Crowd Of Over 500 Watch Leopards Get Their First Win Over VCU

How Sweet It Is To Get The First One In The Books

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender

In an evening the defense came up big, when they had too, the Lafayette Leopards left the field with a 2-1 win. The team needed to overcome adversity with having to survive 9 minutes of penalty cards and subsequent short handed play, to come away with a convincing win over a very game VCU squad. Both teams battled hard and the tempo was  worthy of Division One hockey.

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Corner offense gets ready to launch

The 15 minute quarter format improved the tempo of the game while it did limit substitutions somewhat. Sarah Park, the Lafayette GK may have come up with one of the best games of her collegiate career having come up with 6 crucial saves on the night. Many  were point blank shots in front of the goal. She was rewarded with cheers and hugs when the team entered the field at the end of the game.

But this was a team effort, and the offense came up with big plays as well. Freshman Felicitas Hannes was involved in both goals tonight, The first Lafayette goal came at 34:42 with Hannes delivering the ball to Sam Di Maio who expertly deflected the ball past the VCU goal keeper. Hannes did not need an assist for the second goal, as she delivered a strike in the 49th minute to put the Leopards up 2-0.

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Jenn Delongis and Simone Hefting turn VCU away

Two minutes later VCU was to put the game in range of overtime, as they delivered a goal with about 7 minutes left. From then on it was all defense as the corner defense came through, as did the field defense of Van der Geest, Hefting, Woolston and Park shut the door on the VCU offense. Remarkably, they needed to do it a player short, after a yellow card was delivered to Lafayette with 5 minutes to go!!

VCU repeatedly used their high press, but the Leopards were prepared and were to dodge and pass their way up field. This was a good solid win and should provide some momentum. The display of individual skill was impressive.

Meanwhile, in the rest of league, American won over New Hampshire 4-2, Lehigh won 1-0 over Rider,  while Colgate lost 1-4 to CMU, Holy Cross fell 0-3 to Northeastern, and Bucknell lost to JMU 2-3. Boston U will play Ohio U, Saturday at 7 pm.  As far as future opponents go, App. State beat Towson 3-0, Monmouth beat Longwood 5-1, Providence lost to BC 1-2 and Syracuse needed overtime to beat Vermont 4-3.

Next up is Syracuse at 6pm on Monday. It should be available on ACCNX (ESPN)!

 

I thought Van der Geest had a goal in the second half, when the ball  hit the goalkeepers stick. Looking  from my vantage point the ball clearly made contact as it went in. It was called no goal by the official for a high ball. Isn’t it time for instant replay in PL field hockey?! I have been told it is not that expensive to install. All NCAA playoff games are instant replay as is all ACC and Big Ten games!! PL basketball has been using for it years!!

A Quick Look At VCU

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It’s finally arrived, the first game of the regular season as the Lafayette Leopards will be facing their first of 18 opponents of the regular season. VCU is not a regular opponent but they did meet them in the spring for a scrimmage at Towson. Unfortunately due to a shortage of available players for VCU, the scrimmage was only 8 v 8. It was the first scrimmage of the day, and in all honesty, it was hard to get a feeling for VCU. As I reported at the time, for what ever reason, Lafayette didn’t do as well, compared to their other scrimmages that day. But this is for real this time.

Stacey Bean, the VCU Head Coach arrived in January of 2017, charged with turning around a program that was not doing that well, and the results were dramatic. In 2016 they had a 7-11 record, but  Coach Bean was to immediately have an impact. In 2017 they had a 14-6 record, the first winning season in quite a while.  Bean was the head coach of St. Francis in Pa and Rhode Island.  She was also an assistant at Boston College. She  coached in Canada and compiled a 65-15-7 record.

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Lisa Van der Geest begins her sweep

Last year the Rams continued their success with a 12-7 campaign, and was in the championship A-10 game  with St Joseph’s, for the first time in the history of the. program. They lost 1-0 to St. Joes who was ranked number 10 in the country last season.  Good wins last year consisted of wins against Old Dominion, UMass, and Wake Forest. They lost in overtime to Patriot League opponents American ( two overtimes) and Bucknell 2-3.

VCU was led these last two years by Emily McNamara, who set the career and single season scoring record for her school and was deservedly named All- American. Last year she scored 27 of the 55 goals scored that year. VCU will have to find the replacement for those goals as she has graduated . However the second leading scorer number 15 Litiana Field and third leading scorer Maite Sturm number 17 will be in Easton for tomorrow’s contest, as will 5 or 6 of last year’s starters. They will arrive with 18 players which includes 7 first year players.

This game may may turn on defense, as VCU only allowed 1.53 goals per game last year and returns starting GK Sasha Elliot. Lafayette scored 39 goals and surrendered 2.89 goals per game. I believe the Lafayette defense is very strong this year and could very well the be the key factor in this year’s campaign. VCU took 317 shots last year while Lafayette took 239. Lafayette had 115 corners while VCU had 129.

I was able to watch their first game with Hofstra last year, and their strategy seemed to be to lift the ball downfield early, and even if it didn’t connect with an offensive player they then employed a high press for the majority of the game. They lost that game 2-3 in strokes, in a game, in my opinion, they should have won. In interviews, Stacey emphasizes intensity and pace as a coaching philosophy, and I see no reason for that to change tomorrow.

First games are intense affairs, and I am sure with their new players this team, like Lafayette,, will want to start the season off on the right foot. I looks to me that Lafayette has the deeper team with many returning players, and had a strong recruiting class as well. The keys will be,can Lafayette match the pace of this team, and put their balanced scoring attack in a position for success? Home field is a big advantage, although our usual support from the football team, will be missing since they will be on the road at William and Mary. Metzgar will also see the men’s soccer team busy at the same time. So we will need our hard core fans to be there as our 12th player.

Lisa Van der Geest, this years captain, and all American, in an interview, emphasized how well practices have been going along with the integration of the first year players. She said the team is excited to begin the season and it has been hard to contain that excitement, making sure it is all there for the 7 pm start on Friday.

This game will be played under the new rules, which include 4 fifteen minute quarters, and most coaches believe it will slow down substitutions. An interesting chess match tomorrow, as most first games are!!

 

Friday August 30 Is Opening Day

LAFAYETTE TO PLAY 2 TOP 25 TEAMS IN FIRST FOUR GAMES

The Lafayette Leopards will have a chance to make a huge statement right from the beginning of the season. The top 25 preseason rankings have come out and Lafayette will play 2 teams ranked in the top 25 out of the 4 early games. Syracuse is ranked 18 and the Leopards will travel to upstate New York to meet them at 6 pm Monday September 2nd. Later on in the week our Maroon heroines will meet Liberty University, ranked number 20, at 12 pm in Lynchburg, Va. the following Sunday.  Earlier on Friday they will arrive at Lynchburg for a 7pm game with Appalachian State!! Of course, the opening home game will be with VCU on Friday August 30. That is the opening day for virtually all of division one.

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Should the Leopards be successful in those four games it would be hard to argue they should not be listed in the top 25. This is a great opportunity. Lafayette has already played a preseason scrimmage with number 22 Albany. Of course, it must be first games first and later this week I will preview VCU. I have watched the first game VCU  had last year ( which they lost in strokes), and perhaps it might have clues as what the Leopards might expect on Friday.

Meanwhile the rest of the Patriot League begins their seasons with a group of competitive games. Colgate will play Central Michigan at 2pm, American hosts New Hampshire at 3pm, Bucknell hosts James Madison at 4 pm, Lehigh is at Rider at the same time, Holy Cross will host Northeastern at 6pm, and Boston University will be in Ohio playing Ohio at 7pm on the 31st. Ohio University beat Boston in last years NCAA first round!! Lafayette of course will host VCU at 7pm under the lights on August 30.

 

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Looking at the schedule, Lafayette will play 4 preseason top 25 games. The other two will be Boston University ranked 23 on Oct 5th and William and Mary ranked 25 on Oct 20th at home. I expect, given their schedule that American could be a candidate for national ranking should they prevail in their games. The game with American will be the last game in the regular season before the playoffs on Nov 2nd in DC.

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Grace Angelella tangles with the Drexel goalkeeper

FYI, the top five in the NFHCA poll are UNC, Maryland, Duke, UConn, and Princeton.

 

 

Thank God The “Dink” Is Gone

Amanda Magadan steals the ball from Lehigh

In what seems like eons ago, (precisely 56 years) I arrived at a Liberal Arts college called Lafayette. It was there that I experienced orientation,  thankfully not the same orientation experienced  by our first year’s this weekend. Our field hockey team along with the other varsity teams this weekend, helped our new class to their rooms. Fifty six years ago, none of that was available to us. As we assembled as a class, we got the admonishment from President Bergathon to ” look to the right of you and the left and one of you standing there will not be at Lafayette by the end of the school year.” Aside from being of decent academic reputation, I was impressed by Lafayette’s football stadium and hoped to play on the floor of that stadium. In those days freshman were not allowed to play on  varsity teams, and we practiced in an empty lot behind Markle as freshman. We did indeed play a game with the Lehigh freshman on Fisher field later in semester.

We were isolated in other ways. Most of the upperclassmen lived in 19 fraternities or 3 social dorms. Freshman were in dorms. There were no women at that time, and we looked forward to the four social weekends that semester. In the meantime, it was pretty much a monastic existence aside from the occasional forays to local women’s college’s in the area.

It was at that orientation we received our “dinks.” small beanies we were to wear (until we got smart), that identified us as freshman, who could be called upon by an upperclassman,  demanding we sing the alma mater or school fight song. On football weekends the freshman class formed a large “L” within which the team ran out before the game. We sat in the designated freshmen area, and formed the foundation of support for our football representatives.

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Overtime against Lehigh last year

Thankfully, the dinks are gone, the women are in residence, and the freshman isolation has evaporated. I don’t know what goes on in orientation these days, but from what I could learn, it does include a tour, not of the campus, but the town environment. Buses are now provided for our young Leopards to go the mall on week ends, or to help our young charges avoid the hike from the bottom of the hill.

I hope they are still telling about the other things that make Lafayette what it is. Do they get briefed on the ghost that inhabits the upper floors of Pardee?? Do they know about the early history of the college, the fire that burned down Pardee in the 19th century apparently started by a careless chemistry student. ( which confirmed the foolishness, according to our liberal arts faculty, of filling ” Pardee with noxious odors).” How about the gift of an ancient Egyptian neckless from an alumnus that was stolen from College in the 1980’s and bought at auction by a Boston Museum a decade later. The theft was not discovered until then. In the meanwhile, the college archivist whose responsibility it would have been to catalog the artifact, was killed under mysterious circumstances. A connection ??!! ( I can attest to the existence of the necklace having seen it on display in library during my student tenure)! Orientation indeed!!

Most of all I would hope our rivalry with Lehigh is covered. Freshmen were required to build the bonfire ( long ago stopped) before the Lehigh football game. I can say our class of 1967 had the tallest bonfire never lit. Not only was it built with creosote soaked railroad ties, which according to the fire Marshall, would have melted the windows of Markle, but was at least 5 stories tall. We freshman would have to guard the bonfire to ward off Lehigh invaders who might light it prematurely. Sadly, in that year President Kennedy was assassinated and the game was postponed a week. ( the only time that happened).

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Sports history is rampant surrounding the Rivalry. Consider “Wrong Way Down” who set a record in the 1918 contest when he completed a 115 yard touchdown run, scampering the wrong way, circling the goals post and turning upfield and eventually scoring the right way. Down later turned to baseball and played with the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics and Brooklyn Dodgers. Legend has it, that he once reached second base and repeated his football feat by attempting to steal first base!!!. I wonder what his major was at Lehigh!!

One year, Lehigh students were able to saw the sword off that the Lafayette statue displayed in front of Colton Chapel. I have reminded myself to look to see if it ever was reclaimed. For years, Lafayette statues were cocooned in wooden boxes to deter the “Brown Invaders.”

For years, the words “Lehigh S   S” was emblazoned on the Lehigh Library steps. There have also been skywriting, banner flying and all manner of pranks during the years.

The “Rivalry” is a part of every sport, every season, and support on that day is extremely important. Our field hockey team had won 13 straight games with Lehigh until two years ago. Lehigh won in overtime 1-0 despite having  been outcornered and outshot  that  evening. That year, during a pregame cocktail party at the Lehigh Football Game, that Field Hockey game was toasted by the Lehigh President  in front of we Lafayette faithful. Never Again!!

Last year’s game ended with a Leopard win in overtime. You cannot read a Lehigh Field Hockey web page without mentioning the “RIVALRY.” This year the Leopards will make the trek on Friday night on October 18th at 7pm to Lehigh. Be there, because Lehigh will there in force!!!

Yes, the dink is gone but there is still plenty to absorb by a our newest class.

What Makes A Winner!!

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Doctor Jarrod Spencer is a sports psychologist located in Bethlehem Pa. Aside from being a friend, Jarrod is a graduate of Lafayette College and a former athlete. ( football and high school wrestler). He is the celebrated author of “Mind of the Athlete,” where he explores the psychology that impair or enhance the performance of athletes. His findings can also support coaches, parents and almost everyone who needs to compete or support someone who needs to perform on the field of their choice.

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Recently in his blog he published a piece entitled ” 10 Reasons Why Winners Win.” In the article he enumerates the characteristic of the classic winner and answers the question of how winners continue to win. Yes, ability has a lot to do with winning and losing, but I have seen plenty of talented athletic team not reach their full potential. Here are his ten reasons for all to consider.

1. Driven by a love of winning not by a fear of losing

Many times I have seen teams strategically and tactically try not to lose. In football, most of you will be familiar with the “prevent defense.” In reality in many cases it just prevents winning in close games. Every sport has its prevent attitude and strategy. This doesn’t mean you are not “smart” strategically” but trying not to lose more often than not prevents you from winning.

2. Remain relentlessly optimistic at all time

Pessimism especially on the field is a killer. It prevents attacking your opponent for fear of losing

3. Focus on solutions when things go bad

Retreating to the sidelines emotionally, or. physically does no one any good. It is said in field hockey in particular that 2-0 is the most dangerous score for the leader. One goal gets you close  to a tie and maybe a win. There are always solutions if not for this game, but the next.

4. Fueled by feelings of excitement more than nervousness

Sports is all about emotions. There is nothing wrong with being nervous unless it is overwhelming and stops you from doing that you have been training to do!!

5. Confidence comes from excessive preparation

Knowing what to expect on the field makes you ready to succeed. Prepare so that actions become proactive rather than excitedly reactive. Practice until you have that muscle memory down, know where your teammates are on the field and have situational awareness.

6. Surround yourself with like minded positive people

This is a team sport, you don’t need downers. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from critical encouragement.

7. Expect to win each time you play

There is no team that can’t be beaten on any given day and today is YOUR day.

8. Slow down the game in your mind and think clearly

That does not mean literally slowing down on the field or decreasing the tempo but use your preparation to break the game into its component parts mentallly

9. As the games gets bigger, your focus gets. more precise

Your good opponents believe they can win as much as you so, you must do the small things great to get better advantge

10. Losing is not a an option….you either win or learn

It’s the sum of all the other points with the admonition to learn from your mistakes and even a loss won’t be a failure.

 

I would add a last point, never, never, never lose your poise. You will not learn, by losing control on the field. You will want your next effort to be better.

The 10 points are Jarrod’s, the comments after are mine. Dr Spencer’s web site is http://www.mindoftheathlete.com

Albany Pushes The Leopards

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Grace Angelella closes in on an Albany Dane

It was a good scrimmage….not the one that I am sure the players or coaches had wished for its outcome, but it will be an exercise that will make them ready for the season to come in 9 days. Albany is a good team, and the Leopards held them at bay until 5:52 left in third quarter when they struck  using a crossing pass to an awaiting Dane in front of the cage who tapped it in . They followed at 8:50 on a corner the fourth and at 6:17 for the final goal in regulation time. Coach Stone, in those quarters, began to substitute liberally. On the other hand, Albany had only 6 players on the bench to sub in.

In the next 9 days the outcome of the scrimmage impressed on me, the need for the two “Ts”  tempo and teamwork. The game as played in division one requires those  T’s to be successful but it takes time for that to jell. I believe this team has amazing talent, but will take awhile for its true potential to blossom.  After all, they have only been together for little more than week.

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Sophie Carr makes her presence known to an Albany midfielder

I was again impressed with Grace Angelella and Sydney Woolston. Today, Mary Gould also showed grittiness and desire on the field. The team as whole, though was stymied by the skillful Albany Danes, and Lafayette let them set their defense as the game went on. There were moments when Lafayette got a jump on Albany but their goalies came up strong to thwart a score.

I thought Lafayette’s goalie’s were also strong in the cage and came up with several key saves.

The game was played during a break in some torrential rains which made the trip home the “journey through hell.” Pam and I were alone in the stands which inhibited us from executed a wave. The next game will be for real on Aug 30th and I know we will be at our best. We will need the stands full and hearty voices at the ready!!

Meanwhile…….

Lafayette Has Added an Additional Game

On Monday Sept 2 @ 6pm the Leopards will play ACC opponent Syracuse @ Syracuse. This is a terrific opportunity our Leopards and raises the number of regular season games to 18.

Lafayette To Face Tough Opponent In Albany Tomorrow

The Leopards will board their vehicles on Wednesday to make the long trek to the University of Albany, to play one of their toughest opponents they will see this year. Albany has 13 straight winning seasons under head Coach Phil Sykes, including a final four appearance in 2014. Last year they amassed a 16-5 record including a 4-0 win against Lafayette in Easton. They are again picked to win the American East title this year. So the Leopards are again facing another preseason favorite to win their conference title.

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In last year’s game the Danes built on a three goal first period lead, to win 4-0. Three of those who scored, # 5 McCrudden, #16 Rocktaeschel and # 12 Burchell will return this season. Sykes welcomed 7 new players, 6 freshman, and 1 transfer from Indiana, giving him a typical Albany squad of 18. There are 2 seniors listed on the squad. One will be # 3 Dana Bozek, their second leading scorer  who had 11 goals and 4 assists.

Sykes has mentioned in interviews that integrating his new players is his biggest challenge and given that almost 40 percent of his squad is newcomers, he probably is telling the truth. But Albany has found ways to succeed, and I expect this team to be no exception. Aside from their league schedule they will play Harvard, Princeton, North Carolina and Delaware who look to be their toughest opponents.

This will be Albany’s first scrimmage, so I expect the opportunity to play against people with different colored jerseys on a full field is welcome. The Leopards of course will be playing  their second scrimmage in three days but it will be their last chance before the real games begin on August 30 against VCU.

The weather looks a little iffy with thunderstorms predicted sometime during the day!  Go Pards!!