Puccia Records 100th Career Point; Women's Lax Edged 10-8 by Fairfield

DURHAM, N.H.Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) recorded her 100th career point and Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) tallied her 50th career assist, but the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team was edged 10-8 by Fairfield University in Friday afternoon's game at Cowell Stadium.

UNH, which has alternated wins and losses the past five games, is now 3-5. Fairfield extended its win streak to four games to improve to 4-2.

Puccia entered the game with 95 career points, inched toward the milestone with four goals and recorded her 100th career point with as assist at 4:20 of the second half. Puccia finished with five points (4g, 1a) and a personal-best seven draw controls.

McHoul began the game with 48 career assists and climbed to No. 9 on UNH's career leaderboard with her second assist of the day and 50th of her career at 4:09 of the first half. McHoul had four points (2g, 2a).

Brooke McGillis (Berwyn, Pa.) also recorded multiple points with a goal and an assist. Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) netted UNH's other goal and tallied four draw controls. UNH goalkeeper Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.) was credited with two saves.

Riley Hellstein (2g, 1a) and Jamie Leone (1g, 2a) led the Stags with three points apiece, and Hellstien corralled a team-high four draw controls. Courtney Chmil, Melanie Raso and Jenna Slowey each scored two goals. Chelsey Sidaris stopped six shots.

UNH took a 1-0 lead at 27:44 when Puccia scored on a free position by firing a low shot from the top of the fan, but Slowey pulled the visitors even, 1-1, with a free-position goal at 22:35.

Puccia gained possession of the ensuing draw control and was awarded another free postion at 19:51, but this time she fired wide left. The Wildcats maintained possession and Sidaras kept the score deadlocked by denying Hinkle on a free position. 

Fairfield took a 2-1 lead at 18:00 when Hellstein, from the right wing, fed a pass to the middle of the fan, where Chmil turned and fired a high shot into the cage.

The 'Cats once again controlled the draw  – this time Nicole Grote (Ellicott City, Md.), who finished with a team-high three ground balls – but McHoul was turned aside by Sidaras and then Grote fired a shot wide left. 

McHoul curled behind the net around the right post and placed a shot into the upper-left corner to tie the score, 2-2, at 12:21. Hinkle was awarded the draw, and New Hampshire scored 43 seconds later to regain the lead. On the left doorstep, McHoul threaded a pass to Puccia cutting across the top of the circle and her shot from the right post went into the upper-near corner.

The Stags leveled the score, 3-3, when Hellstein's low free-position shot from the top of the fan bounced into the cage at 8:03. 

McHoul once again set up Puccia, this time on a pass from deep on the left side to a cutter from behind the net to the left post. Puccia dropped the crosse low for a shot that gave UNH a 4-3 lead at 4:08 and McHoul her 50th career assist.

Puccia was issued a yellow card at 2:17 and the Stags capitalized when Chmil converted Julieanne Mascera's centering pass from the right wing into a man-up goal and 4-4 score at 1:40. 

Hinkle, cutting through the middle to the right side, caught McGillis' entry pass and rifled a sidearm shot inside the right post to put UNH back on top, 5-4, with 47 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats took that one-goal margin, as well as the edge in shots (12-6), ground balls (6-4) and draw controls (8-2) into halftime. 

McHoul's shot at 29:19 ricocheted off the crossbar, and on the extended possession Puccia was stopped by Sidaras at 25:39. UNH regained possession on Grote's ground ball at midfield, but Sidaras once again kept the Stags within one goal by denying McHoul at 25:00.

Fairfield cleared the ball to the attack zone, where Hurwitz preserved UNH's 5-4 lead with a save against Leone at 23:58. An errant pass was gathered by the visitor's Colleen Reynolds and Raso's shot ricocheted off the post at 22:41. The Stags retained possession and Leone, from the top of the fan, advanced the ball low to Raso and she scored on a shot into the upper-right corner to tie the score, 5-5, at 22:26. 

New Hampshire called time out, but Hellstein controlled the draw and scored 38 seconds later as she attacked from the left wing to the middle of the fan to give the Stags a 6-5 advantage.

Puccia once again gained possession of the draw control and her free-position shot at 20:07 sailed high. She was on target with her next shot, however, as she curled around the left post and scored on a low shot to tie the score, 6-6, at 19:21. 

Raso's unassisted goal at 16:47 and Reynolds' free-position tally at 12:29 established the first two-goal lead of the game for either team – in the Stags' favor, 8-6, and UNH was unable to pull even the rest of the way.

The Wildcats pulled within 8-78 at 11:19 when, on a free postion from the top-right side, McGillis charged towards the left post and fired a low shot inside the left post.. McHoul had a shot blocked at 8:32 and moments later Hinkle's shot was stopped by Sidaras. Hurwitz kept the 'Cats within one goal when she denied Maeve Quinn on a free position at 7:18, but Fairfield maintained possession and Slowey finished a feed from Leone for a 9-7 advantage at 6:21. 

Cara Dowdle (Northbrook, Ill.) forced a turnover and scooped up the ground ball to give UNH possession with five minutes to play. New Hampshire cleared the ball to the attack zone and Puccia, deep on the right side, found McHoul on the opposite wing and her shot sailed under the crossbar to trim the deficit to 9-8 at 4:20 and mark Puccia's 100th career point.

Fairfield called a timeout and Hellstein once again snared the draw control out of the air. The Stags went into a perimeter offense to sustain possession and called another timeout at 2:24. Following the break, UNH elected to pull Hurwitz into the neutral zone in favor of a quicker defender. Leone was awarded a free position at 1:52 and scored into the open net to establish a 10-8 lead. 

UNH regained possession on a Cori Rees (East Hampstead, N.H.) ground ball with 34 seconds left, but the 'Cats lost the ball with six seconds to play when Chmil gathered a loose ball inside the fan.

New Hampshire returns to action March 16 at home against the University of Colorado. Game time at Cowell Stadium is 12 p.m.

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