US Women Field Hockey Plays Last FIH Game With Belgium

The biggest number to me during the last two games was the average number of caps….US 35 vs 110 for India.

After winning a hard fought game against China on Sunday, hopes were high about FIH games Tuesday and Wednesday against India. It was the India match last year that knocked out the US Team from contention for the World Cup. The high scoring two day affair, last fall, saw the US fail to qualify by one goal. Ironically, Janneke Schopmann the then US Coach is now the Indian coach.

This week’s contests saw a reconstituted US Squad depleted by retirements and in a rebuilding mode. The Indian squad will move on to the World Cup and the US will return home after a weekend match with Belgium to continue reworking and improving the squad.

Experience is a key factor in international hockey and as of last week Captain Amanda Magadan was the only player with over 100 caps. That is to say this team is not without spirit and talent. But after 3 years of pandemic and an NCAA structure that inhibited new, talented players to make a commitment to the National team, the opportunities for young women are finally becoming available.

The NCAA made it possible for college players to extend their careers an extra year and delayed a normal transition the national team. Many players decided decided to retire as well, adding to the task of rebuilding. USA Field Hockey has realized the need for retention and recently moved to increase incentives to stay.

Patriot League now has three players on the team…Amanda. Ally Hammel from BU, and Natalie Konerth from American.

Soon the cycle will begin again, after the World Cup games, competition begins for the Paris Olympics. For Lafayette fans Audrey Sawers is a member of the Canadian National Team who will play in the World Cup next week.

Meanwhile at Lafayette, camp and clinics will be in full swing in July getting ready for August preseason. The first preseason game is August 17 against Monmouth!!

100 Years And Counting

On Saturday June the 18th the field hockey world descended on the Union League of Philadelphia to celebrate 100 years of activity. It may have been 4000 years ago that the Egyptians played the game as documented on hieroglyphs. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that Constance Mary Katherine Applebee introduced the game to the United States. She was the co-founder of the American Field Hockey Association, founder of Sportswoman magazine and was the athletic director at Bryn Mawr for 24 years.

She lived to be 107 years old. In the summer of 1901 she took a tour of women’s colleges introducing the sport. In 1922 she established an annual 3 week camp for intensive field hockey instruction at Mt. Pocono,Pa.

She introduced the sport at a time when women were considered too fragile to play an intensive sport. She served many roles for US Field Hockey and was active for many years. Remarkably, there are still “Golden Girls,” who still remember “the Apple”, and many were in attendance Saturday.

Especially poignant was a gift in honor of Shelly Shellenberer by the estate of Grace Reynolds which I had the honor of being her executor. She left a legacy by, donating her entire estate of 2.5 million dollars to the US women’s national team.

The room was filled with US Field Hockey elite and all were attentive during which Steve Jennings ( Head Coach of American University) and “Char” Morrett- Curtis ( Head Coach of Penn State) spoke about the game.

Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Executive Director presented annual awards to Stanford Field Team and Alumni and Friends for “Grow the Game”, as their efforts prevented the demise of the sport at Stanford.

The national coach award went to High School coach Jill Cosse who has over 500 wins in her career.

The National Umpire award went to Mallory Federoff

The Club of the year went to Gateway Field Hockey Club and Kate Yates

The humanitarian award went to Jeanne O’Brian who helped establish programs for those with phsyical challenges.

In addition, the Hall of Fame added five names to its roles, Barbara Longstreth, Aaron Sher, Larry Amar ( accepted by Abbey his wife), Rachel Dawson and Lauren Crandall Liska.

Pam Stuper, the Executive Director of the US Field Hockey Foundation not only organized the evening along with Amy Crandall, but MC’d the event.

The event was live streamed and demonstrated the strength of the organizations supporting Field Hockey, but charging everyone to help grow the game!!!

The US Team responded on Sunday with a 2-1 win against China, but more about that later!!

2022 Class Announced For Lafayette

Yesterday I covered the beginning of the announcement of the incoming class for Lafayette Field Hockey with Josephine van Wijk. This morning the rest of this group of 8 outstanding athletes have been revealed.

Mackensie Switzer

Unknown-20

Mackensie will add her 5’9″ frame to the roster. She has great defensive skills that were noted in the state championship tournament. She was mentioned in the Max Field Hockey watch list which list the top players in the country. She is celebrated as a first team all state player and just for emphasis, is a black belt in Karate and plays the guitar!!

Catalina Robel

Catalina comes to Lafayette by way of Atlanta,Ga but her roots are in Buenos Aries, Argentina. She attended the Washington School and played for the Atlanta FHC. She is advertised as a striker/midfielder and has exhibited strong stick and scoring skills. The 5’6″ athlete played for Gimnasia y Eqima de Buenos Aries where she no doubt picked up her strong reverse stick shot.

Aimee Hoefnagel

Amiee hails from Rotterdam and comes as a midfielder, but has demonstrated her versatility as a five sport athlete, Field Hockey, Tennis, Gymnastics, Alpine Skiing and Sailing. She was selected to train with the Dutch National U 18 team.

Peyton Guinter

Peyton attended Archbishop Spalding and played her club hockey at Freedom. At 5’7 she was a !st team all conference nominee, while cited as the 4th highest scorer in the state. Her coaches describe her as a driven team player, and will add to the strength of the Leopards this fall!!

Raphaela Fragomeni

Raffi will travel all the way from Mountain Lakes. N.J. to attend Lafayette this fall to be Goal Keeper in this first year class. She holds the county record for career saves at 393. This past fall she had a game in which she had 32 saves against Randolph, only to lose 1-0. She was an all state Group one selection and named a Max 100 selection.

We look forward to welcoming her this fall as she starts a career that will no doubt add to Leopard successes.

Hannah Findlay

Hannah Findlay will have the longest trip of this class. Hannah will come all the way from New Zealand and bring with her a host of on the field skills. She was selected for the New Zealand U 18 development squad as well as the best all around female athlete in senior High School.

Her stick skills were evident in her club play. I think she will find her place early this August as the Leopards prepare for the season!!!

Ellie Barton

Coming to Easton from Concord Massachusetts, Ellie shows a profile that is similar to her classmates. She is a multisport athlete also playing ice hockey and lacrosse. She loves the Bruins, and her Middlesex and club coaches describe as coachable and intense.

Viewing her videos certainly shows her intensity, intercepting passes, and taking shots. She is also disciplined, as she finds a way to get open or to pass to her teammates. No doubt she will enjoy the Leopards New England swing to Yale and Holy Cross as well as home games with Quinnipiac and Boston U.

Along with yesterday’s article on Josephine van Wijk, that is Lafayette’s class of 2026. They will all be traveling beginning in August…… a short 60 days away. The team has no doubt received a training schedule and along with the intense preparation in August, will be ready for the first pre season game at Lafayette against Monmouth at 1 pm on August 17. Start running everyone!!!!

Lafayette and Coach Stone Begins To Reveal New Recruits

5ca359b040a474a373b124b748a91e0c-small

The first player announced is Josephine van Wijk from The Hague Netherlands. Her team won the Dutch National Championship recently. She is described by observers as quick, with very good passings skills. She also has a deadly, powerful drag flick which has developed over the years. A quick look at her videos confirms all that.

She is touted as a midfielder/ attacker which always fits into Lafayette’s needs, as they challenge for a Patriot League Championship. Her speed is an obvious asset which will drive opponents crazy along with teammate Leneke Spanns.

She plays the drums and this writer hopes beats the back of the cage with the same skill. Welcome Josephine!!

Field Hockey Celebrates 100 Years

images-3

It’s been 100 years since field hockey was first played in this country, and USA Field Hockey is not letting the year pass without a celebration. On June the 18th at the Union League, beginning with a 5 pm cocktail hour, fans, players, coaches, and USA officialdom, will gather for a celebratory banquet. There will be US team members, and as a special treat new members of the the US Hall of Fame will be honored.

A limited amount of tickets are still available on the US Field Hockey site. However, for my readers I have 16 free seats available for Lafayette current players, alumni, fans, and parents of alumni. Significant others are included. It promises to be a fun evening with all of those who love the game. Please PM or otherwise email me if you would like to go and claim a seat for free which I will arrange.

First preseason game is less than 100 days away.

Spanns burts out on an offensive corner

The Leopards will be meeting Monmouth on Aug 17th at home in a preseason meet-up. They will be changing their conference to the CAA next year, and they have seen a steady improvement in recent years. It should be the kind of game the Leopards will need, with a very challenging season approaching. The Leopards will actually arrive days before in Easton, for conditioning and practice, with some bright new shinny recruits donning the Maroon and White for the first time. ( Tip..it’s not too early to start your preseason conditioning).

In the meantime our US players will be high performing.

Molly McAndrews heads for the goal

Several of our players will most likely apply to play in some of USA Field Hockey’s high performance events in June at Virginia Beach. Keep an eye out for their appearance on the turf as they take their shot at national teams. Lafayette’s Amanda Magadan is the current captain of the US national team and Audrey Sawers is on the Canadian national team who will be in the World Cup this year!!

Coaches will not be idle either

0114101181-144740-158982-0-news00

The Lafayette coaches, will soon announce the incoming class in the coming days, but will also be active looking at players that will arrive in 2023. In addition, they will also be announcing the schedule as the season approaches.

Recently, I was present as the last details were tested for the installation of video referral. There could be as many as 9 views available to assist officials. The system could also be used at practice as a coaching tool. Everyone, all during practice can be watched for progress!! Stay tuned for more information. Lafayette will be the first to use video referral in the Patriot League.

Although we will be missing some key players from last year’s 14-5 season, this is a veteran team that will certainly be capable of challenging for a title!! Go Pards!!

Leopards Finish Tough, Challenging Spring

Lafayette finished their last competition of the spring defending a series of shots on goal as Penn desperately tried to find the back of the net. Becca Harbert turned away three in a row putting an exclamation point on a spring where Stone’s warriors challenged some of the best in Division one. They improved their tempo and pace as the spring marched on while dealing with adversity and very little bench to give them a break on the field.

There were some teams in the league that were content to play some divsion 2 and 3 teams, but our Leopards steeled themselves for a challenging season this fall.

Lafayette started out with Delaware and gave up 2 goals on corners, but in the second quarter they answered with a goal from Lineke Spanns who was busy all afternoon. Felicitas Hannes found her range later on against Penn and was threat to be reckoned with as she wound up towards the goal.

Fans got a glimpse of the future as Spanns and McAndrew teamed up moving the ball up the field. We also saw progress from Alex Conway and Shea Balderson and they were able to turn the direction of their opponents consistently.

Simone Hefting and Sydney Woolston were a wall in the back line often time starting the offensive attack. Despite shortages of personnel, this team shows promise for the fall. There will be 6 or 7 new recruits to bolster the lineup, and springtime injuries will have healed in the coming 100 days.

In any case, our Leopards showed their toughness and skill and will be a considerable threat. Goals missed during the spring will be made this fall, as this could be a fun season for all!!!

Stand Still And Be Run Over

Every year the powers that be, review the rules for field hockey to look for improvements for the game. Coaches look to new ways to arrange their team to take advantage of opponents. Likewise, technology marches on, providing coaches, players and officials with tools to make the game fairer and accurate.

Several years ago there was the advent of cardiac monitors to give coaches on the sideline a view of the effort and stress on the field. For most Division one teams this has become a standard addition for practices and even for monitoring during games. Officials now communicate with each other via headphones on the field.

The next generation of technological innovation is being worked on at Lafayette. My wife and I were on campus yesterday and took a short drive to Metzgar athletic campus and observed there was installed in the south side of the field hockey field, three cameras. Lafayette is now testing a system that will eventually include as many as six cameras for video referral.

Video referral is now standard at many schools including those in the Big Ten, ACC, and many Big East schools. It is required to be provided by host schools in the NCAA tournament. Lafayette will be the first school in the Patriot League to have video referral at home games. Which means potentially, Lafayette might only play 3 games without referral. If Lafayette were to host the Patriot League tournament that tournament like the NCAA tournament, would be played under referral rules.

Aside from games, the software could be used at practice to focus on individual players to assist coaches in improving skills and tactics. Yes, Lafayette initially will be the leader in the Patriot League in providing this technology. I believe it won’t be long before the rest of league will be catching up. Those who stand still, risk being run over!! Go Pards.

No doubt other improvements are being considered as Lafayette builds a winning culture…stay tuned!!!

Leopards Finish Strong In Spring Contest

It was a tale of two teams as Lafayette started out as cold as the north wind that was blowing across the field at St. Joseph’s. It was a three way series of contests between Lafayette, St. Joseph and Penn State. By the the end of the day the light went on for Lafayette and they demonstrated why their Patriot League opponents will have a lot to think about this fall.

The first two contests between Lafayette and Penn State and later St. Joe’s had the Hawks and Nittany Lions setting the speed and pace of the game. However, by the end of the day the Leopards went into high gear scoring and winning one game with Penn State and getting numerous shots against the Hawks of St. Joes.

Lafayette was finally getting fast breaks and beating the high press their opponents continued to throw at them. It gave this fan a peek of the Leopard team potential.

Everyone was to contribute and our forwards took their legs into high gear until mid afternoon. The Leopards sprint on the field seemed to coincide with the sun which finally came out, as the Leopards were to show their ability.

The day ended with a sudden death overtime 7×7 followed by a shootout with St Joes which the Leopards took.

The next game is with Big Ten opponent Rutgers at 7 pm on Friday.

What Is Required At The “Next” Level

As our young players move from high school to college, the level of hockey continues to improve as many high schools and now universally, clubs, play on turf. At the club level in particular, skills are acquired that can be used in college, as the short water based turf at clubs is more akin to the turf that is used at all division one schools.

Like most sports at the Division one level and beyond, the defining skill for success on the field is speed and the acquisition of receiving skills. The players are faster, the ball is faster, reaction time is faster and increasingly, awareness on the field includes anticipation of not only where your teammate or opponent are on the field, but most importantly where they will be.

Passes are made to give your teammate a lead in full stride much like a football quarterback will lead his wide receiver. On defense the anticipation of movement will lead to opportunities for fast breaks and turning a defensive effort into an offensive scoring threat. It’s a beautiful thing to see when executed in any sport, and often time defines success at each level. Stand still and get beaten at any level. Coach Stone’s emphasis on fitness is the foundation for being able to play the game at a high level. Without fitness, movement will not be possible. She is trying to give all her players experience with top teams who play at a championship level. Spring gives everyone a chance to reach the “next” level and test themselves.

This spring Lafayette will meet St Josephs, Penn State, Rutgers, Penn and, Delaware. All will play at an increasing pace and Lafayette will be learning to play at the pace that defines the “next level.”

This Saturday the Leopards will traveling to St. Josephs and will also play Penn State. Both teams were NCAA tournament participants. Each “game” will be 2 full quarters with 2 minutes between quarters. So 30 minutes of playing. It will be a total of 42 minutes between game start times. The day starts at 11 with St Joes and Penn State. Lafayette plays Penn State at 11:42 and St. Joes at 12:24. Lafayette will next play at 1:48 against Penn State and follow with St. Joes at 2:30.

There is a final game with St Joe’s starting at 3:12. It’s an interesting day for Lafayette and an opportunity for Lafayette to improve their pace and speed.

Spring Is A Time For Learning

The Leopards are still in the construction phase of organizing their team for the fall. Coach Stone has presented the team with strong challenging opponents, which should in the end expose weaknesses as well as, strength while providing learning opportunities. This afternoon, the Leopards faced two good teams. The Hawks of Monmouth, newly a member of the CAA, and the ACC’s Syracuse Orange who showed why they are highly regarded.

The afternoon started out with great promise as Lafayette scored the first goal of the afternoon in an intense scrum in front of the cage. Molly McAndrew found the handle finally to score with only 1 minute having run off the clock.

For the next two periods Monmouth displayed their fast breaking slashing style. The Lafayette’s defense held up well, but the Hawks managed two more goals ( one on a corner). During the three quarters, Monmouth managed as many corners as goals.

Syracuse, who was an NCAA tournament team, also scored 3 goals against another goal by McAndrew. Syracuse also had four penalty corners and five shots on the afternoon.

The weather was threatening all afternoon, and I have to say the Leopards played their best quarter against Syracuse on their third try. The Lafayette offense has yet to get in mid season form, managing few shots and circle penetrations. Most concerning was the lack of any penalty corners all afternoon after six quarters of hockey.

But this is why we have spring “games.” It is not only an opportunity for young players to find their place, but for coaches to evaluate and groom their current talent before the new recruits arrive. The fall will have fewer opportunities before the beginning of the championship season.

For many of the players this is their first spring training where they are having the opportunity to improve their skills and for their teammates to know where they are on the field. Meeting teams like Syracuse, Penn State, Temple and Monmouth is an opportunity, as they may see them again this fall!!

Next week gets no easier, with games at St. Joseph’s with Penn State joining in the fun. I expect our passes to be crisper and energy to be more obvious.