The UNH women's lacrosse team opens the 2014 season Saturday, Feb. 15 against Hofstra University at Bremner Field. It will mark the first ever lax game at that venue and the earliest season opener in program history (previous was Feb. 16, 2013). Game time is 12 p.m. and live video is available at www.americaeast.tv.
The Series vs. Hofstra University
New Hampshire has a 6-9 lifetime record, including 2-4 at home, against Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.). In last year's season opener, the Pride prevailed 13-12. Prior to the 2013 season, the programs had not met since the 2008 season. The Pride has won six consecutive meetings dating back to the Wildcats' 12-6 win on April 24, 1999. The last time these teams played in Durham was March 28, 2007 (9-6 Hofstra win). UNH's most recent home win was April 20, 1995; since then, Hofstra has won all four road games in the series.
For Openers, Part 1
UNH has a 22-15 overall record in season openers, and that includes 6-4 at home. Last year, the Wildcats were edged 13-12 at Hofstra. The most recent season opener at home was Feb. 25, 2012, when the 'Cats were upended 13-7 by Dartmouth College. Saturday's game marks the third time UNH and Hofstra meet in a season opener; prior to last season, it also occurred Feb. 23, 2008 (8-7 Hofstra win).
For Openers, Part 2
New Hampshire has a 20-13 record in home openers but has lost three straight to UMass (18-9 in 2013), Dartmouth (13-7 in 2012) and UMass (11-4 in 2011). Prior to that, the Wildcats won three consecutive home openers against Holy Cross (10-4 in 2010), Bryant (19-2 in 2009) and Holy Cross (16-7 in 2008). UNH has faced Hofstra one previous time in a home opener and that was a 16-15 overtime loss April 3, 1998.
Leaders of the 'Cat Pack
Seniors Jamie DePetris, Molly Gaffey and Cori Rees are captains of the 2014 UNH Wildcats. DePetris, a two-time America East All-Academic Team selection, was the only Wildcat last season to record double digits in ground balls (18), draw controls (19) and caused turnovers (10); the defender ranked third on the team in both DC and CTO. Rees, another defender, tied for the team lead in caused turnovers (12) and ranked second in ground balls (21). She recorded at least one ground ball in 14 of 17 games with eight multiple GB efforts. Gaffey played every game – she was in the starting lineup three times – and tallied seven points (6g, 1a) out of the midfield.
Back on the Attack
Three of the top attackers – junior Kayleigh Hinkle and sophomores Laura McHoul and Nicole Grote – return to the roster. McHoul led the 2013 Wildcats in both assists (33) and points (49) en route to being named America East co-Rookie of the Year. The 33 assists marked the second highest single-season total in program history, and her seven assists against Binghamton was the highest by a 'Cat the past decade. She opened her career with a point in eight consecutive games and tallied a point in 15 of 16 games overall. In other stats, McHoul ranked fourth in draw controls and fifth in shots.
Hinkle also had one of the best single-season assist marks in UNH history a year ago with 25, which is tied for ninth. She also scored 12 goals to finish third overall in points (37). Hinkle recorded a point in 15 of 17 games and that included a six-assist effort at UConn. In other stats, Hinkle ranked second in draw controls and fourth in shots.
Grote tallied 15 goals and seven assists for a total of 22 points en route to being selected to the conference's All-Rookie Team. Grote had five multiple-point efforts and that included seven points (3g, 4a) against Iona.
Junior midfielder Laura Puccia is the top returning goal scorer (30) and tallied three assists for a total of 33 points, which ranked fourth overall and third among returning players. Puccia – more than a point producer – was atop the UNH leaderboard in draw control and ranked fourth in ground balls. She recorded a point in 15 of 17 games with multiple goals nine times and was voted to the America East All-Conference Second Team.
Taylor Hurwitz, a junior, is the only goalkeeper on UNH's 2014 roster. She played in five games and had a 1-1 record with a 6.92 GAA and .455 save percentage in a total of 104:07 of action last year. In two years as a 'Cat, Hurwitz has a 11.69 GAA and .429 save percentage in 15 games (six starts).
Three Wildcats carry point-scoring streaks from the 2013 season. Laura McHoul has the longest active streak of seven games (8g, 19a) followed by Kayleigh Hinkle at six games (5g, 8a) and Laura Puccia at five (9g, 1a). McHoul has tallied an assist all seven games while Puccia's streak is also a five-game goal streak.
Following Saturday's opener, UNH travels to play Boston College on Wednesday, Feb. 19 (4 p.m.). The Wildcats' next home game is Saturday, Feb. 22 against intrastate rival Dartmouth; game time at Cowell Stadium is 1 p.m.
Scouting the Pride
Hofstra University returns 23 letterwinners, including 10 starters, from last year's team that went 11-8 and advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association championship game. Brittain Altomare is the top returning scorer with 69 points on 34 goals and a school-record 35 assists; her accolades included IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic Second Team and All-CAA First Team. Julia Riemer ranked second with 29 points (25g, 4a). Becky Conto tallied 21 points (16g, 5a) en route to being named the CAA Rookie of the Year. At the other end of the field, April Iannetta was the CAA co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013; she recorded 50 ground balls and 40 caused turnovers. In goal, Kelsey Gregerson started al 19 games a year ago with an 8.41 GAA and .426 save percentage.
GAME NOTES: Women's Lax Opens Season Saturday vs. Hofstra (12 p.m.; Bremner Field)