The AU field hockey team went into its first matches of October against Patriot League rival Lehigh and Princeton, the No. 4 team in the country.
After dropping their conference opener to Lafayette, the Eagles (5-8, 1-1 PL) secured a much-needed 9-2 victory at Lehigh Oct. 6 to avoid a crippling 0-2 start in league play. Princeton proved to be too much for AU the following day, with the Tigers taking down the Eagles, 2-0, in Princeton, N.J.
AU pounced on Lehigh (3-10, 0-2 PL) early. The Eagles scored three goals in the first half, after having only scored three goals in an entire game once this season. AU head coach Steve Jennings credited the first half outburst to great passing.
“Over the course of the first half, it [passing] definitely started to take its toll on their fatigue level,” Jennings said. “And creating more and more chances for us, and the second half just exploded a lot because of that.”
Exploded is one word to describe AU’s second half. The Eagles didn’t waste any time with their blazing six-goal performance in the second half.
At the end of the nine-goal onslaught, Shelly Montgomery finished with two goals to bring her team lead to seven.
Gina Hofmann and Jaclyn Anspach also had terrific games. Hofmann added three assists and one goal, and Anspach scored three times.
The Eagles launched 27 shots on the game, 26 of which were on goal.
“The most important part was when we had the ball moving, we would have multiple options for the ball carrier,” Jennings said. “And that creates the max amount of pressure on the defense.”
Coming off the win against Lehigh, the Eagles went into a tough matchup at Princeton. The game with the Tigers (10-1) had AU going up against the nation’s top goal scorer in Kathleen Sharkey, along with three players on the U.S. team that competed in the Olympics. Princeton’s ability and play style made Jennings add a “whole new” pressure system that kept Princeton off the board for the first half.
AU went into the second half tied at 0-0, but the Eagles could not muster anything offensively. The Tigers broke the tie early in the second half and didn’t look back, notching their 10th win on the year.
Princeton had only been held to two goals or less twice this season, but the great defense could not make up for the lack of offense from AU.
The Eagles were outshot 22-2 and were on the short end in penalty corners 15-2.
“We have to have the hunger and determination that we showed, particularly in the first half against Princeton, against every opponent,” Jennings said. “If we do that, I think that we can be a really great team.”
AU will return home for weekend matchups against Holy Cross Oct. 13 and Towson Oct. 14.