Senior Morgan Bittengle scored the first goal of her hat trick just 56 seconds into the game as the Eagles routed the Dragons, 5-1, on Friday (Oct. 27) in nonconference action at Ferguson Field. The last time AU scored five goals in a game was in a 5-2 win over Saginaw Valley State in the GLIAC Tournament semifinal in 2014.
It was the final game of the regular season for both teams. The Eagles (11-5-1) will now look to the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal where they will meet Northern Michigan on Tuesday (Oct. 31) at 1 p.m. at home.
On Friday night, the Eagles were flying. They maintained possession over long stretches of the game and the Dragons (7-9-1) never threatened until they scored in the 72nd minute.
"That's something we strive for every game," said Bittengle, who now has 15 goals and two hat tricks on the season. "This was an important game for us, we needed to come out with that win. In the past, we've been a second-half team and we've been playing catch-up. Us scoring in the first minute was huge for us and led to four more goals."
Bittengle got the Eagles on the board in the first minute after a handball gave the hosts a prime chance at goal. Senior defender Julie Lacock played a perfect ball as Bittengle made a beautifully-timed run beyond the back line and Bittengle headed it in. Lacock was credited with her second assist of the season.
Before the 10-minute mark, senior Carson Janssen lifted a corner kick into the box where it was handled by a Tiffin defender and the Eagles were awarded a penalty kick. Senior Kelsey McKernan calmly knocked her shot past TU keeper Samantha Ortenzi to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
The game remained 2-0 until just before halftime as sophomore Korinna Lakes pushed the ball into the offensive third down the right wing. Her cross connected with freshman Hannah Simard, who took a couple touches, escaped the goalkeeper and touched it over the line for her first collegiate goal. It was Lakes' second assist of the year.
The Eagles did not let Tiffin back in the game after the intermission. They worked several passes in the box after Bittengle held the ball up to allow her teammates to get into the space on the wings. Eventually, freshman Emily Mark came free and fired a shot that was saved, but Bittengle cleaned up the rebound for her second goal and AU's fourth of the game.
The Eagles scored a beauty in the 58th minute to take a 5-0 advantage. Senior Haley Stinebaugh made a fantastic run down the right side from her defensive position and sent a low cross into the box where Janssen let it scoot through her legs for Bittengle, who finished her hat trick. Janssen now has three assists and Stinebaugh recorded her first of the season.
"The 'dummy' is Carson's move. She does it in games and sometimes we don't know when she's going to do it," said Bittengle. "I was yelling, 'Do it, Carson! Do it, Carson!' Honestly, she almost dummied me, because I didn't see it coming for a second, but it was a great move by Carson and Haley had the great cross."
The Eagles boosted their NCAA Tournament resume with the win and will now head into the conference tournament with plenty of momentum at their backs, outscoring their last two opponents of the regular season, 8-1.