GAME NOTES: Women's Lax On the Road Against No. 10 UMass (March 8) and Iona (March 10)

Game 6: Saturday, March 8 at No. 10 Massachusetts
McGuirk Stadium  ||  Amherst, Mass.  ||  3 pm

Game 7: Monday, March 10 at Iona
Mazzella Field  ||  New Rochelle, N.Y.  ||  3 pm

The Games
The UNH women's lacrosse team travels to play 10th-ranked University of Massachusetts on Saturday, March 8 and returns to the road to play at Iona College on Monday, March 10. Both games begin at 3 p.m.

The Series vs. UMass
New Hampshire has a 21-18-3 lifetime record against UMass. The Minutewomen have won each of the last three meetings, including last year's matchup at UNH's Memorial Field (18-9) and the most recent game at McGuirk Stadium in 2012 (17-5). The Wildcats' most recent win in the series was March 2010, when they were 11-8 road victors – that was the last of five consecutive UNH wins vs. UMass. These programs have met annually since 1993 in a series that dates back to 1977; they also played annually spanning the 1977-90 seasons.
    In last year's game, UMass struck first and build a 4-1 lead before New Hampshire stormed back to tie the score at 4 with 5:47 remaining in the first half. The Minutewomen closed the half with four goals in the last five minutes to take an 8-4 lead into halftime. UNH opened the second-half scoring but the visitors responded with three consecutive goals to extend the advantage to 11-5. UMass continued to pull away with spurts of 3-1 and 4-1 to build a double-digit lead of 18-7 with 9:10 left in regulation. The Minutewomen finished with the edge in shots (30-22) and draw controls (16-10). UNH's offense was led by Laura McHoul (three goals); Katie Ferris (3g, 3a) and Sam Rush (4g) were two of five Minutewomen who recorded multiple points.

The Series vs. Iona
New Hampshire won the first meeting against Iona College with last year's 16-0 victory at Memorial Field – that game marked the eighth shutout in program history and first since April 2002. UNH's 16 goals and 35 shots last season vs. the Gaels marked season highs, while Iona's six shots marked the low by an opponent. The Wildcats also recorded the edge in ground balls (18-13), draw controls (13-5) and turnovers (12-22). Nicole Grote tallied career highs in both assists (four) and points (seven), and also scored three goals; Laura Puccia (4g), Kayleigh Hinkle (1g, 2a) and Becca Graves (3g) also tallied multiple points. Taylor Hurwitz played the second half in goal and stopped all three Iona shots on target to combine with Kathleen O'Keefe for the shutout.

The State of New Hampshire
UNH enters Saturday's game with a 2-3 overall record that includes 0-1 on the road and 0-1 against nationally-ranked teams... The Wildcats are in a stretch of three games in six days; it began with Wednesday's 11-7 win vs. UConn and continues with upcoming road games against UMass (Saturday) and Iona (Monday)... The smallest margin of victory – by UNH or the opponent – is four goals (three times; most recently March 5, 11-7 win vs. UConn)... The 11 goals vs. the Huskies marked the first time this season the Wildcats scored in double digits... New Hampshire has limited the opposition to single figures three times in five games.
'Cat Nips
Three Wildcats – junior midfielder Rachael Nock, junior attack Kayleigh Hinkle and sophomore attack Laura McHoul – have recorded a point every game this season; Nock has tallied exactly one point all five games while McHoul has three multiple-point efforts and Hinkle finished with multiple points four times... Hinkle is the only 'Cat with a goal every game; she scored a career-high three goals vs. UConn (March 5)... McHoul's four assists and six points against UConn are single-game highs for a Wildcat this season... Laura Puccia scored a season-high four goals vs. UConn; that is the highest output by a 'Cat in 2014... Nicole Grote has scored a goal each of the last three games with totals of 4-2-6... Nock also has an active three-game goal streak... Taylor Hurwitz recorded double-digit saves for the second time this season with 11 vs. UConn.

It's Free
Opponents have taken 35 free-position shots and scored 13 times (37.1%) in comparison to UNH's six free-position goals on 19 shots (31.6%). Laura Puccia leads the 'Cats in both free-position goals (four) and shots (six). No other Wildcat has more than one free-position goal.

Possession Game
The battle for ground balls and turnovers is almost even with New Hampshire holding a slim of margin in ground balls (77-73) while committing two more turnovers (91-89), but the opposition has a significant advantage of 63-42 in draw controls.

The Leaderboard
Senior defenders Jamie DePetris and Cori Rees are tied for the team lead in both ground balls (11) and caused turnovers (five). Juniors Laura Puccia and Kayleigh Hinkle rank 1-2 in draw controls with 12 and 11, respectively; Hinkle is also tied with DePetris and Rees for the lead in caused turnovers.

Shooting Accuracy
Laura McHoul has scored a goal on four of five shots to lead the team in shooting percentage at 80.0%. Hannah Wohltmann has scored on two of three shots (66.7%) while Laura Puccia and Kayleigh Hinkle are at 50%. Puccia and Hinkle have been on target with their shots, as Puccia has fired 15 of 16 (93.8%) shots on goal and Hinkle is at 11 of 12 (91.7%).

First Blood
UNH has taken a 1-0 lead just once in five games, and the Wildcats won that game vs. UConn, 11-7, on March 5. The 'Cats have a 1-3 record when the opposition scores first.

At the Half
The team leading at halftime has gone on to victory all five games this season. UNH's largest lead at the half is four goals (6-2) against UConn. New Hampshire's largest deficit has been five goals (9-4) at (then #13) Boston College.

Quick Strike
UNH scored 25 seconds into the first half and netted a goal 39 seconds into the second half of the March 5 game vs. UConn. Prior to Wednesday, the earliest UNH had scored in the first half was 5:29 elapsed (Feb. 15 season opener vs. Hofstra); that game had also marked the quickest second-half Wildcats' goal of 2:26 into the half.

A Rare Shooting Performance
Speaking of shooting accuracy, UNH and Lehigh combined for 27 shots last Saturday (March 1) at Bremner Field and 26 of them were on goal (14 total goals plus 12 total saves). It's almost unheard of for one team to have only one shot off target in an entire game, let alone both teams combining for one such shot.

What Just Happened
UNH scored five consecutive goals in a 12-minute span to build a 6-1 first-half lead and opened the second half with three consecutive goals to extend the advantage to 9-2 en route to an 11-7 victory against UConn at Bremner Field on March 5. The Huskies scored three of the last four goals to pull within four goals, but neither team scored the last 7:45 of the game as UNH utilized a spread offense to sustain possession a majority of that time. Connecticut finished with the edge in shots (23-19) and draw controls (12-8), whereas New Hampshire had a 14-11 advantage in ground balls; turnovers were even at 14. The Wildcats' offense was led by Laura McHoul (2g, 4a), Laura Puccia (4g) and Kayleigh Hinkle (3g, 1a). Taylor Hurwitz stopped 11 shots.

What's Next
Following Saturday's game at UMass, the Wildcats continue on the road with a game Monday, March 10 (3 p.m.) at Iona College. UNH then returns home to play Fairfield University (March 14) and the University of Colorado (March 16).

Scouting the Minutewomen
The University of Massachusetts (Amherst, Mass.) is ranked No. 10 in the nation and is 5-0 overall, including 2-0 at home. The Minutewomen extended their win streak to five games with a 19-6 win at Iona College last Saturday (March 1). UMass opened the season with a 13-6 victory at Vanderbilt University and followed that with a 7-5 win at UConn. UMass has a sizeable edge over the opposition in goals (62-31), shots (132-68), ground balls (99-79) and draw controls (67-36).
    Katie Ferris (11g, 14a) leads the team in points with 25 and is followed by Sam Rush (14g, 2a), Erika Eipp (7g, 4a) and Tanner Guarino (8g, 2a). Guarino is atop the UMass leaderboard in ground balls and caused turnovers. Watch for Kelsey McGovern, Hannah Murphy and Kelsey Sheridan on draw controls. In goal, Rachel Vallarelli has started all five games and is 5-0 with a 6.13 GAA and .426 save percentage.

Scouting the Gaels
Iona College (New Rochelle, N.Y.) carry an 0-3 record into Monday's matchup against UNH. The Gaels were defeated 19-6 at home by UMass last Saturday. Iona opened the 2014 season Feb. 22 with a 17-4 loss at Brown University and then lost 15-10 at Central Connecticut State University on Feb. 25. Through three games, Gaels have been outscored 51-20 and outshot 104-46; the opposition also has the edge in ground balls (59-41) and draw controls (50-26). Erin Pugh, who has come off the bench all three games, has as team-high five points (4g, 1a). Nina Veneziale (4g) and Mary Kate McCormick (3g, 1a) are tied for second at four points.
    All three goalkeepers have started one game and been charged with one loss. Maria Ortiz has played all three games (77 minutes, 19 seconds) and has posted the best GAA (15.52) and save percentage (.355); she started the season opener at Brown. In two games (76:31), Blair Nathanson has a 15.68 GAA and .333 save percentage; she received the starting nod vs. CCSU. Thea Leitman played 25:50 in her one appearance vs. UMass; her stats include a 25.55 GAA and .353 save percentage.

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