Several weeks ago I wrote about the objectives of the spring season for a division one field hockey team. Yesterday, April 23rd, marked the final competition for the Leopards and the Lafayette coaching staff can say “mission accomplished.” That doesn’t mean everything is ready for opening day August 28th, or even for the beginning of preseason two weeks earlier but these last weeks has certainly given the players an opportunity to sharpen their skills, and coaches a chance to evaluate players in new positions and roles.
In my opinion only, there were two players who took the most advantage of their playing time this spring, rising junior Kaitlynn Ewing, and rising sophomore Rachel Bird. Ewing scored the most goals this spring, so many in fact I’ve lost count. She has found a way to be in position to score with the result, scoring at least seven goals this spring including two yesterday. She obviously spent the winter getting ready, while earning the “Iron Leopard” award for her efforts. Her strength and conditioning showed as she was able to get most of her goals in close in the middle of opponents.
Rachel was able to demonstrate her big hits from the backfield. Not only is she able to hit the ball with strength but with tremendous accuracy. No doubt her efforts playing for her club team in Barcelona this winter enabled her to sharpen her skills. Both Leopards showed their devotion to the sport by the work they put in and it showed on the field.
That is not to say the whole team didn’t show progress but it really wasn’t until yesterday that it came together with the games against Cornell and Lehigh. The return of Amanda Madagan from the junior US Team demonstrated her ability to lead and lift the team as was the return of several previously injured players.
Goal scoring was spread around, from Ewing to Magadan, Colbourne,and Hunsicker. Corner offense looked good and the Leopards didn’t allow themselves to be trapped in their defensive end, while executing several fast breaks using Colbourne’s speed and Magadan skills. They were able to set up several three on one. and three on two situations during the afternoon.
So, the 2016 edition of LCFH retires to the summer, but I still see a work in progress. Progress will happen because there will be hard work, training and hopefully playing the game during the off season. They face a daunting schedule this fall, and for the rising seniors their last chance for a Patriot League title. and a trip to the national tournament. The melding of the newest players begins soon. As has been the practice in previous summers, many of the players will get together for captains practices, and many will be playing on club teams. Amanda Madagan will of course be joining the US team with her game on May 20th against Chilean national team at the national training center at the “Nook” in nearby Lancaster,Pa.There will be little time in preseason to get in condition first in the preseason, so the coaches will have prepared a summer conditioning regime. Testing will easily tell whether they were diligent in their tasks.
Personally, I can’t wait to see the impact of the newest Leopards, who promise to be a very talented class. Lastly, there will be an additional assistant coach, who I have promised not to reveal her name, but she will bring her national team skills and international experience to bear on the Leopard practice field.
With some sadness, but certainly with anticipation we all have to wait 3 1/2 months see how it all works out!!