Lafayette coaches have been busy reloading for next season by taking advantage of the early signing period. The Leopards have a habit of graduating one hundred percent of their student athletes and 2016 will be no exception as six fine players will join the ranks of alumni this coming June. Abbey Stefanides, Hannah Millen, Paige Macrae, Kendall Weedling, Kirby Szalkowski, and Katie Birlie will grab their well earned diplomas in various disciplines and move on to new adventures and careers.
As quickly and efficiently as senior departure approaches, Coach Stone is beginning to add to her roster another highly skilled group of scholar athletes. As it stands at the moment, there are seven who have navigated the labyrinth of admissions and found worthy of acceptance not only as students but as members of the Lafayette field hockey team. Most are from New Jersey and Pennsylvania but at least one will come from as far away as the Netherlands. They are all stars in the classroom, and on the playing field. Many have known championships, and recognized for their athletic skills, but they are also talented students as well.
They have chosen to play in the Patriot League, known for its commitment to having representative student athletes on the field. The first six have been identified through social media and one has given her commitment and will be announced in April during the next signing day. Lafayette and Coach Stone will announce the whole class at that time which could reach a total of eight by then.
However, the first six have been named and a search of the internet gives me an unofficial peek at the this class. Here is the list with a short view of their athletic talents. No doubt there will be more information once the class is announced but this is what I have been able to glean so far.
First is Ana Buzzard from Haddenfield High School who captured the Central Jersey trophy, she was elected captain of her team.
Second is Cameron Costello who played for New Hope Solebury High School and Mystix field hockey club. She will see action in the attacking area or mid-field. She holds the school record for goals and points and also sports a 4.0 average in the classroom. She was Philadelphia area all-star.
Third is Jennifer DeLongis who is from North Penn was selected as an all league mid fielder who will add depth to the front line this coming fall
Fourth is Samantha DiMaio from Medham who had a strong 18-3 record, ranking third in the state rankings in Group 3. Samantha scored 8 goals this year. She is a second team New Jersey Group 3 selectee.
Fifth is Sarah Park a goalie, from Methatcon who sported a 86 percent save percentage this season. She is a highly sought after goalie who has had a strong high school career.
Caroline Turnbull is from Madison High School who had a 21-3 record and won the Group 2 title. Caroline has had 54 goals in her career and 38 assists. This year alone she scored 26 goals as she garnered first team State Group 2 honors.
The seventh recruit has yet to be named, but she has committed and will be revealed in April with the whole class. This looks like a difference maker class that is used to winning and will add strength and depth all around.
The Leopards will return US under 21 team member Amanda Magadan, goalie Katlyn Arnold, defender Aliza Furneaux ( who really started to show her skill and ability this year). Rising Junior Ellen Colbourne returns with her speed and skill that often times attracts double and triple teams. Ami Turner will be a senior whose distributions skills and intensity will impress opponents. Rosie Shanks is one of my favorite players, who finds a way to find the back of the cage is back for her Junior season as well. Cody Hunsicker will also be a junior was a regular, steadfast defender as that line will get a chance to learn to work together. Classmate Kaitlynn Ewing will get spring playing time to refine her skills as well. In addition, there were a number of freshmen who I expect will have an impact, Kristen Taylor, Rachel Bird, Theresa Delahanty, and Adriana Pero will benefit no doubt from a strong spring experience.
Rising junior Meg Lillis had several starts and will no doubt see a lot playing time this spring and fall. Liza Welch suffered leg injuries in her freshman year and will get a chance to show her skills this spring. Freshman goalie Gabrielle Ulery will also see more time in the cage this spring against division one competition.
I will stick my neck out and state that if this class is as good as I think it is the Leopards will not only qualify for the Patriot League tournament but could challenge for the League title and a spot in the national division one tournament. They will be deeper, well skilled, and there is speed to replace that asset lost to graduation. We will know more after the spring games and practices.