The Field Hockey 2019 Season Starts

Wading through the NCAA gobbledygook, pre-season practice for division one field hockey may start about 21 days before the first game. So counting backwards from the Leopards August 30 game with VCU, our Leopards and the rest of the college hockey world should be on their turf with two a days as I write this. I have heard some of our more disparate team members started arriving last Thursday. For the players it may seem like a long time to prepare for the season, but move in and orientation for new students is Aug 23 with classes starting Aug 26. So, for our seven new first year players, it will be a short time to get used to new teammates and the rigors and demands of a division one sport.


During that time, there will be two scrimmages as well. It’s a challenge for coaches as well as players. The coaches must decide where everyone fits, and to see where players best complement one other. Likewise, players need time to adjust. Field Hockey is fluid game and so much depends on the mesh of the players on the field. For our first year players the speed of the ball and the movement of teammates will be a challenge.

Fitness is important, but the time is past to worry about that. If, as a player, you haven’t prepared yourself, it is unlikely you will be able to keep up with the other mental demands of preseason. Psychologically, for new players, the adjustment will be harder not having the benefit of a spring season. But I have seen many of them play at Spooky Nook, camps and national competitions in their home country. Coach Stone will be pleased with her addition of 7 solid players.

Molly McAndrews closes in on the ball

If past is prologue, families have dropped off their offspring, amid tears and cheers. The fun part of pictures and first team meals are already in the books and first beep tests, mile runs and other fitness tests are already endured. It is only 6 days before they will see their first college competition of the year at Fairfield, and we will get our first legitimate glimpse of 2019 Leopards in action.

This could be an EXCELLENT team, but that may well depend on the next two weeks….. “effort in.. equals results out.” In the coming days, there will be meaningless preseason picks ( I will save my comments until after that release), but I fully expect Lafayette to be picked in the top four and eligible for post season patriot league play, anything less would be a step backwards. The league will be interesting with two teams ( American and Lehigh) bringing in 10 or more new players. Colgate will be playing a largely veteran team and the always tough Boston team looks at least as good as last year. Holy Cross has always been a thorn in our side and Bucknell is always ready. To my cursory observation  though, there is no team on this schedule that Lafayette is beyond being successful against. More about that for later articles!!

US Defeats Chile And “Connects” To The Bronze Medal At Pan Am Games

At the post game news conference with Janneke Schopman and Erin Matson who scored three goals in the 5-1 win against Chile, the word, connections came up. Erin revealed that connecting in this game after the disappointing loss in the semi-final on Tuesday was a theme for this contest. Connect they did for five goals with virtually all them the result of assists and passes from teammates.

The first two minutes of the game saw both teams come out determined but it was the US who was to score first off a Lauren Moyer backhanded crossed off the pads of the Chilean goalie. However, Chile responded  a minute later with a goal of there own. It was at this point Head Coach Schopman recalled not knowing how the game was going to go. If you score the first goal those two minutes after a goal is important she indicated. “It was at that point I didn’t know how the game would go.”




But the team stuck together and played together to light up the scoreboard four more times to seal a solid victory and the bronze medal. First half domination was missing in  previous games but the team responded in the second quarter this time. In the third minute, captain Kathleen Sharkey sent the ball to Erin Matson weaving between two defenders and she delivered a backhand into the goal. Sharkey got a goal of her own in the 21 st minute after a series of cross field passes, ended on her stick at the top of the circle after which she delivered a rocket into the cage. The fourth and final goal of the first half was supplied by Matson after a rebound picked up by Ashley Hoffman who passed to Amanda Magadan whose shot rebounded only to be picked up by Matson who scored her second goal of the evening. CONNECTIONS INDEED!!


In the third quarter it was the defense who shined through the use of a high press that stymied Chile’s renewed effort in search of a comeback.

The fourth quarter saw witness to Matson’s 3rd goal in the 52nd minute. Hoffman received the insert and dragged back to Matson who finished …5-1 USA.


Coach Shopman after the game revealed, the team would receive 2 1/2 weeks off after which they would begin preparation for another Olympic qualifier after the Oceana Cup. That game would be probably be on the road with a team to be determined.

US Falls In Semi-Finals To Canada


Canada used a well executed corner in the first half and a second goal from the field in the second half to come out with a 2-0 win over the US team. US fans no doubt were looking for the second half surge that characterized the previous wins by the US, but it was not to happen. Captain Kathleen Sharkey was right on point as she described the Canadian counterattack as a key difference in the game.

Canada got their first goal off a corner with a well executed shot by Karli Johansen in the second quarter. The US responded with several close chances but just couldn’t find the connections to result in the tying goal. Both teams came out with purpose in the second half, as the US again saw several close chances, but didn’t find the back of the cage. The US goal keeper Kelsie Bing was kept busy, and made several close saves. But as the half wore on, Canada did again find the goal by the way of a shot by Madeline Secco.

It was after the second goal, it seemed to me, the US got more and more desperate and there was a lot of individual effort to spur a comeback. But all credit to the experienced Canadian defense as they seemed to be everywhere, tackling, blocking passes and closing spaces.


Canada now moves on to the finals and a shot at an Olympic berth, and US will play Chile to capture a bronze medal. This will be the rubber match with Chile, who showed their skill even in a loss to the US in the Pool B match up. Coach Shopman expressed her disappointment, but resolved to do her best to keep the team together for a final medal opportunity.

Again, experience was the key in the game and although individually talented, this young US team must find ways to stay together, and develop, to reach it’s full potential, I believe.

Time To Get Serious…US Earns Semi-Final Berth

Amanda Magadan greets officials

Off a 9-0 victory against Cuba on Sunday, the US Women’s team earned the right to play Canada, the second place team from Pool A at the Pan Am games. The US finished the quarter finals undefeated, as has Argentina in Pool A. Canada has one loss, against Argentina. Argentina  will play Chile whose one loss is with the United States in Pool B.

The Pan Am championship is an automatic qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Argentina by virtue of its ranking and performance in the pro-league already has a ticket. So for Canada and the US this is the most direct path to Tokyo.

Erin Matson skirts the Cuban defender

Looking at the stats in this tournament and at the rosters, the obvious difference is the Canadian team’s experience. Twelve of their players have 100 caps or more, the US has only 3. The most experienced US player has 170 caps. However, Canada’s average age is very close. Two US players got their experience as teenagers. In fact MacKensie Allessie, who has yet to play a college game is second in scoring for the tournament with six goals to her credit. Canada’s leading scorer is Sara McManus with 5 goals, 3 from the field and 2 penalty corners.

US Goalie Bing stretches out to defend

Significantly , scoring has been spread around the US team and one of the US’s advantages is their ability to score from anywhere on the field. Canada has scored 24 goals, two on penalty strokes, 9 on corners, and 13 from the field. The US has 26 goals, 1 penalty stroke, 11 penalty corners, and 14 from the field.

The US is ranked 13 and Canada 18 in the world. Games between these two hockey rivals have been contentious and battles are right to the end. The stakes are high as both teams are looking for that precious Olympic spot. No doubt coach Schopman, the US Coach would like to see a faster start for the US team given their late game rallies in the previous games.  Game time is 6:15 Tuesday but it will not be televised. The championship game will be Friday evening and will be on one of the ESPN channels.

Mackensie Allessie Lights Up The Scoreboard For Four Goals In Pan Am Game With Peru



The US was certainly on hostile ground as they took on the Peruvian National Team in their last game in Pool B competition. Despite the large home crowd, band and enthusiastic fans the US came away with an 8-0 victory characterized by their typical second half surge. But it was MacKensie Allessie, a recent high school graduate from Mt. Joy, Pa. who became the story of the game. Mackenise holds the national high school record for a career at 331 goals. The eighteen year old joined the senior national team this march after a notable career on the junior teams. She will play hockey for the Ohio State Buckeyes.


Today, encouraged by the chance to be in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 lit up the scoreboard with 4 goals! The US had numerous chances in the first quarter to score but it was a Froede to Moyer combination that but the US on the board in the seventh minute of play. That would be the only score of the quarter.

Despite several. penalty corners it looked as though that might be only score of the half until the 2 last minutes, which resulted in as many goals with Danielle Grega and Erin Matson  scoring for the end of the half. Grega found the back of cage after a scramble followed a minute late  by Matson firing a shot between the Peruvian GK.


The second half started out in explosive fashion when it looked like the US connected for an early goal but it was called back by the officials. However, it was only one minute later the MacKensie found the first of her four goals of the afternoon. US fans had little time to  wait when the young striker made it 5-0. A minute later she was to capture at least a hat trick for her efforts.

She was to get her fourth in a Froede to Paolino to Allesssie combination to make it 7-0 going into the 48th minute.


Captain Kathleen Sharkey closed the scoring off a direct hit to the right corner during a penalty corner. in the last minute of the game. The US is now finished their Pool play in first place and will play the last team in Pool A on Sunday.