It’s been an amazing turnaround and the game today at Holy Cross demonstrated every aspect of Leopard play that has brought on Lafayette’s strong recent success. I hesitate to type this, but this was as strong an all around performance I have seen from a Lafayette squad. The Leopards came to play, and from the opening whistle they made a statement. First, Coach Stone and her assistants should be congratulated for an excellent game plan. Second, the execution of the plan by the team from the get go was inspiring. Holy Cross was stymied by the Lafayette high press and had trouble getting any offensive rhythm going. The 3-2 score was deceiving, Holy Cross had tremendous difficulty crossing the Lafayette 50 yard line.
Lafayette had a decided shot advantage (24-7), with shots on goal (12-4), and corners ( 8-1). Quite frankly, from my vantage point there should have been at least 4 more corners. The second goal became controversial when an official waived it off, despite a clear deflection from Kristen Taylor, which saw the ball change direction on its way to goal from Kristen’s position inside the circle. After an appeal that official was overruled by the second official who had a better view.
Scoring began at 10:34 as Caroline Turnbull unleashed a strike following an assist by Liza Welch and Lisa van der Geest on a penalty corner. Going into the half, despite controlling the tempo and location of play, the Leopards had a tenuous lead of 1-0. It was the Taylor goal following a long DeLongis pass that was to put the Leopards in a more comfortable 2 goal lead. Why it was necessary was brought home, as Holy Cross’ Oliva Versey at 48:45 placed a rebound in the back of the net. It was Molly McAndrew however, that was to put the game out of reach, with a high rebound at 66:04. Holy Cross’ Emily Loprete was to get a goal with 50 seconds left but the Leopards were to frustrate the Crusaders by finally heading to corner to run out the clock.
The Leopards are 3-1, tied for second with American who they will meet this Saturday at Rappolt Field. Next in the standings comes Bucknell and Holy Cross at 2-2. It’s a little late, but going through the permutations in my head, I don’t see a way the Leopards will be left out of the postseason. Lafayette will play American and Bucknell as two of the four remaining regular season games. Holy Cross will play Bucknell and Boston University . and Colgate and Lehigh have been eliminated.
Lafayette is playing it’s best hockey of the year and it is not beyond comprehension that they could still end up with a winning record. There remains out of conference games with Providence ( Sunday at 1) and Cornell a week from Monday.
Given the quality hockey being played so far, the Patriot League Tournament is really up for grabs. It could be an exciting two days come November.
After the game the Welch’s graciously hosted the team and their fans for a tailgate at their home. The faces reflect the celebratory atmosphere.