Ok, we are now past the New Year and many of the Patriot League field hockey teams have announced their new incoming classes. While the classes will not be complete until the end of the spring, we could start to see who filled needs and who didn’t. Last year, most “experts” agreed that Boston University may have brought in the best class. However, Boston didn’t even make the playoffs, although they did have some stars who had a impact.
Jodie Conolly, a freshman midfielder from South Africa was named rookie of the year and garnered all Patriot League honors. She led all freshmen in points and points per game. But having a great individual year doesn’t necessarily, guarantee team results. A lot depends on the mix and how they are used by coaches.
Last year’s Lafayette freshmen class saw plenty of action, as the season progressed, and injuries became a key factor. The coaching staff should be applauded for their efforts in getting these freshman ready to play. Even during the Patriot League championships injuries kept key players on the sideline, but Lafayette developed a bench that filled in admirably. Coach Stone has a reputation of a strong teacher of individual skills and she and her staff built the skilled bench that was ready when needed.
No, there were no Lafayette freshmen on the all League team but they played key roles in Lafayette’s late season run.
American will certainly be the preseason favorite come this fall, given their plethora of returning talent including offensive player of the year Noor Coenan. They will have to play at Rappolt field this year and I expect they will see a strong Lafayette squad at the ready.
Yes, the Leopards will lose the talent and leadership of their graduating senior class, but I see talent not only in the returning squad but in the incoming class. So who has an edge?? The top four or five teams will be competitive. I expect Boston will be there as will American. Bucknell always seems to find a way. Lehigh is starting to scare me and those one goal games can be nerve racking. Lafayette will be ready, and I see a stronger offensive squad in the process of building. The defensive line is solid and goalkeeping will be ready as well.
We are about 8 weeks from spring games, with the first test against LaSalle on March 29th at home, followed by Penn State, a tournament at Delaware, Albany at home, and finishing with Drexel at home. All of these will have no incoming freshman but it will be a great opportunity to see the core of the team in action!!