After starting the season off 0-4, AU field hockey has recovered to go 3-1 in its last four games.
The Eagles (3-5) were being outshot 89-44 coming into their matchups against No. 19 Michigan State (5-3) and Central Michigan (3-4) at the Michigan State Invitational. AU shifted that trend, outshooting its opponents 31-18 while finishing 1-1 on the weekend
“The key thing is to make sure that we have multiple options for the ball carrier,” AU head coach Steve Jennings said. “Obviously any team is going to be much better if they can get open space, and that’s one of the things we were much more successful at generating this weekend.”
AU held a 17-10 shot advantage against Michigan State Sept. 14 in East Lansing, Mich., but lost 3-2. The Eagles fell behind 3-0 through the first 40 minutes before Shelly Montgomery tried to lead a comeback late in the second half. Montgomery accounted for five of AU’s 17 shots and scored her second goal of the season in the 42nd minute. She then assisted on Keelin Winslow’s score with less than five minutes left in regulation to cut the Spartans lead to 3-2.
The Eagles had a penalty corner with one minute left but failed to convert, and Michigan State was able to hold on and avoid the upset.
With Patriot League play less than two weeks away, Jennings likes what he sees from his team.
“I just think that things are coming together for us,” Jennings said. “We’re just getting better and better at understanding what we need to do, and where we need to go with the ball next and that’s making everything flow a lot more.”
It came together better for the Eagles against Central Michigan Sept. 16, with AU picking up a 2-1 victory. The Eagles outshot the Chippewas 14-8 with Montgomery shining again.
The junior midfielder accounted for half of AU’s shots and one goal on an assist from teammate Gina Hofmann.
Jaclyn Anspach scored the game’s first goal, and the win improved the Eagles to 3-0 this season on neutral fields.
“I think we’re in a good position now,” Jennings said. “And we just need to keep on rolling.”
The Eagles will next face Quinnipiac on the road Sept. 23 before returning to Jacobs Field to start Patriot League play Sept. 29 against Lafayette.
AU won the conference’s regular season title a season ago but was upset by Bucknell in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament.