This was not the script Lafayette was looking for against Holy Cross. The Leopards arrived in Worcester with a 2-0 record in the league and this game was to set up a tussle in Easton next week for the lead in the Patriot League race. Holy Cross had there own scenario in mind as they hustled, scraped and executed a game plan that left the Leopards on the short side of a 2-0 score. It was Holy Cross’ first shut out of a Patriot League team since 2007 when they beat the Leopards 1-0 in Easton. If recall that day correctly, I think they only made one shot for the win. Unlike last year 3-2 defeat, you could not blame the officiating ( not great but not determinate). This time the Leopards did not finish and take care of numerous opportunities.
The game started well enough with Lafayette getting good circle penetration in the first six and one half minutes. Ellen Colbourne was particularly effective using her speed to drive to the circle. There was an early scrum in the circle which looked like it would result in a goal but was turned away. It was a pattern that was to repeat itself throughout the game. At 6:34 while I thought the Leopards had the better of it, four players for Lafayette were inserted at once. Holy Cross took advantage of the brief reorganization and moved the ball taking tactical advantage of the situation. Holy Cross’ leading scorer, Maureen Conolly stationed herself in her customary position in front of the goal and was to knock the ball into the goal during the confusion.
It was at this point the psychology shifted, and Holy Cross began to believe in victory. They outshot the Leopards 5-1 in the first period and controlled play on their side of the field. In the second half, the Leopards buckled down and saw numerous opportunities to score, finding themselves mere feet in front of the goal, but could not find an opening to deliver the tying score. There were blocked shots ( 5 saves), missed shots and misdirected shots. The Leopards officially outshot the Crusaders 7-5 in that period and in my opinion had even more opportunities for scoring that were to go for naught. Midway through the second period the Crusaders redirected a ball into the goal for the final score. The Leopards pulled Arnold from the cage, replacing her with Meg Lillis, putting 11 field players on the field in attempt to score. It resulted in a close encounter, but no joy for Leopard fans.
Lafayettte goalie Kaitlyn Arnold had a great day with 5 saves and saved the Leopards from an even higher differential. Ellen Colbourne was to use her speed effectively, but Holy Cross was able to stymie the Leopards with good stick work and jabs on defenses. Corners favored the Crusaders 3-2, and despite many close encounters with the goal, it was amazing there were so few corners called. Amanda Magadan was closely covered by the Holy Cross defense and Theresa Delahanty was aggressive and effective on Lafayette’s defense.
The Leopards will move on today for a tough game with the ranked University of Albany who defeated Vermont 6-1 on friday. Next week American University invades Rappolt field for a showdown which could still determine home field for the Patriot League Championship. American is still undefeated in the League, but if the Leopards run the table in the remaining League contests they would get the home field on tie beakers. Lafayette has Bucknell at Bucknell remaining and Lehigh at home ( who just beat Colgate 6-0). The only team eliminated from post season play is so far is Colgate. Lafayette needs to win 2 of the next 3 league contests to assure themselves of a post season. Only one win invokes tie breakers which could explode my mind just thinking about it.
For now on to Albany.