GAME NOTES: Women's Lax Begins America East Play vs. Vermont (March 29)
Game 11: Saturday, March 29 vs. Vermont
Cowell Stadium || Durham, N.H. || 1 pm
The UNH women's lacrosse team begins America East conference action this Saturday, March 29 at home against upstart University of Vermont. Game time at Cowell Stadium is 1 p.m. Links to live stats and video are at www.unhwildcats.com.
McHoul Honored as America East Offensive Player of the Week
UNH sophomore attack Laura McHoul received the America East Offensive Player of the Week award Monday, March 24. She recorded a career-high four goals and three assists to lead the Wildcats to a 12-8 victory at Drexel University on March 23. The seven points marked a season high and tied the highest by any 'Cat this season. McHoul tallied two goals and three assists in the first half to help UNH transform a 2-0 deficit into an 8-3 halftime lead; she recorded two goals and an assist during the 5-0 run that made it 5-2, and then she set up two goals in the final minute of the first half to push the lead from three goals to five. McHoul's fourth goal gave UNH its largest lead of the game, 12-5, at 12:55 of the second half.
The Series vs. Vermont: Battle of the 'Cats
New Hampshire has a 29-6 lifetime record against Vermont, but the Catamounts have won each of the last three meetings and that includes last April's matchup at Cowell Stadium by a score of 12-4. UVM also prevailed 18-8 at home in 2012 and 8-7 in Durham in 2011. Prior to this current streak, UNH had a 16-1 edge spanning the 1997 through 2009 seasons and that included three America East semifinal games. The Wildcats' most recent win in the Battle of the 'Cats was May 2010 (18-10), and the last time UNH won at home was April 2009 (17-4). Overall, UNH has a 15-3 home record against Vermont.
The State of New Hampshire
UNH enters the weekend with a 5-5 overall record that includes 3-3 at home (1-1 at Cowell Stadium; 2-2 at Bremner Field)... The Wildcats have won two straight – their longest win streak of the season – and three of the last four games to climb to .500... UNH is averaging 11.5 goals per game the past four games; in comparison, the 'Cats averaged 7.6 gpg the first six games of the season (2-4 record)... New Hampshire scored 12 goals on just 19 shots for a .632 shooting percentage at Drexel last Sunday (March 23)... The 12 goals tied for the team's second-highest total in '14... UNH has a 1-3 record in Saturday games, and that includes 1-2 at home; the Wildcats won the season opener vs. Hofstra on a Saturday, then lost to Dartmouth, Lehigh and UMass on subsequent Saturdays.
Laura McHoul scored a career-high four goals and tallied three assists for a season-high seven points last Sunday (March 23) at Drexel University; the seven points matched the highest by and Wildcat this season... Laura Puccia extended her goal streak to seven games with two tallies against the Dragons; she has tallied multiple goals every game during the streak (21 goals)... Marissa Gurello recorded her first career multiple assist game with two goals at Drexel... Brooke McGillis finished with multiple assists for the first time in her career with two at Drexel... Taylor Hurwitz recorded five ground balls vs. the Dragons to mark the highest total by any 'Cat in 2014.
Laura McHoul leads the America East conference in assists per game (2.00) and she is ranked eighth in points per game (3.40). Laura Puccia is among the conference leaders in goals per game (No. 7 –2.20) and draw controls (No. 3 – 3.40). Taylor Hurwitz is atop the America East leaderboard in saves per game (8.50).
A pair of Wildcats entered the week among the national leaders. Taylor Hurwitz is No. 6 in saves (85) and Laura McHoul is 19th in assists per game (2.00).
UNH's second longest active point streak belongs to junior attack Kayleigh Hinkle –four games (6g, 3a); she opened the 2014 season with a point in five consecutive games... The longest point streak of the season belongs to Laura McHoul, who tallied a point each of the first eight games of the season before being held without a point March 16 vs. Colorado; that game also ended a seven-game assist streak... Junior midfielder Rachael Nock has been a consistent point producer with one point in 9 of 10 games... Sophomore attack Nicole Grote has tallied a point in 7 of 10 games (10g, 7a)... Senior midfielder Molly Gaffey has 11 points (8g, 3a) in 10 games; in her previous three seasons, she totaled nine points (7g, 2a).
Laura Puccia recorded her 100th career point with the last of her five points March 14 against Fairfield University at Cowell Stadium. She inched toward the milestone with four goals vs. the Stags and reached the benchmark on an assist with 4:20 remaining in the second half. Puccia enters Saturday's game against Vermont with 91 career goals and 14 assists for 105 points in 43 games; she also has 110 career draw controls.
Puccia leads the team in goals (27), free-position goals (five), draw controls (34) and shots (48); she ranks second in points (31) and her other numbers include a .562 shooting percentage and .875 shots-on-goal percentage. She has scored a season-high four goals three times, including consecutive games against Iona (March 10) and Fairfield (March 14). Puccia is on pace to break her single-season high for goals; she netted 34 goals as a freshman and 30 last year.
Sophomore Laura McHoul has already entered the program's top 10 career assist list. She supplanted Ilana Cohen (52) at No. 8 with the last of her three assists March 23 at Drexel, which increased her career total to 53. Ahead of McHoul is a three-way tie for fifth place – Maud Kernan, Laurie Leary and Megan Mangano – at 59. Last year as a freshman, McHoul finished with UNH's second-best single-season assist total of 33.
New Hampshire is 4-0 when scoring in double digits and the Wildcats are 1-3 when the opposition scores at least 10 goals.
UNH has won the battle for draw controls each of the last four games – 10-7 at Iona (March 10), 13-7 vs. Fairfield (March 14), 17-10 vs. Colorado (March 16) and 12-10 at Drexel (March 23). The Wildcats were on the short end of that comparison each of the first six games of the season. Laura Puccia and Kayleigh Hinkle, who is in the circle for the draw, are the top 'Cats in draw controls with 34 and 31, respectively; to put those numbers in perspective, third on the team leaderboard is Laura McHoul with 11. Puccia recorded a career-high seven draw controls against Fairfield and followed that with six vs. the Buffaloes and five at Drexel; she has at least one DC every game. Hinkle has recorded 4+ draws six times, including a career-high five against Colorado, this season; she tallied four DCs each of the previous two games vs. Fairfield and Iona and in the most recent game at Drexel.
The battle for ground balls, turnovers and draw controls is almost even with New Hampshire holding a slim of margin in ground balls (152-138) while committing slightly more turnovers (166-151); the opposition has a 110-100 edge in draw controls. Senior defender and captain Cori Rees is the Wildcat leader in both ground balls (19) and caused turnovers (eight).
UNH has taken a 1-0 lead three times in 10 games. The Wildcats have a 2-1 record when scoring first, with the loss coming at the hands of Fairfield; UNH also scored first en route to a 11-7 win vs. UConn (March 5). The 'Cats have a 3-4 record when the opposition scores first.
At the Half
The team leading at halftime has gone on to victory 9 of 10 games this season; the only exception occurred March 14, when the Wildcats led 5-4 at the half but the Fairfield Stags rallied for a 10-8 victory. UNH's largest lead at the half is five goals (8-3) at Drexel. New Hampshire's largest deficit has been five goals at then #13 Boston College (9-4) and at then #10 UMass (7-2).
Scouting the Catamounts
Vermont comes into Saturday's road matchup against the Wildcats with a 9-2 overall record and a 4-1 mark in away games. Last time out, the Catamounts outscored Dartmouth 7-2 in the second half to rally for a 12-10 victory Wednesday at home. UVM's two losses were at Fairfield (10-9 on March 8) and against UMass (16-6 on March 18).
Sydney Mas has proven herself as Vermont's top scorer this season, leading the Catamounts in both goals (44) and points (49); she scored her 200th career goal with the second of her four tallies vs. Dartmouth. Vanessa VanderZalm has been a prolific offensive force this season as well. The Pelham, Ontario native ranks second in scoring with 32 goals, and her 46 points trail only Mas for tops on the team.
Vermont's scoring efficiency is a direct result of its ability to share the ball. Jessica Roach's team-leading 15 assists has facilitated Vermont's productive offense – UVM is averaging 16.45 goals per game (No. 1 in America East) – this season. The Catamounts have piled up 67 assists while their opponents have mustered only 31.
In goal, Mackenzie Maher has played in 10 of 11 games with seven starts; in 347 minutes, she has an 8.30 GAA and .484 save percentage with a 6-1 record. Meg Hopkins has played in eight games and started four times; she is 3-1 with an 8.05 GAA and .488 save percentage in 313 minutes.