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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!