The Leopards Are Ready

Carolyn Turnbull scores on a stroke

After the one hundred and fortieth minute of field hockey against four teams, the Lafayette Leopards proved they are ready for the 2017 season. In the past several months of hard spring training this group became a team. In over ten years of writing about Lafayette Field Hockey, I have usually kept away from superlative adjectives and over confidence, but what we saw on this light rainy day leaves this fan very optimistic for the coming season. The passing was crisp, there was no standing around waiting for the ball, they ran and created spaces, every attack was by a plethora of Maroon and White, the defense looked coordinated and well managed, and every goal had multiple players involved.

Ellen Coulbourne puts on the afterburners leaving opponents behind

It would be unfair to single out a player, because every team member has made strides this spring to bring it together. To my mind, this is farther than any recent Lafayette team has come, at this point in its development. This was the last time they will be competing as a team until August 17th, when after about a week or so of preseason practice, they  will meet in a preseason game  against Monmouth University at Rappolt Field. Yes, there will be months of summer away from the College, but its my belief this team is on a mission. Many will remain on campus and in its environs, so recapturing what we saw this afternoon will quickly return. The skills are there and the fall will demonstrate their heart as well.

Meg Lillis blocks a Quinnipiac player

With the exception of Carolyn Turnbull’s strike on the stroke in the third game against Fairfield  ( a fall opponent on Sept 8th at Fairfield), every goal was a team effort constructed and executed with a knowledge of the field and position of teammates.

Cody Hunsicker introduces herself to a Quinnipiac attacker

Rosie Shanks opened the scoring with the first of two goals in the afternoon, against Quinnipiac ( a fall opponent on October twenty third at Rappolt Field). Rosie captured and controlled the ball as it was rebounding off of player sticks in front of the goal. Our other Rose, Rosa Jonckheer had a beautiful deflection later in the same game assisted by several Leopard teammates. Shanks got her second goal in the second game assisted by Ellen Coulboune, who used her speed and improved stick skills to beat opponents all afternoon. Shanks’ goal was to stand up against Columbia as the defense was to bar the home field Lions scoreless. Cody Hunsicker, Lisa van der Geest, with consistent and hard play by rising senior Meg Lillis demonstrated to me that opponent’s offensives were not going to find it easy this fall.

Taylor, Van der Gesst, and DeMaio team up stopping a University of Albany player.

I was pleased to see Kristen Taylor return to the turf as she weaved through opposing defenses, and led from the midfield position setting up the attack on numerous occasions. The rising Junior looks to be a major contributor next fall. I could fill the rest of this column with names but everyone looked liked they belong on a Division one field. The challenge will be to sustain and improve upon what we saw this afternoon.

For the moment, it was a good way to end this episode of 2017 Leopard field hockey, as I put my fan emotions away for the next three months. Go Pards!!

Lafayette Ready To Take On Drexel Under The Lights Tomorrow April 20

Sophomore Megan Wiest was the leading goal scorer for the Dragons last year

In it’s next to last contest of the Spring season the Leopards of Lafayette will take on an experienced Drexel squad on their field at 7 pm. This will be played under game conditions with perhaps a shoot out at the end, regardless of the score. The Dragons have only lost two seniors but they were two of the three top scorers last season. Drexel  fell to National Champion Delaware in the CAA semi- final last year. Returning will be top goal scorer, sophomore, Megan Wiest who tallied 12 goals out of the 41 goals scored by Drexel last season.

All Patriot League defender Lisa van der Geest

Those 41 goals were on 201 shots, As in previous years, Dragon teams like to use the fast break to their advantage. Opponents scored 61 goals on 325 shots. Penalty Corners were in the favor of opponents 87 to 123 and shots per game were 10.6 vs 17.1. The Dragon sophomore goalie had a 66 percent save percentage.

Kristen Taylor is escorted by Cam Costello up the field

First periods were crucial for Drexel as opponents outscored Drexel 33/12. Drexel will be a regular season opponent next year traveling to Rappolt Field on Sunday September 10.  This will be Drexel’s second spring contest having won their section last week at Delaware, playing Monmouth, LaSalle and division 2 Millersville.

The Leopards will travel to New York City on Saturday for an all day play day at Columbia University.

Head Coach Jennifer Stone has just returned from Ireland where she coached the Under 17 US Squad to three victories.

Liza Welch moves up the field against St. Joes

Addendum:   The Leopards got off to 1-0 lead in the first half off of a Liza Welch goal ( first of her career).  The half was perhaps the best hockey of the spring season for the Leopards. Unfortunately the second half resulted in 2 goals for Drexel. Next up Quinnipiac, Columbia, Albany and Fairfield in New York City as Lafayette ends its spring season.

Buzzard,DiMaio,Jonckheer and Shanks Find The Back Of The Goal In Long Afternoon Of Spring Games



Rosa Jonckheer gets in position to defend against Penn

It was again an afternoon where everyone got on the turf and as a result the goal scoring was spread around. The morning started off with a very game Penn squad, who got on the Board early with two quick goals. The Leopards rebounded and held the Quakers in check as Rosa Jonckheer beat the Penn goalie one on one after receiving a long pass from Cameron Costello along the right sideline. Unfortunately the 35  minute game was to end with 2-1 score to advantage of Penn.

Meg Lillis moves the ball upfield against Penn

The second game was with Lehigh as Lafayette’s defense was to have their strongest effort of the afternoon helped by two goals, one from Rosie Shanks and the other a rebound, from Sam DiMaio.

Offensive corner being set up Lisa Van der Geest, Meg Lillis and Cody Hunsicker with Ana Buzzard ready to help

The third game after a long wait saw the Leopards on the short end of 3-0 score against the Orange from Syracuse University. Syracuse saved their most impressive effort of the day for the Leopards as they struck using deflections and pin point passing.

Jenn DiLongis with Rosie Shanks break up a play by Syracuse

The last game was a 7 v 7 against Columbia University and Lafayette’s fourth goal was to be the difference from Anna Buzzard on a well executed corner. Lafayette won 1-0 to finish on a high note. Gabrielle Usery was to finish unscored upon in the goal, after the 7 v 7 game.

This contest was the last until a trip to Drexel which will be on April 20 at 7 pm followed by the spring finale on Saturday April 22nd at Columbia for an all day tournament.

Lafayette Continues Spring Season At Penn With Four Contests
Alexa Hoover holds Penn scoring records

The Leopards travel to Philadelphia to the home field of the University of Pennsylvania to play four challenging games against quality opponents. The day will begin at 9:40 with a game against the host University of Pennsylvania. Outside of Lehigh, the Leopards have played Penn more than any other team in their history. However, they have not appeared on the regular season schedule for two years. Coached by 8th year coach Colleen Fink, the Quakers last year amassed a record of 11-6 while 4-3 in the Ivy League. They averaged 2.591 goals per game but giving up 2.24 goals per game. They return 19 players including second team all american Alexa Hoover #7. While only 5’2″ she has scorched opponents for 15 goals last year, becoming Penn’s all-time leading scorer. Penn played only one Patriot League opponent last year, Lehigh which they beat 2-1.

Ellen Colbourne grabs the ball against Lehigh

The next game is a familiar foe, the Brown and White from Lehigh, scheduled for 11am. Two weeks ago the Leopards beat the Mountain Hawks 2-1. Last year they finished with 6-11 season for first year coach Caitlyn Dallmeyer. They scored 1.65 goals per game and gave up 2.71 goals per game. They will return 15 players for the 2017 season.

Syracuse’s Laura Hurff during Junior World Cup, teammate of Leopard, Amanda Magadan who is now with the US Team

After a long break Lafayette will play Syracuse for the their toughest game of the day at 2:20 pm  The Orange had a 15-4 record last year, while registering a 4-2 record in the ACC. They return only 13 players but it will include three all americans. Lies Lagerweij is a 6′ 1″ back and will wear number 21. Roos Weir, also a back is 5’10” and will wear number 16. Laura Hurff is the third all american and is a midfielder wearing number 14 and is 5’4″. Head Coach Angie Bradley is in her 18th year and has a national championship trophy in her office. Syracuse averaged 3.53 goals per game and their stout defense only allowed 1.37 goals per game. Syracuse played and beat Patriot League foes Bucknell (4-3) and Boston U (2-1).

All Patriot League defender Lisa van der Geest attacks the St Joe’s circle

The last game, a 7 v 7 affair, begins at 3:40 and pitches our Leopards with the Lions of Columbia. Columbia is led by second year coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols. Columbia had an 8-9 record last year with a 2-5 Ivy record. They will return 17 players including all region defender Maive Doherty wearing #8. She was the second leading scorer on the team. The Lions averaged 2.94 goals per game and gave up 3.29 goals per game.  Columbia beat Patriot League rival Holy Cross 5-2 last year and lost to Bucknell 4-3.

The first three games will actually be 1/2 games at 35 minutes while the 7 v7 will last 15 minutes.

Leopards Show Promise In Spring Game With St. Joseph’s University.

Kate Ewing, Theresa Delahanty and Ellen Colbourne congratulate Caroline Turnbull on a late goal.

The entire Lafayette team saw action in a modified game with the St. Joseph’s Hawks today. The defense, managed to contain a good Hawk offense early on as Coach Jennifer Stone used her entire squad in critical situations. In a comment after the game she expressed pleasure on how her team responded to a Hawk team that averaged 3 goals per game last year. ” A lot of these players stepped up into situations they have not seen before.” Defender Rachel Bird is still nursing sore shins and midfielder Kristen Taylor was awaiting evaluation for the same malady. But the younger players responded by shutting down the Hawks all-american forward, as much of the earlier action was in the St. Joseph’s offensive end.

Adriano Pero avoids a Hawk defender

The game was played in four fifteen minute quarters with the clock stopping for penalty corners. As the game wore on the leopards began to find their offensive connections to teammates. Goals in the regular game were scored by Rosie Shanks in front of the goal in the middle of scrum, while Caroline Turnbull found the corner of the goal in a beautiful shot late in the game. Turnbull had several other fine offensive plays as success seemed to add to her confidence.

Liza Welch pursues the ball down the sideline

To my eyes there was a lot to be pleased with by the younger players, Adriana Pero showed some real grit and strength on defense, and Liza Welch let her presence be known with several good aggressive plays. Sam DiMaio was able to get clear near the goal and was near the action on numerous breaks into the offensive side of the field. Rosa Jonckheer got off several hard shots as her play is returning to last years form that earned her rookie of the week honors in the Patriot League.

Jenn Delongis  and Ana Buzzard took advantage of their opportunities, while Theresa Delahanty was very active on defense and the seven aside scrimmage. Both goalies did well in the cage. Defensive corners looked a little rough from the team perspective, as the goalies responded with several good saves.

The sum it up ,it was a productive afternoon as the Leopards were beginning to show the depth that can be so valuable in fall. Next up on Saturday will be a day long tournament at Penn.