The Lafayette Leopards will leave at 6 am on Friday the 22nd and travel to Boston in anticipation of two games with ranked opponents Boston University and Harvard University. First up on Saturday at noon will be league rivals, the Terriers of Boston University. The early departure will allow for time for the Leopards to practice on New Balance Field, the Terriers home venue. This is again one of those games difficult to handicap. Last year, Lafayette won their meeting with the then number 9 Terriers in a shootout at Rappolt Field. This year it is hard to judge who Boston will have on the field.
The Terriers welcomed a large talented freshman class and in fact their two top goal scorers are freshmen Miya Denison and and Alisa Connolly. The two scored two each in the relatively weaker early games against Bryant, New Hampshire and Miami. However, each had one goal against UMass, and Denison scored the only goal in the 8-1 loss at UConn.
Boston is riding a 3 game losing streak but the losses were against tough opponents (UAlbany, Umass and UConn). So they will meet the Leopards with the losing streak and the loss last year on their back….added to that, it is their first league game of the year. There is motivation aplenty for the home team.
Lafayette brings a 5-2 record after a disappointing loss against a good Cornell squad. In addition a 2-0 league start would be a tremendous leg up for playoff positioning. Lafayette also brings a talented freshmen group with Grace Angelella tied with senior Rosie Shanks for goals. However, goals can be scored by a plethora names with seven others having found the back of the cage in the previous 7 games.
There is a large difference in strength of schedule with BU ranked 29th and Lafayette 48th, mostly due to Lafayette playing lower ranked Colgate last week. In RPI, according to Field Hockey Corner, Lafayette has the edge rated 26th while BU is 27th.
Lafayette’s defense is very solid letting in only 8 goals over 7 games. So far this season Lafayette has scored 16 goals to BU’s 13 while the Terriers gave up 15 at the same time. Lafayette goal keeper Sara Park has been on the field 100 percent of the time and sports a very good 81 percent save percentage. The Terriers have been splitting goal keeping duties between freshmen Millie Baker ( 52% save pct) and junior Kathleen Keegan (71.4 pct save pct). Keegan has started every game and Baker has come in at the half. Keegan has had 6 goals against her and Baker has had 9 goals against. Lafayette’s Park has 8 goals scored against her.
The two high scoring freshmen on the BU squad have played about half the time and as far as I can tell do not start. So what will the Terriers look like at the start of the game? I would guess Keegan at goal and mostly upper classmen on the field with their two hot freshmen at the ready.
I expect a low scoring game given Lafayette’s defense and Boston’s home field advantage. However if the Leopards can control the ball and get into the scoring third perhaps their 48 to 39 corner advantage will be the difference. All in all it comes to down to execution with these two talented teams. BU will take advantage of mistakes, so Lafayette must limit turnovers and make those corners count!! So 12 noon EDT, and about two hours later we will know!!