Lehigh is the only other Patriot League field hockey playing school that starts with an “L.” Even that alone may rankle the hair on either side. It is 15 miles from Lafayette and there could not be a more intense sports rivalry anywhere in the country. Every contest in every sport against Lehigh, is a mission whether it involves a round ball or a football and is a highlight on the schedule. For these two schools, the field hockey game on September 14 at Rappolt Field at 7pm has been highlighted for any number of reasons. It is the FIRST meeting in any sport between the two rivals this school year. It is the FIRST Patriot League game for both teams and a win is needed to make the playoffs. It is the FIRST time the two teams will meet with Lehigh having won last year ( after 12 consecutive losses to the Leopards). The win last year was earmarked by Lehigh for doing it for the 50 Lehigh alums who had never experienced a win over the hated rival in their athletic career. It also enabled Lehigh to claim they finished ahead of the Leopards in the Patriot League standings.
You think it didn’t matter???? During the pregame president’s reception at the Lafayette Lehigh football game the win was noted by the Lehigh president. Both games are at home this year and we ( those of us in maroon and white) will be pulling for wins in both contests. The field hockey game was noted as the signature win for Lehigh and will be a marker for both teams. Losing will not be taken well by either side and unlike soccer a tie is not posible. That loss has stuck in my gut all year….not this year.
This is the third year for Head Coach Caitlin Dallmeyer. She come to Lehigh via five seasons as head coach at Dickinson College. In her first season the Mountain Hawks, won six games the most since 2011 though they dropped to 5-13 last year ( but there was that win against Lafayette). Last year’s defense was paramount as they allowed 46 goals, the fewest since 2004. Oh, did I mention we lost 1-0 in overtime??. In that game Lafayette took 20 shots, Lehigh took 7, Lafayette had 8 corners, Lehigh had 4. Did I mention we lost!!!!
Lehigh welcomes 6 new first players, one is a defender from the Netherlands, there are 8 sophomores, 2 juniors, including their their goal keeper Paige Innarella, and three seniors. Missing this year will be Teresa Carotenuto who scored almost 50% of Lehigh’s 15 goals last year. Coming back for her sophomore season is Drew Pecora who scored 5 last year. No doubt goal production is front and center in Coach Dallmeyer’s mind. This is still a young team, but with a veteran goal keeper between the pipes.
Lehigh’s out of conference schedule is not littered with a lot of top twenty teams. Their toughest non league games look like Villanova, maybe Ohio State, Cornell, and Yale. No doubt the Patriot League schedule is their most difficult part of the season.
That first league game will be key to measure where each team is and I am glad it will be at Lafayette in front of a friendly crowd. But remember Lehigh is about a 20 minute car journey from Lafayette, so I expect a good turnout. We need support from the stands folks…be there!!