Video Highlights (ALL VIDEO)
The American University field hockey team defeated Lock Haven Tuesday afternoon, 2-1, in the NCAA Play-In Game, earning the right to appear in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16. Junior Christine Fingerhuth scored the game-winning goal in the 46th minute to secure the victory after senior Anne-Meike de Wiljes tallied the games first score in the 35th minute. American will now head to College Park, Md., for the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, November 14, to play the defending national champion Terrapins at 11:30 a.m.
The opening moments of the game were played at a heated pace as American (12-8, 4-1) and Lock Haven (18-5, 7-1) came out of the gates with high intensity. As play settled down, the Eagles began to take control of the action, pressuring the Lock Haven circle and gaining the first scoring opportunities of the day. Off of American's first penalty corner in the 16th minute, Carly Boyce just missed scoring the games' first goal as she took a straight shot from the top of the circle but was denied as the ball deflected off Lock Haven goalkeeper Erin Terreson's pad to preserve the 0-0 tie. It was the Lady Eagles of Lock Haven's turn next, as they nearly broke the tie in the 26th minute on a Kristi Shepps shot on goal. Alyssa Poorman, however, was able to make the save with her blocker and the rebound was sent harmlessly up and over the cage.
De Wiljes finally broke the scoring drought in the 35th minute with her seventh score of the year off a penalty corner. Anne van Erp made the insertion to Kirstin Gebhart at the top of the circle, where she left it for a straight shot by de Wiljes which was missiled past Terreson to the left post, putting the Eagles on top, 1-0, just before the half.
Coming out of the break, Fingerhuth just missed scoring a goal in the 38th minute as her shot from the left of the circle sailed high and hit the crossbar. The junior would not be denied though and later found the back of the cage for her 13th goal on the season in the 46th minute, giving American a 2-0 advantage. On the play, Rachel Carney sent the ball to Fingerhuth at the top of the circle where she made one dribble to beat a defender and then used her body to shield the ball from a second defender before sending a sensational shot to the far post.
Lock Haven did not go down without a fight and nearly cut the score in half with a Casey Hughes shot from the top of the circle off a penalty corner in the 50th minute. Gebhart, however, was positioned perfectly at the left post and was able to sweep the ball away from the cage and out of harms way, recording her third defensive save of the season. Lock Haven managed to earn another shot at the cage in the 51st minute and this time made it count, as Shepps beat Poorman with a flick at the right post following a loose ball scramble. American's defense, however, shut down the Lady Eagles for the remaining 19 minutes and change before the final horn sounded the 2-1 victory in favor of the Eagles.
American held a 12-8 advantage over Lock Haven in shots for the game and dominated the Lady Eagles with a 7-1 margin in penalty corners. De Wiljes took a game-high four shots with three going on goal while Fingerhuth made three attempts at the cage with two on goal.
"We had a little bit of a hard time getting on the scoreboard for a while but our kids persisted and in the end it paid off," Head Coach Steve Jennings commented during his live postgame interview with Eagles Vision TV. "At this time of the year it's really about what you've done all spring, summer and fall. I think that the tests and trials that we've gone through and the amount of work that we've put in has us in a pretty good place heading into this weekend."
The brackets for the 2009 NCAA Tournament were released later in the day and it was announced that American will face #1 Maryland on Saturday, November 14, at 11:30 a.m. in College Park, Md. The Eagles and Terrapins met earlier this year at Jacobs Field in a game which Maryland won, 3-0, after scoring two late goals to put the lead out of reach. American has faced Maryland twice in the NCAA Tournament, both times in the Elite Eight, but was beaten 2-0 in 2004 and 3-0 in 2005.
Tickets to Saturday's game can be purchased at the gate the day of the game and are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for youth. Due to a Terrapins football game later in the day, parking on Saturday is restricted to parking lot 4i located next to the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex and will cost $15.