American University has dominated field hockey in the Patriot League for the past decade, while Lehigh hasn’t won a league title since 1994.
But on Saturday the Hawks held their own, battling American to a 1-0 loss in overtime at Lehigh’s Ulrich Sports Complex.
In the first five minutes of the game Lehigh freshman forward Teresa Carotenuto passed the ball up the field to sophomore defender Julia Washburn for the Mountain Hawks’ first attempted shot on goal. A steal by senior midfielder Erin Ricker led to another attempted shot by the Hawks.
With just over 16 minutes left in the first period, American had its first attempted shot, just missing the goal. The shot resulted in a penalty corner, giving the Eagles another chance to score, but they failed again. The Eagles were unable to get past the Mountain Hawks defense to score a goal.
American led the game in shots, 10-5, and in penalty corners, 5-2.
“Our defense really shut down American’s offense,” junior forward Gabby Tofig said. “We need to continue to play as we did and capitalize on our opportunities.”
In the second half, a save by junior goalkeeper Julia Ward stopped the Eagles on their first attempted shot of the half. Ward made another save shortly after, diving to the corner of the goal to block the shot.
Ward made another big save with five minutes left in the game. Lehigh got the ball back, and a shot by junior forward Amanda Granger resulted in a penalty corner for the Mountain Hawks with just over a minute left in the game. The Mountain Hawks failed to score, ending regulation in a scoreless tie.
The game went into overtime and just under five minutes into the extra time the Eagles got past the Mountain Hawks’ defense and scored, ending the game.
Granger led the Mountain Hawks with two shots and Ward led the team with four saves.
“We played together as a unit today, which allowed us to compete at a level we haven’t reached before,” Granger said. “Now it’s time to bring that to every game and finish it.”
The team said it’s excited and eager to come out strong against every opponent it faces this year.
“To have a successful season we really need to create more opportunities offensively, starting from the defense to the forwards,” junior midfielder Kassidy Green said. “We need to keep playing as a team and fighting until the end of the game.”
This was the Hawks’ first Patriot League game of the season.
“Being our first Patriot League game, we really wanted this win,” junior defender Janelle High said. “American is a top-ranked team, and today we proved a lot to not only ourselves that we can play with anyone, but also showed the other Patriot League teams that we’re ready for anyone.”
Lehigh will go up against Bucknell University on Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.