Field Hockey Clinches PL Regular Season Title With 8-1 Win Over Lehigh; Watch Senior Day Video Highlights

Field Hockey Clinches PL Regular Season Title With 8-1 Win Over Lehigh; Watch Senior Day Video Highlights

Video Highlights (ALL VIDEO)

The American University field hockey team clinched its seventh consecutive Patriot League Regular Season Championship on Sunday with an emphatic 8-1 win over Lehigh on Jacobs Field. With the win, American also earned the right to host the Patriot League Tournament next weekend, November 6-7. Melissa Casale led the way for the Eagles, recording her first career hat trick, while Christine Fingerhuth added two goals.

Lehigh (7-10, 2-3) took the upper hand to begin the game, scoring the first goal just 2:13 into the action off a penalty corner. The Mountain Hawks’ Claire Horn stopped the insertion and attempted a shot from the top of the circle which was blocked. The loose ball was picked up by Kelsey Zeswitz at the right post and passed to Morgan Christopher in front of the goal where she tapped it in, giving Lehigh an early 1-0 advantage.

The lead did not last long, however, as American (9-8, 4-1) took control of the game and never let up. Casale evened the score at one in the 12th minute with her first score of the day, deflecting a Savannah Graybill shot to the top of the cage. Fingerhuth put the Eagles on top for good in the 27th minute, scoring the game-winner on an exceptional individual effort. Fingerhuth initially received a pass from outside the circle and was blanketed by a Mountain Hawk defender. The junior then made a spin move to her right to gain position over the defender and sent a one-timer into the cage at the right post, giving American a 2-1 advantage.

The Eagles added one more goal to their lead right before the half, scoring off a broken penalty corner with no time remaining on the clock. Anne-Meike de Wiljes handled the ball for American after the insertion was bobbled and dribbled around a defender before attempting a reverse stick shot from the top of the circle. Her shot was deflected once again by Casale at the right post, putting the Eagles ahead 3-1 heading into the intermission.

American did not miss a beat coming out of the break and quickly upped its advantage to 4-1 just 3:25 into the second half. Anne van Erp set the play up as she dribbled the ball across the circle for a shot from top which was deflected by Graybill at the left post. Less than four minutes later, Fingerhuth tallied her second goal of the day off a penalty corner as she flicked the ball from the top of the circle to the top of the cage for a 5-1 American lead.

The Eagles added three more scores within a 2:26 span, giving the team its final 8-1 margin by the 48th minute. De Wiljes scored the Eagles sixth goal on a penalty stroke, beating the goalkeeper to the right. The seventh goal came as Fingerhuth found van Erp at the top of the circle for a long sweeping shot to the top of the cage. The final score came off the stick of Casale after Alli Baron picked up a loose ball on the baseline and made a nice pass through a defender to the sophomore at the right post.

Graybill, de Wiljes and Fingerhuth each improved their standing in the American and Patriot League record books with their performances on Sunday. Graybill’s goal was the 39th of her career, putting her seventh all-time at the school and two shy of fifth place. She has also notched 87 career points, good for ninth at American and two points shy of eighth place. De Wiljes moved into sole possession of eighth place in career assists with the 28th of her career and also ranks eighth all-time in Patriot League history. The senior’s three-goal performance gives her 54 on her career, 20th most in school history. Fingerhuth’s five-point performance on Sunday moves her into a tie for 14th all-time at American with 72 and her 31 goals are one short of 10th place.

Before the game, American recognized its six graduating student-athletes in a special Senior Day ceremony. Carly Boyce, Rachel Carney, de Wiljes, Graybill, Alyssa Poorman and Emily Stovicek were each recognized for their contributions to the program, which now include four Patriot League Regular Season Championships, three Patriot League Tournament Championships and a combined 15 selections to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll and NFHCA Division I Academic Squad.

“I think it’s a great celebration for the seniors and the team in general,” Associate Head Coach Sarah Thorn Krombolz commented during her live postgame interview with Eagles Vision TV. “We really wanted to step forward and fight for them. After getting off to a slow start in the first few minutes the team really pulled together and did a great job.

American will host the 2009 Patriot League Tournament next Friday and Saturday, November 6-7, at Jacobs Field. Top-seeded American will first play #4 Lehigh on Friday at 11 a.m. with #2 Bucknell and #3 Lafayette to meet at 1:30 p.m. The winner of these games will play on Saturday at 1 p.m. to decide the 2009 Patriot League Champion. Tickets to the tournament are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for youth 17 and under and can be purchased the day of the game at the gate.