No. 20 @AU_FieldHockey Falls to No. 9 Louisville in Close Battle

Photo: Junior Rafaela Rubas against Louisville (Sept. 8, 2017)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The No. 20 American University field hockey team faced off in a tough battle against No. 9 Louisville in College Park, Md., on Friday, eventually losing to the Cardinals, 2-1.

The Eagles (3-2) will return to Maryland's Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex on Sunday for their second game of the Terrapin Invitational with a 2 p.m. contest against Towson. The Cardinals, who now rise to 4-1 for the season, will play host No. 11 Maryland at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

"I thought we played a great game," head coach Steve Jennings said. "Louisville is a very strong team, very disciplined and well-coached, so we knew it was going to be a challenging matchup.

"I thought in the second half we had large periods of dominance and ascendancy, but their deep defense played great and kept us off the board. I was sure hoping we were going to tie it and maybe force it into overtime, but this was a great game for us and a really strong team that we played today."

The Eagles opened the game with good offensive pressure, pushing play into Louisville's half in the first few minutes of play. AU was unable to break through the Cardinals' defensive line, though, and the Louisville was able to capitalize off a run in the ninth minute to get on the board first with a hard shot into the corner from senior Nicole Woods.

Louisville's second and final goal came less than two minutes later off of the first penalty corner of the game. Junior Maura Jacobs was able to get a hand on the initial shot from Louisville junior Taylor Stone, but the ball popped out during the scramble in front of the net and freshman Marisa Martin Pelegrina was able to get a stick on it to give the Cardinals' a 2-0 lead.

The Eagles were forced back on defense over the next few minutes, with Jacobs making another crucial save after a Louisville breakaway. Junior Rachel Stefano continued to lead the Eagles' back line, tallying a defensive save in the 14th minute to send AU on the attack. 

A quick run put the Eagles back into Louisville's half, where they were able to force a penalty corner and get on the board with a shot from senior Haley Bowcutt, assisted by junior Rafaela Rubas.

The remainder of the game proved to be a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, with the Eagles unable to force their way through Louisville's tough defense. Freshman Noor Coenen, senior Leah DiGiandomenico, junior Lucy Whalley and senior Samantha McCormick all put up shots in the second half, but the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Cardinals by the final whistle.

By the end of regulation, the Eagles had put up seven shots to Louisville's 12, with Jacobs making a season-high six saves. 

AU will return to College Park on Sunday to take on Towson at 2 p.m. before making its home and conference debut on Saturday, September 16, against Bucknell.

For the latest on AU Field Hockey, stay tuned to AUEagles.com and follow the team on Twitter @AU_FieldHockey.