Puccia Scores Four Goals; Women's Lax Falls 11-10 At #12 Dartmouth In Closing Seconds

LAURA PUCCIA

HANOVER, N.H. -- Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) scored a team-high four goals, including a go-ahead goal at 10:44 of the second half, for the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team but 12th-ranked Dartmouth College scored with six seconds remaining to record an 11-10 victory Thursday afternoon at Scully-Fahey Field.

UNH is now 0-3 on the year with each of the last two losses coming to nationally-ranked teams. Dartmouth is 2-0.

Puccia, who scored on all three free-position shots, also had two ground balls and three draw controls. Four other Wildcats tallied multiple points. Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) both recorded two goals and an assist while Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) finished with three assists and Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) netted two goals.

Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.), who entered the game when UNH tied the score 8-8 at 17:48 of the second half, made two saves and was charged with the loss. Starting goalkeeper Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) exited the game with six saves in 42:12 of action.

Liz Calby (four goals, two assists), Courtney Bennett (3g, 1a) and Hana Bowers (2g, 1a) led the Dartmouth attack. Kristen Giovanniello was credited with three saves.

UNH trailed 6-3 at 8:35 of the first half but scored seven of the next nine goals to take a 10-8 lead at 6:51 of the second half. McHoul, behind the left post, fed a pass in front of the cage and Simpson one-timed a shot past Giovanniello to lift the Wildcats within 6-4 at 5:10.

Calby potted her fourth goal of the half just 24 seconds later to reestablish a three-goal cushion. Dartmouth's Jaclyn Leto was awarded a free position at 3:56, but O'Keefe made the save to keep the score 7-4. UNH advanced the ball to the other end of the field and Hinkle scored with a low shot on a free position from the top of the fan at 3:13 to trim the deficit to 7-5.

UNH trailed by that two-goal margin at halftime but opened the second half on free-position goals by Puccia at 25:21 and Hinkle at 22:31 to level the score, 7-7. Puccia placed a shot from the left wing inside the far post, whereas Hinkle's shot from the right wing sailed low inside the near post.

The Big Green regained the lead, 8-7, and ended a scoring drought of 15 minutes, 26 seconds when Danielle Lisovicz netted a free-position goal at 19:20.

The 'Cats responded with three consecutive goals, however, to take a 10-8 lead. New Hampshire forged the fourth tie of the game, 8-8, at 17:48 when Hinkle eluded a defender on the top-left side of the fan and passed the ball to the left doorstep, where Simpson caught the ball and fired a shot under the crossbar.

DC's Frances Bird was awarded a free position at 12:45, but her shot from the left wing was snared by Hurwitz. UNH advanced the ball into the attack zone and called time out. A patient attack led to a shot 70 seconds later by Molly Gaffey (North Hampton, N.H.) that was wide of the cage, but Puccia gathered the ground ball behind the net to keep possession for the Wildcats. Puccia struck for the fourth time in the game -- seventh of the season -- on another free position at 10:44 when she fired low from the left wing.

Dartmouth won the ensuing draw control but Hurwitz denied Calby at 9:35 to keep New Hampshire in front, 9-8. UNH once again exhibited patience on offense and McHoul,  from behind the cage, hit Casiano cutting down the middle and she ripped a one-timer into the goal to extend the advantage to 10-8 at 6:51.

The Wildcats had an opportunity to continue that momentum after Brittany Conner (Upton, Mass.) won the draw control, but they lost possession on a turnover one minute later.

Bowers netted goals 55 seconds apart -- at 5:10 on a free position and 4:15 when she curled from the top-right side to the middle and towards the cage before taking aim at the goal -- to tie the score at 10. UNH's McHoul gained possession of the ensuing draw control, but the 'Cats turned the ball over with 2:15 remaining. The Big Green passed the ball along the right sideine to advance into its attacking zone and called a timeout with 1:47 to play.

Dartmouth came out in a perimeter passing game to hold for the last shot, and in the waning seconds Leto, cutting down the middle of the fan, caught Calby's pass and shot high into the goal to give the home team an 11-10 lead with 5.8 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing draw, the ball bounded towards the far sideline and Conner gained possession as time expired.

Dartmouth recorded a 26-17 shot advantage, including 16-7 in the first half, and had the 12-11 edge in draw controls despite UNH gathering 7 of 10 in the second half. The Wildcats won the battle for ground balls, 13-7 and scored on all five free-position shots; in comparison, the Big Green went 4-for-11.

UNH struck first at 26:50 when McHoul, from behind the left post, slipped a pass in front to Casiano, who fired a one-timer into the goal. Dartmouth took its first lead of the game, 2-1, when Calby scored consecutive goals at 25:49 and 22:54. the 'Cats evened the score on Puccia's free-position tally at 21:59.

Neither team scored for nearly eight minutes, then DC struck twice in as many minutes to build a 4-2 lead. Bennett put the home team back in front at 14:03 and Calby scored her third of the game at 12:24.

The 'Cats inched within one goal, 4-3, at 10:04 when Puccia, curling from behind the net to the left post, caught Simpson's pass and placed a low shot into the netting. Bennett scored back-to-back goals 66 seconds apart -- at 9:41 and 8:35 -- to give theBig Green its largest lead of the game.

New Hampshire returns to action March 6 (3:30 p.m.) at UConn. The Wildcats' next home game is March 19 (2 p.m.) against Columbia University at Memorial Field.

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