Biggest Game Of Year…So Far… This Weekend

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Molly McAndrews closes in on the ball

The Eagles of American University and the Leopards of Lafayette will clash in the last game of the regular season for both teams in DC on Saturday at 11 am. It will be senior day for the Eagles but no mind..this is for the regular season championship and the right to host in the Patriot League playoffs. Both teams will either be seeded one or two for the November 8th first round of two. Two days later will be the championship, which will decide who will represent the Patriot League in the NCAA tournament in the following week.

The last time the Leopards made the tournament was in 2012 when they beat the Eagles on a penalty stroke in the cold confines of Rappolt Field. This will be Lafayette’s 18th game of the season ( not counting pre-season) and American’s 16th game. American has arrived here with a 10-5 record and 5-0 in conference play, Lafayette is 11-6 also 5-0 in conference play. The third and fourth team won’t be known until after Saturday’s games.

The Leopards have played 5 ranked teams and won one ( Monmouth). They lost one to Liberty 5-0 and the played the others to overtime.  They also played Fairfield in the preseason. American on the other hand played three ranked teams and lost all of them The largest margin was Delaware in which they lost 0-4. One loss was an overtime game to ODU in a shootout. They lost to Maryland this past tuesday 0-1. So among other factors and those, Lafayette’s SOS is 9 places better.

American has scored 40 goals, and Lafayette has scored 39 playing two more games. American’s defense has allowed 1.33 goals per game while Lafayette has allowed 1.47.

Penalty corners which could play a role in the outcome is 6 per game for Lafayette against 4 for opponents. American averages 6.5 and opponents 2.6.  American’s freshman GK Fiona Minter has a 63 percent save percentage, while the Lafayette goal keeper Sarah Park has a 75% save percentage.

Both the Leopards and the Eagles have a diversified attack with the Leopards having six players with 3 or more goals and American has 5 with three or more goals. Molly McAndrews leads the Leopards with 9 goals while Noor Coenen has 14 goals on 73 shots.

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Noor Coenen is a big part of  Eagle play

Both teams are blessed with intense, committed athletes. Noor Coenen is the clear go to person on the Eagle squad. The Dutch junior can be found all over the field and in the Maryland game made her self known on the defensive side of the field. Senior Lisa van der Geest  is the leader and competitive soul of Lafayette. She has a strong stroke and a real danger on both sides of the field. She is the reigning National Defensive Player of the Week, and has scored seven goals for Lafayette.

One interesting stat I discovered while researching this article is that Noor Coenen is the leading accumulator of cards on the team….8 green and two yellow. She is an intense competitor no doubt.

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Audrey Sawers meets up with a William and Mary attacker

The team will  leave Friday morning to try the new turf at American. Coach Jennings will no doubt try to contain the Lafayette attack hoping to generate offense by interceptions and breakaways. Lafayette will  do much the same hoping to occupy the circle and get corners for opportunities to face the American GK.

It seems like a long time since the beginning of the season. Both teams have their share of bumps and bruises, but you can bet if a player can stand up, they will be giving their all on Saturday.

The Leopards have a strong, deep and tested bench which should give them some advantage and no reason to slow down during the game. It’ll be all out for both teams!! You all know where my heart is in this one. Home field is a BIG DEAL!!! GO PARDS!

Sawers Delivers To Van der Geest Who Delivers The Winning Goal Against Penn

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There was only a minute left  and the Lafayette corner defense had just stopped the Penn corner offense at 1:38 left in the game. The Leopards moved the ball quickly downfield and drew a penalty corner of their own with 1:08 left. Anna Steps sends it into play. Sawers eventually gets the ball and gets the Penn goalkeeper to move to her right exposing the left side of the goal. Sawers pushes the ball to Lisa Van der Geest who powers it to the goalkeeper’s left for the winner. Penn had one last chance, but the Leopard defense was there to finally end the game.

Lafayette is now 11-6 and the Van der Geest goal along with some outstanding defensive work sealed the 6th shut out of the season….tying the amount set in 2012 the last championship season. The win enabled  the Leopards to creep up in the field hockey corner ratings  now standing at 28th in the country in RPI.

The game looked like it would be a defensive stalemate. Both teams were coming off good in league wins the previous day. Penn had just defeated Yale 4-2 and the Leopards of course got a win over Bucknell 2-1.

Lafayette had.no penalty corners in the first half to Penn’s three. But tide turned as the Leopards earned five corners to Penn’s two in the second half. Its not like Penn wasn’t trying everything they could to turn the game in their favor.  The officials issued 9 cards to Penn to 2 for Lafayette.

Park came through with 4  saves on the game, and the  Penn goalie. stoped three of Lafayette’s four shots. Penalty corners were even, at five for each team, but Lafayette had their five in the second half while Penn had only 2 in that half.

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The bench was well used again, giving many young players valuable time on the field. They performed well especially when Anna Steps had to leave the field due to a minor injury in the first quarter. She returned later in the game. However, getting back to the bench, you can see these players gaining valuable confidence and experience right before playoff time. Coach Stone used 7 players from her bench which means 18 saw action.

Penn is a good team and was ideal competition before the long awaited showdown with American University next Saturday at 11 am for the regular season championship and the right to host the playoffs.  American will play number two ranked Maryland on Tuesday. The rest of the playoff field has yet to be decided.  Bucknell meets Holy Cross and BU will meet Lehigh. The outcome of those game will decide who plays, the seeding and who stays home!!

 

Leopards Get Into Playoff Mode Defeating Bucknell 2-1

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Mc Andrews goes one on one with Bucknell mid Grace McEvoy

If there was any doubt we are nearing the post season, one need only have been at Rappolt Field this afternoon as the Bison of Bucknell met the Leopards at Lafayette in a hard fought game from beginning to end. The Bison wanted to desperately define their place in the League playoff picture with a win, but the Leopards depth, skill and grittiness was to deliver the win ultimately after sixty minutes of play.

Both sides had every reason to be proud of their effort as the stats for game show how close it was. Bucknell was to have 9 shots today to Lafayette’s 10, both goalkeeper had six saves, and Bucknell had the edge in corners 5-3, but it was the Leopards that were to take advantage at key moments in  the game and Lafayette’s deep bench was to provide the needed play when required.

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McAndrews and Sam DiMaio play a little defense

Lafayette’s first goal was to come during a corner in the 9th minute of the second period. Corner offense has been a strength of this team mostly behind the stick of Lisa van der Geest. Indeed, it was a Van der Geest strike assisted by Cam Costello and Anna Steps that was to lift the Leopards to a 1-0 half time lead.

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The Bucknell defense chases Anna Steps and Tara Hamilton

The second goal was to come at about 6 minutes into the third quarter as the intitial corner strike by Van der Geest was to be turned away by Oliva Harris the fine Bucknell goalie. There was a rebound which again bounced off the pads of the Bison net minder that was handled by sophomore leopard, Molly McAndrew, who launched it into the goal to give Lafayette its second goal of the game.

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Steps and Van der Geest guard the circle in the second quarter

Bucknell was not done when Brittany Willwerth gave the Bison fans hope when she found some space to deliver the goal with about 8 minutes to go in the game. However, Sarah Park, Lisa Van der Geest, Sydney Woolston, and Audrey Sawers in the defensive backfield turned back the Bucknell, attack as it seemed to get some momentum. I saw at least one, and maybe two defensive saves by Woolston alone that should have been recorded. However, defense was everyone’s job, as the entire team came up big when needed.

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Sophie Carr is on the ball!!

For special mention, was the contributions of the bench, Shea Balderson, Hanna Lewis, Eva Kaplan, Jen DeLongis and Sophie Carr  stepped up when needed. Van der Geest was off the field for almost 6 minutes being treated, and her teammates manned the breech. Molly McAndrews had a 5 minute card in the second half and her team had her back until she returned. Tara Hamilton played well as a starter today and Felicitas Hannes was all over the field doing what was needed to provide a lift.

The Leopards are now 5-0 in the league and will play an out of conference game against Penn tomorrow, and there will be the ultimate showdown with the other 5-0 team in the league, for the honor to host the Patriot League tournament in two weeks. I have not spent to time to figure out the other participants  besides American, but they will be either Boston, Holy Cross or Bucknell. Two will be in and one will be left out after next Saturday.

There were 421 in the stands, a little short of my goal of 750, but no doubt there will be a crowd next Saturday, and during the playoffs the  following week. I am rooting for a home game then of course!! Coach Stone has sewn together a very fine winning team that all Leopards can be proud of. However, they are not finished!!!

Lafayette Field Hockey Leads The League In Attendance

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender

Win Tomorrow Would Lock Up Winning Season

The Leopards will be playing Bucknell tomorrow at Rappolt Field at noon. The Leopards currently are 9-6, and a win would give the them 10 wins and a winning season no matter what happens. That is not to say a win would  also keep the Leopards in the hunt to host the Patriot League Championship Tournament.

The Field Hockey team’s success has come with notice. Our team enjoys very good fan support having 2975 fans attend their home games this fall so far. That is an average of 372 fans a game, that is 165 more fans per game than American, the next closest team in attendance in the league.

Tomorrow is an ideal day to add to that total with the soccer teams being away and football not starting until 3:30. If the Leopards get the win, they will be the FIRST Lafayette team in any sport, with a winning record in five years. I have been watching field hockey for 30 years and this team is good, maybe even very good. They have held ranked to teams to overtime games and in one case beat them. They have overcome injuries, to continue winning and they are well led. And tomorrow will be sunny I am informed. Even if they lose tomorrow they could still host having beaten Richmond while Bucknell and American lost. Lafayette will win the tiebreaker if they beat American next week..

Yes, Lafayette fans, if any team deserves support it is these young women. I do not diminish  the difficulty of tomorrow’s game, but think what a “12th” team member in the stands could do. So take your car, get the convenient bus to Metzgar and support our Leopards by being in your seat tomorrow!!!  I would hope we would see students, administrators, and faculty, join with our loyal parents, and regular fans and give these young women the support they have earned. Anything less would not be supportive of the importance of establishing a winning culture at the school!!

The stands at Rappolt can hold 750, lets fill them up!!!

After that, go back to Fisher and watch our football team make it a two-fer against the Bison tomorrow.  Go Pards

In Case You Haven’t Noticed We Are Already Into Post Season Games!!

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Junior number 20 Fogelsander had an outstanding game against Lehigh last week

As the regular season winds down in the next two weeks, teams are now positioning themselves for their championship tournaments. In the Patriot League, American and Lafayette have already qualified while Bucknell is at 3-1, Holy Cross at 2-2, and Boston University at 1-3 are still vying for the last two spots.  Boston really needs to sweep their last two games from HolyCross and Lehigh to get in. Holy Cross could split and get in with a win at Boston and maybe Bucknell. Bucknell could lock up a spot with a win and maybe even host, depending on the outcome of the American/ Lafayette game.As for American and Lafayette, if either team wins their last two games it’ll be home field advantage for the playoffs for the winners.

Each of the games this weekend has their own little story. Do not discount a Holy Cross win at Boston. A win by Holy Cross would probably knock Boston out of the playoffs for the first time since joining the league. This is a rivalry game and Holy Cross has an excellent goalkeeper, and has been playing better of late. American probably has the easier task to beat Colgate this Saturday.

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Jenn DeLongis stops the ball on a corner struck by Lisa van der Geest

 

Which brings us to the game Leopard fans are interested in. It is a home game. A win keeps Lafayette in the hunt for home field and the number one seed. A loss would drop Lafayette  to a two or three seed with home field going to either American or Bucknell depending on the final week of games. However, if the Leopards lose to Bucknell but beat American and their is 3 way tie at 4-1, Lafayette is the host to due to the Richmond win whom Bucknell and American lost to.

Bucknell games are traditionally close, hotly contested affairs with the Leopards. Lafayette holds the edge all time with Bucknell at 36-15-2 although in more recent games the record 2-4 in Bucknell’s favor the  last six years. Last year’s game at Bucknell was to end 4-1 in favor of the Bison in a driving cold rain. The previous year at Lafayette, the Leopards prevailed 1-0.

The Bison are 8-6 to Lafayette 9-6. Lafayette. has had a stronger schedule ranked 40 to 63. Lafayette has played 4 nationally ranked opponents beating one in overtime and losing to two others in overtime. Bucknell has played one, Syracuse, and lost 1-3.

 

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Molly McAndrews winds up against Boston

Taking into account that Lafayette has played one more game, the Leopards have scored about the same  goals per game 2.40 to 2.43 for Bucknell, but have held opponents to 1.53 goals per game vs 1.64 for Bucknell. The Bison take 11.5 shots per game and have given up 13 shots per game, Lafayette has 13.5 shot per game while given. up 10. Sarah Park at goalkeeping has about a 73% save percentage and Bucknell has 78% save percentage.

Goals have been spread around for Bucknell with 6 players having 4 or more goals, Lafayette has four players with 4 or more goals.The breakdown on common opponents has Lafayette beating the aforementioned Richmond against Bucknell’s loss in the common game with a different outcome. Bucknell’s leading goal scorer is Emily Doyle, with 7 for the year and Lafayette has sophomore Molly McAndrews with 8. Lafayette averages 9 corners per game while Bucknell average 8.

All in all, this is a game with consequences, Lafayette will want to stay in the hunt for the home field, and Bucknell would like to lock up a tournament berth. All the elements for a contested match on Saturday at 12 noon.

 

Leopards Lose Tough One 3-2 In Overtime

Van der Geest and Steps Score 

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Molly McAndrews steps in to defend

It looked like the Leopards were to pull out a great win after the third quarter, when Lafayette took a 2-0 lead against a good William and Mary team. At 32:52 senior Lisa van der Geest took a terrific feed from Audrey Sawers to score the first goal of the game during a corner. The second goal was to come with Van der Geest providing the helper to Anna Steps, who put in beautiful redirect with seconds left. The game was being played under difficult conditions of a steady rain.

It was  in the fourth quarter that William and Mary really came alive and put tremendous pressure on the Leopards. Two and a half minutes into the last quarter, they found the net to make it 2-1, and with less than 3 minutes to go William and Mary found the tying goal to send the game into overtime. William and Mary were to use the same swarming tactics around the goal, and they ended the game 2 minutes and 16 seconds into the first overtime period.

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Audrey Sawers meets up with a William and Mary attacker

Reading the stats of the game explained the William and Mary turnaround. As I watched the game I thought most of the contest was battled at midfield. However, William and Mary outshot the Leopards 18-3. All of Lafayette’s shots came on corners. During the fourth quarter the visitors were to get multiple consecutive shots on goal,  once they entered the attacking circle. They were to outshoot Lafayette 8-0 alone in the fourth quarter. Sarah Park, the Lafayette goal keeper managed to make 10 saves on the day, one of her highest totals of the season. The green and white were schooled to swarm the goal and collect rebounds and shoot again.

 

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Cam Costello looks for a Lafayette teammate during the first quarter

 

Lafayette played the game on senior day, as the they were feted before and after the contest.

Next up will be Bucknell, at home, next Saturday for an important Patriot League match. The Leopards can guarantee a winning season with another win, and a victory would keep them in the hunt for hosting the Patriot League Tournament.

Six Seniors Making A Huge Impact On Lafayette Field Hockey

With four games to go in the regular season, it seems a little early to talk about our seniors who are playing for Lafayette for the last time this fall. There is more to be accomplished, and goals to be attained, in my view, but this Sunday will be Senior Day when we traditionally honor our seniors. All have been significant contributors over their careers, but I think it is appropriate to put it all in a succinct writing. Again, they are not done yet, and I expect there will be more history to write in the coming weeks.

Sam DiMaio, Cam Costello, Jenn DeLongis, Lisa Van Der Geest, Caroline Turnbull and Sarah Park have all fulfilled the promise they showed, when first announced as recruits 4 and 5 years ago. Each has had a unique contribution on the field, and have learned to overcome obstacles to arrive this year, in what may turn out to be an historic season!!

 

Number 2 Sam DiMaio

 

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Sam DeMaio will give her all on the field!

Sam arrived as a freshman from West Morris Mendham in New Jersey. She was a starting forward and midfielder in High School scoring 30 goals and 28 assists during her career.in her final two seasons, her high school won the conference championships. She was  an all conference and all state selection.

She has been an impact player from her first year on college turf. Her first start was in the season opener against Fairfield her freshman year. She played in 14 games and started one. Her first collegiate goal was October first against Colgate.

Since then she has been a regular fixture on the field for the Maroon and White. In 2017, her sophomore year, she played in all 18 games and started in six, tallying two assists in the win over Drexel, and added a goal and an assist in the 3-2 victory over Colgate. She also had an assist in the Richmond game.

In 2018 she had  the game winner against Cornell. She scored four goals on the year.

2019 has been a banner year. So far she has 5 goals, on 16 shots, scoring on 31 per cent of her shots. Even when she is not scoring goals the ubiquitous senior seems to be everywhere I point my camera. She is athletic and intense, and I think the above picture captures it all. ( My favorite picture of all time). Even when she is not scoring goals opposing teams have to respect her speed and athleticism.

Sam was also named to the National and Patriot League honor roll with a 3.5 average in Psychology and Government and Law.

Number 13 Cameron Costello

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Cam moves the ball upfield during the Boston game

Cam also, has been a key player for the Leopards from the get go. She has started every game of her career to date. She is a key fixture  in the mid-field and can be counted on to make key plays. It is her versatility that make her valuable to the Lafayette team. She seems to know where she and her teammates are at all times. She hails from Doylestown, Pa and played at a relatively small high school, New Hope Solesbury. It was there, she played multiple positions while earning conference championships. She was a captain her senior year. She also played lacrosse and was also a three year letter winner.

She has certainly lived up to her potential at Lafayette.  While as a midfielder her whole career, goal scoring was not part of her portfolio, but Cam seemed to come up with key plays at key moments. In 2016, she got the game winner in overtime with Quinnipiac, and had a key assist in the 2017 game with Appalachian State, and in 2018 she got an assist in the game with Lehigh.

Her senior season has been her best so far, getting one goal and two assists.  The goal was against then nationally ranked Monmouth, helping the Leopards get the win. Cam has a great attitude and I don’t think I ever seen her without a smile…except on the field!!!

Cam is an ace in the classroom as an all Division one honor scholar and  a member of the Patriot League honor roll. As of the last accounting she has a 3.68 average in Biology!!

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Cam Costello with friends in South Africa during team tour

Number 14 Jenn DeLongis

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Jenn DeLongis stops the ball on a corner

Jenn is a midfielder, but more importantly is a total team player. She can move between the defense and offensive side of the field with equal skill. She is a key player in that she is the stopper on corner sets, placing the ball for the striker.

Jenn comes from Hatfield, Pa. Like most excellent athletes, Jenn played dual sports while at North Penn High School. She was a four year letter winner in lacrosse and field hockey!! Aside from earning all conference awards in both sports and captain of her field hockey team, she won the Coaches Award both her junior and senior years. Not surprisingly she was the North Penn Female Outstanding Athlete.

She jumped right into her college career in 2016 making three appearances during her freshman year. In 2017, she appeared in 11 games. Continuing her progress, in 2018 she appeared in all 19 games and started in 5. She was named offensive player of the week in  the Patriot League after scoring the game winning goal against Penn. Also that year she led the team in assists.

This year she has scored a goal against Richmond and has been a key figure on the team. She has a 25% shot percentage and always ready to support her teammates. My observation is, she is always ready to support the team in any way she can,

She is no slacker in the classroom as a regular on the Patriot League Honor roll. She has a 3.4 average in her majors of Government and Law and Psychology.

Number 18 Lisa van der Geest

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Lisa shows classic power and form

Lisa arrived on the Lafayette campus in 2016  from Oegstgeest, Netherlands after attending Rijnlands Lyceum.  She wasted no time in establishing herself as not only a premier player on the Lafayette squad but in the League and Nationally. Her freshman year she was first on the team in assists, second in points and third in goals. She had game winning goals in every year as a Leopard. Her freshman year she was named all league in defense and has not relinquished that moniker all three years so far.

Last year she topped herself by being named an all American. This year, already she has been named to the NFCHA all star game, to be played at the end of the year. She is  one of two named to the squad from the league

As I have said previously she is the heart of the team, and as captain leads the team with distinction. She is known to help the younger players with their skills and can be heard on the field directing the action from her center back position. She is by all accounts another coach on the field

This year she has earned several player of the week awards, having already scored 4 goals on the season.

She is extraordinarily accomplished, speaks five languages fluently, and is an outstanding student majoring in international affairs, receiving honors by being recognized in the all Division One honor roll as well as the League Honor Roll. At last accounting is she has a 3.58 average.

As in most team sports the team is built around the middle players. Lisa is the center back and follows a line of outstanding athletes who have played the position for the Leopards. She just may be the best that has ever played at that position at Lafayette!!  I hope she has saved a place for all the hardware she will no doubt receive at the end of the season!!

Number 19 Caroline Turnbull

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Caroline hails from Harding, N.J. an attended Madison High School. She played midfield and forward during her four years. She scored 54 goals and 38 assists. She is winner, as her team recorded multiple championships at all levels.She played in the 2014 NFC  and Junior Olympics for the USAFH team.

She wasted no time at Lafayette by playing in all 19 games her freshman year and having three starts.  In 2017 she appeared in every game and started in 12, scoring 3 goals and an assist, including the game winner in the 2-1 victory over Appalachian State. She was also named Defensive Player of the Week during the year. Her break out year was in 2018 starting in 14 games. She was named to the All Patriot League team and all tournament team. She had the game winning goal at Holy Cross.

This year she has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists. The goals were one at Syracuse, one against Holy Cross, and the third at Boston University.

Caroline impresses me as a player that is ready to mix it up near the goal and she can be counted on to be in the middle of a scrum. She is an intense competitor and her intensity is infectious to her teammates. She is well like by her teammates and several consider the funniest player on the team.

Caroline is a Civil-Environmental Engineering major .

Number 87 Sarah Park

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Sarah has one of the best attitudes I have ever encountered in a goal keeper. She dares to be a bold optimist, and refuses to concede that anyone can beat her. From the get go, this season, she saw big things for this team, and as goal keeper she has done her part for the Leopards success. She earned the starting GK job her sophomore year. Her first year included needed knee surgery and rehab after that.

Sarah comes from Collegeville, Pa and attended Methacton High School. She was a star goalie in high school and was much sought after her senior year. She was fifth in save percentage within the Philadelphia Field Hockey High School area. In addition she is an excellent student. At Lafayette she is a Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering major with a 3.32 average. She has done summer internships in her field and was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.

She has saved the best for last and has been named goalkeeper of the week 3 times so far in the Patriot League. She quick and agile and at the moment sports a 73 percent save percentage, playing against some of the toughest competition in the country. She has had multiple shutouts as well, including a stop against Bryant on a penalty stroke at the end of the game to preserve the shutout.

I firmly believe the best is yet to come for this amazing student athlete!!