In the intense atmosphere worthy of a semi- final game, Lafayette fell 4-2 to American University on friday afternoon. The Leopards came out on fire jumping out to a 2-0 lead 21 minutes into the first period. With many playing their best hockey of the season Lafayette used their speed and intensity breaking American’s high press and striking them where they were most vulnerable, on fast breaks. Amanda Magadan was a thorn in American’s side all afternoon attracting triple team coverage at times. At 12 minutes spent in the game Madagan picked up the ball along the sideline and drove to the base line shot and then shot the rebound slamming her 10th goal of the season into the backboards stunning the confident American Eagles. Eight minutes later while attracting double coverage Madagan found the speedy Kendall Weedling along the right side and she beat the Eagle defender and then avoided the American goalie for the second goal of the game, and her second of the season.
Madagan was to be threat all game, taking 7 of Lafayette’s 14 shots. After Lafayette’s second goal the American Eagles regathered themselves and within 3 minutes they tied the score with a strike by freshman Rafela Rubas with an assist by Katie McCormick. The Lafayette defense was to dig in until Lafayette was to give up a penalty corner with time running out. With 00 showing on the clock Rubas again found the back of cage knotting the score at 2 each.
As each team retreated to the sidelines most fans were afraid the last score would signal a turn in momentum. American was in fact able to get the first penalty corner 4 minutes into the second half which was saved by Arnold who had 8 saves all game. She was to save another shot one minute later just about the same time American got a green card. With a player advantage, Leopard fans took heart. The next shot came from Lafayette Junior Aliza Furneaux the defending weekly Patriot League defender of the week. McBeath, the American goalie made the save. Lafayette had the next three penalty corners without a result.
At 50:45 as a result of a shot on goal by an American player illegally blocked by a lafayette defender, the official called a penalty stroke ending in a score for American breaking the tie. Lafayette was to have several opportunities but could not convert. With minutes left on the clock, fans were wondering when Lafayette would pull the goalie in a last minute attempt to tie the game.
Before that was to happen American was awarded a penalty corner and scored on a redirect of a shot putting them up by two goals. The Leopards at that point pulled the goalkeeper putting Millen in goal for the last 2 minutes.
It was a somber team after the game, but they played well and with great energy. In the second period they out shot American 7-6 and out cornered them 8-4. For the whole game American had the edge in shots 17-14 and there was a tie 10-10 in corners. Second team all league junior goalkeeper Katlyn Arnold had 8 saves, six in the first period alone.
This of course was the last game for our seniors and it was clear they left it all on the field. It was perhaps Kendall Weedling’s best game of her career. The intensity of Paige Macrae was evident as well in front of the goal. Kirby Szalkowski was in the face of Eagles all day. Abbey Stefanides made the most of her appearances on the field overcoming losing 1/2 the season to injury. Katie Birle was looking for one of her patented deflections to add to her five goals this year. Co-Captain Hannah Millen was a force in the backfield and on corners, and was rewarded with a deserved all tournament selection. They will soon be Lafayette alumna with new fields to conquer, but will no doubt draw from their experience on the turf to succeed in whatever they choose to do. Good Luck ladies!!
As for the remaining team, there is a respectful period of reflection and soon a rededication. A spring season awaits as this talented team which has the ability to be a factor next fall. Soon we will know the names of out newest Leopards as we reload for next year.
American went on to lose to Boston University in the finals 2-1, today. Boston will represent the Patriot League in the NCAA national tournament. The league is getting stronger each year and I can see the day when the League could get two bids in the future. My assessment of the League going forward is a topic for a future article.