The Dukes of JMU went to 4-0 and dropped Lafayette to 2-1 using their speed and up tempo game to stymie the Leopards for at least the first half. But the experience will be applied to future opponents of Lafayette. There was a lot that you could glean from this loss and I believe profoundly this team will be better as a result.
The first thing I came away with is that sophomore Sara Park is becoming a big time goal keeper for the Leopards. She handled 10 of the 12 shots that came her way, keeping her save percentage at 86.4 percent. The first period saw her turn away shot after shot until JMU’s Miranda Rigg found an opening with about a minute left in the first half breaking a 0-0 tie.
The Leopards had not seen this tempo in a game in their previous two, but as the second period started they began to compete. Yes, total shots were 8-26 in JMU’s favor for the whole game, but in the second half it was 8-10. The Leopards actually out cornered JMU 4-3….4-2 in the second half. The second JMU goal came with 9;30 left but the Leopards never quit and that included their coach Jen Stone. With 3:30 left on the clock head coach Stone pulled her goalie and inserted Cody Hunsicker as the kick back. We were all hoping for one of Rosie Shank’s miracle finishes. She came close but could not connect in the end.
The Leopard offense came alive, getting two corners and challenging right to the end, finally pushing the ball consistently into the attacking third. Yes, it was a loss, but I truly believe this is a good team about to take the next step to very good team.
Cody Hunsicker had another fine outing and is a force on defense. It’s been only the third game but Ana Steps, Grace Angelella, and especially Audrey Sawers with her reach, strength and speed are making themselves a force inside the 25. Junior Liza Welch had some good play during the game at the forward position also. Freshman Sophie Carr is playing the forward position like she’s played it all her career. Senior Meg Lillis was strong on defense as well.
Take these facts into consideration. The Leopard offense held JMU to the least amount of goals all season. JMU is averaging 23 shots per game, not much different from this game’s totals. Personally, I can’t wait for the next game at Fairfield and my guess is the Leopards will lick their wounds and get back to work to be better than ever.