There are only two weeks left on the calendar until the Leopard Field Hockey team reports for the grueling weeks of preseason. This will lead up to the first game with Hofstra on the 25th of August. Lafayette has unfinished business, as they left Long Island last year with a 4-1 score against the Leopards. In fact, the whole early schedule will not be an easy one this year, and the first Patriot League game is early. Reforming as a team is as much mental as it is physical. For sure, arriving ready to play physically is paramount, but that only allows the player the ability to absorb the complexities of new offensive and defensive schemes, as well as adjusting to new positions.
College field hockey is all about a four year cycle. At Lafayette, baring injury, or acceptance of playing for a national team, red shirt years are rare. It is for all practical purposes a new team every year. The Leopards will have a new goalie, they will miss an all american, and all league performers. But this will be an opportunity to see individuals step up. More importantly, they will learn to connect and play with others, veteran and rookie alike.
Co-captain Ellen Colburne, who may be the fastest player on the field in any game the Leopards play this year, will be a challenge to defend. The inevitable double and triple teaming she will get will mean other players will need to be in those open spaces that will be created. Kristen Taylor showed some of her skill last spring as an attacking midfielder. Rosie Shanks has become expert at second and third shots. On her knees, running full blast, or standing on her head she manages to get a shot on goal. Theresa Delahanty and Cody Hunsicker will bring new skills, having been selected to try out for the Under 21 US Team.
I could fill this page with those I believe can be difference makers this year, and I will as the season goes on. There will new names, that will enhance the Leopards, as competition makes each player better as the weeks progress. But it might be these last weeks that could make a difference. The extra wind sprint, the learning of a new skill, and the enshrinement of these new skills, with new connections on the field could be the difference in tight games.
These veterans and the seven new first year players are getting ready with personal workouts, pick up games, and just hanging together. Many remained on campus during the summer and fortunately many live in the area. For example, a group this past sunday got together after a sunday pick up game and traveled to the Delahanty’s for lunch and watched former teammate Amanda Magadan start for the US national team defeating and winning the FIH semi-final tournament against Germany in South Africa.
Watching the US women come from behind, and winning on a shoot-out was certainly inspiring. It could make these Leopards relive their own game with BU last year, winning on a similar shootout.
But there are more memories to make this year, and this team is up to the task. The schedule will not give them breaks, with several NCAA qualifiers and the defending national champion in their way. Somehow they will dig deep and find their winning attitude.
Let the games begin!!!