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