Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: New players, new coaches, on gridiron
A breeze made things a bit chilly later in UNH’s first practice of spring football, but nobody seemed to mind.
“It was nice,” said head coach Sean McDonnell as he left the field, thankful for clear skies and not the wet and raw conditions of Monday morning. “After what you woke up and saw yesterday, it was a lot better than what you anticipated. It was good. We got a lot of things done today.”
The goals remain lofty for a team that has established itself as one of the best at the FCS level and has been to the playoffs each of the past 10 seasons.
“Truthfully, this year I don’t think anyone will be happy with just making it to the semifinals,” Kaplan said. “We want to go all the way this year. I want to win a national championship. Everyone wants a ring. That’s the goal.”
One of the tasks for this spring is to integrate three new defensive coaches into the mix under McDonnell and defensive coordinator John Lyons, the former Dartmouth College head coach.Peter McCarty, a 30-year veteran of coaching with various stops along the way and most recently at Fordham, is working with the defensive line. Garrett Gillick, who played linebacker at the University of Maine and graduated from there in 2000, comes over from Bentley University and is assigned to the linebackers. And Exeter native Kyle McAllister, a grad assistant last year, has moved up and is working as an assistant on the defensive line.
THE gymnastics team gets on a bus on Thursday morning for an eight-hour drive to Penn State University for the NCAA Regionals.
The Wildcats, who have been dealing with a bug going around the team this week, are the No. 4 seed in the regional behind No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Oregon State and No. 3 Penn State. Kentucky is No. 5 and Maryland is No. 6.
In effect, one spot is available at Penn State, said UNH coach Gail Goodspeed.
“Florida is just about unbeatable,” she said. “They’re ranked No. 1 in the country, they’re defending national champions and they’re amazing.
Oregon State is ranked No. 12 in the country, Penn State is No. 15 and UNH is No. 23.
Penn State edged UNH — which is led by seniors Hannah Barile and Jannelle Minichiello, junior Erika Rudiger and freshman Meghan Pflieger — in a meet in Durham on March 8.
“It’s doable,” Goodspeed said of making it to the nationals. “But it’s the biggest challenge of the year, obviously. I think the second spot really is up for grabs with Oregon State and Penn State being kind of the favorites.”
THE track and field teams have home meets scheduled for the next two Saturdays at 11 a.m. each day.
Teams from Maine, Holy Cross, Northeastern, Bates, Bowdoin and New England College are due to compete this Saturday.
The fields for the event have shuffled some recently as teams scramble to find places to compete given still-wintry conditions in many areas.
The America East championships are at the University of Vermont on May 3 and 4.