Preseason is always a trial, a trial of stamina, a trial of skills, and a trial of teamwork. Only three days in, and already this team seems to be coming together. After two days of hard, difficult work, Coach Stone decided to let her foot off the gas pedal, and start to work on strategy and teamwork in a workout she characterized as “light.” There was very little standing around as the practice session was one of precision, as each segment was carefully planned out and orchestrated.
While field players worked on separates skills and patterns under the tutelage of Coaches Stone and Janice, Coach Sarah Dalrymple put the goalies through their paces. They joined the team halfway through the afternoon, participating in a combined live drill. If there was an emphasis on this day, it was echoed by Stone numerous times…” make the pass you have not the pass you want.” She was stressing the need to not force passes that often leads to interceptions, and changes of possession.
The veterans had an advantage as they knew and trusted their teammates already, but as the afternoon wore on, connections were starting to emerge as the first year players began to feel their place on the field. Patterns were more than just triangles, but movement and speed became part of the play.
At the end of practice the team played a game where the ball was bounced to them at the top of the circle. Divided into two teams they competed to see which team would get the ball to goal more consistently. It appears there are a number of competitions throughout the season and it is recorded to see which team prevails by the end.
After the final whistle, the team got in a circle for a self critique, to exam what they can improve upon. They came up with a list of things that could be worked on in the coming days. However, praise was also in order, as they named a player for particular effort that day. Today, it was freshman Grace Angelella. ( I wouldn’t disagree). That doesn’t mean there weren’t other good performances. Lisa Van der Geest not only looked fit, but was playing with extraordinary confidence……not good news for opponents in the future. She is on a mission, as she was the last player to leave the turf, practicing her shot on the sideline with Lola Dada.
Rosie Shanks and Ellen Colbourne looked in sync as they practiced in front of the goal while Audrey Sawer got better, and looked imposing as the afternoon wore on. In the end, I was impressed. Not because this was a finished product, but what this team could be when the season begins. The team’s first exposure to competition comes next week on August the 17th at Rappolt Field against Monmouth for a preseason game at 6 pm.
The players really didn’t want to leave the field, which shows the kind of desire growing within the Leopards. Tomorrow is another practice day, and Sunday they will spend their time off traveling to the Pan Am Games in Lancaster, as the US will have a rubber match with Canada for the bronze medal. The last game between Canada and the US ended in a tie. No doubt there will be mixed emotions from team Lafayette. ( I asked Lafayette co-captains and native Canadians Rachel Bird and Ellen Colbourne who they would root for and without hesitation they blurted out CANADA, but hoped former teammate Amanda Magadan had a good game. There was no doubt Co-Captain Cody Hunsicker was rooting for the Red, White, and Blue and pulling for Magadan).
Addendum: There are some changes coming to the athletic venue this season, stay tuned and perhaps I will be able to reveal all, after the game on the 17th. But it is exciting!!
Next up is a conversation with our new co-captains, Junior Rachel Bird, Seniors Ellen Colbourne and Cody Hunsicker!!