Field Hockey team beats Rutgers, 4-0
Daniel scores twice in second half, leads Eagles to victory at Invitational
AU Field Hockey came out playing flat under an overcast sky Sunday at the Terrapin Invitational in College Park, Md. But sunlight eventually broke through, along with the Eagles' offense.
AU (4-1-0) used an explosive second half to complete a 4-0 smacking of Rutgers (3-4-0). Midfielder sophomore Maureen Daniel highlighted the charge, scoring a pair of late goals on penalty corners. Sophomore Shannon Goans assisted on both of those scores, which gave her a team high of five assists during the season.
Although the Scarlet Knights' attack hardly tested AU senior 'keeper Laura Miller, she continued to show mastery as the team's ace backstop, notching three saves for her third shutout. Miller, last week's Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, showed no signs of loosening her grip on the AU goal, which has earned her praise from Head Coach Steve Jennings.
"She's stepping up and playing huge right now and it makes it really difficult for other teams when they know they're going to have a hard time getting second chances," he said.
Neither AU nor Rutgers could assemble many offensive opportunities in the first half. AU's junior Javiera Villagra had a pair of chances, including a shot off a turnover that sent Rutgers 'keeper Aga Siemiginowska sliding across the slick turf, but couldn't convert.
Jennings had to deliver strong words to his team at halftime to tip the match in its favor.
"I think I got into them a little bit and tried to impress upon them that that wasn't the way that we are as a team and that we need to go out and improve how good we are and what we can do when we all play together," he said. "I really just tried to challenge them ... and then we were able to execute right from the start, and that was great."
AU finally broke the drought and opened the floodgates in the second half at 53:47 when freshman Heidi Hershberger, in traffic at the goalmouth, jammed the ball past Siemiginowska for a 1-0 lead.
Villagra's opportunities finally bore fruit when she easily converted an insurance goal on a penalty stroke, firing a shot to the right side at 57:24.
Daniel netted the last two tallies off corners at 61:15 and 69:12 to seal the victory. While AU concluded the afternoon with penalty corner goals, they were the only scores out of 13 chances the team could connect on.
"I think we're a lot better than we showed in that department today," Jennings said. "But I also knew that if we were to keep getting them, eventually one would go in."
Jennings feels good about where his team stands in the young season, but with conference play beginning this Saturday, he knows it will have to stay sharp. The Eagles head to Easton, Pa. this weekend to face an energized Lafayette team that beat No. 4 Penn State on Saturday.
"That's a big challenge for us. I think that [Lafayette is] a quality team, but I also like the direction we're going in, so it'll be fun to play," Jennings said.