DURHAM, N.H. - For the second time in three years and third time in program history, University of New Hampshire is the America East field hockey champion. The top-seeded Wildcats scored a pair of first-half goals, added another in the second and held off a late charge from second-seeded University at Albany to earn a 3-2 win in the conference title game Saturday afternoon at UNH's Memorial Field.
Second-team all-conference standout Hannah Richard scored twice to pace the Wildcats, who will learn their NCAA draw Sunday at 10 p.m. during the selection show, which will be broadcast live at NCAA.com, while the Great Danes, the 16th-ranked team in the nation, remain hopeful for an at-large bid.
UNH senior back Megan Bozek earned Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring a goal and leading a defense that held opponents to just two goals in the two games.
New Hampshire (15-6), winner of eight-straight games and 13 of its last 15, got the scoring started early with two goals in the first 10 minutes of the contest. Richard got UNH on the board 4:43 into the game as she tipped in a shot by Meg Flatley, who drove the net. Bozek, the America East Defensive Player of the Year, made it 2-0 just 4:32 later as she converted a penalty stroke after a green card was issued from a take down in front of the cage.
Albany (16-5) outshot the Wildcats, 7-4, in the frame but could not get on the board before the break and trailed 2-0 at the half.
The Great Danes came out firing in the second half however and cut the deficit to one just minutes into the frame. Paula Heuser, the league's Midfielder and Rookie of the Year, drove a shot past UNH netminder Carlie Tarbell 4:04 into the second half to make the score 2-1.
But UNH, which also won league titles in 1998 and 2011, got the score right back just 26 seconds later on Richard's second score of the contest.
The Great Danes, who outshot the Wildcats 14-8 for the game, made it interesting late, as Amy Nicklin tipped in Paula Heuser's blast off a penalty corner to make the score 3-2 with 2:55 left. Albany had another penalty corner, its ninth of the game, with just under a minute to go but could not convert.
Tarbell finished with five saves and earned All-Championship team honors. Joining her and Bozek as All-Championship choices were Richard, Flatley, Heuser, Albany's Daphne Voormolen and Corinne McConnville, Fairfield's Felicitas Heinen and Shealyn Testa and Maine's Annabelle Hamilton and Natasha Ford.
2013 America East Field Hockey Championship All games at University of New Hampshire's Memorial Field, Durham, N.H.
Semifinals - Thursday, November 7 #1 New Hampshire 4, #4 Fairfield 0 #2 Albany 1, #3 Maine 0
Final - Saturday, November 9 New Hampshire 3, Albany 2
All-Championship Team Megan Bozek, New Hampshire (Most Outstanding Player) Meg Flatley, New Hampshire Hannah Richard, New Hampshire Carlie Tarbell, New Hampshire Paula Heuser, Albany Corrine McConville, Albany Daphne Voormolen, Albany Felicitas Heinen, Fairfield Shealyn Testa, Fairfield Natasha Ford, Maine Annabelle Hamilton, Maine