Field Hockey takes PL title
Both teams in Saturday's Patriot League Field Hockey championship made it there by the slimmest of margins. No. 19 AU got the berth with a 3-2 overtime win over No. 24 Lafayette in the semifinals. Holy Cross finalized its spot in a similar way by beating Bucknell 2-1 in overtime.
It was no surprise that the title match finished any diferently.
AU senior Melissa Snyder's second-half goal was all that separated the Eagles (16-3) from the Crusaders (13-7) in a 1-0 decision that gave AU its first ever PL championship and a chance at its first NCAA tournament.
The victory more than avenged last year's 1-0 loss to Holy Cross in the semifinals.
Snyder and senior 'keeper Laura Miller have been stellar this fall in their senior campaigns, and they were sure Saturday to maintain that intensity.
Snyder, who was named tournament MVP, got the unassisted goal at 19:56 of the second on a rebound off a penalty corner. It was her 14th of the season, which leads the team.
Miller stopped all five Crusader shots to earn her tenth shutout of the season.
"The team had a tremendous effort, and played a much better game today then they did yesterday," said AU head coach Steve Jennings. "They have done a great job all year, and this is the crowning moment so far, but we have more to do."
The team returns to the artificial turf Tuesday at 1 p.m. in College Park, Md. to face Northeast Conference champion Quinnipiac (9-10, 3-2 NEC). The winner of this game will be seeded in the NCAA tournament, whose 16-team field will be announced Tuesday at 8 p.m.
A PL team has only made it to the NCAA tournament twice, both times losing to Maryland. The last team to make it was Fairfield, which lost to the Terrapins 7-1 in 2001.
The Eagles started off hot in Saturday's match, out-shooting the Crusaders 7-1 in the first half and getting seven penalty corners to Holy Cross's none.
The Crusaders got more chances in the second half, firing six shots and six corners. Their attack still couldn't beat Miller, and Snyder's goal sealed the outcome.