Unfinished Business

DSC_6172

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Patriot League tournament, and many of us have had time to think about the season and what lies ahead. The tournament was certainly worthy of its participants, with every game being decided by one goal. The championship was within any team’s grasp that weekend, and for Lafayette I know the team is anxious to begin training and a shot at next years prize.

It was an atypical year for the Leopards, with a very slow, yes maybe even dismal start to the season, losing to teams we probably could have beaten at the end of the season. But something happened at midseason that changed. All of sudden with wins against Drexel, and Penn we seemed to find our stride. But it was at Holy Cross when we started to do things we didn’t do all year. We found a high press, that gave us offensive opportunities we didn’t have before. We developed diversified threats that kept defenses guessing. But best of all we found a team spirit. At the beginning of the season you could see our bench sitting on the sidelines, but by midseason they were up and cheering.

DSC_6284

That change in attitude comes from good leadership and I give a pat on the back to our three captains. But as well, I can point to our seniors who showed the underclassman how to play through adversity. Sadly, not all were to get the recognition they deserved, but ladies it did not go unnoticed. You have left behind a legacy that will be carried forward.  At the end of the game in Boston we all knew there was unfinished business ahead..now grab it!!

The league itself should be ready to advance with three coaches who have no more than three years under their belt. Colgate had virtually no seniors, Lehigh was loaded with underclassmen, and Holy Cross had very few seniors. American will return with at lot rising underclassman and Boston seems to reload every year. Bucknell can always be dangerous and beat Lafayette in the last game of the season. It is rumored that Holy Cross will be recruiting overseas this year. Lafayette has a lot of very good players returning but will need to develop a stronger bench. November 14 is the first NLI date, and perhaps we shall see what talent arrives for all of the League members.

The League itself has not improved over the last six years. It has an average RPI of 56, This year its average RPI is 61 across its 7 teams,  the lowest average in six years. Its highest RPI was 53 in 2014. The six year average of its bottom three teams is about 68, and 32 for its top four teams. There are 77 teams in Division one.

DSC_6475.JPG

I would expect the bottom three teams will begin to improve next year which means Lafayette with an RPI of 50, this year can not stand still. Make no mistake, I think we are better than the record, and have momentum on our side. So it’ll be back to the weight room, continue to  practice skills, and get ready for the spring. In the spirit of Raph Waldo Emerson, this team has “earned the appreciation of honest critics,” and I may be one. But I am a “homer” and an unapologetic fan. I believe they are good enough to win it all. next year.

Leopards Battle The Terriers To A 2-1 Heartbreaking Loss

DSC_6477
Co captain Van der Geest puts the stop to Boston

I hate to say a  team “deserved” to win a game, but if there was a situation that called for that observation, this was it. The Leopards battled like champions, showing all the skill and heart they displayed in the last part of the season. The Leopards had 8 shots to Boston’s 13, but out cornered them 3-1. Lafayette turned away the Terriers time and again with their gritty defense, and an exciting offense. Sure, there were several questionable calls, as happens in many games.  Petra Hall of Boston University in the end connected twice, the first at  19 and 1/2 minutes into the game and broke the one one tie with six minutes left in the game.Caroline Turnbull had tied the game at 24:49 in a scrum after a corner that seemed to go on for 10 or 20 seconds.

DSC_6471
Liza Welch chases down the ball

Sarah Park was magnificent in goal, as freshman Ally Abbot was brought in after a call for a stroke in the first period.  The freshman stood tall and stopped the Alley Hammel shot preserving the tie. The call that lead to the stroke was a mystery to most, as it was called against the goal keeper inside the circle. ‘

In the second half Molly McAndrews, rifled a shot that deflected off the body of a defender in the circle, To mosts people, a stroke was called for, but never happened. Lisa van der Geest was used at the kicking back position at the end of the game, but the Leopards were unable to take advantage.

DSC_6444
Molly McAndrews chases a Terrier

Rachel Bird played a key role on the defense not only turning back Terrier plays, but initiating passes through the use of her strong hits. Sam ‘DiMaio was strong on the offense as well. Freshman McAndrews was a presence, driving and going toward the goal. Theresa Delahanty showed her courage and skill on both sides of the field making plays all game long. Lisa Welch showed she could mix it up with the vaunted Terrier defense. Kristen Taylor was her classy best, and calmly helped direct the midfield and attack.

DSC_6442
sophomore Grace Angelella reaches for the interception

The Leopards return many from this team next year. There will be a thirst to return to the playoffs for a little revenge. Perhaps next year they will skip the slow start they had this fall.

All in all, they performed like they belonged there, and perhaps a run for the title will be in their minds next year. Our senior’s play and their loyalty to their teammates will be something to build on in the future.