On paper in may look like the three opponents meeting at Rappolt Field, starting at 11 am on Saturday, are in a similar position. All four teams had similar records last year. Villanova was 9-10, Quinnipiac was 7-10, and Drexel was 9-9. But the won/loss records end similarities. All of course, have played Lafayette in recent years. Lafayette beat Villanova and Drexel last year, while the last meeting with Quinnipiac, two years ago, was a loss for Lafayette 3-2. However, a deep dive into the numbers may tell us more about the challenges for each team.
Villanova plays in the Big East, and besides their 9-10 overall record had a 4-4 record in the Big East. Their coach Joannie Milhous has been with Villanova for 24 years. She had early success, but Villanova worked under difficult circumstances, having to play on field turf for many years. However, the construction of their new astro turf field, more suitable for field hockey, signaled a turn around. One should consider their signature game last year, a win over ODU in overtime 2-1. Lafayette’s Villanova game last year against Lafayette last year could be considered Lafayette’s best game of the season. Villanova last year scored 40 goals against 55 scored on them. They had a 7-3 win against Lehigh, their only other Patriot League opponent. They are replacing 6 seniors.
Quinnipiac’s 7-10 record hides the fact that the Bobcats had 13 freshmen on their squad and are only graduating 3. Several years ago the school designated the field hockey team a “team of emphasis,” meaning they were to get fully funded status. That included a new field and the 12 scholarships allowed by the NCAA. Still in building mode last year their 25 year coach Becca Main, used her freshman to score 32 goals while giving up 57. Now playing in the Big East, Saturday’s contest will be the last competition of spring for them and the last chance for her rising sophomores to show they belong on the field in the fall. This could be an interesting contest, especially against their Big East rival Villanova.
The third opponent for the Leopards will be Drexel, who look like the reciprocal of Quinnipiac. They had a 9-9 record playing in the CAA and lost to Lafayette 2-1 in an exciting overtime game. Denise Zelenak, who is a 24 year veteran at Drexel, will bring her fast break offense to challenge, but she will have lost 10 to graduation this year . They did score 46 goals and gave up 49 while taking 9.8 shots per game and giving up 13.7. She will also be losing a senior goal keeper which will be a concern for her in the fall.
All in all, it looks like and interesting day for hockey and for our Leopards, and since it is the last competition of the spring it has significance. Lafayette will be missing their Rookie of the Year Molly McAndrews due to illness so there will have to be someone to step up in her place. The weather looks perfect so come on out and enjoy the day!!