Video Highlights (ALL VIDEO)
The American University field hockey team used an early barrage of goals to propell itself to a 7-1 victory over Lehigh and advance to the Patriot League Tournament Championship Game. American play Lafayette on Saturday, November 7, at 1:30 p.m. in the final at Jacobs Field as the Eagles look to claim their seventh consecutive Patriot League Championship.
American got on the board twice in the first six minutes to take command of the game. ng>Christine Fingerhuth scored her 11th goal of the season in the third minute after picking up a loose ball in front of the cage. She then used a fancy move to deak the Lehigh defender for the one-timer goal to get the scoring started. Just three minutes later, Melissa Casale helped the Eagles convert a penalty corner as she deflected the ball into the cage following a Savannah Graybill blast from the top left of the circle. The goal was the 10th on the season for Casale, joining her with Fingerhuth and Graybill as a double-digit goal scorer.
American would add three more goals before halftime, one each from Kelsey Davis, Shay Smith and Alli Baron. Davis was able to score after forcing a turnover by Lehigh goalkeeper Lilia Stefaniwsky and then unleashing a thunderous shot to the back of the cage. Smith added a fourth goal to American's lead, her first tally of the season, when she recovered a loose ball from outside the 25, carried it into the circle and smashed the ball to the far post. Baron would then wrap up the first half scoring when she recovered a Lehigh turnover inside the circle and converted on a one-timer to the far post.
The Eagles took a 5-0 advantage into the intermission along with an 11-2 shot advantage and a 3-1 difference in penalty corners.
Davis continued American's scoring onslaught right out of the gate in the second half, scoring her second goal of the afternoon. The freshman picked up a loose ball in front of the cage and slipped it down under Jessica Miller, who had just entered the game at goalkeeper for the Mountain Hawks. Davis struck again in the 42nd minute, as Casale carried the ball into the circle and found the forward on the left side, who swept the ball through the Lehigh defense for her third goal of the afternoon. The score pushed American's lead to 7-0.
Lehigh scored its lone goal in the 69th minute when Lyndsey Smith converted the Mountain Hawk's third and final penalty corner of the afternoon, bringing the score to its final 7-1 margin.
Davis's three-goal performance was the first for an American student-athlete in postseason history. She is only the third student-athlete in Patriot League history to record a hat trick in a Patriot League Tournament game and the first since 2002. Davis's three goals pull her within one of the all-time Patriot League Tournament record of four, a record that has held since 1997.
In addition to the three goals from Davis, the Eagles were paced offensively by Fingerhuth who contributed 10 shots, six of which were on goal. Casale added an assist to her goal to go along with three shots on goal. Alyssa Poorman and Hannah Weitzman combined for the win, with Poorman notching 60 minutes in the cage while Weitzman recorded the lone save of the day for the Eagles. American outshot the Mountain Hawks 29-4 on the afternoon and maintained a 8-3 advantage on penalty corners.
"The team did a nice job today of finishing our chances and took control of the game early," American Head Coach Steve Jennings commented after the win. "We hope to keep our momentum going in tomorrow's final against a very talented Lafayette team."
In the second Patriot League semifinal matchup, Lafayette defeated Bucknell, 3-2, in overtime. American and Lafayette will now meet on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. to decide the 2009 Patriot League Champion. Tickets will be available at Jacobs Field and are $5 for adults, $3 for youth and are free for American and Lafayette students with a valid student ID.