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Black Bears fall to UNH in playoff game

The University of Maine’s (7-9-0) chance at a deep playoff run was stifled as University of New Hampshire’s (7-8-3) (UNH) fourth-year midfielder Lilly Radack scored 15 minutes into the first-round game of the America East conference playoffs. Radack’s goal was the only goal of the game in the 1-0 shutout loss to UNH.

The loss was Maine’s first against UNH since 2011. Prior to this loss, Maine was 3-0 versus UNH in the postseason. Maine ends their 2016 season with a 3-4-1 in America East, while UNH continues in postseason play with a 3-4-1 conference record.

Exactly one-third of the way through the first half, first-year forward Liz Lane made a strong drive to the net. Lane was stopped by two Maine defenders who slid over to block her path towards the net. The slide created an opening for Radack who retrieved the ball from a falling Lane and one-timed it with a rocket shot that sailed over second-year goalkeeper Samantha Cobotic’s head. The goal was Radack’s first ever in her career.

UNH thoroughly dominated Maine in the first half. The Wildcats outshot the Black Bears 9-0 in the first 45 minutes. It was exemplary of a persistent issue for the Black Bears this season.

Overall this season, Maine was outshot 154-225. Maine was able to pick it up in the second half, evening the shot count at three apiece and picking up three corner kicks. The Black Bears were unable to capitalize on the increase in offensive chances, highlighting another continuous concern for the Black Bears this season: the inability to keep themselves in the game.

After many games this past fall, the Black Bears felt as if they did not give 100 percent for a full 90 minutes. This trend was broken after a four-game losing streak when second-year forward Vivien Beil scored in double overtime versus UNH in the regular season. It was clear then that the Black Bears could play not only for 90 minutes, but for some time afterwards as well.

Maine will have just three seniors graduating this year. The 2016 season was the last season for midfielder Theresa Gosch and backs Riin Emajoe and Hannah Lipinski. Next year, Maine will welcome back four juniors, five sophomores and 12 freshmen. The team will be older and many younger players from this season will move into key positions for the team.

Much of the Black Bears’ leadership will still be around. Keep an eye out for Beil, Maine’s top point producer this year, to make a large impact in 2017. Beil was named to the first team all-conference this year. Third-year back Kendra Ridley was named to the second team all-conference. First-year Kaitlyn Ball was named to the all-conference rookie team for her outstanding performance for the Black Bears this year. Despite her age, Ball was able to pick up seven points and 12 shots on goal, the second-highest total on the team. Maine will certainly be a force to be reckoned with next fall.

With this win, UNH will go on to play University of Albany on Sunday, Oct. 30 for their next conference game in New York.

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