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 as 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 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.
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 we need to 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 as they 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.
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.