If disappointing was the perfect word to describe the UConn women’s lacrosse team’s loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, then Sunday’s thrashing of the New Hampshire Wildcats can only be called dominant.
A steady stream of snowfall made for tricky playing conditions but it wouldn’t stop the Huskies. UConn trailed for only 55 seconds early in the first period as they cruised to their second win of the season.
From the beginning it was obvious New Hampshire would have to work for their shots. The Wildcats were constantly chased out of scoring areas and forced into difficult passes. The Huskies jumped out to an early 3-1 lead with goals from Grace Nolan, Katherine Finkelston and Alexandra Crofts before a defensive lull brought UNH back into the game.
Laura Puccia scored two of three consecutive Wildcat goals. UNH started to get some passes behind UConn’s defenders and their cutters to the net were able to sneak a few goals by goaltender Shannon Nee. That was all before Crofts’ left handed shot at the 17:29 mark that evened the score at four, and it was the last time UConn wouldn’t have the lead. UConn unleashed a streak of 11 unanswered goals that extended well into the second half.
A textbook example of what great passing and a pressing transition offense can accomplish; UNH had no answer for UConn’s attack. UConn (2-3) finished the first half with a 10-4 lead and a 21-12 edge in shots. The offense didn’t center around one player and that’s just the way head coach Katie Woods prefers it.
“The MO with our attack is that it can be anybody at anytime,” Woods said. “That’s how we practice, and I think we’re starting to find each other much better on the offensive end.”
An abbreviated seven minute halftime stalled some of the bleeding for UNH but the Huskies had no problem picking up from where they left off.
Emily Anderson and Crofts scored the first two goals, but the highlight of the second period belonged to the trio of Finkelston, Palmucci and Nolan. Finkelston was triple teamed deep behind the UNH net, but UConn’s leading scorer fought to get the pass to Palmucci in front of the net, where she fired a quick pass to Nolan on the doorstep to put UConn up 13-4.
Maggie Tripodi notched her first career goal just over 10 minutes into the fresh period and Nee also made several keys saves in net to stretch out the lead.
Accumulating snow caused several players to slip and hit the frozen field hard down the stretch. Thankfully, a running clock for most of the second half sped up the game and no players were injured, although it did affect the level of play.
“Whenever the snow builds up it definitely makes it more slick,” Woods said. “The wetness of the snow on the sticks affects the pocket, and we got a little careless with that at times.”
UNH’s Nicole Grote ended UConn’s streak after she beat Nee on a free position shot. Kate Clancy was pulled and freshman Sarah Lambert finished the game in goal for UNH.
UNH scored three goals late but UConn’s defense held strong and finished with a comfortable 17-8 victory. After back-to-back great defensive performances, Woods believes that her team still has room for improvement.
“We’re going to challenge [the team] to get even better,” Woods said. “The longer you play together as a team, they start to understand strengths and weaknesses of each other and our test and our challenge is going to be to raise our level for each game.”