at the 2009 World Cup and was named to the FIL All-World Team in recognition of her outstanding play, which included 14 goals and three assists in seven games.
    Albrecht comes to UNH following her second stint at the University of Massachusetts in which she served as associate head coach for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. She helped lead UMass to an Atlantic 10 championship and the NCAA tournament both years.
    As a collegiate player, Albrecht spent five seasons at Northwestern University, where she served as a team captain every year, missed the 2003 campaign due to injury and graduated with a degree in Psychology.
    She concluded her collegiate career in 2006 with a second consecutive national championship and recorded three goals as well as four assists in the '06 title game to earn the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player honor.
    Albrecht finished her career ranked fourth all-time at Northwestern in assists (71), sixth in points (199) and seventh in goals (128). In both 2005 and 2006, she was an IWLCA All-America selection, all-tournament pick at the NCAA Championship and All-Conference First Team honoree.

The Series vs UMass || UNH has a 21-17-3 lifetime record against the University of Massachusetts, which has won each of the last two meetings. Prior to that, the Wildcats won five straight games spanning the 2006-10 seasons. Last year, the Minutewomen were 17-5 victors and in the most recent matchup in Durham (March 2, 2011), UMass came out on top 11-4. New Hampshire's most recent win was March 3, 2010 (11-8 on the road) and the most recent home win was March 18, 2009 (13-10).

Scouting the Minutewomen || The University of Massachusetts (Amherst, Mass.), ranked #14 in the Inside Lacrosse poll, has a 2-1 overall record that includes 1-0 on the road. The Minutewomen opened the year with a 16-4 loss to top-ranked Northwestern University on Feb. 8 and then defeated the University of Southern California, 18-9, on Feb. 10; both games were played at USC. Most recently, UMass was a 21-8 victor against LIU-Brooklyn on Feb. 16. UMass, which won its fourth consecutive Atlantic 10 title last year, was picked atop this year's A-10 preseason poll; the Minutewomen went 19-2 overall a year ago with a 7-0 conference record.
    Katie Ferris is the leader in goals (nine) and points (15). Cori Murray is atop the assist leaderboard (five) and is second in points (eight). Sam Rush (7g) is another top point producer. Kelsey McGovern is the leader in both ground balls (10), draw controls (21) and caused turnovers (five). Rachel Vallarelli has started all three games and played 150 of a possible 180 minutes; she has a 11.60 GAA and .420 save percentage.

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