Leopards Travel To “So Sweet A Cat” To Take On 2-0 Monmouth

 

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Alyssa Ercolino awaits pass against Lehigh

On friday Sept 2, the Leopards will be traveling to Monmouth University and ” So Sweet A Cat” field to play the Monmouth Hawks. The field, I am told, is named after a favorite horse of the primary donor. The Leopards, I am sure are not planning to be sweet in this 13th meeting of the two schools. Last year the Leopards prevailed in a 1-0 overtime game which ended two minutes into the overtime with a deflection by Katie Birle off a feed by Ellen Colbourne. The Leopards have had the better of the rivalry but that doesn’t mean these games were not hotly contested. Monmouth plays an energetic and aggressive brand of hockey. Coach Carli Figlio, in her 10th season as the head coach belongs to the school of ” the fastest way to move the ball up field is the long hard pass.” On defense they are not afraid to press, as their last two opponents found out. In the past two games against VCU and Lehigh, they scored a combined 8 goals while only giving up one in 140 minutes of play.

Their leading scorer is number 9, junior Alyssa Ercolino who is a first team MAAC selection and has three goals to her credit this year. She was named offensive player of the week in the MAAC. She scored two of her goals against Lehigh ( the 60th game of her career) which was her fourth multiple goal game in college action. On defense Julie Laszlo, also earned MAAC honors on defense that allowed only 1 goal, 7 corners and 16 shots in the two games. After the Lehigh game, Coach Figlio lauded the 2-0 start, the best start for the Hawks since 2009. She looked forward to playing Lafayette, who she described as a very talented team.

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Midfielder Meg Lillis competes for the ball against Fairfield

The Leopards have been working hard analyzing film all week, as Coach Stone met with each player individually to discuss their play in the last game. She was impressed with Monmouth’s energy and enthusiasm on the field for the entire game. She noted their athletic ability and expected a very intense contest.

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Midfielder Kristen Taylor finds an opening taking the ball upfield

The Leopards are developing a deep bench and had three different players put points on the Board against the MAAC preseason favorite Fairfield. The Leopards took eleven shots and scored on 27 percent  which came from 6 different players. In the two games the Hawks averaged 18.5 shots scoring on 21 pct. The Leopards who were able to control the ball against Fairfield, especially in the second half will need  to find the circle and challenge Monmouth’s strong goalie.

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Forward Rosa Jonkcheer and Aliza Furneaux play team defense against Fairfield

The Leopards will need effort on both sides of the field to emerge victorious in this first away game of the season, and being a “Sweet Cat,” is not in the Coach’s game plan.

Leopards Demonstrate A Scrappy, Tenacious Personality In Opening 3-2 Win

 

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Senior Amanda Magadan sprints into the circle followed by Kristen Taylor

The Leopards were not going to be denied an opening day win, as they clawed and fought against the reigning MAAC champion to end up with a well deserved win at Rappolt Field tonight. They denied Fairfield a consistent offensive surge. In the game, Lafayette had 11 shots to Fairfield’s 3, 6 corners to Farfield’s 1, as the black attired Leopards forced most of the game to be played in Fairfield’s end of the field.

The opening goal for Lafayette came off the stick of junior Rosie Shanks, who after a corner attempt took advantage of several rebounds and finally place the ball passed the Fairfield goalie at only 4:24 into the game. The crowd roared and cheered in approval as the boisterous, encouraging audience of parents, fellow students, fellow athletes, and fans were treated all evening to this team that was not to be denied. The tenacity of Lafayette would be tested at  the 24:17 mark as Emma Clark was to trickle in a goal knotting the score at 1-1. But the Leopards dug in, earning another corner with less than 1 1/2 minutes to go in the half as freshman Lisa Van der Geest got the first goal of her Leopard career, powering a shot, rolling past the Fairfield goalie. Van der Geest benefited from an assist from sophomore Liza Welch ( who earned the first points of her career) and junior Ellen Colbourne.

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Rosie Shanks shows her defensive skills

In the second half, the Fairfield fans came to life, as their star player Ann Burgoyne sprinted to the circle and received a half field pass from teammate Sam Giordano and planted a goal tying the score once again, about 14 minutes into the second half. However, it took the Leopards just short of 2 minutes to answer, as freshman Rosa Jonckheer shook off a defender at the top of the circle and slapped an unassisted goal, registering the first points of her career at Lafayette.

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Lisa Van der Geest launches a shot after the stop by Ami Turner

From then on it was up to the swarming tough Leopard defense to hold off the Stags as they were unable to find an answer to the Jonckheer goal for the remaining 15 minutes of the game. The game ended as the Stags had pulled their goalie, inserting another field player, in the hope of once again tying the game, but Lafayette was to tie up Fairfield and they were never to see the Lafayette end of field for the rest of the game.

After the game, I talked briefly with the the goal scorers, Shanks, Van der Geest, and Jonckheer. All remarked how delighted they were with the win, and even volunteered  some things that they could be doing better. The three praised their teammates, and were delighted with the victory they all shared tonight. Coach Stone used her entire bench of field players again, as everyone was rewarded for the last two weeks of hard work!

During the game, it was the teamwork of the Lafayette side that was demonstrated again and again with senior captain Amanda Magadan as the glue that kept it all together. She frustrated the visitors all evening with her remarkable ball control, dominating play on offense and defense. In an interview after the game, she praised her teammates pointing out their emerging depth. Coach Stone feels strongly there are even better things to come, as the Leopards will meet their second MAAC opponent next friday at Monmouth. They then will return home to face Longwood University on sunday at 12 noon.The  Longwood game will again be streamed live, Monmouth will not.

Some notes:

In the last game with Fairfield on November 1, 2003 Jackie Kane was the Fairfield coach and Coach Jennifer Stone was the on field, but as a player in the 2-0 win. She had 10 shots but no goals in that effort. Goals were scored by Melissa Hoh,and Maggie DeFilippo.

The Patriot League had a successful day as every team in the league had a victory!

 

 

 

Leopards To Meet The Fairfield Stags For The First Time In 13 Years

The last time Lafayette met Fairfield was November 1, 2003 which resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Leopards, who launched a barrage of 37 shots against the Stags. However, these two former Patriot League rivals had fought many battles over the previous years with  unpredictable results. The previous year during Lafayette’s run to a Patriot League championship and top 20 ranking, Fairfield nearly stopped the Leopard’s 17 game win streak as our Maroon and White won by one goal 3-2. The Stags had their own PL championship in previous years defeating the Leopards twice during the season.

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Senior Aliza Furneaux sprints upfield looking for an open player

The Stags return to Rappolt Field, tomorrow, with another championship earned last year, the MAAC. They did it with a late season surge upsetting Monmouth and Quinnipiac in the process. Reading their preseason press releases reveals a determination to not only return to the league tournament, but win it again. They bring back a veteran group having graduated only 3 seniors. They have replaced those seniors with four freshman and one graduate student from England (Hannah Pike who played for the England under 20 squad). The team can score, having posted 48 goals on 243 shots but, gave up 52 goals on 272 shots. Their successful shot percentage is a very capable 19 pct but that is not the whole story.

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Ann Burgoyne is Fairfield’s leading scorer

Their leading goal scorer is Ann Burgoyne who scored 19 goals and 2 assists for a very gaudy 47 pct success rate, goals vs shots taken. Burgoyne, number 23, seems to score in bunches as she had several hat tricks to her credit. She ranked 4th nationally in goals per game and 7th in overall points. She was elected preseason player of the year in the MAAC.

Looking at the box scores Burgoyne teams up with senior classmate Julie de Paeux , number 1. Head Coach Jackie Kane looks like she wanted to bolster the diversity of scorers with her recruitment of Pike. The Stags face a daunting schedule with Iowa, Maryland , and American to follow the Leopards later on in the season.

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Lisa Van der Geest guards Rutgers attacker

The Leopards have likewise added to  their roster, a strong class of eight freshman and also return four senior starters including leading scorer, Amanda Magadan returning from the Junior Pan Am games after scoring several goals in the process. The Leopards have looked stronger at each exhibition and I suspect the excitement of the opener will raise their level of play even more. Aside from Magadan I expect to see our finishing forwards become real threats as our defense continues to demonstrate a stingy attitude defending the goal. The Leopard midfield play will be crucial as they need to control the ball and tempo of the game while delivering and finishing.

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Senior Captain Amanda Magadan moves the ball into scoring position

The Stags ended the season last year with a 6-1 loss to Patriot League champion Boston University

Other common opponents include Quinnipiac and Monmouth whom they split with, Sienna who they beat 6-1 and Colgate early on, who they beat 6-2 .

This will be an entertaining match up for fans given its history, first game excitement , and potential on field match ups.

 

 

 

 

 

Leopards Turn It On

 

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Ami Turner about to cover Columbia midfielder

We got a peek at what may be possible this season as the Leopard’s turned up the heat from an earlier exhibition at Rutgers University. In game conditions, the Leopards met Columbia University in  New York this afternoon, and I started to see what may be emerging for  this 2016 version of Lafayette Field Hockey. What is clear is that there is still a better game to come from this team. There were three freshman starters, Sam DiMaio, Lisa Van der Geest, and Rosa Jonckheer who looked increasingly comfortable in their roles.

I also thought Cameron Costello did well during her time on the field. I later heard from her how much better she thought the team felt about this effort. It was the upperclassman however, who set the tone as Amanda Magadan, Ami Turner, Aliza Furneaux, and Ellen Colbourne were able to aggressively move the ball into the attacking areas of the field to set up three goals during the afternoon. There were a number of other chances that in later games will end in goals, I believe. There was no 7 v 7, a shootout was added at the end.

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Ellen Colbourne pokes the ball away from a Columbia player

It wasn’t all perfection, as the leopards gave up too many corners to satisfy the maroon coaching staff. Columbia played well with the Lions taking advantage of the chances they had. But for Lafayette, there are several days left before the opening game with Fairfield, and I suspect we will see a busy Lafayette coaching staff polishing  today’s effort. As I wrote, this team can still play better. Ami Turner in particular was impressive showing energy and skill from her midfield position. She has an uncanny ability to recognize her open teammates and distributed the ball showing her three years of  experience.  The entire bench of field players were used again, so the coaches now have a lot of tape to review and evaluate.

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Aliza Furneaux powers the ball upfield

Meanwhile, the Patriot League announced it’s preseason selections and the coaches and sports information writers picked the Leopards third, behind Boston and American, ( I had predicted they would pick American first). However, the Leopards were to garner the highest number of preseason all league selections in Amanda Magadan, Kaitlyn Arnold, and Ellen Colbourne. They were tied with Boston University who also had three nominees. The predicted order of finish was Boston, American, Lafayette, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lehigh and Colgate. Lafayette garnered one first place vote.

The Leopards will meet MAAC champion, Fairfield University this Friday. This will be no easy game at Rappolt Field at 6 pm. Most opening games are tough, and Fairfield is anxious to prove that last year’s success was no fluke. I will have more about the game before thursday with my take on the “Stags.”

“We Can Play Better”

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Amanda Magadan receives the ball and gets ready to turn upfield

On August the 3rd I wrote I would write the truth and say when the team did not play up to their abilities. This time I need only quote many of the Lafayette players, “We can play better.” They have six days to make sure that their passes are more accurate, their tackling  more aggressive and their field sense is improved. There is a better team in there, I believe they will find it in the coming days.

There were some bright spots. Amanda Magadan showed her skill on the field that made her a player with national team abilities. Kaitlyn Arnold was very sharp as she and Gabby Ulery held Rutgers scoreless for a half. Lisa Van der Geest played well at the center back position playing excellent defense and delivering some accurate passes downfield.

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The lafayette goal line defense of Arnold,Furneaux and Van der Geest turn away Rutgers in the first half

The second bright spot was that everyone played in the game, every freshman, sophomore, junior and senior had a chance to be observed by the coaching staff in real time and certainly on tape later on.

Rutgers is an experienced team with a full class of eight seniors including several redshirts. They played with a coordinated manner knowing  where their teammates are on the field, a characteristic the Leopards will need to establish.

Lafayette did not get caught in the Rutgers press and cleared the ball very well.  However, Rutgers did manage to dominate time on the Lafayette side of the field while collecting 13 corners in the process.

Next week, Columbia will provide the last of rehearsal opponents before they are into the regular season. I sincerely believe next week will be a different story.

 

 

Practice Number Seven…The Mile Run

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Meg Lillis out front and stays there

Arriving at about 8:30 with the temperature already at 82f, the team assembled on the track at Metzger. Led by the Director of Strength and Conditioning Steve Plunkett a warm up was conducted using the hurdles set up for the exercise. This was the day of the dreaded mile run and no one was exempt. The earlier hour was chosen for obvious reasns but at 82 there was no escaping the heat. Armed with heart monitors the coaches directed the players into two heats, mixed by class and positions. The upperclassmen were casually prepared but there was obvious trepidation from the first year players.

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Cody Hunsicker, Kaitlyn Ewing, and Adriano Pero get control of the ball

The first heat was a fast one with senior Aliza Furneaux breaking out to an early lead with Amanda Magadan strategically two lengths behind. Ellen Coulboune remained a stealthy third. However, as the heat progressed Magadan broke to the lead finishing first in 6 minutes, followed by Colbourne, with Furneaux making it a close third. Cameron Costello was fourth and finished ahead of all her classmates!  The second heat was not as close as Meg Lillis broke out to an early 6 length lead and never gave it up.

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Kristen Taylor takes control of the ball at midfield

With that done, the team walked back to Rappolt Field to begin the day of real hockey. Today, was a day to practice pressing. It was an entertaining practice to watch and Magadan opened the practice with two goals as the team seemed to be energized by playing real hockey. There was also some really good defense at work, as I saw some excellent passing and releases up field by freshman Lisa van der Geest.  Aliza Furneaux seemed to be in the mix at crucial times showing her senior experience.

Sophomore Kristin Taylor showed good vision and aggressiveness from the midfield position, while defender Cody Hunsicker seemed no worse for wear after an earlier back muscle sprain.

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Lisa van der Geest sweeps the ball out of danger

Coach Stone seemed pleased as the session progressed. It was especially notable given that by the time practice ended it was already reaching 93 degrees. She has decided that the second practice of the day would be from 8-10 pm under the lights tonight in the cooler weather.

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Aliza Furneaux and Cody Hunsicker meet up

Tomorrow will be a day off and a team activity is scheduled to give everyone a well deserved break before resuming training on Monday. Tuesday will probably be a pre-game light day and the exhibition at Rutgers at 3pm on Wednesday is anticipated by fans and players alike.

Hockey, Heat and Heart

Preseason is all about improving on skills, physical fitness, and getting to know the teammates that will be there during the rigors of the season to come. It  is all field hockey, 24/7, with the players dealing with the Pennsylvania heat, testing their inner character and heart. It’s the test that will knit this disparate group of young women into a single efficient unit. It is done under the watchful eye of dedicated and demanding coaches. My wife and I arrived at Rappolt Field this morning about twenty minutes before the 9 am  start of practice.

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Ready set go!!

This was the third practice of the preseason and already Coach Stone has been able to make an assessment of the overall fitness of her charges. ” By and large I am pleased with the overall fitness, but typically there is always some catching up to do,” she opined.  She was pleased with the progress of the group and confident in their abilities. Practice was carefully planned to cover what she wanted to do in the two hour morning workout. As the temperature rose close to 90 Fahrenheit degrees (and I am sure higher on the turf), these young women went through their paces. There were frequent breaks and their heart rates  and other vital signs were constantly monitored by computerized devices worn by each player and transmitted to the coach’s iPad.

The practice began with  organized stretching and proceeded onto a series of drills designed to promote teamwork and individual skill. For the veterans, it was a continuation of the spring season, while the newest players were learning quickly where their new teammates will be on the field. The players were split into three areas as the goalies worked under the tutelage of coach Dalrymple, coach Janice supervised a drill which looked like the field hockey version of keep away, promoting defensive and offensive skills, while coach Stone worked on skills devoted to patterns close to the goal. The field players switched as each player got a chance at each drill, after  which the goalies joined the group for some real live action with their teammates.

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Coach Stone explains the next drill

At this point in preseason Coach Stone can be pleased the players seemed to be progressing. Later in the practice there was a drill devoted to fast breaks and which impressed me with the improved passing accuracy in the transition from defense to offense. Coach pushed the team to improve their ability and to adjust to various situations, but  on one occasion she was not satisfied with the execution, after which practice was stopped for team push-ups ( coaches included).

I continue to be impressed by many of our returning players and their progress. Rachel Bird continued to look good with her accurate passing and Ellen Colbourne continued to show her speed and leadership on the field. Amanda Magadan was not at practice as she finished summer classes to lighten her academic load this fall, since she will be traveling to Chile for the Junior World Cup at the end of November for two weeks after the season. She will be available next week, and for the Rutgers scrimmage.

There was an offensive highlight by Samantha DeMaio as she scored a goal by delivering it  through her own legs with her back to the cage. It appears to me that the new class will be contributors to the success of this team.  The two Roses, Rosie Shanks and Rosa Jonckheer worked well together in front of the goal. Senior Ami Turner showed her usual grit.

Captain Katelyn Arnold was sharp in goal directing her defensive teammates during the morning. It is still early, and there is a lot to learn in the next week. This early sample whetted the appetite for next week’s exhibition with Rutgers.

GO PARDS!