O'Keefe Saves 14 as UNH Upends 12th-Ranked Vanderbilt

DURHAM, N.H. Kathleen O'Keefe (Chatham, N.J.) recorded 14 saves and Laura Puccia (Fairport, N.Y.), the reigning America East Rookie of the Week, finished with six points to propel University of New Hampshire to Wednesday afternoon's 12-11 non-conference victory against 12th-ranked Vanderbilt University at Memorial Field.

UNH won its second consecutive game to improve to 3-5, while Vandy lost its third consecutive game to fall to 5-4.

The 14 saves matched a career high for O'Keefe established March 13, 2010 against the University of Maryland. Puccia tallied career highs in both goals (five) and points to lead six Wildcats with multiple points.

Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.; three goals, two assists) recorded five points and Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) set up four of Puccia's five goals to equal her personal best of four assists. Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.) netted two goals while both Kayleigh Hinkle (Glenelg, Md.) and Rachael Nock (Severna Park, Md.) tallied a goal and an assist.

The Commodores were led offensively by Kacie Connors (3g, 2a), Carly Linthicum (2g) and Ally Carey (2g). Chelsea Pasfield surrendered 11 goals and stopped seven shots in 54 minutes, 37 seconds. Natalie Wills played the final 5:23 and was not credited with a save.

Trailing 9-7 with 18 minutes remaining in the second half, UNH went on a 3-1 run to tie the score at 10. Keagins scored in transition off a turnover to lift the Wildcats within 9-8 at 17:37. On the ensuing draw control, Simpson gained possession in the offensive zone and quickly advanced the ball to the lower left side of the fan, where Hinkle scored to level the score, 9-9, at 17:30.

Vandy's Kendall Pittinger controlled the draw and that led to Connors' third goal of the game this time on a drive from the top of the fan and a shot into the upper-left corner that put the visitors back on top, 10-9, at 16:43.

New Hampshire forged the fourth tie of the game, 10-10, at 13:24. Cohen, on the left wing, sent a pass to the front of the cage, where Puccia dropped the stick low and placed a shot past Pasfield.

O'Keefe kept the score deadlocked by denying Alex Priddy and Katie Mastropieri on free-position shots at 12:10 and 12:10, respectively. The 'Dores retained possession and Kelly Connors fired a shot wide at 11:39. Keagins, positioned behind the goal, gained possession for the Wildcats, who advanced the ball to the other end of the field.

UNH, which had not led since scoring the first two goals of the game, took an 11-10 lead at 10:46 when Nock sliced through the right side of the fan and fired a shot into the upper-right corner.

Puccia was awarded the ensuing draw control, but Pasfield denied Nock at 10:07 and Keagins at 8:38 to keep Vanderbilt within one goal. Carey drove down the middle of the fan and shot into the upper-left corner to even the score, 11-11, at 5:23.

Puccia once again controlled the ensuing draw and converted Cohen's pass into a goal on a low shot at the left doorstep at 4:07 to score what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Vandy's Pittinger collected the ball on the draw control, but Casey Bakker was denied by O'Keefe at 3:19. Linthicum maintained possession for the visitors, who called time out at 2:42. They lost the ball 10 seconds later, however, on an errant pass that bounded out of play.

The Wildcats immediately turned the ball back over to the Commodores when Puccia stepped out of bounds. O'Keefe preserved the 12-11 lead by stopping Kacie Connors' bid at 1:56. Vanderbilt maintained possession, however, which led to Pittinger's free-position shot at 1:42 that was blocked and sailed over the crossbar.

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2012-03-28



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