On the strength of two second-half goals scored by seniors Emily Stovicek and Anne-Meike de Wiljes, the #19 American University field hockey team defeated Cal Friday afternoon, 2-0, in the team's home opener at Jacobs Field. Stovicek's tally was her first of the year while de Wiljes's score was her third.
The Eagles controlled the pace of play for nearly the entire first half but were unable to find the back of the cage. One of American's (4-2) best opportunities of the frame came nearly 11 minutes in when bios/graybill_savannah00.html">Savannah Graybill and Christine Fingerhuth played give-and-go from midfield to the striking circle before Graybill fired a shot which went wide left. Despite earning four penalty corners and outshooting Cal (2-3) by a margin of 7-1, American failed to get on the board in the first half, sending four shots wide.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Poorman made two spectacular plays in the first half to keep the Golden Bears off the scoreboard. The first came midway through the frame as she made a diving block of a centering pass and then drew a foul to halt Cal's offensive charge. In the 34th minute Poorman made a save on a Deanna Kennedy shot off a penalty corner, the only shot she would face in the half, to send the game into the intermission tied 0-0.
American's pressure on the Cal circle finally paid off in the 47th minute as Stovicek scored the eventual game-winning goal. Kirstin Gebhart played a ball down the left sideline and made a terrific spin move to beat her defender before passing the ball off to Kelsey Davis at the baseline. Davis then sent a centering pass into the circle where Stovicek was able to make a diving deflection of the ball for the score, her first of the season.
The Eagles struck again just over eight minutes later as de Wiljes put her third goal of the year past Cal goalkeeper Maddie Hand off a penalty corner in the 55th minute, pushing American's advantage to 2-0. Gebhart and Anne van Erp were both credited with assists on the play.
Poorman came up big once again moments later, stopping a Cal fast break to preserve the lead. Poorman found herself on the wrong end of a one-on-none rush but charged out of the goal to stop a shot by Rachelle Comeau and then recovered to make a second save on a Natalie Nurnberg attempt. The Eagles defense stood tall from that point on, allowing just one shot off a penalty corner in the final 13-plus minutes, as American walked away with the 2-0 win.
"We came out strong but weren't able to capitalize early on and were a little disappointed in that but our team really took it to another level in the second half," Associate Head Coach Sarah Thorn Krombolz commented after the victory. "We were coming off a great weekend last week and hope to continue this momentum into Sunday's match at James Madison."
American outshot Cal 11-5 for the game and held a 6-4 advantage in corners. De Wiljes, Fingerhuth and Graybill each attempted three shots for the Eagles while de Wiljes put all three of her shots on goal. Poorman finished the match with three saves to record her 15th career shutout.
American will return to action on Sunday, Sept. 20, as it travels to Harrisonburg, Va., to take on #13 James Madison at 1 p.m. Live stats from the game will be available by clicking here.