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UAlbany Field Hockey Head Coach Phil Sykes Earns 200th Career Victory

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ALBANY, NY- A 2-1 overtime victory against a conference rival is enough cause for celebration but add a coach’s 200th career win to the equation and the celebration gets even sweeter.

University at Albany field hockey (9-3-0, 3-1-0 AE) head coach Phil Sykes earned his 200th career victory in his 15th season at the helm for the Great Danes Sunday afternoon, defeating the University of New Hampshire (3-9-0, 1-3-0 AE) in a 2-1 overtime victory.

The team was able to overcome a controversial call late in the second half on their way to the victory.

Freshman forward Elaina Burchell was the hero, burying a close shot five minutes into the first overtime period, her fourth of the season.

“A lot of the credit goes to our defense,” Burchell said. “They’re pretty insane…They always push us to go forward and be better.”

A scoreless first half was disappointing for the Great Danes, as the team dominated from a possession standpoint. Despite outshooting the Wildcats by a tally of 10-2 in that scoreless first half, the Great Danes were kept off the scoreboard, as UNH senior goalkeeper Kelsey Rudert made four saves in the first half.

“We were missing by little bits here and there.” Coach Sykes said of his team’s first half.

UNH freshman forward Finn Caron opened the scoring for both teams, getting the Wildcats on the board with 30:35 left in the second half. Caron’s goal was one of just four shots on goal recorded by the Wildcats.

UAlbany wasted no time responding, as junior defender Viola Von der Mühlen sent a penalty corner to senior Frederike Helmke, which Helmke finished for her fifth goal of the season. It less than four minutes after UNH scored.

Both teams wasted strong chances for most of the second half, before UAlbany seemed to score the game-winner with less than 3 minutes to go in the second half.

Rather than a goal however, the scoreboard remained unchanged as the referees determined that the initial strike of the ball was hit too high, negating Dana Bozek’s goal, drawing the ire of the home crowd.

“I was happy with the pressure we put on [Albany] in the second half…I thought it would have been a corner at the least.” UNH head coach Robin Balducci said, referring to that controversial call.

Much like the first half, UAlbany spent the majority of the first overtime period in attacking territory, and the relentless offense prevented UNH from even registering a shot in the extra period.

After UAlbany sophomore Ghislaine Beerkens missed wide with the opening shot of overtime, sophomore Katie MacCallum and Helmke were able to combine their efforts and find Burchell to end the game.

“UNH, throughout my time here, has always been our main rival, so coming in today no matter how good or bad their season was going I knew it was going to be a tough game. I think the way the game was going…it was going to come down to this type of moment. Any way to get the [win] great, but for our kids to win in overtime, that’s always a nice confidence booster so I was happy with that.” Sykes reflected.

For UAlbany, a win moves their record to 9-3 on the season (3-1 in America East play), while UNH drops to 3-9 overall (1-3 America East).

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Melissa Nealon earned her ninth victory of the season, registering three saves in a strong defensive effort by the Great Danes.

UAlbany will be rewarded with some rest before hosting Vermont in another conference matchup Friday, October 12 at 3pm.

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