Spring Competitions End On High Note

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.

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Ellen Colborne moves the ball upfield against Lehigh

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.

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Rosie Shanks shows her defensive skills

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.

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Aliza Furneaux breaks upfield

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!!

 

 

 

With Laughter, Tears, And Friendship The 2015 Lafayette Field Hockey Team Gather For The Last Time

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2015 LCFH poses for their final picture

The 2015 edition of Lafayette Field Hockey met for the last time at the traditional annual banquet. Marking their four years at Lafayette, seniors, coaches, parents and teammates recalled and celebrated the accomplishments of these remarkable young women. The awards were many, four all patriot league selections, two all region selections, selection to the national senior all star game, numerous patriot league weekly awards, academic all patriot league selections, twelve selections to the patriot league honor roll, five selections the Division one national academic squad, and one selection as a 2015 NFHCA Scholar of Distinction.

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Coach Stone announces the annual awards

The Leopards made it to the semi-finals of Patriot League championships based upon their  league play during the season. But it was their off the field camaraderie that garnered much of the attention of speakers this afternoon. The program started off with welcoming remarks by head coach Jennifer Stone and the 2015 captains Hannah Millen and Amanda Magadan. After lunch I gave some brief remarks on the support given by the friends of field hockey, noting that the support was a testament to the esteem in which this programs held.

Coach Stone then gave a detailed recount of the season taking time to mention the seniors and their accomplishments and contributions. It was then the turn for the senior speaker, Abbey Stefanides. She gave an emotional and moving speech expressing what their time as a members of the team meant to them.

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Abby Stefanides was the senior speaker

The Seniors as group recounted their 4 years with an inside lighthearted look of four years as a member of the Lafayette College Field Hockey team. The audience of parents, administrators and fans were all entertained. It was then the turn of the remaining team members and Katelyn Arnold to extend their best wishes to the senior class.

It was at this point the annual awards were handed out by Coach Stone. The award for academic excellence went to Katelyn Arnold…there is no better qualification than perfection in the classroom for Katelyn. The award for overall fitness, the Iron Leopard was given to Caitlyn Ewing. Paige Macrae received the Unsung Hero award for her  outstanding contributions on the field that went unnoticed by the public. The award for the person who personified the ideals of program went to Katelyn Arnold. The coaches award was given to Abby Stefanides for her attitude and contributions to team morale. Last but certainly not least was the Rappolt MVP award which was given to Amanda Madagan.

As always the participants appreciated the afternoon which cemented the connections between the past and future for LCFH!

Alumni Patriot League Champs Take On The Current Leopards

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It was a reunion of champions as the 2012 -2014 champions step onto the turf again challenging the current leopards in the latest edition of an alumni game today April 16. Sixteen members of that team showed that many of their skills were still there as these spirited veterans played a competitive game with the current edition of Lafayette players. The game played was in two 25 minute halves demonstrating much of the skill that earned them their rings and a place in the NCAA national tournament.

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Deanna DiCroce scored the lone goal for the alumni in the second half while the current team using skill and stamina to control the game,  scored four goals on their own. Ellen Colbourne opened the scoring and Rosie Shanks added two goals in the first half. There was a fourth goal scored later, by Amanda Madagan freshly returned from the Junior Pan Am games.

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We even saw many parents and fans of the alumni as they peppered the sidelines as nostalgia reigned. After the game the friends and teammates retired for celebrations on their own!!

The important thing was that friendships were renewed, camaraderie reignited and memories returned of a time several years ago when championships were earned.

It’s All In The Numbers, Lafayette Signs Class Of Eight

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Most of the new Leopards attending a Lafayette basketball game with their new teammates during a visit

April 13 was NCAA National Letter of Intent signing day for field hockey and Coach Jennifer Stone released her list of eight new Leopards, who will enter Lafayette College as student athletes this fall. Six were named in earlier fall articles found on this site, and two were added during this final signing day. Stone is justifiably proud of this class, three of which hail from New Jersey, three from Pennsylvania, and two from the Netherlands, who were added to the list yesterday. ” We are extremely excited about the our Class of 2020. They represent players from some of the best hockey areas in the country and the world. They fit the mold of a Lafayette field hockey player by their athleticism, intelligence and character,”remarked coach Stone.

This is Stone’s largest class since she was named Head Coach. It is also the largest class in the Patriot League for this coming fall. Bucknell and Colgate have named six each, Holy Cross seven, American and Boston who both had large classes last year named three and two respectively, and Lehigh appears to have a class of four for new head coach Caitlin Dallmeyer. Six of the League schools put out press releases yesterday or earlier. Lehigh’s numbers were gleaned from other sources.

The new Leopard’s class seems to fill needs left by the graduating seniors. In all respects, they will add depth and skill all over the field. There is one goalie, several who might be found at the midfield or defense, including some prolific scorers

Here are the new Leopards in alphabetical order with a brief description of their accomplishments:

Ana Buzzerd ( Haddonfield Memorial)- Four year letter winner, captain, two time first team all conference, all south Jersey, two year captain of the track team, national honor society,Spanish Honor Society played hockey for Sprint of USA in Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Cameron Costello ( New Hope-Solebury)-four year letter winner, plays multiple positions, team was league champions, captain, all-league, holds record for most points in a season (52), four year letter winner in lacrosse, National Honor Society, Mystx FHC, medaled at the Disney showcase.

Jenn Delongis (North Penn)- a great athlete in both lacrosse and field hockey, captain of the field hockey team, All-Intellegencer, North Penn Female Outstanding Athlete, national honor society, played club field hockey for X-Calibur

Samantha Di Maio (West Morris Mendham)- Can play forward and midfield, tallied 30 goals and 29 assists in high school. She was all conference, all county, county MVP, and all state selectee. She is a high honor roll student and played for the Total Dutch Field Hockey Club in Somerset ,N.J.

Sarah Park (Methacton) Sarah will see action at goal. She was a four year letter winner, and captain her senior year.Named all league and all academic performer. She was ranked fifth in save percentage within the Philadelphia Area, she is a distinguished honor student. She played for the Viper field hockey club which won the 2015 pool one NIT championship. Sarah was impressed with Lafayette’s engineering program and decided this fall that Lafayette was the place for her.

Rose on Jonckheer-(Naarden, Netherlands/Willem deZwijer College)- played club field hockey for Naarden Hockey Club and Gooische Hockey Club and was part of three regional championship winning teams, she is an all around athlete playing outdoor and indoor soccer. Her aunt, Judith Jonckheer was an all-American at the University of North Carolina in 1985. Here is a video of Rosa demonstrating some of her skills

Caroline Turnbull-(Madison)- As a four year starter she was a prolific scorer, having scored 54 goals and 38 assists during her high school career. Her team was a state champion, and she was team captain and named MVP her senior year. She was named to the all state, all county, and all conference teams. She was also named the Daily Record Morris County Player of the year. She is a member of the New Heights Field Hockey Club and was Disney U-19 gold medalist.Also a member of the all-academic team in New Jersey.She played in the National Futures Championships and the Junior Olympics as a member of the USAFH team.

Lisa van der Geest (Oegstgeest, Netherlands/Rijnlands Lyceum)- Her school placed second in the National school championships and she played for the Leidsche en Oegstgeester Hockey Club. She is described by Coach Stone as a natural hockey player. Her ability to distribute all over the field makes her perfect for Lafayette’s style of play. She will most likely see action in the backfield. Here is her recruiting video.

Lafayette has the most appearances in the League playoffs of any other team in the league.  Last year they fell in the semi-final game to American University.

For more detail you can go to http://www.goleopards.com

 

 

 

What’s The Point of Spring Games?

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Aliza Furneaux beats an Albany defender last season

If you are, or plan to play division one field hockey in college, a year round commitment is expected. If you really think you can play softball in the off-season neither your softball coach or your field hockey coach will be happy with you. Even during the winter, time will be taken up with training and teaching skills. At all times, most coaches will take fitness as a given. You cannot play the game and execute on the field if you are not fit.

Lafayette College has make the league playoffs more times than any other team in the league, they hold more individual league records, and is the only team at Lafayette that received  top ten division one recognition in the last ten years. That does not come from hope but hard work. The legacy is an important one to the current team.

For those players who did not see a lot of playing time in the fall, the spring schedule is the opportunity to impress the coach and improve your game. The NCAA is very strict on the amount of hours you may spend  on the field, so our coaches will expect players to be ready to learn and impress.

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Rosie Shanks attacks the circle in game against Colgate last year

To that extent, games and competitions are constructed so that our coaches will be able to isolate individuals and give them every opportunity to show their skills. It is also an opportunity for  our coaches to try various new combinations. Because a player played mid-field in the fall doesn’t necessarily mean you will be there in the spring. I have seen many athletic careers “blossom” in the spring at scrimmages and practice games. There are only two weeks in the summer that are available to make last minute adjustments and to see where the new first year players will fit in.

Each team develops their own personality, and as this year’s first year players have now been around for six months, the team dynamic on the field is beginning to manifest itself. Are scores of games that important? Not really, but hustle and performance are. Teamwork begins to form and there begins to be a sense as to where the strengths and weaknesses are.

Coaches are loath to exacerbate chronic injuries of established players. Why risk a player with whom you are already familiar for that extra goal in a meaningless scrimmage? On the other hand, every “new” team needs to learn how to win and coaches need to see “where the bottom is.” In other words, how much can they ask of their team.

One other benefit is to be able to see how competitors are doing relative to yourselves and any coach that says that’s not what they are doing  out of the corner of their eye isn’t telling you the truth. Field Hockey as a college sport is different in that its off-season games and scrimmages are against other opponents as opposed to internal scrimmages like in football.

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Katelyn Arnold stands tall in the goal against Bucknell last year

Lafayette has had one  spring game and an indoor tournament. My grade at the moment would be “work in progress”. The indoor games occurred during the flu epidemic and the team played well, but short-handed. The one outdoor game was against a team that already had 5 games under their belt.

In my articles in the coming weeks, I will leave you with my  personal impressions. I am not privy to our coach’s deliberations, however I do have a general impression as to what they are trying to accomplish. There will be a structured competition this week-end with fall competitors Lehigh and Colgate, along with a pretty good Cornell team. Each pair of teams will play three 25  minute segments against each other, along with a shoot out. Lehigh will bring their new coach to lead them, and Colgate has always shown up to play their best against Lafayette. I would hope to see progress at our home field and would be lying if I said I was indifferent to the outcomes. ( I said in the above paragraph that the score doesn’t matter, but I am a fan after all).

As I wrote last week I was impressed with Rachel Bird’s strength at centerback ( a concern with the loss of senior Hannah Millen). It was obvious Katelyn Ewing has been working hard in the offseason and it shows. I was interested in Ellen Colbourne’s adjustment to the center mid position. In general, I want to see how our rising sophomores are performing, now that they are getting on the field for more playing time. As they practice together with new players in new positions, I will be interested to see them recognize where there teammates are and their ability to deliver the ball to them. I didn’t get to see much in the way of corner offense last week, so I look forward to see more in that area.

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Lafayette faithful do travel well!!

No doubt once this very talented group of new first year students are added to the roster this summer,  it adds another variable  to the calculus.  The full class will be announced about April 13th, after all of the signed commitments arrive. It will be a class of eight, and I sincerely believe Coach Stone may have the strongest first year class in the league this year. I will justify my comments once the entire eight are publicly named. As had occurred in past years much of the team will get together in captain’s practices without  coaches this summer. The whole team will receive a fitness regimen for the summer as well. Woe to the player who doesn’t arrive in August ready to play.  Meanwhile, I will be there on Saturday to witness and record our progress.

 

Addendum: Because of impending snow the 4 way scrimmages scheduled for Sat April 9 have been postponed….date to be decided!!! The NCAA only allows a finite number of practices and competitions during the spring so the challenge for the coaches is to reschedule and keep an adequate number of practices to have a quality scrimmage. Therefore there is an incentive to reschedule  as early as possible. Next week is a tournament at Columbia so April 23rd seems like a logical alternative for everyone. Sunday, our field is occupied with a pre-scheduled high school event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magadan Scores Two In Pan Am Game

Amanda Magadan scored two goals off of penalty corners in tuesday’s Junior Pan Am Games in the eleventh and twenty ninth minute. Playing for the undefeated US team Amanda played in the first crossover game helping the team earn a decisive 11-0 victory. The team seems to be headed for a showdown with top ranked Argentina. But first they must get by the other teams in the Argentine group including Chile. Saturday April ninth will be the date for the final games.

Meanwhile Amanda’s Lafayette teammates will be hosting rival Lehigh along with Colgate and Cornell in Easton on the ninth starting at 10 am.

Lafayette Runs Into Temple In First Spring Game

 

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Richael Bird looks upfield in spring game against Temple

Lafayette College traveled to Philadelphia to meet the Owls of Temple University for their first outdoor game of the spring. In the last two weeks the Owls had already met the Blue Hens of Delaware, Villanova University, American University, Penn State and James Madison. They used all that experience in their Saturday afternoon clash with Lafayette building a 3-0 lead in the first half and adding two goals in the second half before the Leopards were able to score their first and only goal in regular time.

Midway through the second half Kaitlyn Ewing added to her indoor total of 5 goals by punching in the goal during a scramble in front of the cage. The Leopards looked rough around the edges as the advantage in game experience showed during the afternoon. The one offensive corner the Leopards had, never got going and the young Leopards throughout the afternoon had difficulty finding open receivers. There were moments however that showcased some of the work during the offseason. Ewing seems to be getting more comfortable as she gets more game experience. Rachel Bird playing the center back position showed promise using her strong hit, as she found her teammates and was able to propel the ball downfield with strength and accuracy.

Those players who were hampered with injuries last year like Liza Welch got a chance for extended playing time. The Leopard’s captain Amanda Madagan was away at the Junior Pan Am games and defender Theresa Delahanty was nursing sore shins, but was on the sidelines cheering on her teammates. Goalie Gabrielle Ulery also got experience playing the entire second half.

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Amy Turner sprints upfield as Ellen Colbourne trails

I have to admit, Lafayette can play better, but considering the circumstances of a first game vs five contests by Temple the relative performances of the two teams is understandable. There is no denying that work needs to be done, and that’s why we have coaches and I just write and observe. In any case, it is ironic that 2016 field hockey for Lafayette is bookended by  Temple. Having played its first outdoor game with the Temple  Owls, the Leopards and the Owls will meet again on Oct 30, the last regular season game this fall. That’s when it will count!!

Next Saturday will be at home and Lafayette will host games with Lehigh, Cornell, and Colgate.