The total team effort, which has characterized Lafayette’s play in recent weeks, enabled the Leopards to stay in second place in the League, while securing a spot in the Patriot League Tournament and a chance to advance to the NCAA national tournament. The fine coach of the American team, Steve. Jennings said it best in a very classy remark after the game, We ran into a very passionate and hungry Lafayette team today. I applaud them for the way they competed and in the end the outcome was earned by their commitment to each other on the field.
The game was pretty much a back and forth affair until Molly McAndrews broke the deadlock with a nifty strike at 33:10 receiving an assist from Theresa Delahanty. As she received the ball from Delahanty in front of the goal, the American goalkeeper went down to block, and McAndrews deftly lifted the ball over the downed goalkeeper to give the Leopards the lead going to the end of the half.
The back and forth action continued into the second half as both teams pressed, with American using a zone to try to surround the Leopard ball handlers. In many cases, the Leopards to found open players or dribbled through the pressing Eagles. Lisa van der Geest was especially effective with her long passes and Anna Steps, in her return to the turf, was to frustrate American’s defenders.
Rachel Bird, one of five seniors celebrating Senior Day, was especially effective, having one of the best games of her career. She had two defensive saves ( bringing her season total to 6) in the closing 2 1/2 minutes when the Eagles had 5 penalty corners.
The second half was marked by strong action by the Leopards, as they built their lead. McAndrews had a beautiful goal at 50:22, unassisted, striking across the goalkeeper to her left that seemed to deflate the opposition. Six minutes later senior Theresa Delahanty, who played an important role at the center mid position by aggressively establishing position and possession, struck for Lafayette’s third goal using a Caroline Turnbull’s assist to chip the ball into the goal.
The game was to proceed until in the last 2 1/2 minutes and the flood of five penalty corners began, only to be stopped by the continuing great play by the Leopard goal keeper Sara Park ,and the defensive saves by Rachel Bird. As time ended, a penalty stroke was award to American and freshman Haily Abbot entered the game as keeper during the final play only to narrowly miss blocking the shot by Rafaela Rubias.
It was a wonderful outcome, as all met afterwards to celebrate the win and honor our seniors. My wife and I were honored to be invited to dinner afterwards with the senior parents and their daughters at the CHT ( a local college hang out). It is now on to Cornell and a final game with Bucknell to lock up a second place finish.
The Patriot League play offs will be in Boston on Nov 2 and 4th. Depending on the outcome of the game with Buckell, the Leopards could be meeting these same American Eagles in the first playoff game..