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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!