Eagles nipped by No. 3 Terps
AU Field Hockey first cracked the national rankings Oct. 14 after a hot 10-1 start to the season. It wasn't until Tuesday that the Eagles got to test their No. 19 ranking against one of the country's best.
Judging from the outcome of the match with No. 3 Maryland at AU Field Hockey's home away from home in College Park, Md., their second-ranked defense belongs among the elite.
AU (13-3, 6-0 Patriot League) couldn't break the Terrapin defense but kept the match close as Maryland (16-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored twice in the first half to edge out a 2-0 win.
The Terrapins, second in the ACC in shots, peppered the Eagles with 21. Senior 'keeper Laura Miller did her best to keep the ball out of the net by making 12 saves and allowing only two goals. She shut out the Terrapins in the second half, making five saves.
Sophomore Maureen Daniel also helped on Miller's end with three defensive saves.
Miller had the best save percentage and was third in goals against average in Div. I heading into Tuesday's match. It showed as she kept the heavyweights hungry for offense. Maryland had not won a match previously this season when scoring fewer than three goals.
Tuesday at Maryland, AU appeared to have a chance early when freshman Kaitlin DeTroia fired a shot off a defender and into the net. The goal was taken back because she was outside the striking circle.
This was the last chance the Eagles had in the first half. They didn't get another shot off in the first session, as Maryland was relentless offensively with 13 shots.
The Terrapins were awarded eight penalty corners compared to AU's zero. This paid off when they scored the game winner off a corner at 13:58.
The insurance goal came at 28:43 on a corner by Paula Infante, the older sister of AU freshman forward Camila Infante.
The Eagles burst out of the halftime break and took control for the first 15 minutes of the second half. They fired six shots and had chances off two corners and a penalty stroke, while the Terrapins failed to get a shot off.
Maryland eventually regained its offensive pressure and had three consecutive penalty corners, but Daniel had two defensive saves to keep the score the same.
The match was a good challenge for the Eagles before the PL Tournament begins Nov. 7. AU clinched the top seed, but with no home field, second-seeded Holy Cross will host the tournament. The winner of the tournament will have a chance at the NCAA tournament in a play-in game Nov. 11 against the champion of the Northeast Conference.
The Eagles have to be optimistic this fall. The regular season title is the best finish for the program since it placed second in the Colonial Athletic Association in 1996. That year they lost to Old Dominion 3-2 in the championship.
Earlier this week it was announced that Miller and senior forward Melissa Snyder had been named to the South team for the Div. I North/South Senior All-Star Game, which will be played Nov. 22 in Amherst, Mass.
Snyder leads the Eagles offensively with 12 goals and five assists.
The Eagles play their last game of the regular season when they travel to Bucknell on Saturday, Nov. 1 at noon.