Field hockey hunts Bobcats for win in season opener
Three freshmen scored, securing the victory
The Eagles kicked off their season in the scorching heat on Jacobs Field with many of their key players returning, but also 10 new freshmen to the roster — six of whom started the game. American quickly earned the first scoring opportunity of the game with a corner, although Ohio blocked their shot.
Almost halfway through the first quarter, junior forward Rebecca Bonness received a pass at the top of the circle where she took a reverse chip shot, which junior midfielder Delia Rabatin deflected into the goal. Rabatin’s goal marked the Eagles’ first of the season, and put them up 1-0.
American effectively used the alleys at the sides of the field, allowing them to get passes up the field more efficiently than their opponents. This effective movement allowed freshman forward Jordan Reicher to enter Ohio’s circle practically alone and score her first collegiate goal on a solo effort. She fooled the Bobcat keeper into getting out of position to put the Eagles up 2-0 with five minutes still remaining in the quarter.
Still with time remaining in the first quarter and little challenge from Ohio, graduate student forward Megan Hoffman slammed home American’s third goal of the game. The veteran Hoffman scored off a feed from junior midfielder Federica Turina Dellamaggiore, last season’s leading scorer.
The Eagles frequently made passes between defenders in the back field, which looked different due to the absence of graduate student defender Charllene Boshoff, who is at home in South Africa competing with her club there. Senior goalkeeper Bryn Underwood held down the fort with a perfect save percentage through the first three quarters and the loudest voice on the field throughout the game. Her voice rang loud and clear across Jacobs Field as she instructed her teammates and signaled for the ball.
That strong defense kept both offenses quiet throughout the second quarter, and American remained in the lead 3-0. Both teams had one shot the whole quarter and each goalie made a save.
The Eagles received a penalty corner halfway through the third quarter, which gave them another opportunity to score. Freshman midfielder Sarah Steinman inserted the ball, which freshman forward Emilia Winkler received and set up for freshman defender Sophie Willemse, who sent a rocket of a shot straight into the goal. The joint effort by the freshmen added to American’s lead, now at 4-0. The home team received two more corners to finish the quarter, both taken by Hoffman, though neither resulted in a goal and the game remained 4-0.
Just a minute into the fourth and final quarter of the game, the Bobcats earned a penalty corner but could not get a goal past Underwood. On another corner just another minute later, they finally got one past the Eagle keeper and got on the board, bringing the score to 4-1. American would not let that goal stop their stride, however, and notched their fifth goal of the game off of another corner taken by Hoffman. After being all over the field for the Eagles, Steinman scored a goal of her own, assisted by junior midfielder Tayla-Jade Weiss. Both teams would finish the game with a few more shots, but the final score would remain 5-1 with American on top.
"I think the freshmen are really fearless so in the end I don't think that scoreline was something that was really critical for them, but I do think it was really critical for us as a team, especially on a day that was really hot and humid,” head coach Steve Jennings said. “There was fatigue on both sides when the game got going, so I think it was great to get off to an early lead, make our stamp on the game, and then allow us to just be smart the rest of the way.”
“The past three days, we took a really tactical stance instead of wearing down our bodies, Hoffman said. “So we could come into this fresh and it's just really cool, really fun, great to connect with the team.”
The Eagles will return to Jacobs to face No. 5 ranked Penn State on Sunday Aug. 27 at 1 p.m.
This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.