UNH football season ends early while men’s soccer will play late 

  • The University of New Hampshire Wildcat sculpture on the street side of Memorial Field, dons a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases on campus have hit a high in February 2021. Rich Beauchesne / Fosters.com

  • Liam Bennett (22), a 2019 Concord High graduate, competes for the University of New Hampshire men's soccer team against Vermont on March 12 in Durham at Wildcat Stadium. Bennett, a redshirt freshman defender, has started five of six games for No. 11 UNH this spring. UNH Athletics

  • UNH quarterback Max Brosmer drops back to pass during a game against Albany at Wildcat Stadium in Durham on March 5. That was the only game UNH played this spring. Five of the team’s six games were cancelled due to COVID-19 issues. University of New Hampshire Athletics

Monitor staff
Published: 4/7/2021 5:10:06 PM

After canceling its previous three games due to COVID-19 concerns, the University of New Hampshire football team announced on Tuesday that it would opt out of the final two contests of what was supposed to be a six-game 2021 spring schedule – Saturday’s home matchup with Stony Brook and the April 17 game at Maine.

The Wildcats competed in just one game this spring, a 24-20 loss to Albany on March 5 in Durham.

“Despite the incredible efforts of Coach (Sean McDonnell), the entire football staff, athletic training and, most of all, our student-athletes, we are left with no other choice but to forego the remainder of the spring season,” UNH Director of Athletics Marty Scarano said in a press release. “This is not the outcome we hoped for, but unfortunately, we could not get on the right side of the COVID numbers, and we will never forsake the health of our students. This is incredibly heartbreaking, but I am so proud of how hard everyone fought to give themselves a chance to get back on the field. This should be a reminder that this pandemic is still very much a part of our lives.”

After the loss to Albany, UNH had a bye week. Following that time off, the Wildcats could not successfully pass COVID-19 tests and had to cancel games at Delaware (March 20), against Villanova (March 27) and at Rhode Island (April 3). The URI cancellation was announced less than 24 hours before the scheduled kickoff.

“We followed the safety protocols to the best of our abilities, dealt with the starts-and-stops that come with COVID, and never wavered in our commitment to play football,” McDonnell said in the release. “But like so many other programs around the country, the virus took its toll on us. I am constantly reminded that the virus controls us, we don’t control it. While I am very disappointed for the team, their families, and our staff, I know in my heart that sometimes the right decision is the hardest decision.” 

The Wildcats had to wait more than a year after the 2019 season ended to get back on the playing field. The wait will be much shorter this time with a full fall 2021 schedule planned for UNH and the rest of the collegiate athletic world.

“We will now concentrate on getting clear of the virus, getting stronger, getting better, and the ‘Cats will be ready to go full-bore this fall,” McDonnell added.

Men’s soccer rolling

While the football team’s season is over, the UNH men’s soccer team has ensured its 2021 spring schedule will include a postseason.

The Wildcats (5-0-1) have clinched a spot in the four-team America East Championship, which will take place April 15 and April 17 at the home of the top seed. UNH can earn that top seed with a win or tie in the regular-season finale at Vermont (4-0-1) on Friday at 5 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN3.

The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 11 in this week’s United Soccer Coaches Poll, which is the highest ranking in program history.   

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