As we left the cold rainy confines of Bucknell’s field hockey field there was a feeling there was more to be done. For the first time since 2015 this individually talented team will be playing in the post season…..and the records will revert to 0-0 again. The Leopards will be playing Boston University and have a chance to show some of the resurgent skill demonstrated in the second half run they had in the regular season. The last meeting with Boston resulted in a 4-7 score in which the Leopards came back in the second half to show their mettle.
Today ended a run that gave the Leopards a chance for a .500,season, the first non-losing season in six years, That last winning season produced a 2012 championship in which Lafayette went 17-3. However, the Maroon and White will be returning to the. post season for the only time since 2015.
Bucknell on the other hand, has been to the playoffs for all 11 seasons of Coach Jeremy Cook’s stay at Bucknell and perhaps some of that playoff energy, and experience was at work. As in the case of many Leopards games, some of the statistics were in Lafayette’s favor. Despite Leopard edges in shots ( 11-8) and corners (7-3) the Bison were ready, and looked like a lot of scouting was used, to thwart Lafayette as they approached the shooting circle.
Right from the opening, when Rachel Bird’s opening lift was blocked by Buckell, it looked like the orange team from Lewisburg were expecting Lafayette’s tactics. There were some individual fine efforts from the Leopard’s excellent players. Bird’s defensive skill was evident all game, and Grace Angelella’s brilliant goal at 56:39, which magically found it’s way to the back of the cage, lifted the spirits of the Lafayette faithful. Bucknell was to use its bench successfully, as on may occasions I saw Cook substitute as many as six players at a time. Angelella’s goal was spurred on, when Lafayette had used some fresh legs in the 52nd minute which created opportunities and energy.
The game was hard fought, but Bucknell was able to penetrate Lafayette’s circle defense and find openings, when they became apparent. All the Bucknell goals came from seniors , the last goal coming as the Lafayette coaching staff had pulled their goal keeper in the hopes of generating a comeback. Bucknell’s junior goal keeper proved her statistics were not an accident after coming up with 4 saves, many which occurred following corners or scrums in front of the cage.
It’s on to Boston, and hopefully the Leopards will reorganize for their second shot at Boston University by having an intense week of undistracted preparation. Boston had a good regular season with 27 year head coach Sally Starr, reloading successfully from last year’s championship run. I do believe Lafayette has the talent to surprise the Terriers and will shake off today’s disappointment. I believe in these players.