April 27, 2007
WORCESTER, Mass. - American University women's lacrosse earned its fourth berth to the Patriot League Championship in its sixth season in the conference with a 16-6 win over Lehigh on Holy Cross's Hart Turf on Friday afternoon.
With the scoreboard reading 7-6 in American's favor at the end of the first half, it was no surprise if a flashback of last weekend's double overtime match-up between the two foes came to mind. The Eagles came out of the lockerroom with revenge in mind, going on a 9-0 run over Lehigh in the final 32 minutes. Similar to the first half and numerous games in the 2007 season, Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Jackie Lane (North Massapequa, N.Y./Plainedge) opened the scoring gates for AU just over three minutes into the second half, assisted by captain Lauren Aksionoff (Baldwin, N.Y./Baldwin). Tallying her 23rd assist of the 2007 season, the First Team All-Patriot League selection broke into American University's record book for the most assists in a single season. Within minutes, American flooded the already damp turf, while the Mountain Hawks suffered from a never ending drought.
After senior Caithlin Gorman (Springfield, Va./Bishop Ireton) tallied her second of three goals, Anne Marie Person (Rosemont, Pa./The Episcopal Academy) gave AU its biggest lead of the game, 10-6, with 14:56 remaining in regulation. The Eagles continued to seize the momentum on both ends of the turf, with Brittany Finnegan (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip) turning key defensive plays into offensive threats. Marking the Patriot League Rookie of the Year Inneke Carmola, Finnegan held Lehigh's leading scorer to just two goals and forced three offensive fouls on the attacker, with two big plays leading to goals for the Red, White and Blue. The Second Team All-Patriot League defender finished with a team-high three groundballs and a goal for the Eagles.
Whether they were earned from free position attempts, quick transition plays or penetration from sharp passing, AU took advantage of every opportunity, outshooting the Mountain Hawks 14-6 in the second half and scoring on 10 of those chances. Taking care of the ball also played a huge part in the 16-6 win, with AU recording a season-low eight turnovers against Lehigh. Goalkeeper Kristine Vida's (Syosset, N.Y./Syosset) keen reactions kept the momentum in American's favor, registering 12 saves on the day.
Lane ended with a game-high six points, combining five goals with one assist. Gorman chipped in four points, with Person and Aksionoff registering three of their own. Lane and Aksionoff lead the squad with 57 points each, just five away from taking over the record for points in a season (62), set by Gina Riitano in 2003. Sophomore Stefanie D'Andrea was in on the action, tallying one goal and one assist, with Kira Sonberg (Millersville, Md./Old Mill), Gina Ibello (Cockeysville, Md./Maryvale Prep) and Amanda Makoid (Doylestown, Pa./Archbishop Wood) scoring the other goals for the Eagles.
In her inaugural season at American University, Head Coach Katie Woods earns her first post season win with the Eagles and leads the squad to its first appearance in the Patriot League title game since the 2004 season. Her nine wins matches the most victories set by a head coach in their first season, tying Maureen Dupcak (1999).
American University women's lacrosse takes on first place Holy Cross in the Patriot League Championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Hart Turf. The Eagles look for their second ever Patriot League Championship and a berth to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.