Top seeded American to host Patriot League field hockey championship
Eagles will face Bucknell in semi-final
The American University field hockey team (9-7) will host the Patriot League Championship Nov. 2 and Nov. 4.
The #1 seeded Eagles will play the #4 Bucknell Bison (8-8) in the first semi-final at 11 a.m. Then, the #3 Boston Terriers (8-9) will play the #2 Lafayette Leopards (11-6) at 2 p.m. The winners of each game will face off for the Patriot League title on Nov. 4 at 1 p.m.
American is hosting the championship, thanks to their 6-0 record in the Patriot League this season. They defeated all three other contending teams, though some wins came more easily than others.
The Eagles beat the Bison 2-1 on Oct. 7, but the box score doesn’t tell the whole story. Bucknell scored late in the second quarter, and led for practically the entire game afterwards. American’s first goal came from a penalty corner with just 32 seconds left. They survived two rounds of overtime to beat Bucknell in a penalty shootout.
“I mean we want to win, and the reality is we'd like to win in a more comfortable fashion if possible, so not having to go into overtime and shootouts,” head coach Steve Jennings said. “But at the end of the day we're just focused on doing whatever it takes and they're a very good team and you never know how every game unfolds.”
American became quite familiar with overtime this season: seven of their 16 games went past regulation, though they won in only three of those seven. Proving they could win in a shootout was key for the Eagles. They fell to Liberty in a shootout 1-0 earlier this year, and lost last year’s semi-final to Lafayette in a 2-1 shootout.
American has been dominant statistically, but often fails to capitalize on opportunities. They get shots, shots on goal and penalty corners at much better rates than their opponents, but barely outscore them. Their largest margin of victory in Patriot League play was by two goals against Lafayette and Boston. Even those games were close. Against Lafayette, they gave up the first goal and had to score three straight over the final three quarters to win. The Eagles posted a shutout against BU, but they still didn’t score in the first quarter, leaving the door open for the Terriers.
Looking ahead to potential finals matchups, American beat Lafayette and BU both by a margin of two goals. They defeated the Leopards 3-1 in their first Patriot League matchup of the season, and the Terriers 2-0 in their last.
“We are super excited that we're hosting,” Jennings said. “We are super thrilled with the progress we made throughout the year. But at the end of the day, we know we have to show up and there's no more guaranteed games left.”
This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.