The Leopards will make the short 15 mile trip to arch rival Lehigh University this Friday night to play a game that has significance for both team. Lehigh is 0-3 in Patriot League play and will face virtual elimination for the Patriot League tournament with a loss. It is no less critical for Lafayette at 1-1 in league play. A win with three additional games to play in the League will keep Lafayette in the hunt for hosting the Patriot League Tournament as well as a huge step for locking up a berth in that same tournament without the tiebreakers that eliminated them last year
The Leopards will arrive with a four game losing streak to ranked teams and having lost to defending national champion Delaware in a disappointing outing on Sunday. Lehigh likewise dropped a game to Yale last weekend 7-1. More importantly they also lost to league rival Bucknell 1-3 several days before. A win on Friday night would be a season saver for Lehigh who has not beaten Lafayette in over a decade while it would preserve a hope of getting into the tournament. Motivation is not an issue for either team.
Looking at overall season statistics would give Lafayette an edge. Lafayette is 5-5 with a strength of schedule rated by Field Hockey Corner of 43 to Lehigh’s 58. Lafayette’s RPI is 38 compared to Lehigh’s 74. However, Lafayette’s road record is 2-4 and Lehigh with a similar record gave Lafayette all they could handle last year at home. Lafayette prevailed 2-1 in a well fought contest.
Looking closer at the statistics, Lafayette has scored 18 goals on 115 shots while their opponents have scored 28 on 123 shots. Twenty of those goals against were made in the last two week’s games with Boston, Harvard, and Delaware. Lafayette needs to recapture its defensive strength in these final weeks of the season.
Lafayette shots on goal is over 57 pct, while Lehigh has 58 percent of its 110 shots on goal. Lafayette scores on 16 percent of its shots while Lehigh score on 8 pct of its shots. Opponents of Lafayette score on 23 percent of its shots while Lehigh opponents score on 28 percent of their shots. Lafayette has earned 58 penalty corners in 10 games while Lehigh has earned 61 corners in 11 games.
The starting goalkeeper for Lehigh Paige Innarella has a 61 percent save percentage while Sara Park has a 62 percent save percentage mostly due to the last four losses.
Offensively the Leopards have a diversified attack with Colbourne, Angelella, Shanks and Turnbull with 3 goals each and the rest of the goals split amongst six others. Lehigh has freshman Drew Pecora with 3 goals along with veteran Teresa Carotenuto. The rest of the goals come from three other players. In shots Lenke Havas has 25 for Lehigh and Carotenuto has 21. Ellen Colbourne of Lafayette has 19 shots while Lisa van der Geest has 18 for the Leopards.
So from the Leopards point of view they need to return to the stout defense they exhibited early on in the season while Lehigh needs to solve the Leopards diverse attacking structure.
However, statistics aside, as in most league games at this point in the season the stakes are bigger, making this game VERY important for both sides. And it is a rivalry game. The Leopards must bring their game faces and play the game they are capable of if they are to prevail.