Bring The Roar…It’s Lafayette Lehigh Week

Here we are,the week of the most played football series in college history. It will be the 153rd game to be played, and one can imagine the events that have been witnessed over this long and bitter rivalry. The schools are only 15 miles apart, which makes the rivalry that more intense at every level. It really doesn’t matter what sport or contest is involved, the intensity rises when its  Lafayette vs Lehigh on the field or court. This year, and for the last several years there is a constructive rivalry as to who can get the most donors  during the week. This year the athletic department has a goal of 1,530 gifts of any size during the week preceding the game. ( Gifts can be made electronically via the college website or through the usual social media venues). Any gift counts ( of course I favor  field hockey gifts). Gifts can be designated for any activity at the college

The rivalry has brought all kinds noted happenings. Here’s a list of some from games past:

A cow greeted a President in his office in 1909

Caskets were paraded at halftime

A wrong way run still turned into a touchdown after 115 yards of broken tackles ,straight arms and elusive cutbacks.

Play signals were stolen, so a Lafayette coach invented the huddle

In 1886 Lehigh walked off the field to protest bad officiating ( The Lafayette manager was the official) They might have had a point as the “referee” lost count of the downs and awarded Lafayette 5 and 6 downs on occasion. He also allowed a touchdown as he went to the sidelines to consult with the coaches, while Lafayette picked up the ball and ran for an “allowed,” touchdown!!

In 1889 the Lehigh players got poison Ivy, in 1890 the Lafayette field was struck by lightning.

In 1962 Lafayette’s freshman rented a six month old Leopard. ( they originally, unwisely wanted to rent a full grown 300 pound leopard which was nixed by an alert  administration).

In 1968 a bunch of Lehigh marauders, disappointed by the cancellation of the pre game bonfire and pajama parade, raided the Lafayette campus and up rooted the goalposts ( they were wooden at the time). The goalposts were reassembled in the form of an “LU” at midfield.

Before the 100th game Lafayette freshmen raided South Mountain the night before. They painted one letter on each of the steps leading to the library and University Center spelling L-A-F-A-Y-E-T-T-E.

As you can imagine there are many more tales surrounding this rivalry, but I’ll save some of the juicer ones for next year. IN ANY CASE BRING THE ROAR WITH YOUR GIFT OF ANY SIZE …beat the Lehighs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leopards Turn It Around For Last Game

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Cameron Costello drive past a defender

The dreary day we had here on the east coast matched my mood. It would be the last game of the season, having lost on the previous day 1-4 to Holy Cross. The rains were torrential at times and both my wife and I were battling colds. Therefore, since the game was to be live streamed we decided to stay at home. Unfortunately the live stream was washed out. Fortunately, the team was far more resilient than us and dominated the Temple Owls to finish the season with a 4-1 win. The statistics and score unlike the previous day, the domination of the Leopards was clear. Lafayette had 20 shots to Temple’s 11. They out cornered the Owls 12-4 and forced the Temple goal keeper to make 9 saves. Sarah Park had 5 of her own for the Leopards in the cage.

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Anna Steps get ready to launch a pass

Freshman Audrey Sawers started the onslaught with 11 minutes having run off the clock delivered an unassisted goal to give the Leopards a lead they were not to give up the entire game. The 1-0 lead was to hold up for the entire first period as the Leopards had a slight edge in shots 8-5, but a significant advantage in corners.  It was Sawers first goal of the season and her career.

As the second period opened senior Rosie Shanks was to remind everyone of her scoring ability, getting her fifth goal of the season with only 4 minutes having run off the clock assisted by sophomore Caroline Turnbull.

Temple was to take advantage of a green card on Meg Lillis and score one minute later closing the margin to one.

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Lisa van der Geest defends against Holy Cross

The Leopards would not be denied this day, when in the next six minutes there were shots by senior Ellen Colbourne, freshman Audrey Sawers, sophomore Liza Welch,  and sophomore Caroline Turnbull. The unrelenting attack ended when the Leopards earned a corner and the battery of Lisa van der Geest and Anna Steps was to connect again as they had in the last two weeks earning the sophomore van der Geest the assist and freshman Steps her fifth goal of the season.

Despite a Temple timeout and urging from the Temple coaching staff,. Lafayette was to gain another goal in the 64 th minute after a corner attempt and shot by Sawers only to have it collected on the rebound by Junior Terresa Delahanty to get her first goal of the season.

This was also Temple’s last game and their senior day.

I can not end without a comment on Saturday’s game. The first half against Holy Cross was disappointing as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The team did not give up as the second half was a 1-1 tie. The Leopards out shot the Crusaders 22-10…15-2 in the second half alone. Statistically, with the Crusader’s goalie coming into the game with a 73 percent save percentage probably would indicate 4 or 5 goals for the Leopards. But like much of the second part of the season, converting and finding the back of the cage has been a problem. They had opportunities, there were ill placed shots, and two missed penalty strokes and that bothersome first half.

At no time did I see this team concede defeat. We will miss this fine senior class of five but there is a great experienced group coming back next year. I have always thought this team has talent and maybe it just needed a year to mature.

There was progress on the statistical front. The Leopards scored 30 goals this year to last year’s 24. Lafayette had 102 corners last year and this year had 123 while holding opponents to only 77. This year they took 236 shots to last year’s 195 while holding opponents to about the same number of shots.

Goals against reflected big games by opponents like Harvard and Delaware as opponents scored seven more goals.

There is no doubt this team can improve given the talent. There were a number of walking wounded this year, and perhaps there will be attention made to reduce that number next year, to keep us up to the task later in the season. Sore legs and backs can be a problem for women in this sport and perhaps some research on prevention and treatment would improve this area.

The off season will be a time to heal mentally and physically. The league is improving every year and it is not getting easier. I am confident there is a good future coming. In several weeks we will find out who our new players will be. I understand we have five who will sign NLI’s this fall.

I will be there to follow all the events.

 

 

Seniors To Bring Four Years Of Experience To The Next Game

I always approach this part of the season with mixed emotions, as the seniors play their last division one game on their home turf. Each class has given me special moments over the past years and left me with their their own brand and style. This class ( who will graduate on time this spring) is no exception. In most of the sports, even at Lafayette, there are those who drop out for various reasons, but this class has stayed intact. There is a remarkable camaraderie, that I am sure will endure even after graduation.

 

 

 

Ellen Colbourne

Ellen was elected as one of the team captains this year. This was no accident since she completed the Oaks Leadership academy with distinction. She had been so successful, she was asked to return to help new participants in the program. Ellen so impressed those around her she was selected to be on the search committee for the new athletic director. Perhaps the most important search for the college outside of president.

An economics major, Ellen hails from New Westminster, Canada. Her impact on the team was immediate using her experience gained competing in her home national tournaments. When I think of Ellen I think of speed and effort. Ellen literally gives 110 percent on the field. She seems to have the wings of mercury as she speeds down the turf. She was selected as a Patriot League second team all star and is the center of attention by opposing teams.

She has played virtually every  game for the Leopards during her career and her innate leadership skills inspire teammates and fans alike. Every team that plays the Leopards knows they must somehow stop Ellen to stop the Leopards.

Her academic achievements are no less impressive. Her 3.36 average qualifies her as a Dean’s List Student and  membership in the Patriot League Honor Roll and the National Academic Squad.  She is an active member of Athlete Ally.

There is a seriousness of purpose to her that makes her stand out. My highlight was her lone goal against Colgate two years ago, rocketing a shot from the edge of the circle after sprinting upfield…. winning the game. After graduation she plans to return to Canada and  will be involved in field hockey in some capacity.

Kaitlyn Ewing

This psychology major is all about precision and strength. She has been lauded by the strength and conditioning team as perhaps one the strongest and devoted players on the team. Her play on the field is one of intelligence. She is coachable and knows where she is on the field at all times. It is no accident as she is a remarkable Dean’s List Student majoring in psychology. She is also on the Patriot League honor role.

The Springfield, Pennsylvania native earned her first start in 2016 against Boston University in which the Leopards upset the then ninth ranked Terriers in a shoot out . She was persistent early in her career and has earned significant minutes each year and was a contributor in a win against Lehigh in 2016.

She appeared in every game this year at forward, and played important roles while on the field. The Leopards will miss her intelligence on the field next year. My feeling is there are great things ahead for this excellent student athlete after graduation.

Cody Hunsicker

Cody is one of those players who can be described as gritty.  One of the two elected senior captains,  she is never afraid to be in the mix on important plays, and has demonstrated her versatility time and again. From her earliest  moments in a Lafayette uniform she has been a force on defense. She has a “big hit,” that can drive the ball upfield in hurry. Her abilities have been used as a striker on corner offense.

Most unique about Cody is her ability to make defensive saves. By my count during her career she made at least five during her 4 year career. It was a no brainer to put her in as the “kick back,” in situations when Coach Stone had decided to pull the goalie and add an additional field player.

This year she has scored two goals while on the corner offense set. Cody is an exciting player and you can always find her there in key situation.

She also excels in the classroom as a B.S in Biology with a minor in Anthropology and Sociology.  She participated in the Oak Leadership Academy and attended the U.S Naval Academy Leadership  Conference at Annapolis. She volunteers for Athletes Ally and last summer was selected for the US High Performance Squad. Outstanding on the field and in the classroom.

Meg Lillis

This Economics and Government and Law major from Reading, Pennsylvania has gradually emerged as a key member of the team at both midfield and defense. She first caught my eye three years ago at the Boston University game. To describe her as dependable would understate her importance. She rarely makes a mistake and her powerful tackles oftentimes turns the play in our favor.

After only playing in seven game in her initial season Meg became a significant contributor in 2015 and 2016 playing in every game. But it was in her senior season when, in my opinion she came into her own. The more difficult the game the harder she has played. She had an excellent game against American and has become a wall to many of our opponents.

She will be the second field hockey player in my memory that will graduate early ( in December). She has a double major in Economics and Government and Law, as well as a minor in Mandarin Chinese. All this with a 3.69 GPA. She was named to the NCAA Division 1 all academic squad for three consecutive years. Meg was inducted this year into Pi Sigma Alpha, the national Political Science  Honor Society.

She has to be a coach’s dream as she demonstrates a hockey intelligence on the field and has the ability to execute a tactic flawlessly. She is a fearsome competitor during corners.

Rosie Shanks

Rosie had a spectacular debut as a Leopard in an early game at Quinnipiac. Down by two goals with less than five  minutes to go Rosie entered the game and scored two scrappy goals to tie the game. One goal was made while on her knees.  It was this intensity that became Rosie’s moniker for the next three years. She was the one getting the difficult goals, on rebounds or during a scrum in front of the circle. What fan can’t appreciate that desire!! Her determination and cleverness near the goal has given me many memories.

Rosie came to us from Glasgow, Scotland where she earned full colors for her service to sport at the Craigholme School. She also played for Clydesdale Western Ladies Hockey Squad where she was a top ten scorer. She was also selected to the under 18 Scottish National training squad. Only 15 at the time she was the youngest player selected.  As a member of the under 16 national team she played against teams from Belgium, Holland and Wales. Her energy around the Lafayette campus is legendary. I have talked to several of her professors who love her in the classroom…and why not?? She has a disarming assertiveness that will serve her well in whatever she decides to do.

She has four goals and two assists so far this year, with big games to go!! I will miss her intensity and so will the Leopards.

She has played in virtually every game and over her career to date I count 14 goals and six assists. The back of the cage is where she is going while on the field…. with intensity. I can’t see anything but success  in the future for this history major, as she seems to know how to succeed at whatever she attempts.

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Every class leaves a legacy to build on and this class is no exception. Go Pards!!

 

It’s October In The Field Hockey Season And It All Comes Down To One Game On Senior Day

The combination of Lisa van der Geest and Anna Steps almost pulled it off Monday night. The two became the cause of the 2-2 tie, late in each period with terrific goals, resulting in an overtime. In both cases, the goals were the result of corners with Van der Geeest delivering her usual rocket and Steps placing her stick precisely to deflect it over the opposing goalie.

In the end it was which player was to get the hat trick I suppose. Quinnipiac was the winner with one minute left in overtime with a well placed pass that set up the game winner.

Van der Geest, Steps and Meg Lillis were again key performers as they controlled the defensive side of the field.

This article is going to be short because I will leave more words to another article this week about our amazing seniors.

When I looked at the schedule earlier this year I saw the game with Holy Cross and thought that the Crusaders,  for the third time in a row would be our opponent in a late season crucial game. And so be it. It’s simple, win and the season will  continue in the playoffs, lose and its one day away from an October end.

I believe that this team has the talent to win on saturday, and for our seniors they deserve to play their final home game for large stakes. However, they can’t do it alone. I expect every player will be on the sideline urging their teammates on for the entire game. Tired doesn’t compute in a game like this, indifference does not exist. Go Leopards…for the memory!!

 

Leopards Fall To American 3-1

 

 

 

This was the fourth loss of the season where the statistics fell in the Leopards favor or closer than the score would indicate. In a defensive battle, Lafayette was even with American in shots (8-8) and led in corners ( 6-3). If one were to look at the play in the middle 70 of the field it would be hard to decide who the better team was today. We all know however, it is goal scores which count and American came out ahead today.

American was to open the scoring at 28:33 into the first period, set up by a long pass and tip in by Jette Dieckmann for her first goal of the season. During that period Lafayette was to have two corners to American not having any. Those two corners unfortunately did not find the cage and were two of the three shots for the period. American also had three shots from the field.

With only 2 minutes having run off the clock in the second period Lafayette was to connect on one of its 4 corners of the period with Lisa van der Geest getting her second goal of the season assisted by Shanks and Colbourne. Fourteen minutes were to pass before American got their go ahead from Ann WaverlySpencer with a feed from Haley Bowcutt.

The clincher was to occur at 55:58 when American was awarded a penalty stroke which was planted by Rafaela Rubas, their leading scorer who had been stymied all game until then.

Lafayette had multiple corner opportunities towards the end of the game as American was to grab possession with seconds left and head for the corner to run out the clock.

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Grace Angelella breaks upfield in first half

Despite the loss there was a good effort from the Lafayette defense. Senior Meg Lillis was all over the field ball hawking and blocking and being a dominant defender against American’s quick starts and attempts to keep the ball in their offensive side of the field.

Anna Steps, Cody Hunsicker and Lisa van der Geest made life difficult all game for the American Eagles.

I have to acknowledge a classy move by the American coach Steve Jennings as he started his number two goal keeper for the first time today. Alexandra Morris was feted today in a senior day ceremony before the game. Counting todays action, she has only seen 130 minutes of action all season. She played the entire 70 minutes.

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Ellen Colbourne breaks upfield early in the game

The Eagles are in the playoffs with their 5-1 league record as is Boston University at 5-0, who beat Lehigh today 6-0 eliminating them from competition. Meanwhile in Lewisburg, Bucknell defeated Holy Cross on a last minute goal 2-1 setting up a virtual playoff game next week between Holy Cross and Lafayette. The winner goes to the Patriot League playoffs.

 

Lafayette vs Richmond…A Loss With Some Good To Take Away

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Meg Lillis dashes to the interior of the circle during a corner

Richmond had built up a 5-1 lead at one point in the second half but these Leopards were not going to lie down and hide. With about 11 minutes to go the Richmond Spiders had built up a lead only the most rabid Leopard fan thought was catchable. At that moment Richmond got a 5 minute yellow card and Coach Stone’s competitive instincts kicked in. She made the tactical decision to pull the Leopard goalie and use the penalty to add a field player to hopefully get some goals.

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Grace Andelella sprints to goal line

The Lafayette players responded smartly with two quick goals and raised the hope of the faithful that this game was not over. Unfortunately, it was not to be, but the episode demonstrated to all that this team is never done. They won a must game on Friday night putting them into a position of being in charge of their own fate. They could still make the playoffs and make a run for a Patriot League championship.

 

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Rosie Shanks moves the ball upfield

One had only to look and the black eye sported by Cody Hunsicker collected in that Friday game to know this team will never go down without expending their last bit of energy. I look forward to the next Patriot League games to see that determination played out.

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Kaitlyn Ewing makes sure the Richmond player is contained

Although the scorekeeper scored two goals with an assist on each, the goals were indeed a team effort. Lafayette’s first goal scored as unassisted  was in fact started by a Van der- geest shot on a break, that found Shanks to the right side of the goalkeeper who then collected the rebound and directed a reverse chip shot to the upper left.

The second goal started at 60:01 with a corner, and a Van der Geest shot that was saved. The ball was then taken away by Van der Geest who delivered to Sam DiMaio who was at the right post. A mere 29 seconds later Grace Angelella was to find the back of the cage off feed from Ellen Colbourne.

What was remarkable about all three goals was that they came on high percentage shots near the goalkeeper, where the Lafayette attacker could better deliver through the open space. That was a tribute to the teamwork that got the ball and the attacker to be in a spot that would allow for the goal.

We can also laud the defense who in the last 11 minutes held off the Richmond attack with a open net beckoning on the Lafayette side.

Intense competitiveness, teamwork and skill will be what is needed in these final regular season games. I believe these young women of Lafayette see that goal of post season play in their sight and will not fold at this late hour…..no way!!

 

van der Geest Lights Up The Leopards With Shanks And Colbourne Assisting

It’s been a rough two weeks for the Leopards but they showed tremendous character on the field friday night turning back an equally intense Bucknell squad in a 1-0 win. The win puts Lafayette back in the hunt for a slot in the Patriot League playoffs as Holy Cross fell to Boston University 8-1 on the same day. There is now a three way tie for two spots in the playoffs with Bucknell, Holy Cross and Lafayette knotted at 2-2. Bucknell will meet Holy Cross next week and finishes Patriot League play with Boston University. The Leopards will meet American University next week and finishes with Holy Cross.

Before a nice autumn evening crowd of 258 the opening minutes were not to disappoint either fans as the intensity was to build the entire game. Bucknell’s Meagan Keeney  was to take the first shot of the game as 9:19 ticked off the clock . Goalie Sarah Park was up to the challenge and turned it away. Two and one half minutes later Bucknell earned the first corner and Lexi Quick’s shot was again turned away by Lafayette.

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Teamwork all around going forward

The first substitutions began and the strength of the Lafayette bench began to show when finally, Lafayette was to earn their first corner 24 minutes into the first period. Senior Meg Lillis’ shot was turned away by Bucknell goalie Emily Finn. There was to be five more shots in the first period by Lafayette while Bucknell was to manage two more.

But it was the second period when Lafayette was to turn on the intensity as the Leopards collected 10 more shots to Bucknell being completely shut out from attempts at the cage. Every Lafayette player participated in the defensive “tour de force.” Lafayette used seven players in wearing down the Bisons while Bucknell substituted five. In penalty corners the home team was to dominate as well, earning 6 to Bucknell’s single corner in the first period.

It was during a penalty corner at 45 minutes into the game that Lisa van der Geest was to deliver the crucial difference maker. Using the veteran battery, Colbourne inserted and Shanks stopped, executing a machine-like precision corner to deliver the ball to Van der Geest who launched a rocket for her first goal of the season to the delight of Lafayette fans and teammates. It was at that moment the Leopards stepped up their game, shutting down  the Bison attack, while taking ten shots to nil in the second period. Appropriately Lisa van der Geest was to take the last shot of the game on a corner with less than two minutes to go, hitting the post.

The Leopards will move on with their fate in their own hands playing post season hockey at the moment. Richmond will visit Rappolt Field on Sunday in an out of conference contest on Sunday. The game will be live streamed at noon.