Field hockey falls to Penn State in overtime

Eagles battled hard against #5 team

Field hockey falls to Penn State in overtime
Goalkeeper Bryn Underwood making a diving save

The American University Eagles (1-1) fell to the #5 Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1) 3-2 in overtime on Sunday Aug. 27. 

Just two days before this game, the Eagles faced off against the Ohio University Bobcats where American was by far the more dominant offensive team, reflected in the final score of 5-1. Penn State proved to be a more ferocious team on the attack immediately. The Nittany Lions were aggressive, and the Eagles did not get the ball out of their defensive zone for the entire first four minutes of the game. The 2022 NCAA semifinalists outshot the Eagles 5-1 in just the first quarter, although American emerged unscathed thanks to senior goalkeeper Bryn Underwood

2022 Big Ten Player of the Year Phia Gladieux got numerous shots off during the second quarter, but American hero Underwood stood strong and kept making saves. Finally, American broke further into Penn State’s defensive circle and were awarded a penalty corner. Junior midfielder Tayla-Jade Weiss received the insert from graduate student forward Megan Hoffman and got off a rocket of a shot which freshman midfielder Alyssa Freeman deflected and turned into the opening goal of the game. The goal marked the first of Freeman’s collegiate career in just her second game. 

The quarter continued with the teams trading shots. The Eagles never received another scoring opportunity before the conclusion of the half, but remained in demand on defense. Penn State finished the quarter with successive penalty corners which resulted in wide shots, thanks to American’s stellar defense. 

The energy at Jacobs was high going into the third quarter, and only improved when freshman forward Emilia Winkler forced a turnover and netted the Eagles’ second goal just a couple minutes into the quarter. Following that goal, American had a streak of saving or blocking eight Nittany Lion shots without letting any through – and this figure does not account for shots that went wide thanks to pressure from the defense. Underwood played up to her two Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year wins in this game and withstood a barrage of shots from Penn State before the ball slipped past her when the Nittany Lions got the American defense out of position. 

Going into the fourth quarter, the Eagles still led 2-1 but that lead felt less stable as Penn State kept pushing forward. A few minutes into the quarter, the Nittany Lions were awarded their ninth penalty corner of the game where they notched the tying goal, though American had successfully defended the previous eight. The large Penn State cheering section was empowered by the goal and made their voices heard as the American fans became quieter. After a third quarter where the shots were 13-3, Nittany Lions, the Eagles did not let them get nearly as many chances in the fourth quarter where shots were just 3-1. Due to that decreased offense, the fourth quarter finished with a score of 2-2 meaning the teams would head to overtime.

Overtime field hockey is played seven-on-seven, including goalkeepers, which creates much more space for both passing and breakaways. Penn State made use of this added space, and quickly got shots off. When the first did not find the back of the net, the second did and the Nittany Lions emerged victorious, 3-2.

“You know what, my job would be really boring if I didn't get to get have any shots and as a goalkeeper, this is my job,” said Underwood. “It's my moment that I get to step up to the plate. And I like taking the opportunities … But you know what, if they want to try and take a shot from the top, go ahead. I'm ready.”

“We have five teams that were in the NCAA [tournament] last year, that is on our non-conference schedule, and we love it,” said head coach Steve Jennings. “We want to test ourselves against the best, we want to be the best. And at the end of the day, you saw how close we were to pulling off a win today. And we need to fix some things, it's early in the season and hopefully we'll be able to figure that out as of course the season goes.”

The Eagles will travel to Virginia to face off against the University of Richmond Spiders on Friday Sept. 1 for their next game. 

This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.

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