Allen Lessels UNH Notebook: And now, no room for error
True, Saturday's 17-0 loss at William & Mary — the first time the Wildcats had been shut out in 220 games and 18 years since the Tribe also did it in 1995 — dealt a major blow to UNH's chances of qualifying for the FCS tournament for a 10th straight season.
The task ahead is challenging, though, to say the least.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 16 last week, dropped to 4-4 overall for the season and to 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association and lost any cushion they might have had.
The fact two of the last three games are against highly touted teams can make the resume that much stronger.
First, the tournament expands this year from 20 to 24 teams. Eight teams will receive byes and 16 others will play first-round games on Nov. 30.
Second, the two toughest teams left on the schedule are both coming to play at Cowell Stadium, where UNH has lost only once in the last two and a half seasons and twice since 2008.
James Madison improved to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the league with a 31-21 win over Villanova at home on Saturday.
"They've put themselves in a position where they're it fighting for a championship and fighting for the playoffs. They've got a real good defense and a heckuva team."
The No. 10-ranked Black Bears are the frontrunner for the CAA title and automatic berth in the FCS tournament at 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the league. They have lost only to Northwestern, an FBS team, and play at Albany and then home against Rhode Island before coming to Durham.
The flipside is, if they don't win at least two, the Wildcats will finish with a record under .500 for the first time since this whole playoff thing began with the 2004 season.
THE men's hockey team lost its second straight overtime game at home on Saturday night when UMass Lowell's Derek Arnold scored with 1:43 left in the extra session to give his team a 3-2 win.
UNH lost by the same score against Michigan on Oct. 19. UNH's other home game was a 1-1 tie with Michigan.
The Wildcats are 1-5-1 overall and 0-2-0 in Hockey East.
They won their opener, 4-1 against Clarkson, and have gone winless in the six games since, while averaging two goals a game.
UNH plays Massachusetts at home on Friday and plays at UMass on Saturday. .