Nov. 3, 2007
Anyone watching Saturday's women's soccer contest between American University and the visiting Bucknell Bison would have no questions as to why it's called "The Beautiful Game." After a brilliantly played, technically proficient 110 minutes, the Eagles and BU ended in a 1-1 tie in a game whose score belied the numerous lovely chances had by both teams.
With the tie, Bucknell finishes atop the PL regular season standings, with a 5-1-1 league record and 16 points, earning the right to host next weekend's Patriot League Championship Tournament. Meanwhile, the Eagles finish the PL docket undefeated at 4-0-3, earning 15 points and the Tournament's second seed.
American put forth a solid chance in the 12th minute, when Kelsey Brasher's blast from 15 yards just skimmed over the crossbar.
The Bison in the 15th minute benefited from a perfect serve from Jennifer Dervarics, after she received a pass to feet from Lauren Stoller up the right sideline, that found Krista Lee Gentile just onsides on the back pipe. Gentile tucked a header inside the left post to go up one-nil on the hosts.
Bucknell put pressure on AU immediately after the Bison goal, hoping to put away the Eagles early. BU's Kelsey Johnson and Kelliann Doherty fired shots on net in the 17th and 19th minutes, respectively, but AU veteran keeper Kelsey Wiggins was up to the task, making stops on both scoring bids to keep the Eagles a goal down.
The tide eventually turned in AU's favor. The Eagles put up a relentless attack for the remainder of the opening period, firing seven more shots on net before the frame ended. However, BU keeper Kathryn Sutton stood on her head, making all seven saves and eight total saves in the first half. She finished with a game-high 12 stops. Unquestionably her best stop came in the 31st minute, when senior Siobhan Gillan, celebrating Senior Day with her classmates, put a ball on net from 40 yards away that would have slipped just under the crossbar had Sutton not leaped and lunged with her right hand, knocking the attempt just over the bar.
The two teams eventually went into halftime with the score, 1-0, in favor of the orange-clad visitors, despite AU peppering the Bison net with nine shots compared to BU's four.
In the 59th minute, AU finally matched BU's stunning goal with an striking tally of its own. After a corner kick by the Eagles was knocked out of the box by the Herd's defense, American's Kelly McLaughlin corralled the loose ball and found Brasher in the box. With four defenders on her back, Brasher feigned left and turned right, then bent a perfect blast over the outstretched arms of Sutton into the top right corner. It was Brasher's team- and Patriot League-leading 13th goal of the season.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, but not for want of chances. In regulation alone, Wiggins stopped three more shots and received a helper from the crossbar in the 85th minute, when Dervarics' rocket clanged off pipe.
As the game went into extra time, the situation was set: AU needed a win to earn the right to host the PL Tournament, and the Bison could settle for a tie for the same outcome. However, that didn't stop BU from getting the better of the scoring chances in the initial overtime period. Bucknell got off shots in the 92nd and 97th minutes, but neither reached the net. AU's lone chance came off the foot of Brasher, but Sutton made yet another save.
BU got the first shot off in the final overtime frame, but Wiggins was there for the stop. After that, it was all Eagles. AU got off six straight shots. Its best chance to end the game came in the 106th minute. AU's Erin Stebbins blasted a header off a cross that seemed destined for the low left corner of the net. However, Sutton dove to her right and just got her hands on it for a spectacular save. Still, Sutton, lying prostrate, could not pull the ball back into her body and it lay free a yard in front of her and right at the feet of Brasher. Brasher put a foot on it, but Sutton was again there for the Bison, enveloping the shot and preserving the tie. American got two more shots, one by Friederike Engle that went a yard wide, but as time ticked down it was apparent the Eagles would not get an overtime game-winner.
American outshot the Bison, 20-14, in an otherwise even game. Corner kicks were four a piece and fouls registered 11-10 for Bucknell.
The Eagles will now play Navy in the PL semifinals on Friday, Nov. 9, at a time still to be determined. Bucknell awaits games tonight to determine its opponent in the other semifinal. Army and Lehigh are still alive for the final spot, but Army has a game in hand.