Eagles end overtime drought in 5th straight home victory

Eagles end overtime drought in 5th straight home victory
No. 23 Nigel White and the Eagles won their first overtime game of the season yesterday.

The AU Eagles were able to put their overtime struggles behind them on Wednesday afternoon, recording a 2-1 victory in the extra period over the University of Pennsylvania at Reeves Field. Senior Sal Caccavale scored the game-winning goal to give the Eagles their fifth consecutive win at home this season.

Freshman goaltender Ryan Leonard was able to record his first career win for the Eagles (5-8-3, 1-1-2 PL), who were able to come away with their first win in overtime this season following a 0-3-2 mark in their previous five extra-time matches.

AU was able to take an early momentum edge in the first half of play, taking many shots that whistled just wide of the goal.

Forward Larry Mark had a number of scoring chances early, putting one ball just over the bar on a cross by Garth Juckem followed by a great save by a Quaker defender that resulted in an AU corner kick.

Mark's perseverance finally paid off for him when he was able to take a great pass from freshman Colin Zizzi and put it into the back of the net in the 23rd minute to give AU a 1-0 lead entering halftime.

At the start of the second half, UPenn started to gain back some of the momentum, putting pressure on Leonard and forcing him to make a number of fingertip saves to preserve the slim lead.

However, this offensive push by UPenn was quickly brought to a halt by a horrific injury to UPenn sophomore Josh Baugh 15 minutes into the half.

Baugh and AU defender Philip Purdy both slid in for the ball, with their shins hitting each other at full speed.

Baugh instantly started screaming in pain, as his shin was broken. The game was delayed half an hour as medical staff waited for an ambulance to transport him to a local D.C. hospital. Purdy was able to walk away from the collision and continue playing in the game.

After this break, UPenn was able to resume their earlier momentum, eventually scoring on Leonard on a strike by Keith Vereb to tie the game up at one apiece.

Going into overtime, it looked as if AU's home winning streak would come to an end.

Sal Caccavale quickly put an end to this thought midway though the overtime period, scoring on a brilliant breakaway that faked out the Quaker goaltender before placing the ball into the back of the net. It was Caccavale's second game-winning goal of the season and his fourth overall.

With the victory, AU was able to improve its home record to 5-0, a stark contrast to its road mark of 0-8-3. Coach Todd West believes that this success at Reeves Field is partly due to not having to endure long bus rides.

"On the road, it is tough getting our legs back after a three to four hour drive. We are also playing very strong teams on the road, like No. 1 Virginia and No. 6 West Virginia," West said.

With two of their three remaining matches this season coming at home, the Eagles will look to continue their success at Reeves Field and gain enough points to qualify for the Patriot League tournament.

Their next match is against the Bucknell Bisons this Saturday on "Phil Reeves Day." The action kicks off at 1 p.m.

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