A Weekend In Virginia To Meet Two Contrasting Opponents

First Up Is Appalachian State Who Is 1-1

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Ali Williams congratulated after a goal

Appalachian State split their opening weekend in contrary fashion . Their first game and win came in Philadelphia with LaSalle. The stats were contrary indicators to the outcome. It was a 3-1 win where App State was outshot 9-13, and out cornered 3-10. But they found the back of the net when in counted and ended with the only statistic that mattered, 3-1 ahead on goals.

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Williams sets up for the corner

Sophomore Ali Williams scored 2  goals in the win taking 5 shots in the process. She is the hitter on corners, so I expect she is their most dangerous player. The Maryland native (number 14) can be expected to be their go to player.

That is borne out in the game with Georgetown, in which the Hoya dominated the scoreboard 8-0 over the visitors from Boone, NC.  Williams had no shots in a game that Appalachian State won the statistical battle, with 15 shots to 12 and 6-4 in penalty corners. Number 15 Taylor Cimblist a senior midfielder took 5 shots in the afternoon.

Second year coach Meaghan Dawson is no stranger to Lafayette, as she was an assistant at Bucknell before landing the Head Coach assignment at State. The game will be played on Saturday at 2 o’clock, and the weather prediction is for light rain for the first hour. The game is being played at JMU. App State will meet JMU on Friday afternoon.

Sunday Is JMU At 2 pm

James Madison is 2-0 as of this writing (August 30), having beaten Old Dominion in a shootout on their turf. Old Dominion got out to an early lead 2-0 in the first half and looked like they were about to coast to a win, but the JMU experience ( returned 9 of 11 starters) showed as they demonstrated a scrappy determination, tying the score in the second half, on two goals by Ashley Gippe. The first corner of the night did not occur until the second half as JMU tried a little deception by sending the ball  out to the hitter at the edge of the circle and passed it to side and back to the inserter. They were to try once more with a similar play, and finally tried  a direct hit on their third corner of the game.

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Rigg shows her speed against ODU

Miranda Rigg (number 6) is their playmaker taking 9 shots on the evening, trying to add to her 2 goal performance against Liberty over the weekend. It was an offensive display all night, as ODU took 22 shots to JMU’s 23. There were only 7 penalty corners all game, all occurring in the second half of play. ODU had 4 and JMU had 3.   Rigg was all over the field and the former ice hockey player was clearly a big part of the JMU offense. She can shoot from any position on the field and as an inserter on corners is dangerous when they return the ball her. Defender Lisa Lejeune (number 22), was a force on defense.

One interesting turn of events was Head Coach Christy Morgan’s use of three goalkeepers. She started with the senior (number 29) Sara Kraeutler, switched to sophomore Kyler Zampiello for the second half and overtime, and most remarkably used freshman Caitlin Nelson (number 28) for the shootout.

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Rosie Shanks speeds down the sideline against JMU last year

JMU has now played two nationally ranked teams successfully. Lafayette lost to JMU last year 3-1 at Rappolt Field and looks to avenge last year’s game. Weather is predicted to be warmer (78 F). by game time at 2 pm Sunday.

 

Patriot League Had Mixed Results On Opening Weekend

The seven Patriot League Field Hockey Teams opened the 2017 season with mixed results from their out of conference contests this weekend. Only two teams emerged unscathed this weekend, Lafayette with their very solid victory over Hofstra 3-0 and Boston University with their two wins against Bryant 4-0 and New Hampshire 1-0. Against ranked teams the results were more problematic. American lost to ODU 2-4 after a close call against unranked Richmond 5-4 in overtime and Holy Cross’ 3-8 loss against UMASS. Jennings decided to substitute their starting goalie in the second half without effect in Sunday’s game with ODU. Their save percentage during the weekend was 33 percent. It is arguable that statistics mean little at this stage, but it is noteworthy American had 8 goals scored against them in the two game weekend.

Boston University survived the weekend demonstrating a strong veteran defense while scoring occurred having every goal scored by a freshman. The Boston coach has stated she has the top 10 recruited class this year ( where she gets that stat I have no idea) . In any case, the 4-0 game against Bryant and a very strong defensive performance against a good New Hampshire squad kept them undefeated.

Colgate’s loss over the weekend and the number of shots against them shows they have work to do. Remarkable was the number of defensive saves in their loss against UMASS-Lowell.

Lehigh opened with a win in their opening game against LIU 1-0 before losing to a young Ohio State team 0-4.

Perhaps one of the more interesting games was Bucknell’s loss to a very improved Monmouth squad 2-6. Bucknell could not get any offensive traction and was outshot  offensively. All the more noteworthy was that the Bisons were playing at home.However, they bounced back smartly with a dominating game against a good Temple squad at Temple. Two of their three goals were on corners. I was particularly impressed with one goal on a corner, which was a flick over the head of the Temple goalie. The meeting between the Leopards and Bucknell later this season at Rappolt Field, should be a real chess match. It could be a key match for the Leopards.

The Leopards 1-0 start kept them undefeated in OCC games along with Boston, and both teams dominated the player of the week selections. Boston had three selections, while Rosie Shanks grabbed the offensive player of the week with her two game winning goals.

The Leopards will play their first ranked team in JMU this Sunday, after a game with Appalachian State on Saturday, both being played in Harrisburg, Va. The Leopards will depart Friday morning and practice upon their arrival in Va.

Addendum: This afternoon August 29 Bryant was defeated 12-1 by number 24 Maine. They were also defeated on Sunday 8-1 by Northeastern. This compares with the 4-0 game with Boston. I think the Patriot League may be more wide open than most people think. The games this weekend could be an indicator. Time to focus on the Leopards in Virginia this weekend. More in the coming days!! As they say one game at a time.

Seniors Score In 3-0 Victory Over Hofstra….Shanks For Two and Hunsicker For One.

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Shanks dashes for the cage to get a rebound

Senior Rosie Shanks opened the scoring for 2017 with a touch off of a long pass from outside the scoring circle from Ellen Colbourne with 32:23 having been expended off the clock in the first half. This is the fourth year in a row that Shanks has scored in the opening weekend and the second time she found the back of the cage twice. Cody Hunsicker made the score 2-0 in the second half with a rocket off a corner with only 6:47 ticking off of the clock as her shot zipped past the Hofstra goalie. She was assisted by Ellen Colbourne who was her usual ubiquitous self, making her presence felt the entire game. Shanks finished her two goal night assisted by Lisa van der Geest in a scrum to the right of the cage with the coup de grace delivered deftly by Shanks into the far left corner.

Van der Geest was all over the field showing her leadership from the backfield and was a standout individually on defense often beginning play and defending against the Hofstra attack.

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Cody Hunsicker goes for the ball inside the cirlce

Possession was the hallmark of the evening as the Leopards collected 10 shots to 3 for the Hofstra Pride. It included 4 corners versus 2 for the visitors according to the scorekeeper. Meanwhile the Lafayette the goal keeper, Sarah Park got her shutout in her first start and minutes of her career. She stepped up for 2 saves in the effort.

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Delahanty maneuvers inside the cirlcle

The enthusiastic opening game crowd of 250, supplemented by a strong contingent from the Leopards Football team, was treated to a game that demonstrated the Leopards stick skills, as they dominated time in the offensive side of the field. Lafayette’s depth was evident as Coach Stone used her bench liberally. Stone was impressed with her team’s performance especially from those who have been asked to play new positions this year.

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Shanks stops the ball for Van der Geest on an offensive corner

Freshman Grace Angelella took the first shot of the season early in the initial period, and was found around the goal all night. Midfield work by Theresa Delahanty and Kristen Taylor was exciting to watch. Ellen Colbourne’s speed was always a factor that warranted attention from Hofstra’s defense.

It seemed as though 80 percent of the time Lafayette was threatening and Hofstra was forced on their heels. It is Lafayette’s 8th win of the series and a rebound from last year’s 4-1 loss at the Pride’s home field.

Highlights of the goals can be seen on http://www.goleopards.com. The game was scheduled to be live streamed but a technical glitch prevented its broadcast despite extensive testing yesterday.

Leopards next travel to Harrisonburg, Va. for two games. The first will be on Saturday with Appalachian State, and second on Sunday with number 19 ranked JMU.

 

Hofstra Is A Mystery Wrapped In An Enigma

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Carys Swan is one of the co-captains for Hofstra

Lafayette will meet Hofstra at Rappolt Field on Friday at 7 pm as both teams face off for their first game of the season. The two teams met for the eleventh time last year in Hempstead resulting in a 4-1 win for the Pride. It was a game of momentum as Lafayette got out to an early 1-0 lead off a Magadan goal with less than 6 minutes ticked off the clock. But The Pride was to tie the score with minutes left in the first half deadlocking the game at 1-1.

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Marloes Schavemaker is a defender and in her second and final season on the team as a grad student

While both teams came out strongly in the second half, it was Hofstra that was to take advantage and scored 3 goals, the last coming with less than 4 minutes remaining. Lafayette was on the short end of shots 10-18, making 8 saves vs 6. Hofstra also had more penalty corners leading 8-2 in that category getting five in the second period alone. They finished the year 9-10 overall and 1-5 in league play. That was last year.

 

This year they are a bit of a mystery. They return 12 players from last year but only 3 of those were starters last year. They will be led by graduate student Marloes Schavemaker ( a preseason all CAA selectee), senior goal keeper Carys Swan ( who was the back up keeper last year played in eight games with a 4 goal per game average and a 63.6 save percentage), and junior forward Madison Sauve who was the Pride’s leading scorer last year with five goals and five assists in nineteen starts.

Hofstra will start the season with one preseason game under their belt which I have not been able to find anything about. The rest of the team is a mystery, fielding 13 freshmen ( two of whom are red shirted from last year).

This could be a high scoring affair but one never knows. Possession will be the key to the game, as well as circle penetrations and corners, giving rise to scoring opportunities. The Leopard defense is experienced and strong which may give Lafayette a slight nod, but first games are hard to predict and this one seems, given uncertainties, especially difficult to handicap.

Both teams will have new goalies in the cage, with Pride co-captain Swan in that key role, having at least some time in the cage over the last several years. Hofstra is picked sixth  in the seven team CAA this year, but that is anybody’s guess given the new roster, and playing in a league with the National Champion (Delaware) on the league schedule. ( Lafayette also plays Delaware in October and plays JMU who is picked second in the CAA in the fourth game of the season).

If we knew the outcomes ahead of time, there would be no reason to play the game, as the saying goes. As a first game, this could be anyone’s game to win. Who will be more ready?!!

I understand the game will be live streamed on goleopards.com at 7pm EDT.

Rehearsal Is Done…Next It Is For Real

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Kristen Taylor gallops through the Columbia defense.

Lafayette came out strong against Columbia right from the beginning, and dominated action at the beginning of the first half of a game/scrimmage. They dominated in corners 6-2 and Lisa Van der Geest delivered with two strikes at the goal. The shots were so hard I think they would be still on their way to downtown Easton if there wasn’t a net to stop them. Columbia had a hard time breaking Lafayette’s press which gave the Leopards numerous offensive opportunities and circle penetrations.

The two teams played two 15 minute quarters in the first half and it was a spirited contest throughout. Both teams substituted liberally and continued to experiment with combinations during a 35 minute second half. Columbia bore down and was able to begin to score, using their speedy forwards. Lafayette continued to get offensive opportunities and got several corners. After the Columbia scores the Leopards had a lull,  but came back with a score by Sam DiMaio as she delivered a goal off of a rebound late in the period.

There were good individual performances from  Van der Geest, Colbourne, Angelella,  Liza Welch and DiMaio providing spark. Kristen Taylor was tough at the midfield position along with Theressa Delahanty. Ana Steps demonstrated fine stick skills as well, during the match.

Most importantly a tone has been set. The Leopards have not yet played their best hockey and there appears to be a offense emerging that is beginning to connect.

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Aside from the game there was the eclipse to watch and the last shoot out practice occurred just has the sun and moon began their dance. In addition, the tailgate crew was in midseason form as the Leopards can now begin to think about their first regular season game against Hofstra this friday at 7 pm.

 

The Lights Have Not Turned On Yet For Lafayette Field Hockey

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Sam DiMaio beats a Monmouth defender early in the first half

Running a flawless drill is not the same as an 11 v 11 game and in its first outing of the season it is clear that there is work to do in the coming days to be ready for the first game on the 25th against Hofstra. There is another 11 v 11 rehearsal on Monday against Columbia and I would bet it will be a different looking squad by then.

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Lisa van der Geest charges forward

As the sun disappeared in the western sky, inexplicably the lights never lit up and by the time the teams got ready to practice shootouts, after a regulation “game “/scrimmage, and a ten minute overtime, I was wondering if we had to get the cars organized to shine on the field. But it was metaphorical, as the Leopards never quite lit up the field with play, although there were some individual moments. Ellen Colbourne took several shots from the field, including a number of reverse chip shots and drag flicks here and there, all sailing over the goal. I would guess those shots will be more on target as the season progresses, as will several opportunities by teammates close enough to the goal to deflect the ball to the back of the net. Colbourne was finding space and twice got into a scrum in front of the goal along with teammate Rosie Shanks.

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Cody Hunsicker drives past two Monmouth defenders

Teammate and fellow co-captain Cody Hunsicker had at least one defensive save which has been her signature in previous seasons. Shanks as usual was in the mix, freshman Grace Angelella showed her speed on several occasions, Meg Lillis showed her strength on several 50-50 balls, Sam DiMaio was her ubiquitous self around the ball, and Lisa van der Geest showed great determination on defense along with Rachael Bird. The problem was, there was no coherent mix that put it all together tonight.

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Shanks turns defender along the sideline

Breaking a high press, did present several fast break opportunities as Monmouth did overcommit at times, but the visitors showed more organized cohesiveness tonight. Monmouth who were champions of their league last year, traveled to Europe earlier in the summer and showed what an extra two weeks of practice can mean. Add to that a large contingent of seniors, 13 returning letterman, including 9 starters, and a goal keeper who was second in shutouts in Division one, and you have a squad that will challenge opponents early in this season. Monmouth opens on the 25th against Bucknell. That should be an interesting game.

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Costello and DiMaio introduce themselves to Monmouth

Talking with the Lafayette team captains, they agreed there were things to build on and mistakes to correct in the coming days. They are grateful for the opportunity to fine tune themselves against Columbia, who just opened preseason this week. They were confident that progress will be obvious next Monday.

The first real, on the record game, is in one week and I would guess this weekend will not be one spent in reflection. Like the captains, I look forward to Monday, and not just because of the Eclipse…. although it would be nice to have the lights working by then.

 

Go Pards!

Leadership And Example Will Translate To Success

The Lafayette Field Hockey Team have elected three captains this year who have set goals to lead and motivate this group of already dedicated student athletes. As hard as preseason may be, once the season begins and 24/7 concentration on team formation is behind them, there will be the everyday distractions that student athletes will face. Aside from the obvious pressures of succeeding as a student that can be every bit as challenging as her responsibilities as an athlete, there are the social pressures that every young person faces. There will be sacrifices to be made and the team captains are not to be there as disciplinarians but peer leaders to remind their teammates they are just that…. a team with an overall goal.

This year the team will be led by three captains, two seniors and a junior. There is no doubt about their ability on the field, but all three have showed their willingness to demonstrate their devotion to team goals by example. Ellen Colbourne and Cody Hunsicker have had 4 years of success on the field and in the classroom, and have learned to prioritize and organize their lives as student athletes. No less dedicated is Junior Rachel Bird who already has shown her leadership on the field as a strong defender  and student.

All three are graduates of the Oaks Leadership Academy, which is an endowed program given by Cindy and Judd Linville in memory of her father Dr. Wilbur Oaks on the anniversary of his 60th year after  graduation from Lafayette. It is an ongoing program to teach student athletes on how to lead and the qualities of a successful leader. One student described the five elements of vocal leadership taught by the program.

  1. The idea of a servant leader- a person who is there to  get their team through the tough times and rise above difficulty.
  2. Confidence builder- To inspire confidence and lead their team past inevitable down periods
  3. Refocuser- To rededicate the team to team goals when distracted by other events
  4. Team Builder- To remind teammates of building a team attitude before self
  5. Enforcer- speaking and reminding the team of their goals and rules to enable success.

All three have captured those ideas and have adopted specific goals to make a successful season. All three agreed on the need to score more goals. While that may seem obvious, there are elements of a disciplined game that get you to meet these goals. Cody Hunsicker mentioned  they must learn to avoid turnovers, and keep in mind the benefits of maintaining possession. Ellen Colbourne will remind the team to respect every opponent and never take victory for granted. Rachel Bird stressed the need to support and work together to meet team goals.

For the two senior captains, they have dedicated themselves not to leave any regrets on the field. This is their last shot as student athletes, and they want to make the most of it. Rachel Bird affirmed the senior’s goals and said she and the rest of the team would like to do it for them.

I asked the three captains about the newest Leopards, and they were enthusiastic. “They fit into our culture and everyone understands they have to learn a lot in a short period of time”. They were excited by the potential additional talent, and enthusiasm the freshmen bring to practice and eventually to games.

Ellen Colburne will be a student mentor and an intern during the new Oaks Academy sessions. A prestigious assignment!!

It is about two weeks until the opening whistle, and I asked what game are they looking forward to. They all answered, ” The next game always. We always focus on the coming game.”

They will have two preseason games to start putting it all altogether against Hoftra on the 25th. Thursday night the Leopards will take on Monmouth at 6 pm at Rappolt Field and next week there will be the last rehearsal against Columbia.

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Yesterday the team turned into fans as they drove out to Spooky Nook to watch the US team and ex teammate Amanda Magadan take on the Candadian National team ( who had several ex-teammates of many of our Leopards). The US got a come from behind 2-1 win in an exciting match of skill, fitness, and strategy. Before that our Leopards were treated to lunch by Meg Lillis’ and her parents at her nearby home.

Back to work today!!!