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.
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.
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.