My wife and I were on campus yesterday to catch a lecture, and after an early meal at Big Woody’s we decided to drive over to the field hockey field to see if our favorite team was practicing. Luckily they were still on the turf playing half field. Even though Head Coach Jennifer Stone was in South America with the US under 21 team, drills continued unabated under the able supervision of assistant coaches Sarah Dalrymple and Kelcie Hromsisin.
After a designated amount of time the scrimmage stopped and each side, white and black, took time to reflect on mistakes made and suggestions to improve. The two coaches were there to guide the discussions and begin again. The candid banter was used to improve on each rotation.
It was interesting to see the improvement and the application of self lessons learned. After practice there was a session with the Oaks Leadership team to talk about developing a winning attitude. No doubt after that it was time to hit the books. Such is the life of a division one athlete. As they displayed their talents I could only. marvel at progress made by our current first year players. They are fully integrating themselves into the team culture while learning to anticipate where their teammates are on the field at all times.
Their next spring competition is against Monmouth at Lafayette on Friday April 6th at 6 pm. It’ll be another chance to challenge what they were learning on the field.
Missing on the field this afternoon, in a competition with Villanova University, were well known Leopard seniors, but the new Leopards displayed a revamped structure, and some players found themselves in different positions. Coach Stone started to experiment with new lineups for 2018, as well as unveiling some different wrinkles for the upcoming season. I’m sure I am not qualified to describe Stone’s strategy ( and we’ll save it as a surprise for the fall), but the team is getting comfortable with the changes this spring. The most obvious difference to me was Anna Steps move to a more mid-field position from the backfield, and this seems to be more suited to her abilities. She moved with confidence through the middle of the field and showed her potential as a scorer.
Audrey Sawers saw plenty of action and continues to improve, while Lisa van der Geest is rock solid in her leadership position in the backfield. Sophie Carr showed plenty of energy on field especially as she gets near the circle, while Grace Angelella will be dangerous anywhere near the goal.
While the younger players advance, the rising seniors provide stability and strength. KristenTaylor showed why she can be depended on with her sure stick work, and Theressa Delahanty is in on many an attacking play. Rachel Bird was solid as was Adriana Pero and Liza Welch.
All was not perfect as the change in strategy caused some miscues and shots still need to be less hesitant. Outlet passing suffered somewhat from the lack of familiarity as well. The Leopards will have four more opportunities to practice their skills against opponents this spring, the next will be on April 6 at 6 pm at home against Monmouth. After a short break at the end of the spring competitions they will begin preparation for their series in South Africa in early June.
The scrimmage was under game conditions of two 35 minutes periods and then two 7 v 7 periods with two practice rounds of shootouts.
Rehearsal is over for the spring as our Leopards will journey to Conshohocken, Pa and the ” Proving Grounds” to meet the Wildcats of Villanova at noon on Saturday . This part of the year is when we get to see who will fill the gaps left by the seniors. It is a time of testing and experimentation by coach and players alike. There are obvious questions to be answered. How is the overall team speed look with the absence of Ellen Colbourne in the lineup? Where will the scoring come from ? Will there be players moved to different positions now that many have that additional year of experience?
Looking at last year’s results the Leopards will look to improve on their 2-4 finish in the league. Especially grating was the overtime loss to Lehigh 1-0. Lehigh will travel to Lafayette this year as the Leopards look for revenge. A win would have put the Leopards in the league playoffs. Likewise they will be looking to reverse 3 years of losses to Holy Cross. Boston University is always tough but will have to contend with a Lafayette home field as will American University. A trip to Colgate is always tough especially later in the year.
The Leopards finished with 30 goals ( five more than last year) with 19 of those goals scored by returning players. They will need more offense, as the top two teams, Boston and American scored 67 and 62 goals respectively while giving up 37 and 31 goals at the same time. Lafayette gave up 46. Goal tending was about the same as all three had a mid 60 pct save percentage.
Lafayette generated 47 corners in league games, and led the league in that category. Lafayette’s in league performance must improve as they scored only 7 goals and gave up 15 in the conference. Boston was 25/5, American was 19/7, Holy Cross 17/15,Bucknell was 10/8, Colgate 6/21 and Lehigh 4/18.
Villanova returns many starters with three of their sophomores having scored 18 of their 34 goals. They are losing one of their best scorers Francesca Bello who scored 8 goals last season. Their top scorers are sophs Lydia Sydney, Amy Siana and Megan Vermeil each with 6 goals.
At this writing the format is undisclosed and I would imagine it’ll be three abbreviated periods with perhaps a shoot out at the end. The “Proving Grounds” is about 10 miles for from the Villanova Campus. The GPS address is 725 Conshohocken Rd. Conshohocken,Pa 19428.
Today, February 17, Amy Tran Swensen will be inducted into the National Field Hockey Hall of Fame at a gala affair at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. She was an assistant to Head Coach Andrew Griffiths in 2007 and 2008. Amy worked with the goalkeepers and defense while at Lafayette. Even then she had made her mark in the field hockey community and was the starting goalkeeper in 2008 Olympics. She also appeared in the 2012 London Olympics. The US team got into the Olympic field at the Olympic Qualifiers Tournament with Tran recording three shutout wins against Russia, France and India. She was regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, after the 2006 World Cup.
While an assistant Coach at Lafayette she coached all american goal keeper Kelsey Andersen
Tran Swensen was member of the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2001-2013 and accumulated 163 international caps. She also appeared in five Champion Challenge Events where she was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament multiple times.
She graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2002 with a degree in Communication and Speech and Hearing Sciences where she received multiple all league and all american honors.
Amy is currently an assistant coach with Old Dominion University and resides in Virginia Beach with her husband Mark and their sons Ivan and Zeke.