Simpson Records Six Goals & 100th Career Point; Women's Lax Edged 11-9 at UConn

JENNY SIMPSON

DURHAM, N.H.Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.) recorded her 100th career point as part of a personal-best six goals, but the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team's comeback effort fell short in Wednesday afternoon's 11-9 loss to the University of Connecticut at the Sherman Complex. 

UNH is now 0-4 on the season; two of the four losses have been to Top-15 teams and three of the losses have been by a combined four goals. UConn remains unbeaten at 4-0.

Simpson attained the 100-point milestone with the fifth of her six goals, and the six points equaled her career high. She was also credited with two ground balls, one draw control and a personal-best three caused turnovers. Simpson has 82 goals and 19 assists for 101 points in 52 career games. 

Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) extended her team-leading point-scoring streak to eight games by recording a career-high six assists, and the six points is also a personal best. Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) scored twice and Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) tallied one goal.

Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) made a season-high 13 saves and that mark is one less than her career high. Cori Rees (Hampstead, N.H.) tied her career highs in both ground balls (five) and caused turnovers (three). 

UConn, which recorded the advantage in both shots (28-22) and draw controls (13-9), was led offensively by Carly Palmucci (four goals, two assists) and Lauren Kahn (two goals, two assists), who also had six draw controls, three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Shannon Nee was credited with five saves.

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead at 24:15, but Hinkle set up goals by Simpson at 19:47 and Puccia at 17:33 to give New Hampshire a 2-1 lead. Palmucci responded with a goal 33 seconds later, however, and set up three goals in a 66-second span during UConn's 4-0 run that gave the home team a 5-2 lead it would not relinquish. 

Simpson, once again off a pass from Hinkle, ended the spurt with a goal at 5:07 and she scored her third goal of the game – this time on a free-position shot – at 2:47 to lift the 'Cats within 5-4.

Kahn netted an unassisted goal at 1:04 give the Huskies a 6-4 lead heading into halftime. 

Morgan O'Reilly and Jordan Christopher opened the second-half scoring with goals 66 seconds apart to extend UConn's advantage to 8-4. Hinkle recorded her fourth assist of the game on McHoul's tally at 25:46, but Palmucci struck again 13 seconds later and Shannon Kerr gave the Huskies a 10-5 lead at 24:07.

That, however, is when the Wildcats roared back. UNH inched within four goals, 10-6, when Simpson caused a turnover and scored a man-up goal two minutes later on a free position at 20:10. 

O'Keefe helped keep momentum New Hampshire's way when she denied O'Reilly on a free position at 19:04. Both teams had three empty possessions, then a Chelsea Cyester (Parker, Colo.) caused turnover led to another Simpson free-position goal – and her 100th career point – at 12:09 that lifted the 'Cats within 10-7.

UConn called time out, but Hinkle gained possession on the ensuing draw control and set up Simpson's sixth goal of the game at 11:35 to make it a two-goal game. The surge continued as the Wildcats – this time it was Simpson – won the draw control and McHoul converted a pass from Hinkle into a goal to close the gap to 10-9 at 10:21. 

Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.) gained possession of the draw control, but the 'Cats committed a turnover. Doyle then forced a UConn turnover to get the ball back for UNH and Puccia's shot at 8:04 hit the post. The Wildcats maintained possession and Simpson was awarded a free position at 7:25, but this time Nee made the save.

After an exchange of possessions, Ally Fazio's goal ended the Huskies' scoreless drought at 21 minutes, 31 seconds to give them an 11-9 lead at 2:36. 

UNH continued its run of winning draw controls when Puccia gained possession, but Nee preserved the home team's two-goal margin when she denied Hinkle at 1:41.

Christopher corralled the ground ball, but UNH got the ball back with 1:22 remaining and Hinkle fired a shot wide at 1:07.  UConn advanced the ball into its attacking zone with just under a minute remaining, but Simpson forced a turnover in which Rees gathered the loose ball. 

The Wildcats called a timeout with 34 seconds remaining and Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) took a shot that sailed wide of the cage with 19 seconds to play. UConn gained possession and ran out the clock to record the victory.

New Hampshire returns to action March 13 (4 p.m.) at the U.S. Naval Academy. The Wildcats' next home game is March 19 vs. Columbia University. Game time at Memorial Field is 2 p.m.

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