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Rubas leads women's field hockey to 10th Patriot League title

AU defeats Boston University 1-0 to advance to NCAA tournament for first time since 2013

Rubas leads women's field hockey to 10th Patriot League title

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yet, as the clock ticked down at the New Balance Field on the campus of Boston University for the second year in a row, the Eagles started to celebrate a different result. The AU field hockey team sent the ball down the field one final time before breathing a sigh of relief and cheering with joy as they became Patriot League champions after narrowly missing the title against the same team just one year ago.

The Eagles reversed their fortunes behind the strong defensive play of sophomore goalie Maura Jacobs, who made six saves against the Terriers, including a stick save in the final ten minutes of action. Sophomore Rafaela Rubas, the tournament MVP, put AU on the board just six minutes into the game off a corner shot, and the single point proved the difference in the tight match between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams in the Patriot League. 

The victory marked AU’s 10th Patriot League Tournament title in their 16 years in the conference and helped them clinch a spot in the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament for the first time since 2013.

In a post-game interview with Campus Insider, head coach Steve Jennings expressed his excitement about the win, pumping his fists as he walked towards the camera.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Jennings said, noting that the game sets his team up well for success in the national tournament. “We are always confident. We know sometimes we have to have offense to get us the win, sometimes it’s defense. We are ready to do whatever it takes.”

Just last week, the Eagles fell to the Terriers at Jacobs Field 2-1 and lost the right to host the Patriot League Tournament, but the team has played consistently strong on the road, particularly in tight contests. On Oct. 1, AU defeated Patriot League rivals Bucknell 2-1 in overtime, and the team pulled out a second conference overtime win against Lafayette just two weeks later. The Eagles earned their place in the championship game after taking down Holy Cross on Friday afternoon 1-0, and they capped off their final conference game with the tournament win. Pairings for the twenty team NCAA tournament bracket will be announced at 10 p.m. tonight.

Senior captains Natalie Konerth, Jess Davis and Natalie Marsh stepped forward to receive the Patriot League Championship trophy with Jennings, an award they have been dreaming about since AU last won the tournament in 2013 and an accolade that joins a long list of accomplishments that the Eagles have racked up this season. 

Five days before the championship game, Konerth earned a spot on the 2016 Victory Sports Tour/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I Senior Game for her performance during the 2016 season. She led the Eagles in goals, scoring 13 over the course of the season, and also recorded three hat tricks in her senior campaign. She will join 37 other athletes at this game on Nov. 19, including Boston forward Amanda Cassera.

In addition, Konerth also earned her second Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award last week and was a unanimous selection for the All-Patriot League First Team. She was joined on the First Team by Rubas, another unanimous selection, and junior defender Angela Virtu. Juniors Leah DiGiandomenico and Rachel Stefano earned distinction as members of the All-Patriot League Second Team. Five BU athletes were also selected for All-Patriot League Teams. Immediately after AU’s victory against the Terriers, Konerth, Jacobs, Rachel Stefano and Rubas were also selected as members of the All-Tournament team.

The last time in Eagles competed in the NCAA Tournament, they secured a win in a play-in game against Quinnipiac before losing to the University of Maryland 4-1 three days later. They also lost in Maryland in the first round of the tournament in 2009. The Terps also played for a conference championship on Nov. 6 but dropped to Penn State 2-1 and failed to capture a Big 10 Tournament Title. Although the final brackets will not be revealed until later tonight, the question remains: will AU achieve a different result than they have in past tournaments, defy the odds once again and advance deeper into the NCAA bracket? 

vsalandro@theagleonline.com and sscovel@theeagleonline.com


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