A back-and-forth defensive battle finally came to an end after more than 97 minutes of action, as senior captain Grace Wilson capitalized on a penalty corner to give the 19th-ranked American University field hockey team a 1-0 double overtime victory over No. 16 Michigan State Sunday at Jacobs Field.
Wilson took a feed from classmate Rebecca Treharne and dodged her defender before sending the ball past MSU goalkeeper Sierra Patton. It marked the first time that the Eagles were able to get past a seemingly unstoppable Patton, who recorded 12 saves in the contest, including six in the overtime periods.
With its win on Sunday, AU improves to 3-1 on the season, earning three consecutive shutouts and its second win over a nationally ranked opponent. Meanwhile, the Spartans fall to 2-2 on the year.
The contest was evenly matched throughout regulation, with American having a slight edge on shots taken (11-9) and penalty corners awarded (4-3). In the first overtime session, AU had several opportunities to tally the game-winning goal, but each time, the Eagles were stifled by Patton.
American's best chance at a score came at the end of the first overtime period, as AU took a penalty corner with no time left on the clock. After another game-saving stop by Patton, the Eagles were awarded a penalty stroke in a battle in front of the net. However, Patton came up big for the Spartans once again, recording a save to send the game into a second overtime.
The Eagles continued to play aggressively in the second overtime, earning a pair of penalty corners, including the corner which set up Wilson's game-winner.
"Both team were incredible today," said American head coach Steve Jennings. "Michigan State is a great team, with a great coaching staff. It really was back and forth throughout the game and it could have gone either way. Their goalie made some phenomenal saves and our goalie and defense made some great plays as well."
"Today was really a great example of what it means to play as a team," continued Jennings. "There were great efforts across the board. Grace 'dotted the I' with that goal, but everyone contributed to the win."
In addition to giving AU its third-straight victory, Sunday's win also marks the 200th career victory for Jennings, now in his 16th season at the helm of the Eagles' program.
"It feels great to have a win over a ranked opponent, and a win over a Big Ten team," said Jennings. "In a lot of ways, [the 200th win] is just like any other win. But it's also a reflection of the great players and staff we've had over the years, as well as the outstanding support we've gotten from our administration. I feel really blessed."
American is back in action next weekend at the Terrapin Invitational, hosted by the University of Maryland. The Eagles will face Towson on Saturday at 11:00 a.m., while taking on Drexel on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.