AU shuts out Lehigh in Senior Day win to clinch tournament appearance
Eagles offense comes alive in second quarter
“I think we did a great job of being able to have some long balls through to our strikers and we created a lot of 3v3s and 2v2s in big spaces, and I think that helped us put a lot of pressure on their deep defense,” AU head coach Steve Jennings said about Sunday’s win. “In the end, it was a key to the victory. We could have maybe scored a couple more, which would have helped us, but we did a great job of being able to connect with the forward line.”
AU started strong defensively in the first quarter. Though AU eventually got the ball into its offensive half, it had a series of penalty corners that ultimately went without any goals. Eagles defenders Georgia Davies and Charllene Boshoff kept the ball out of AU’s defensive circle, and the Eagles’ offense eventually started making runs up the field.
“Defensively, I’d highlight Bryn Underwood in goal; I think she made some incredible saves in the game to keep the shutout and take a lot of pressure off of us. I thought Georgia Davies at center back was outstanding with her distribution, she was good at passing and made some clutch tackles as well,” Jennings said.
The second quarter opened with a midfield battle, which AU eventually won. The Eagles sent the ball toward the goal repeatedly but were continually stopped by Lehigh’s strong defense. AU finally got a goal with 7:49 to go in the second quarter on a shot from Julia Kraft. With 5:59 left to go in the first half, Maura Phelan got a penalty stroke and sent the ball to the top of the net over the Lehigh goalie’s head for AU’s second goal.
“Offensively, we had a lot of players that had serious threats and dangers that they put forward, but in the end, I would highlight Noor Coenen being able to create a lot of opportunities and chances,” Jennings said. “Fortunately, [Julia] was there to finish one and Maura was able to put a great stroke in.”
AU had a couple of unsuccessful shots off at the start of the third quarter as Lehigh had a few breakaway runs down the field. AU’s defense was able to fend off Lehigh through a series of runs toward the goal.
As neither team scored in the third quarter, it was a midfield battle where both teams played strong offense and defense. AU finished the game with a win thanks to those two first-half goals and its stout defense against Lehigh, securing its spot in the Patriot League tournament.
The Eagles’ final game of the season will come on Sunday at home against Lafayette (1-4).