By Brooks Warren, Staff Writer
File photo by Owen DiDonna/The Towerlight
Towson fell to American University, 7-0, in a neutral site game at the University of Maryland Sept. 15.
Towson (0-5) freshman goalie Tess Okkerse had another solid outing despite the loss against the Eagles (3-3), with 13 saves. Freshman attack Samantha Aljets recorded the Tigers’ lone shot on goal. Junior Midfielder Noor Coenen led the Eagles with a hat trick, with sophomore forward Atini Pagani, sophomore midfielder Josie Formica, junior forward Gaby De Kock, and sophomore midfielder Georgia Davies complimenting Coenen with one goal apiece.
“American is a really talented team,” head coach E.A Jackson said. “They rely heavily on a handful of internationals in the middle of the field and they’re super skilled and did a number on us today.”
It took six minutes into the first quarter for American to get on board when De Kock blasted her second shot of the day past Okkerse. It was the lone first -quarter goal Okkerse allowed after saving three shots on goal and her defense blocking another four shots. Aljets broke loose on a breakaway opportunity early on but her shot was saved by Eagles goalie Caroline Miller.
The second quarter is where things got hectic for Towson. It was an efficient frame for the Eagles, scoring three goals on five shots. The first goal of the onslaught was from Pagani, her first of the season, off a rebound shot. Davies scored the second goal of the day off a Coenen assist, who proceeded to score her first goal of the day nearly four minutes apart late in the first half.
“I’m seeing a lot of heart out of these athletes and seeing a lot of hustle,” Jackson said. “And today we kind of just showed our [youth] and it’s a great opportunity to learn and get better.”
Coenen raced along the right sideline before unleashing her second goal of the day unassisted, and her third and final goal was off a Merel Dupont assist and hockey assist from Davies on a corner penalty. Her three-goal performance put Coenen at four for the season.
“This is certainly not the first international superstar that we’re going to see all season,” Jackson said. “For some reason today number 20 on American just really shook us a bit. I think showing up and really focusing on us and our game plan and sticking to it is how we’re going to continue improving.”
The Tigers dropped a 5-0 decision to No. 4 University of Maryland on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
The Terps (6-1) were led by five different scorers; sophomore midfielder Linda Cabano, freshman midfielder Emma Deberdine, junior defender Hannah Bond, senior midfielder Madison Maguire and senior forward Jenn Bleakney scored one goal apiece. Maryland reeled off 27 shots for the game, 12 on goal.
“I think we went in playing like a young team might play,” Jackson said. “Sort of back on their heels, a little intimidated their playing the number four team in the country.”
The Terps came out aggressive from the start of the game, recording 13 shots in the first quarter alone. Just over a minute into the contest, Bond scored off a loose ball from Maguire’s first shot of the day. Maguire scored just 90 seconds later when she scored off a corner shot unassisted. The final goal of the dismantling first frame was when Cabano scored off an assist from Bond and hockey assist from sophomore forward Bibi Donraadt.
The second and third quarter showed off a completely different Towson team. Jackson said that during a quick huddle, she told her girls that this Maryland squad was human just like them.
“We had a team talk, and I said can we take a collective breath.” Jackson said. “ There’s nothing super about them unless we allow them to treat as such.”
It would’ve been easy for the young Tigers to fold, but that gathering was exactly what Towson needed to wake up.
“We decided to fight, and get more aggressive. Try to step to the ball and try to generate some attack.” Jackson said.
For the next two quarters, Okkerse and the rest of the Tigers stopped eight shots as a unit. The Tigers also found some footing on offense. Players like sophomore defender Gretchen Alderfer as well as junior midfielder Beira Ho and sophomore midfielder Paige Reese stepped up and played in attack mode, going harder for opportunities and taking risks they didn’t at the beginning.
Jackson also had praise for freshman attack Dominique Nelson, Aljets and Beachley for their aggressive play during the latter 45 minutes of the game. Freshmen midfielders Hannah McKeon and Hannah King also made some big-time plays on defense, making clutch plays in the circle and forcing some empty trips downfield for the Terps.
“These are just really great opportunities for our freshman to understand the pace of division one,” Jackson said. “They all really stepped up today. It’s fun to see them play like fourth year [players] and not scared freshman.”
Unfortunately, the Terps scored twice in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers do take solace in the incremental improvements they’re making as a team. Jackson also says that this type of game where they can continue to create their identity of playing a gritty style of Baltimore hockey they want to implement.
“This was again a good step in the right direction,” Jackson said.
Towson field hockey returns on Friday, Sept. 20 for a home game against La Salle University. The game time is set for 2 p.m. at the TU Feld Hockey Complex.