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

UNH's Brooke McGillis (Berwyn, Pa.) corralled the ball behind the net, but the 'Cats lost possession in its defensive zone with 47 seconds remaining when Linthicum stick-checked the ball out of O'Keefe's crosse. With the UNH goalie scrambling back to the net on the re-start, Abby Wheeler fired a shot wide. The visitors kept the ball, but McGillis forced a turnover and gathered the ground ball with 22 seconds to play.

New Hampshire passed the ball behind its cage and Vandy, despite heavy pressure, was unable to regain possession the rest of the way.

The Commodores finished with a 32-22 shot advantage, whereas UNH had the slight edge (13-12) in draw controls and ground balls were even at 11.

UNH struck first at 28:24 of the first half when Nock set up Simpson, who has tallied 11 points (7g, 4a) the past two games. Puccia finished a feed from Simpson at 25:01 to give the home team a 2-0 lead, but Vandy responded with goals by Kacie Connors (at 22:31), Wheeler (22:31) and Bakker (14:26) to take a 3-2 advantage.

The 'Cats struck in transition to level the score, 3-3, at 12:57 when Hinkle slipped a pass from the right wing to Simpson in front. Vanderbilt responded with three consecutive goals to build the largest lead of the game, 6-3. Priddy scored on a restart from the top of the fan at 10:38, then Carey netted a free-position goal at 8:55 and Linthicum finished Kacie Connors' feed at 8:55.

The duo of Cohen and Puccia produced goals at 6:36 and 3:28 to lift UNH within 6-5 heading into halftime.

Connors opened the second-half scoring at 29:41, but that was answered at 26:32 when Puccia found Simpson in front of the cage to push the score to 7-6. Pittinger potted a free-position goal at 24:09, then Keagins dodged down the right side of the fan to score an unassisted goal at 21:19 to once again pull the Wildcats within one goal, 8-7, and extend her goal-scoring streak to 11 games. Kacie Connors found Linthicum at the left post to give the visitors a two-goal advantage at 19:33.

UNH closed the game on a 5-2 run to record the come-from-behind victory. The Wildcats had lost 11 consecutive games against nationally-ranked teams dating back to February 2010, when they defeated 16th-ranked Dartmouth College (9-8 at Memorial Field).

New Hampshire returns to America East conference action March 31 (2:00 p.m.) at the University of Vermont. The Wildcats' next home game is April 14 (1:00 p.m.) against the University at Albany.

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2012-03-28



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