The Caravan Pulls Into Radnor Pa.

 

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Athletic Director Freeman explains to alumnus her plans

Leopard One pulled into the parking lot at the Radnor Hotel along with some private cars  carrying the senior staff of the Lafayette athletic department. Most importantly it was Sherryta Freeman’s debut with a large group of alumni and some parents of student athletes as the new Lafayette Athletic Director. The format was a panel discussion from Jennifer Stone, Head Field Hockey Coach, Kia Damon Head Women’s Basketball Coach, and John Garret Head Football Coach and Ms Freeman.

Freeman stressed to the attentive audience that winning was the first word in the athletic department’s mission. However, they would do it the right way with continuing high graduation rates and with student’s of high character. Coach Garret stressed his 17 year NFL experience, citing that height,weight and speed were not the sole criteria for having a winning team or even being a great professional player. He wants student athletes who love the game and will give 100 pct all the time.

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Conversation was at a premium

Kia Damon reviewed her challenges in turning the program around, but she wanted her athletes to have a memorable experience. That could be winning but it is also that practices should not be just hard work. She explained how at times she played music at practice to get her team to have fun at practice. She wants a team of leaders not only while at Lafayette but in the future!!

Jennifer Stone the Head Field Hockey Coach pointed out the work and obligations that student athletes have. The requirements on time are far greater for the student athletes than ordinary students but there are great rewards. She mentioned the coming trip to South Africa, stressing the team bonding opportunity and as well the field hockey international experience. It is her goal that every field hockey player gets a chance to play internationally while at Lafayette.

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The Panel was available to all

In a conversation with me later, when attendees had a chance to speak individually to the coaches Stone said how pleased she was with the team’ attitude and skill development, mentioning some individuals who have made remarkable progress this spring. The team leaves for South Africa after Memorial Day.

Sherryta Freeman spoke about her planning progress and said in the early months there would be reforms at the edges but expected to see noticeable progress as we embraced the changes she envisions.

Both my wife and I were impressed with the event and can’t wait to see the progress as the fall approaches.

 

Leopards Light Up The Scoreboard For Eight Goals In Afternoon Tournament

Everything seemed to come together for the Lafayette Field Hockey team in a four way tournament played in perfect weather Saturday afternoon. The sun was out all day warming the field and the stands filled with fans. For Leopard fans it was especially good, as they produced a flood of goals against a field of three opponents they will meet this fall. Patriot League foes Bucknell, and Colgate were present as was Ivy League rival Cornell. Last year the Leopards had beaten Bucknell and Colgate by one goal margins and lost to Cornell by two goals.

Delahanty and Welch Scores Two

 

Theresa Delahanty, the Leopards center midfielder scored two goals while showing her usual aggressive play challenging each opponent to stop her penetrations into the scoring circle and ball distribution. But it was also an aggressive defense that ultimately gave Lafayette fast break and ball control all afternoon. Opponents were limited in shots and corner opportunities as goalie Sarah Park showed an aggressiveness in the cage that turned away what scoring opportunities there were.

Since there was no official scoring and I will try to give credit to what I thought I saw and could remember, but if anyone at the game would like to PM me I would gladly correct or add information.

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Audrey Sawers distributes the ball against Colgate

The first goal of the afternoon was during a corner opportunity by Audrey Sawers who was dangerous to opponents all day demonstrating her reach and strength. Bucknell was the opponent and at the end of the 25 minute game, it was Lafayette with the win 1-0.

Next up was Colgate who was stymied as Delahanty, Liza Welch and Caroline Turnbull used a variety opportunities in corners and second and third shots to find the back of the cage.

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Lafayette’s corner offense springs into action

In last game Cornell fell in a  2-1 finish, as Lisa van Geest and and Theresa Delahanty  tallied to put the Leopards in the lead for the tournament giving them the opportunity to play Bucknell in the championship game.

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Kristen Taylor mixes it up with Colgate

The game went back and forth but Lafayette was to use an exciting counterattack attack to Bucknell’s  usual high press. Kristen Taylor was to score a beautiful goal thwarting a Bucknell scrum in front of the cage. Welch was there for her second goal as the two goals were to give the Leopards a well earned 2-1 victory.

The Lafayette squad was to benefit from the rising senior leadership, all day, from Adriana Pero, Liza Welch,Kristen Taylor, Rachel Bird,  and Theresa Delahanty. Bird’s return to the defensive backfield having recovered from a concussion suffered in the first spring competition was helpful to a strong defensive backfield led by rising junior Lisa van der Geest.

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The leopards enjoy the warmth of the afternoon and their performance

Opponents next year will not be pleased to play a team that is deep and as I observed on the sideline  they were talking and working together like a well lubricated engine. Passes were made to where teammates were GOING TO BE rather than were they were at the time. They showed strength and aggressiveness at goal getting second and third shots while being in good position for deflections.

While the team will now take a short break to study and engage  with their books for final exams they will return to the practice field in late May to prepare for their international tour to South Africa. After that, it’s training on their own as many will remain on or near campus this summer before the grind of early preseason training and the real championship season.

Sadly, it will be my last real view of the team until the summer, but there will be a view of the freshman at summer camps and their may yet be some additions to the group of first year recruits.

Lafayette Finishes Fourth Spring Competition

The Leopards traveled to the top of Manhattan and Baker Field, the athletic complex for Columbia University on Saturday. The three van convoy arrived at about 9 am on the most beautiful day of an otherwise gloomy spring. The sun was shinning and the 72 degree temperature made it a perfect day for field hockey. It was to be a long day of 4×25 minute games that would not end until 3:40 in the afternoon.

Their usual retinue of parents and fans were there early to grab a spot adjacent to the football stadium to set up a table of snacks for their hockey warriors and friends between games.

The team welcomed captain Rachael Bird back on the field after having returned from a concussion suffered in the very first spring encounter with Villanova. The team is still absorbing their new schemes and settling in to different spots on the field. Everyone is still looking for an explosive offense and did see some scoring with Adriana Pero and Sam DiMaio scoring their first goals of the spring.

 

 

The defense looked strong in three of the games with Lisa van der Geest showing her usual leadership on the field,  now joined by the veteran Bird in the backfield. I was struck by some late intensity by Kristen Taylor against a tough Albany team. Jen DeLongis was very solid as she got into the mix along with her teammate Grace Angelella. Theresa Delahanty moved the ball through defenses with her usual aggressive style, unintimidated by the tough opposition.

To my mind Sara Park had her best afternoon of the spring and showed no ill effects from previous knee surgery. She moved back and forth with alacrity and was fearless in sprinting out of the cage to meet an opposing attacker.

The competition was worthy and the Leopards met Monmouth, Hofstra, Albany and Rutgers. The Hofstra game did show the Leopards to be a little tired near the end of the day. They tied Monmouth, Albany and Rutgers while heavy legs undid them against Hofstra, a team they beat last fall by multiple goals. The effort against Albany and Rutgers was particularly impressive. Progress was demonstrated with the 1-1 tie against Monmouth who had a good outing against the Leopard three weeks ago.

There remains one play day on the familiar grounds of Rappolt Field this coming Saturday before getting into final exams. This year it will be back to the practice field in late May as the team gets ready for it’s South Africa competitions in Capetown in early June.

After that it will be up to the team to prepare on their for the real thing this fall, beginning with practices in early August!!

 

Addendum: There is still time to register for the meet and greet with the new Athletic Director, Sherryta Freeman at the Radnor Hotel at 6 pm. She is excited to hear from you, and answer what ever questions you may have. Go to Goleopards to register online or contact Josh Azar the Executive Director of the Maroon Club

 

 

Leopards Celebrate 2017 In Annual Banquet

It was a time of mixed emotions as the Lafayette Field Hockey Team remembered their 2017 season but, bid the seniors good luck as they transition to alumni status. Graduation is only weeks away and as usual there will be 100 percent of the players who will accept their well earned diploma. But this was a time also for the seniors to reflect on their adventures on and off the field.

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Four Seniors greet their teammates

It was an accomplished senior class of Ellen Colbourne, Cody Hunsicker, Kaitlyn Ewing, Rosie Shanks and Meg Lillis. Meg actually graduated in January, one semester ahead of her classmates. She was the second field hockey player to do that in my memory. She graduated with a 3.93 average in Economics and Government and Law.

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Class of ’19 gives the class of ’18 their best wishes. Adriana Pero, Liza Welch, Kristen Taylor, Rachael Bird, and Theresa Delahanty

It is a class of accomplishments. Three made the Patriot League Honor Roll. Rosie Shanks had been the offensive player of the week for the League, Meg, Ellen and Kaitlyn made the NFHCA Academic Squad. Ellen was an NFHCA all region selection, Ellen ,and Cody made the all PL team along with sophomore Lisa van der Geest.

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Major award winners Van der Geest, Colbourne, Hunsicker and Shanks pose for the cameras

There were team awards present to Meg Lillis for academic excellence as well as the unsung hero. Ellen Colbourne won the Iron Leopard award for fitness, Cody Hunsicker was voted to the Player’s award for her efforts, Rosie Shanks added to her hardware by garnering the coaches award.

Last but not least the Rappolt Most Valuable Player was sophomore Lisa van der Geest.

Coach Jennifer Stone gave an emotional review of the season, while the LCFH class of 2018 reminded us of four years of fun, work, and camaraderie. Finally there was the traditional sendoff by our rising seniors.

In the end, the participants could see how much their four years meant to them. As an audience member I could have listened all night to these important, skilled and well educated young women!!

Head Lafayette Field Hockey Coach Jennifer Stone Returns From Uruguay After Coaching US Under 17 Team

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Coach Stone 

The US under 17 team recently returned from their undefeated series in Uruguay. They conceded one goal and scored 17 in the four game series. Coach Stone was an assistant coach to the team under Head Coach Jared Martin ( the head Coach of Ohio State) and joined by assistant Kelly Doton ( the Head Coach of Boston College). Martin remarked ” I am very proud of the team and what they did in the series……they were a pleasure to coach and make this tour truly enjoyable for me and coaching staff, Jennifer Stone and Kelly Doton.

Stone has been an active coach in the USA system for several years, coaching high performance teams as well as the international touring teams. It puts her in touch with the best of the best players in the United States and also is exposure to the latest coaching and performance technology in the sport.

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Amanda Magadan scores against Canada in Pan Am games

The US teams train at Spooky Nook in Lancaster, Pa. Amanda Magadan a Lafayette graduate from the class of 2016 is a member of the National US women’s team and has earned over 30 caps to date and is training with the team to be ready for the World Cup in July.

Stone will be leading the Leopards in a spring competition at Columbia University on Saturday April 14. At 10 am they will play Monmouth, at 11:30 Rutgers, at 12:40 Hofstra, and at 2:50 Albany.

Leopards Show Their Claws In Afternoon Of Hockey Against Rider, Virginia, and Lehigh… Sawers gets two and Buzzard Gets One

 

 

It was a long, cold, windy day on the University of Pennsylvania turf as the Leopards began to raise their performance to their level of ability. It was a team effort and the Leopards scored 1-1 ties against Rider and Virginia and defeated Lehigh 1-0  in three 25 minute full field games. There was hustle, teamwork and good individual stick work as Lafayette seems to be getting into gear this spring.

The early game against Rider started off on a downer. Maybe it was the ride from Easton, the weather conditions or just a bad start, but Rider opened with a goal with the clock only having clicked off less than two minutes. From then on, the whole day was a Leopard strong effort.

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Ana Buzzard moves upfield

Ana Buzzard sophomore from Haddonfield, New Jersey excited the Lafayette faithful tying the score at 1-1 half way through the 25 minute period against Rider. That seemed to light a fire underneath our Leopards and they controlled the field of play for the remainder of the game.

Later on, Lafayette then took on the University of Virginia. Audrey Sawers a freshman from North Vancouver, took a number of shots on penalty corners, including one that hit the left post, before scoring on another corner on the opposite side, making the game 1-0. It was to remain that way until a Virginia player on a corner of their own, lofted a drag flick over Lafayette’s defenders that bounced into the goal. Lafayette had the Cavaliers on their heels for much the game. In particular I saw great play from Theresa Delahanty in the midfield, as well as smooth control of the ball from Kristen Taylor and exceptional play from Jennifer DeLongis. I could name a number of other players…in fact it was the whole team who rose the occasion.

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Audrey Sawers closes in on a Virginia player

The last game started a 3:40 and was the last game of the afternoon. The wind had died down which made it tolerable for fans on the sideline. The game was not a disappointment, as it was played with all the intensity and conviction of a regular season game. However, it was Lafayette who dominated play by garnering more corners and more shots. As the Mountain Hawks tried to muster an offense, the Leopards were there to turn them back, again and again. It was Sawers again who was to recognize an opening, scoring her second goal of the afternoon and as circumstances evolved, the winner.

The coaching staff should be pleased as the Leopards showed resiliency, coming from behind, demonstrating defensive and offensive discipline to play with a tough ACC opponent, and the  aggressiveness to win against an intense rival.

The team returns to the turf with games next week at Columbia University in a similar format. Despite the difficult, windy, and cold day, Lafayette fans could return home with a warm feeling about their team’s effort.

Work Yet To Be Done After Monmouth Scrimmage

Monmouth visited Lafayette’s home turf and the result was to demonstrate that our Leopards will need more work to reach their potential. It was a cold windy uncomfortable evening on field, but the conditions were there for both teams. Monmouth list 13 players on their 2018 roster, six freshman, two sophomores, and five juniors. They fielded 11 of those players, while playing the three 25 minute periods, two 7 v 7 shortened periods, and practiced some shootouts with just those 11.

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Eva Kaplan finds her way around a Monmouth defender

Lafayette is suffering some mid-spring injuries and soreness, with three of our players not able to play. Given all that, Monmouth demonstrated their offensive prowess. Last season they fell in the MAAC championship game 2-1 to Fairfield, which deprived them of the championship. But it was a season that was marked by a 15-4 record, and a remarkable 82 goal season on 384 shots. Of the eleven players on the field the Monmouth coaching staff have recruited 7 from beyond the shores of the United States. Against Patriot League opponents they beat Bucknell 6-2, and Lehigh 7-0. The other listed opponents is an eclectic one, which included Kent State, William and Mary, Virginia, Indiana and Brown, aside from their MAAC schedule. The point is, this is a good team looking to get back to their MAAC championship.

The Leopards did have their moments, scoring two goals in the regular field portion of the game, but still lacked that offensive spark that will be needed to challenge in an improving Patriot League schedule. Many still seemed uncomfortable in a changing offensive scheme. Passing lanes were unclear and the Monmouth circle defense stymied decent opportunities inside the shooting circle while good second and third shots did not come easily.

There was plenty of substitution, as both goalkeepers were used along with the Leopards field bench. This gives the coaching staff a good look at the progress made of those who did not get much playing time last fall. I am sure the Leopard brain trust will be closely evaluating not only the team as a whole, but individual skill development.

There will be little time for rest, as tomorrow they will travel to Philadelphia for an all day tournament meeting Rider, Virginia and arch rival Lehigh. I am especially interested in the meeting with Lehigh. That contest follows a regular season loss to the Mountain Hawks in overtime 1-0. The loss was the first in over a decade and tomorrow’s contest will be a good marker as to where the two teams are at this stage of the spring.