A Clue To This Weekend’s Match With Bucknell Will Not Be Found In The Numbers

Ellen Coulbourne speeds through the Colgate defense

Games with Bucknell  are very often season defining affairs and this weekend is no exception. Both teams face elimination from the post season depending on the Boston/Holy Cross match tonight, and the outcome of saturday’s contest. Bucknell is 1-3 in the league and most definitely will be eliminated with a loss. The Leopards are 2-2 and if Holy Cross finds a way to win tonight  could still get to the PL playoffs with a win over Lehigh, and if American were to beat Boston in the last game.

Ami Turner takes to the turf for the turnover

To avoid all that, Lafayette needs the win tomorrow and against Lehigh to lock up their place in the playoffs.For a fan like me a look at the stats between the teams doesn’t help. On paper they look like twins. To compare apples to apples I looked at the Patriot League game alone. Each team has played a similar schedule with Lafayette yet to play Lehigh and Bucknell  yet to play Colgate, in their final Patriot League games. Here are the on field statististics for league game only.

Lafayette goals -1.5 per game opponents 1.25

Bucknell goals- 1 per game opponents 1.25

Save percentage- Lafayette .8o8

Save percentage- Bucknell .80

Shots Lafayette- 46

Bucknell -50

Corners Lafayette – 38

Bucknell-  47

Signature games Bucknell beat Albany, Lafayette beat Boston University.

Junior Rosie Shanks beats the James Madison defender

Lafayette has very strong leadership in their senior class, and a strong young classes underneath. Bucknell has a young team who has contributed to some diverse scoring. Coach Cook from Bucknell noted their 56 entries into the attacking 25  without a result at Holy Cross last week, but he feels good about the game since both team are facing similar obstacles and both realize the importance of the game. He feels nerves will cancel each other out.

Senior Bucknell defender Emily Goodloe hopes the nervousness will go away quickly and they can concentrate on having fun and scoring. Bucknell has been good on their home turf, but Lafayette left early to get in a practice today to counter that advantage.

Midfielder Kristin Taylor finds a opening taking the ball upfield

This game may well depend on how well both team’s young players perform. Lafayette’s talented young cadre could be the difference, and with US under 21 player Amanda Magadan drawing a lot of attention, we could see some key work by the young part of the squad.  Senior Kaitlyn Arnold has been playing her best hockey of the year in goal and could also be factor.


Each coach will be planning to take advantage of the other’s weaknesses. Who executes better and shows the most heart could determine the end score. The weather will be a little raw by being cloudy and in the mid to low 50’s.

For all practical purposes this is a playoff game….Go Pards!!


Lafayette Battles Third Top Twenty Team In A Row

Carolyn Turnbull lines up a shot late in game

In a hard fought battle the Leopards battled number 20 James Madison University in a 3-1 loss at Rappolt field. This was less than 24 hours after they finished an overtime game with American University. It took 23 minutes and 45 seconds for JMU to find the back of the cage as goalkeeper Kaitlyn Arnold had another great game in the cage recording six saves, many of them spectacular while diving and leaping in the air.

Arnold blocks a shot against JMU

The half ended with the score 1-0 but it only took 3 minutes and 45 seconds for Amanda Magadan to even it all up 1-1 with her sixth goal of the season. The game went back and forth as the Lafayette defense turned back several strong attacks by the JMU midfielders and forwards. In the end, fatigue seemed to set in as JMU was able to score two more goals to lock up the win.

JMU had 15 shots, nine of which were on goal, while Lafayette had nine shots, five of which were on goal. If you were to break it up by periods, James Madison had 11 shots in the first half against five for the Leopards while shots were equal 4 to 4 in the second period.

Cody Hunsicker starts play after a JMU out of bounds

The team will play the first  of two remaining Patriot League games against Bucknell on Saturday. The Leopards will need to win both games to assure themselves of a berth in the Patriot League tournament. A loss by Bucknell will eliminate them from post season play. The Leopards can build on these two past games to take to Lewisburg. Lafayette is in my estimation a good team, and should they get the offense rolling could not only win next week but take that momentum into post season play.

Rosa Jonckheer’s return to the attack should stimulate the front line and take some pressure off of Amanda Magadan. They should be able to hold on to the ball longer and give their defense a break. There were some great moments in the last two games and the Leopards will all need to raise the level of their game collectively, and  then they could present Bucknell with formidable problems.

Bucknell is very good on their home turf, a slightly harder turf than is found at Rappolt Field. The Leopards will travel on Friday to prepare for the Saturday game in what will be played in a playoff atmosphere. It should be great for hockey fans!!




Lafayette Falls To American In Second Overtime 2-1

Magadan attracts a lot of attention driving the ball up the field

The Lafayette defense played well but a shot by American with a little more than minute into the second overtime dashed the Leopards hope for an upset win this afternoon. Katelyn Arnold stood tall in the cage with 8 saves assisted by Cody Hunsicker who had 2 saves of her own to fight American to a regular time 1-1 tie.

The Leopards opened scoring on a corner opportunity with only 5 minutes gone in the first period. Ellen Colbourne delivered to Amy Turner who tapped it to Amanda Magadan who rifled the shot past the American goalie. Although the first period saw the Leopards end it with a 1-0 lead, much of the offense was on the side of American. American had 8 shots with one save. The Eagles as is their custom used their excellent transition game to challenge the Leopards thoughout the game. There were several occasions that Lafayette was able to get around the overcommitted eagles and it was one of those moments that led to the corner and the Lafayette goal.

Ellen Colbourne speeds past an American defender

The second period saw American redouble their efforts as they were to launch several shots at Kaitlynn Arnold who again was magnificent in the goal. However at 43:06 on a corner of their own, American’s Angela Virtua launched a shot to be deflected by Natalie March for their first and only goal of the second period. It was nine shots to three with two saves for Lafayette as the defense kept Lafayette within striking distance.

The  first overtime period visually was to look much the same, as the Leopards turned away the Eagles several times giving up 3 shots while delivering two of their own, one by Rosa Jonckheer who returned to the turf after a 5 game recovery from an injury.  The first overtime period ended in a tie.

Kristin Taylor gets control of the ball

The second period saw early Eagle action as the tired Leopard defense having performed brilliantly all game gave up the winning goal on a cross at 86:37 by Lucy Whalley.

Rosie Shanks, Kristin Taylor and Aliza Furneaux defend against an American midfielder

The Leopards will take on JMU tomorrow at 2 pm and next Saturday will have a must win game at Bucknell. Bucknell lost in a shoot out at Holy Cross making them 1-3 in the League while the Leopards are 2-2 having lost to Holy Cross and now American. Lafayette has still to meet with Lehigh as well as Bucknell and Bucknell will follow next week’s game  with a game at Colgate. Bucknell, Lafayette, Holy Cross and Lehigh could find themselves in a tiebreaker situation at the end of the season. Lafayette would avoid that with a win next week and against Lehigh the following week. More about that in a new article later on.


It’s That Time Of The Season When The Rule Of Four Kicks In.

Rachael Bird shows her form, skill and strength delivering the ball upfield

There are seven teams in the Patriot League and four teams will advance to the league playoffs in a single elimination tournament at the end of season. The winner gets an invite to the NCAA tournament regardless of record. There is also a rare possibility that a second team could be added as an at large invitee based on RPI. That would certainly take an RPI better than 16 at least, to be considered by the selection committee.

At the moment,  the league records are as follows, American is 3-0, Boston  2-1, Lafayette  2-1, Holy Cross is 2-2, Lehigh 2-2, Bucknell 1-2 and Colgate 0-4. American plays Lafayette on Saturday and follows with Colgate and Boston in subsequent weeks. Aside from American, Lafayette will have Bucknell @ Bucknell and Lehigh @ home. Boston will play Lehigh this week-end and follow with Holy Cross, before a show down with American. Lehigh finishes with Lafayette.  Holy Cross will host Bucknell on Saturday at 11 am, and followed with Boston @ Boston Oct 21st. Bucknell of course has it’s game this weekend with Holy Cross and follows @ home with Lafayette and finishes with Colgate. Colgate’s games have been already stated.

Amanda Magadan speeds upfield

With 7 members in the league the number 4 becomes paramount. Either a 4 win record or a 4 loss record virtually guarantees a spot in or out. Colgate has 4 losses it will not be playing in the post season. A win by American over Lafayette means they are in for sure with 4 league wins and a leading candidate to host, depending on the head to head records at the end. Lafayette is playing for it’s 3rd win which would put it one win away from clinching a playoff berth and possibly hosting based on the head to head tiebreaker. The hosting spot may go the last weekend when Boston meets American. Holy Cross and Bucknell will be in a struggle to avoid three losses with tough games to follow the following week. If  Lehigh loses to Boston on Saturday they are in a must win situation with Lafayette at Lafayette in the last league game of the season.

Yes, it is one game at a time, but for many of the teams on the short side of scores this weekend, it will put them within one game of elimination. The Leopards could help themselves with a win to enable them, to host and put them within one game of clinching a spot in the post season. So one game at time for our Pards. The Leopards need to concentrate on overcoming the Eagles this weekend, and THEN on to the next game.

Lafayette Succumbs To Albany Pressure 4-0

Rose Shanks is surrounded by the close pressure from Albany

The Leopards followed a disappointing  loss the previous, day by making the two hour trip to the University of Albany, losing 4-0 where there were moments of encouragement but ultimately not being able to solve the Albany pressure especially in the first half. Albany scored 3 first half goals on penalty corners, the first coming at 16:08 into the game on a broken play. Most of the play in that half was in the Leopard defensive side of the field as Albany was able to turn back and counter Lafayette attempts to transition to other side of the field. Perhaps it was the grind of almost 1,000 miles on a bus and the short turn around, but the Leopards gave up the last two goals of the half game near the end of the half at 32:50 and after time had expired on penalty corners. The result was a 3-0 deficit.

Amy Turner attempts to clear the ball

The second half was better for the Leopards ,if only for the fact that they withstood 17 shots mainly on the outstanding work by senior captain and goalie Katelyn Arnold who turned away 11 shots in probably her best day of the season.  The Danes did manage a goal at 42:35 from the field ,which ended scoring. Lafayette did have a chance to put a mark on the board with no time left in the game on a corner opportunity of their own. They managed two shots during that corner as every field player moved up to help, to no avail.

Theresa Delahanty moves the ball upfield

Throughout the game the  Albany Danes were able to thwart the Leopards clearing of the ball and were able to double and triple team, shutting off space. When Lafayette was able to  deliver long passes there were several opportunities that could not get converted to goals.

It is fall break at Lafayette and the Leopards will return home to lick their wounds but are still at 7-5 and 2-1 in league play, tied with Boston University. As far as post season play goes, their fate is in their hands ( or sticks in this sport). They meet the Patriot League leader at home this Saturday and can regain first place with a win and enhance their chances to host the Patriot League tournament. They follow that game with a game on Sunday with JMU before traveling to Bucknell  next week for another league game and perhaps an opportunity to wrap up qualifying for the post season. Lehigh is the last contest which could prove to be important, depending on the outcome of the other games.

Defender Rachel Bird did not dress due to a sprain, and Rosa Jonckheer is still nursing sore shins. Hopefully, as the season nears its climax we will see them both return to the turf soon.

Crusaders Ambush Leopards In Worcester

Ami Turner sprints to an opening against Holy Cross

This was not the script Lafayette was looking for against Holy Cross. The Leopards arrived in Worcester with a 2-0 record in the league and this game was to set up a tussle in Easton next week for the lead in the Patriot League race. Holy Cross had there own scenario in mind as they hustled, scraped and executed a game plan that left the Leopards on the short side of a 2-0 score. It was Holy Cross’ first shut out of a Patriot League team since 2007 when they beat the Leopards 1-0 in Easton. If recall that day correctly, I think they only made one shot for the win.  Unlike last year 3-2 defeat, you could not blame the officiating ( not great but not determinate). This time the Leopards did not finish and take care of numerous opportunities.

The game started well enough with Lafayette getting good circle penetration in the first six and one half minutes. Ellen Colbourne was particularly effective using her speed to drive to the circle. There was an early scrum in the circle which looked like it would result in a goal but was turned away. It was a pattern that was to repeat itself throughout the game. At 6:34  while I thought the Leopards had the better of it, four players for Lafayette were inserted at once. Holy Cross took advantage of the brief reorganization and moved the ball taking tactical advantage of the situation. Holy Cross’ leading scorer, Maureen Conolly stationed herself in her customary position in front of the goal and was to knock the ball into the goal during the confusion.

Kristen Taylor pursues Holy Cross defender

It was at this point the psychology shifted, and Holy Cross began to believe in victory. They outshot the Leopards 5-1 in the first period and controlled play on their side of the field. In the second half, the Leopards buckled down and saw numerous opportunities to score, finding themselves mere feet in front of the goal, but could not find an opening to deliver the tying score. There were blocked shots ( 5 saves), missed shots and misdirected shots. The Leopards officially outshot the Crusaders 7-5 in that period and in my opinion had even more opportunities for scoring that were to go for naught. Midway through the second period the Crusaders redirected a ball into the goal for the final score. The Leopards  pulled Arnold from the cage, replacing her with Meg Lillis, putting 11 field players on the field in attempt to score. It resulted in a close encounter, but no joy for Leopard fans.

Lafayettte goalie Kaitlyn Arnold had a great day with 5 saves and saved the Leopards from an even higher differential. Ellen Colbourne was to use her speed effectively, but Holy Cross was able to stymie the Leopards with good stick work and jabs on defenses. Corners favored the Crusaders 3-2, and despite many close encounters with the goal, it was amazing there were so few corners called. Amanda Magadan was closely covered by the Holy Cross defense and Theresa Delahanty was aggressive and effective on Lafayette’s defense.

The Leopards will move on today for a tough game with the ranked University of Albany who defeated Vermont 6-1 on friday. Next week American University invades Rappolt field for a showdown which could still determine home field for the Patriot League Championship. American is still undefeated in the League, but if the Leopards run the table in the remaining League contests they would get the home field on tie beakers. Lafayette has Bucknell at Bucknell remaining and Lehigh at home ( who just beat Colgate 6-0). The only team eliminated from post season play is so far is Colgate. Lafayette needs to win 2 of the next 3 league contests to assure themselves of a post season. Only one win invokes tie breakers which could explode my mind just thinking about it.

For now on to Albany.

Lafayette Should Be Wary Of Holy Cross

Maureen Conolly is Holy Cross’ go to player

This saturday, Lafayette will play another homecoming game with a Patriot League rival, Holy Cross. The Leopards will arrive with a 7-3 record and will defend a 2-0 league record. Holy Cross has a 5-5 record with a 1-2 league record. So why be wary? This is a team that has been improving under Head Coach Lindsay Jackson. Last year, against the Leopards they  had a remarkable come from behind victory (aided by an unusual 10 minute yellow card against Lafayette), and this year, they are just as tough in the second half coming from behind in several games and winning several overtime games. Holy Cross didn’t quite make the playoffs last year, missing on a tie breaker with Lafayette and Bucknell. This game could be decided on emotion as well as skill. The two teams have one common opponent in the conference, Colgate, who Holy Cross beat in overtime, after knotting the score late in the second period. In out of conference games, there is another common opponent, Fairfield which Holy Cross beat 4-3 in overtime while the Leopards beat Fairfield 3-2 in the first game of the season.

Aliza Furneaux and Amanda Magadan set up the attack

Holy Cross is led by Maureen Conolly who is leading the league in shots and goals. However,  Emily Loprete scored two goals in the Colgate game. In last sunday’s contest Temple won, scoring two goals in the second half to defeat the Crusader’s two to nil. Holy Cross’ two league losses came at the hands of American and Lehigh.

The statistics may reveal more. Offensive production is similar, in that Lafayette has scored 1.9 goals per game vs. Holy Cross’ 1.8. But in goals against, the Leopards have only let in 1.9 while the Crusaders have let in 2.6. Lafayette has the stronger schedule with field hockey corner ranking Holy Cross  SOS next to last in division one.

However, Lafayette should not take them lightly, a loss for the Crusaders would put Holy Cross in a very difficult position, with 3 losses and Boston and Bucknell left to play in the league. A win by the Leopards would put them in great position to make at the playoffs , but  also sets up a showdown with American next week, and an ability to make a statement on where the playoffs will be.

So the bottom line for the Leopards is play good defense, watch out for Loprete and Conolly, take advantage of scoring opportunities, and carry that winning attitude for the whole game because this team will not go to sleep in the second half.

Unfortunately, again there will be no video for the game.