On Oct. 1, the University of New Hampshire field hockey team erased a 2-0 deficit to beat Maine 3-2 in Orono with three second-half goals, including two by Whitney Frates in the final 3:55. The game-winner was scored with five seconds left.
UNH wound up 5-0 in conference play to earn its first outright regular season championship and the right to host the four-team America East Tournament.
The Black Bears get another shot at the Wildcats today in the semifinals in Durham, N.H. at 3:00. UNH is 13-6 overall while the fourth-seeded Bears are 13-5 (2-3 in league play).
The other semifinal pits second seed Albany (13-5, 4-1) against third seed Boston University (10-7, 3-2) at 5:30.
The championship game is at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re happy about playing New Hampshire in the first round,” said senior back Courtney Veinotte of Canaan. “They have a little more pressure on them to win the tournament since they’re hosting it. And we want to avenge the first game.”
“Everybody has a lot of built-up emotion for this game,” said junior forward Kelly Newton.
“New Hampshire had a great season,” said Maine coach Josette Babineau. “But we aren’t 100 percent satisfied with our America East season. And now we have another opportunity to face New Hampshire.”
Veinotte said the Black Bears will benefit from the fact New Hampshire is a short trip.
“It’s exciting to be at a closer venue,” said Veinotte. “We had been at Albany (the previous two years) and we don’t have any success on that field.”
Newton became Maine’s first conference offensive player of the year and already has set the school career scoring record with 110 points on 43 goals and 24 assists. She had 18 goals and seven assists this season and led the conference in goals and shared the lead in game-winners (4).
“Kelly is a complete player,” said Babineau. “She has a really good touch around the net and knows how to get herself free and how to get a stick on the ball. And she is so smart defensively. She is a big part of our pressing defense and she causes a lot of turnovers, which puts us on the attack. She gets her opportunities that way as well.”
Newton said it is “definitely a good feeling” to be the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“I’ve got Steph (Stephanie Gardiner) and Jocelyn (Mitchell) chasing me. We’re all pretty close (in points),” said Newton.
Gardiner and Mitchell, both juniors, have 82 and 81 career points, respectively. Mitchell has 15 goals and four assists this season and Gardiner has 13 goals and seven assists.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for Kelly, especially since she’s only a junior,” said Veinotte.
“I’m very psyched for her. I’ll follow her next season to see how far she can push the record,” said senior midfielder Maire Dineen.
Newton feels she has improved every year “with all the work we do in the off-season and during the season.”
UNH has been led by Hayley Rausch (7 & 13), Frates (10 & 6), Kyle Lyons (10 & 2) and Kara Connolly (6 & 9).