I traveled once again to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, to the National Training Center for USA field hockey to see our Leopards essentially try out for the US Team. The U-19 teams had finished their 4 day tournament and I was able to see two of our first year players at the 3 o’clock game. At 5:30 it was the turn of the high performance selectees to show their skills in a series of games under international rules. The games were played in four 15 minute quarters with the clock stopped for corners.
The players were selected from around the country, from predominately Division one college teams, and sprinkled with recent graduates from the same schools. Leopard seniors Liza Welch and Theresa Delahanty showed their fans in the stands they belonged. Former players Cody Hunsicker, Meg Lillis, Rosie Shanks and asst coach Sara Dalrymple were there for support, along with a group of parents.
It was Liza Welch who was to show her talents early in the first game as she rifled a goal to give her team the early lead. Liza continued her goal scoring streak which started in South Africa several weeks earlier. On a two on one break Liza moved to her left side and on the run reversed her stick placing the ball between the goalkeepers legs. There are only about 16 players per team and both Liza and Theresa were starters on their respective squads. Theresa’s game started at 7:15 under the “Dome” and was a highly entertaining and closely contested contest worthy of the players that were there.
The passing was crisp and the teamwork amazed, given that each team had only 1 hour of practice before stepping onto the artificial pitch. The tempo and skills could well have been seen at a top five Division One game.
In Theresa’s game which ended in a 0-0 tie there was no less action. The players were fit and ready and there was plenty of offensive action and defense was on display along with some outstanding goalkeeping. Theresa was to find herself in the action often during the game at her midfield position, and showed a preview of what to expect this fall. constantly moving from defense to offense favoring her style of play, using speed and aggressiveness which fit well with this team of all stars.
All in all it was a great evening to get warmed for the coming season which will begin in the first week of August.
It was not only at Spooky Nook that saw our Leopards on a national stage. Audrey Sawers, a Leopard sophomore midfielder from Canada was selected to try out for the equivalent Canadian tournament. She was selected after an equally intense process and at this writing is preparing to demonstrate her talents on a national Canadian stage in the coming weeks. in Ontario.
It’s been an exciting beginning to the summer which we all hope will lead to an even more productive fall. GO PARDS