March 7 is opening day for Patriot League Field Hockey’s seven team league. There are no preseason games, no scrimmages just six games to determine who will be the four who will play in the Patriot League tournament, which will decide who gets the auto bid for the NCAA national tournament. The patriot league winner then will play a minimum of nine games, far less than a normal season.
The question is how do you handicap this season? Freshman had no preseason competition, sophomores did not have a spring season last year, so one might think the team with the most upper class players has an advantage. Conversely coaches might think of this season like a spring season except for the playoffs. There are several conferences that have already started and doubling up on games between conference foes. I should note also there a several schools like Old Dominion and Liberty who are letting a limited amount of spectators. Temple who plays in the city had spectators looking through the fence on the southern end street!!
Just to breakdown the schedules and rosters of all Patriot League Teams!!!
March 7 @ Lehigh, March 14 with Bucknell, March 28 at Bucknell, April 4 @Lafayette, April 11 with Lehigh, April 18 with Lafayette.
American will dress 23 players which includes 3 seniors and 8 Juniors. The fabulous Noor Coenen is back for her senior season. Dani Acuna is the junior GK with a freshman Bryn Underwood who is the freshman who bring some competition to the position. They won the PL title last year beating Lafayette in their two games by one goal in each game. On paper, it looks tough to repeat and they have a tough schedule playing Bucknell and Lafayette twice.
March 7@ Holy Cross, March 21 @ Lafayette, March 27, Colgate, March 28 Colgate, April 11 Holy Cross, April 18 Lehigh
Always a contender in the league, Boston had a disappointing season, not even making the Patriot League tournament. If someone were drawing a schedule for Boston to make it back they could not have make it better. They have more games at home then any other team in the League with Lafayette their toughest game away. They will only carry 20 players but with 6 seniors and 4 juniors.
They did pick up a GK from New Zealand ( a regular supplier of BU talent) and there will be competition for sophomore Caroline Kennedy.
The team has been practicing all fall and it’s hard to believe Sally Starr won’t make progress this season.
Bucknell always fields a competitive team and no doubt Jeremy Cook will get his team ready. They will be playing American and Colgate twice, along with single games each with Lafayette and Lehigh. They open March 7 hosting Colgate, and travel March 14 and 21 at American and Lehigh repectively. American will come to play on March 28 then on April 4 will travel to Colgate for the rubber match and finish on April 11 hosting Lafayette.
Bucknell will dress a second highest amount players at 25 with 6 Seniors and 7 Juniors providing the experience. I see no reason why Bucknell can’t win at least 3 games and be in the hunt.
Colgate will play the least number of games at home and will play Boston, Holy Cross and Bucknell twice. They open @Bucknell on March 7, will host Holy Cross on the 21st, they then will travel to Boston for a March 27 and 28 7pm games. They finish hosting Bucknell on the 4th of April and travel to Holy Cross on the 18th. Of all the Patriot League teams, their schedule is hard to understand.
Dressing 9 senior and 5 juniors experience aplenty is their main asset for their 22 player roster. The first two games may tell the tale for the Raiders.
Holy Cross will be one of the Patriot League teams that will play two Patriot League teams twice. Boston University will arrive in Worchester on March the 7th for a 7 pm game, followed two weeks later at Colgate on March 21st, and will host Lafayette on the 28th at 11 am. The Crusaders will then travel to Lehigh on the 16th and Boston return match at 7pm on the 11th. They finish with a home game at Colgate on the 18th.
Holy Cross will dress a league leading 26 players with 7 seniors, 5 juniors, 6 sophomores, and 8 freshmen. They lost against American in the PL playoffs and would dearly like a second shot this year.
Lafayette lost to the American Eagles in the championship game by one goal, and they would like a second shot. The schedule may be the most competitive in the league but that just the way Head Coach Jennifer Stone would like it. They have the first week off which will give them time to watch Lehigh take on American on the 7th. So the first week will be March 14 at home against Lehigh at 1 pm, followed by a home match against Boston on March 21 as Boston looks for revenge their overtime loss to the Leopards last year. On March 28 there is the trip to Holy Cross followed by a home game with American at 2 pm. The Leopards hit the road on April 11 and 18 with Bucknell and American respectively. A successful run with this schedule could set up the Leopards well, for the post season.
Lafayette will field a balanced team with 22 players consisting of 5 seniors, and 6 juniors, five sophomores and 6 freshman. It will be difficult to replace Lisa Van der Geest but Simone Hefting could come up big. Seniors Grace Angelella, Anna Steps and Audrey Sawer should be a pain to opponents from the midfield. Eva Kaplan showed solid minutes last year and is destined to be an important contributor. Sophie Carr part of the leadership is ready to be an important force on the field!! Molly McAndrews is ready to explode on the attack. The GK position will have three competitors for Goalie coach Jenny Rizzo to bring along.
I like the Leopards but there are no games to be taken for granted with this schedule, and Lehigh could be tougher than most people think.
Lehigh has been improving every year and last year finished their season by beating Boston at home. They seem to have been working all fall as most Lehigh athletic teams did. Lehigh opens with American and they would dearly love to send a message to the league on March 7th. Then on March 14 they will travel to Lafayette for the “Rivalry.” It will be Lafayette’s first game and Lafayette coaches will have had some time to get a “book” on the mountain hawks. They will host Bucknell at home on the 21st and then Holy Cross on April 4th. Their rubber match with American will be in DC on the 11th, then finishing in Boston on the 18th.
They will feature a strong defense with a a senior GK, and there will be Lenke Havas at D/M, the question will be, where the goals will come from. 22 players will dress with 4 seniors, 4 Juniors, 9 sophs and 6 freshman. Will there be enough bench strength? That question will dominate their season??
It really could a year with a close race. Four wins gets you to the playoffs, there could be several teams at 3-3 with a difficult tie breaker in play. It’s hard to dismiss Lafayette and American to repeat, or Bucknell to be in the hunt. Lehigh may be a year away, and Boston needs improvement, but its hard to believe Sally Starr would not lead a team to the promised land with that schedule. Holy Cross is always filled with surprises, and Colgate with 9 seniors might be another surprise!!