Field hockey falls to Bucknell in Patriot League semifinals despite late goal

Eagles season ends in penalty strokes after scoreless overtime periods

Field hockey falls to Bucknell in Patriot League semifinals despite late goal
AU field hockey shut out Bucknell on March 14 in its season opener.

On the evening of April 22 in Boston, American University field hockey (4-2) fell 2-1 in penalty strokes to the Bucknell Bison (4-3) and were knocked out of the 2021 Patriot League tournament in the semifinal game.

“I don’t think that we won enough corners, and I think we could have been a little more poised under pressure and in the circle,” AU head coach Steve Jennings said. “I think we did a great job of creating opportunities, but we just want to be able to finish. We broke down in a couple areas and, obviously, we have a lot of work to do there.”

The first quarter went scoreless with a midfield battle, opening with a shot on goal from AU that could have set the tone of the game. However, the ball was sent outside of the circle and didn’t count. The first quarter closed out with a series of unsuccessful Bucknell corners, with AU defending its goal to keep the game at 0-0.

“We fought really hard and I think we had some good passing combinations, especially in the first half and we had a lot of opportunities in the circle. We also had some big defensive saves along the way,” Jennings said.

Thirty seconds into the second quarter, AU had its first penalty corner of the game. After senior Noor Coenen’s shot sailed outside the net, Bucknell took the ball back on offense, but to no avail. AU was able to take possession of the ball after a run down the field, and senior Gaby de Kock took an unsuccessful shot on goal. After a series of unsuccessful corners on both sides, the half ended scoreless.

The third quarter started with an offensive battle at midfield. With 6:33 left to go in the third quarter, AU had its first corner of the frame, hoping to pull ahead for the first time in the contest. But its opportunities were fruitless, and more unsuccessful shots on goal led to a hotly contested final quarter.

With 5:08 to go, Bucknell scored the first goal of the game, putting the game at 1-0. AU’s de Kock, obviously fired up, scored off a penalty corner with 2:26 to go, sending the game into overtime tied at 1-1. 

Although the Eagles controlled the offense in the first overtime period, they couldn’t find the back of the net, and after a scoreless second overtime, the game went to penalty strokes. Despite making its first penalty shot, AU missed the following four, and the game ended 2-1 with Bucknell advancing to the championship against Boston University (5-0).

“We need to work on our finishing; I think we need to work on being able to execute our offense much better, be a little more savvy in our defensive 25, being able to make better, cleaner tackles and make smarter decisions,” Jennings said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot we can work with; it’s just a matter of putting in the work and having the right mentality.” 

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