Field hockey soars over Bucknell in close semifinal
American defeats Bucknell 3-2
Before the game, league officials honored team members with four major awards. Bucknell’s Lily Neilson earned Offensive Player of the Year. American’s Charllene Boshoff, Bryn Underwood and Steve Jennings earned Defensive Player of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively.
With just 22 seconds into the game, the Eagles earned the first penalty corner. It wouldn’t go for a goal, but American put enough pressure on Bucknell’s defense to trigger another penalty corner. That, again, would not go. But just a minute later, graduate student forward Megan Hoffman knocked in the first goal of the game.
Shortly afterwards, the Eagles earned their third penalty corner in under three minutes. Junior midfielder Tayla-Jade Weiss was able to get a shot off, but the Bisons’ goalkeeper made the save. American kept up the offensive dominance and did not even allow Bucknell into their defensive circle. They earned a fourth corner which junior midfielder Kaleigh Missimer inserted to Weiss whose shot was blocked, but the Eagles received another chance. Missimer and Weiss repeated their previous recipe, but this time Weiss’ shot found the back of the cage putting American up 2-0.
After just another minute and a half of play in Bucknell’s defensive end, the Eagles earned another penalty corner. Freshman defender Sarah Steinman inserted the ball to Weiss at the top of the circle, who passed back down to Steinman. The freshman then lifted the ball over Bucknell’s goalkeeper and into the cage and grew American’s lead to 3-0.
The Eagles kept up the intense pressure for the remainder of the period, and 12 minutes in, the Bison finally got their first shot on senior goalkeeper Underwood. They would not get any more shots in the quarter though, and American held onto their 3-0 lead going into the second.
“The team executed very well, especially obviously in the first quarter and took control of the game very early on,” head coach Jennings said.
The second quarter was much quieter as neither team scored any more goals. There were few quality scoring chances, but Bucknell began the quarter with their first penalty corner. They were unable to score on that, and the Eagles followed up with a series of three corners of their own. American was also unable to score, and the Bison bookended the calm period with their second penalty corner.
Bucknell had their best chances at this point through the game in the third quarter. Underwood saved their first shot of the second half, and their second went wide, but their newfound offense put pressure on the Eagles. Still, the Eagles stood strong and held onto their 3-0 lead.
The Bison finally broke through American’s defense early in the fourth quarter and began to chip away at the deficit. After senior midfielder Imogen Hatton received a green card late in the quarter, Bucknell pulled their goalkeeper for an extra attacker. Thanks to Hatton’s card, the Bison had a two player advantage over the Eagles. Bucknell used their extra strength to cause a penalty corner and score their second goal with just three minutes remaining in the game.
With two seconds left in the game and the score at 3-2, the Bison earned another penalty corner and a chance to tie the game. In the process of clearing the ball, American caused another corner for Bucknell. This time they cleared the ball cleanly and secured the 3-2 win and championship game berth.
“We’ve been working really hard, throughout the whole entire season but we really wanted it,” Weiss said. “We had a little dance party in our locker room and we were ready to hit it. We really want this. We celebrate a little bit, but we get our minds right, we carry on.”
The Eagles earned their win around 1 p.m., and just a few hours later, the #2 seeded Lafayette Leopards defeated the #3 Boston Terriers to earn their spot in the Patriot League Championship. American and Lafayette have played for the championship title six times so far with the Eagles winning all but one.
“I think it'll be another tough game just like this. It's always a tough contest, and you can never count anybody out,” Jennings said.
American defeated the Lafayette Leopards in the Patriot League Championship on Nov. 4.
This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.