DURHAM, N.H. – Nicole Grote (Ellicott City, Md.) matched her career bests in assists (four) and points (seven) to lead the University of New Hampshire women's lacrosse team to Sunday afternoon's 14-11 non-conference victory against the University of Colorado at Cowell Stadium.
UNH, which has alternated wins and losses the past six games, improved to 3-3 at home and 4-5 overall. CU is now 4-4.
Grote recorded a goal and three assists to propel the Wildcats to a 9-2 first-half lead, then tallied two goals and an assist in the second half to help the 'Cats fend off the Buffaloes, who scored six consecutive goals to trim the deficit to 10-9 at 20:59 of the second half.
Molly Gaffey (North Hampton, N.H.) scored a career-high three goals – the three points also equaled a personal best – and Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.) also netted three goals. Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) and Emma Kriss (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) scored two goals apiece; it marked the first multiple-point game for Kriss.
UNH goalkeeper Taylor Hurwitz (Holland, Pa.) finished with 10 saves. Puccia and Hinkle tallied six and five draw controls, respectively, to help New Hampshire record a 17-10 edge in that statistic. The Wildcats also had a 34-24 shot advantage, but CU had the edge in both ground balls (13-12) and turnovers (9-13).
The Buffaloes' offense was led by Cali Castagnola and Johnna Fusco, both of whom tallied three goals and an assist. Amanda Salvadore scored twice and Paige Soenksen stopped 12 shots defending the CU goal.
New Hampshire struck first to take a 1-0 lead at 28:37 of the first half when Grote curled behind the net around the right post and scored on a high shot.
Colorado scored the next two goals to take its only lead of the game, 2-1. Fusco scored on a free position at 25:51 and Sarah Lautman struck 38 seconds later to put the visitors on top.
UNH responded with eight consecutive goals to build a 9-2 lead. Kriss finished a feed from Brooke McGillis (Berwyn, Pa.) to level the score, 2-2, at 21:50 and then Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) scored on a free position from the top of the fan at 19:27 to give the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish.
CU called time out but Puccia won the ensuing draw control. UNH turned the ball over, however, and at the other end of the field Melissa Salvadore fired a shot wide at 17:56 and then Fusco was denied by Hurwitz at 16:56. Gaffey gathered the ground ball and scored a free-position goal on a shot from the top-right of the fan into the upper-right side of the net at 15:59.
Hinkle scored off her own rebound to give the 'Cats a 5-2 lead at 12:40. Hinkle gained possession of the next draw control and Gaffey was stopped by Soenksen. Grote corralled the ground ball, however, to extend UNH's possession and Kriss, on a free position from the top-left side, scored on a low shot to create a four-goal lead at 12:01.
The combination of Grote-to-Puccia produced goals 30 seconds apart – at 10:39 and 10:09 – to extend the advantage to 8-2. On the first strike, Grote curled around the left post and Puccia one-timed a shot at the right post, then Grote hit Puccia cutting from the left side to the middle of the fan and a low shot beat Soenksen.
Grote recorded another assist – this time on Gaffey's goal – to give New Hampshire a 9-2 lead at 7:33.
The Wildcats were issued a yellow card at 6:47 and Colorado capitalized on the player-up advantage to end the home team's run of eight consecutive goals and trim the deficit to 9-3 at 6:25 when Tori Link converted Castagnola's pass into a goal.
Hinkle scored on a free position from the top of the fan at 4:42 to reestablish a seven-goal margin, 10-3, at 4:42.
Colorado closed the half on a 3-0 run to close within 10-6. Castagnola netted a free-position goal at 3:30 and Amelia Brown gained possession of the ensuing draw control, which led to Fusco's centering pass to Amanda Salvadore for the goal at 3:08.
Puccia won the next draw control, but Gaffey's free-position shot was stopped by Soenksen and Perri Baker picked up the ground ball for CU. The Wildcats were given a yellow card at 2:00 and the visitors once again took advantage of the player-up situation when Fusco scored with 54 seconds remaining in the half.
The Buffaloes controlled the draw, but Fusco was denied by Hurwitz in the closing seconds to keep the differential at four goals, 10-6, heading into halftime.
Colorado opened the second half with a 3-0 spurt to pull within 10-9. Castagnola continued the comeback effort with a free-position goal from the right wing at 28:14. Fusco struck again at 23:40 on a free position from the top-right side in which she drove down low and place a shot into the upper-right corner.
CU was issued a yellow card at 23:29 and the 'Cats found Grote alone in front of the net, but she was stoned by Soenksen at 22:56 to keep the score 10-8. The Buffaloes then closed within 10-9 on Salvadore's free-position goal at 21:25.
UNH ended the visitor's streak of six consecutive goals just 26 seconds later when Marissa Gurello (Manorville, N.Y.), from the right wing, found Grote in front for the goal at 20:59. Grote struck again from point-blank range – this time by dropping her crosse low and firing a low shot into the cage – to give the 'Cats a 12-9 lead at 19:06.
Colorado's Perri Baker won the ensuing draw, which led to Castagnola's unassisted goal at 17:19 that trimmed the deficit to 12-10. Gaffey then dodged from the left wing to the middle to reestablish a three-goal cushion of 13-10 at 16:44. The rapid pace of goals continued at 15:15 when Katie Macleay once again pulled the Buffaloes within two goals, 13-11.
CU won the draw control, but UNH regained possession on a ground ball by Amy LeBel (Charlton, N.Y.). Laura McHoul (Westwood, Mass.) fired wide on a free position and then Puccia was denied by Soenksen, but Hinkle gathered the ground ball to keep the ball for the Wildcats. Soenksen then snared Nock's shot and the Buffaloes cleared the ball the length of the field.
Hurwitz kept CU at bay and preserved the two-goal lead by stopping Fusco at 10:43 and 8:36. Hurwitz then turned aside Link's free-position shot at 6:44 and the 'Cats advanced the ball into the attack zone.
Following a spread offense, Gaffey's shot from the right side caromed off the left post at 4:31. UNH retained possession and Grote, from behind the right post, found a cutting Puccia who sidearmed a shot into the cage for a 14-11 lead at 3:49.
Colorado called time out, but Hinkle gained possession of the ensuing draw control and the Buffloes were whistled for a yellow card at 3:28. The Wildcats again went into a spread offense to sustain possession the rest of the game.
New Hampshire returns to action March 23 (12 p.m.) at Drexel University. The Wildcats' next home game is March 29 (1 p.m.) for the America East conference opener against the University of Vermont.