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Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Maine is the football focus now
The next challenge for the University of New Hampshire football team is to knock off the Black Bears and see if they can extend the 2013 campaign and play a game or two — or more — after Thanksgiving.
The Wildcats were ranked No. 23 in the country last week and the Albany win pushed their record to 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Those chances improved a bit on Saturday when CAA rivals Delaware, James Madison and William & Mary all lost.
Delaware and William & Mary each are 7-4 and 5-3 with a game remaining (teams were allowed to play 12 games this season, but UNH did not).
The school is putting in a bid today for a home game and, if the Wildcats get in, they conceivably could play a first-round game at Cowell Stadium on Nov. 30.
"We have to win the game if we have any dreams of going on so let's just worry about playing the game and winning the game," he said.
Maine's only loss this season was a 35-21 setback at Northwestern of the FBS in the fourth game of the season. The Black Bears have won seven straight CAA games since and clinched the league championship outright with a 41-0 win over Rhode Island on Saturday.
Maine gives up a second-best 329 yards of offense a game and UNH is ranked eighth at 422.
"He's been as efficient as anybody in the league or the country," McDonnell said. "He's made them go."
THE men's hockey team, picking up the pace at both ends of the ice, has turned things around in a hurry with five straight wins.
The Wildcats swept No. 18-ranked Northeastern — 3-0 in Boston on Friday and 4-1 in Durham on Saturday — to set up a showdown in Providence.
The Friars gave UNH fits last season and, led again by goalie Jon Gillies who is now a sophomore, have been the class of Hockey East thus far this season.
Gillies made 23 saves on Saturday and became Providence's career leader in shutouts with eight, a third of a way into his sophomore season. He has three shutouts this year and his .949 save percentage and 1.59 goals-against average lead Hockey East and put him among the top three in the country.
UH goalie Casey DeSmith has been on a roll, too. In his last four games, he has stopped all but two of the 99 shots that have reached the net. UNH has outscored opponents in those games, 20-2. The Wildcats also beat Brown, 4-2, in that stretch with senior Jeff Wyer in net.
Senior Kevin Goumas (five goals, eight assists for 13 points) and junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (3-10-13) lead UNH in scoring, and senior forward Nick Sorkin is tops in goals (7-4-11).
The Wildcats went to Providence for the Hockey East quarterfinals and won the second game of the series, 4-1. But they lost the first and third, 3-2 each time.
THE volleyball team clinched the America East regular season title and top seed for the tournament with a 3-2 win over Albany on Friday night and then beat Binghamton, 3-2, on Sunday.
UNH is 18-12 overall and 12-2 in the league and will host the tournament this weekend at Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats play No. 4 Stony Brook (16-16, 9-5) in one semifinal on Friday at 7 p.m. No. 2 UMBC (18-11, 9-5) and No. 3 Albany (9-18, 9-5) play in the first semi at 4.