As members of the US Field Hockey Foundation Board of Trustees, my wife and I were invited by the Head Coach of the US Women’s National Team, Anthony Farry to attend a practice, and meet the current team members. The team currently practices at the Proving Grounds in Conshohoken, Pa. At the present time, there are about 20 players hard at work preparing for a European trip in May. They will soon be joined by about 5 more, who are still busy with the NCAA tournament.
Coach Farry briefly described his training regime to us, emphasizing these are women who are not only sacrificing to wear the red, white, and blue but are already accomplished and skilled athletes. The challenge will be meshing all that talent into a smooth, cohesive unit. In the end, it will be real game experience that will do that. They will travel this spring with 30 players, first to Belgium, then to England and his goals are to see how the team works together.
He introduced us to his coaching team, assistant Coach Greg Drake, Kyle McMinn strength and conditioning coach, and team manager Krista Page. Most impressive was a demonstration of the technology being used in the conditioning process. Coach McMinn showed us how they use the POLAR GPS system to keep tabs on work rate and efficiency on the practice field. The system tracks total movement and uses algorithms to measure and score performance, the idea is not just rate but is the athlete being efficient in their movements. In addition, each teams member has watch which can track sleep patterns. All this data is available to be downloaded to the coaches and each individual athletes.
Much of the practice consisted of two goals about thirty yards apart with a goal keeper in each cage and two attacking teams practicing close in shots. Meanwhile, the rest practiced team drills on another part of the field. In addition, there were practice shoot outs where we marveled at the various skills of these women.
We had a chance to visit with Amanda Magadan ( Lafayette grad) who has the most experience at this point with 82 caps. Yes, this is a young team just now trying to discover its personality. They are all looking forward to the spring FIH games. In June, they will be returning to the US for a series of games in Virginia Beach. The Beach and US Field Hockey sounds like the formula for a great week end!!
Strangely, the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, in part, will be played at the home of the Nittany Lions, but the Penn State field hockey team will not be playing. They neither won the Big Ten title or received an at large bid following the end of the season conference tournaments. Instead, it will be the nearby Bison of Bucknell who will take the short bus trip to meet VCU, who also won their conference title for the first time by beating St Joseph’s 2-0 in the championship game.
Bucknell’s season was one of recovery, after losing 3 games in row and facing virtual elimination, came back to beat American in overtime and finishing their 3 game sweep with a 3-2 victory over Lafayette. They had to wait a week and a half to play their next game, which turned out to be second seed American. The first seed, Boston was to play 4 seed Holy Cross. Boston got in after not playing a full slate of opponents and had perhaps the weakest schedule in the Patriot League.
In both Patriot League tournament games, Bucknell was to play a patient defensive games using virtually their entire bench. They used 10 bench players in the double overtime win/shootout game with American, aided by 8 saves by Clara McCormick who I believe is the best GK in league at the moment. In addition they earned 12 penalty corners.
In the championship game with Boston they used nine subs, compared two for Boston, and got 15 shots compared to 6 for Boston. In addition, Boston had their two GK’s sidelined and were forced to use a little experienced M/D, who never played in the goal before. They lost several players due to covid protocols as well, and realized only minutes before the game that they were to have no experienced goal keepers. Jeremy Cook correctly surmised, this would be a game of attrition, which was executed perfectly by his team to get the overtime victory at 7:29 into the period.
The VCU game is interesting for its parallels. Its the first time both team have won their conferences. Ironically, VCU only used two subs in it’s 2-0 victory over St Joe’s. In the meantime, their GK, Sasha Elliot had a good outing with 5 saves. VCU’s best win was a win early against ODU, only getting five shots to ODU’s eighteen.
I kind of like Bucknell in this game, but I have no common opponents to judge them by. Clara McCormick is the real deal, and Bucknell earns corners aplenty. The game is at noon Friday and the winner gets to play Michigan on Sunday.
Northwestern, Iowa and Louisville got the at large bids leaving a lot of very good teams watching on their computers!! Crazy year!!
The Lafayette Field Hockey Team played a magnificent game, but for the second time this season lost in double overtime. If they had won they would have claimed the last slot in the PL championships with 8 points. Holy Cross will get the coveted fourth seed with 7 points.
Jennifer Stone had the team well prepared and they played their hearts out. She had only two field substitutes ( mainly due to aLafayette ill advised covid rule which led to four freshman not being able to play or even been in residence). Each player today stepped up, and had the Eagles stymied at the end of 4 quarters and 1 1/2 overtime. periods. This was a game that is a tribute to the players and Lafayette coaches both
But with minutes left during a corner by American, the umpire committed the unforgivable sin of making a call that may have sealed the Eagle win. I am going to say this so there is no mistake, there was no foul that demanded a stroke. In addition, I have not spoken with any coach or player and the opinion is truly my own and represents only my view as expressed in this independent blog.
Here is a second picture picture the moment the official calls for the stroke. Note, the goaltender is in position, there is another defender near her and if it was a shot the American attacker was at a poor angle . In addition, Audrey is not making an intentional move to foul, she is in a reasonable field hockey position to make a play.
Coach Stone and the team deserved better today.
I ran the video five times when I got home. The call was made on Sawers who came out to meet the offensive player during a corner, who was passing to someone on the end line. It was NOT A SHOT!! The rule is that a stroke is called if the penalty was the result of stopping a sure goal. This call was not even that close or the foul was intentional inside the circle. The reason for a stroke would be an intentional foul inside the circle. Again clearly not occurring
I don’t know how the game would have ended, but to have an obvious offical’s error determine the outcome is wrong. Ironically, yesterday’s soccer game for the PL championship was influenced by a red card during championship, against the undefeated Leopards playing American. Deja Vu!!
I could rail against the officiating, but I don’t see much point, everyone agrees the officiating in field hockey needs improvement. However, I am going repeat my plea to the League, we need to have video replay. All the views I have shown would have been available for video replay. Every major conference has it, and all NCAA tournament games are played with it!! Patriot League football has it….Patriot League basketball has it…it’s time. The costs are minor and I will make the calls and raise the money myself if necessary. It is my belief with video review eventually the officiating will get better as well!!
And now the rest of the story
It was obvious from the get go that this was to be an intense game. American was playing for the home field, Lafayette was playing to get into the tournament. But 5:10 into the game the ever dangerous Noor Coenen found the back of the cage off a rebound of a blocked shot. However, with less than 20 seconds left in the opening quarter Lafayette senior Grace Angelella evened it up assisted by Lafayette’s Audrey Sawers. It only took 3:42 into the second quarter for American, and Aidan Rossman to again deliver off a rebound putting American ahead.
With American ahead 2-1 Coach Stone and her assistants had the team ready to respond when Audrey Sawers, who was all over the field making play after play got an assist from Sophie Carr and Anna Steps during a corner delivering the ball to back of the cage evening the score up.
Each team had several chances at the win before play ended in regulation time. The Leopards were possessed during the two overtimes, coming close several times to finishing. Lafayette had 15 shots to American’s 16. Lafayette had 9 on goal to American’s 7. Lafayette had 4 saves to American’s 7, as junior Haile Abbott went all the way. Lafayette had 5 penalty corner’s to American’s 9.
It’s been a bizarre spring as the number one seed was scheduled to play the 4 seed twice and Colgate who came in tied for last ( fifth) twice. BU was NOT scheduled to play American even once. Lafayette had to play American twice and did not play Colgate, but did play Holy Cross and beat them. Lehigh was to play American twice and had the game cancelled. Truly, truly bizarre.
Next year may see several “seniors” return for a rubber last season. American it appears will return two including Noor Coenen. Lenke Haavas from Lehigh is rumored to return and there are several other teams contemplating returning stars to beef up their teams. It could be an exciting fall!!
With three seconds left in the game the Leopards had a penalty stroke opportunity to tie the game. A shot by Alex Talkow was blocked illegally by a Bucknell defender. and the stroke was called. Audrey Sawers steped quickly to the line and shot to her left and was blocked by sophomore Goal Keeper Clara McCormack. McCormack had been named Goal Keeper of Week by the Patriot League twice this year, but that save may have been the biggest of this abbreviated season.
The game started with the Leopards looking like they were suffering from bus legs as they had traveled to Lewisburg that morning. The first quarter seemed to have the field tilted to favor the Bison. One wonders if the usual travel procedure would have helped. Boston had traveled and stayed overnight traveling to Easton, American did the same, and even the Leopards stayed overnight in Worcester. I am sure there is some “alumnus” that would have footed the bill!!
Anyway the Leopards were to take advantage of Bucknell errors to get a goal 6:27 into the game with a Tara Hamilton beauty after a scrum in front of the cage. However, the lead was to last a mere 4 minutes when Kaitlyn Long hit on a penalty corner tying it up.
However, with less than 6 minutes left in the half Audrey Sawers took a penalty corner to score and put the Leopards up 2-1.
After the half, the Bison came out on fire with two goals, the first at 36:37 from Rachel Ana and one minute later to take the lead 3-2. The Leopards, for the remainder of the quarter and 5 minutes into the fourth held their defense back behind the 50. With 10 minutes left in the game they began to press and had good success and started to take control of the game. At 1:15 left in the game, Coach Stone pulled the goalie, which eventually led to a corner with 11 Leopards on the edge of the circle and Talkow’s shot. During that fourth quarter the Leopards had 6 shots to the Bison 3 and 3 penalty corners to none for Bucknell.
Outside of the 4 th quarter the total stats look familiar. Shots were 10-10, saves were 6 for Lafayette to 7 for Bucknell, and penalty corners were 5-5. One statistic that stands out is Lafayette had two substitutions, Bucknell had eight.By my reckoning only two missing can be accounted for by injury, the rest seem to be not in residence.
It’s not over yet, with one game left in Washington, D.C against American. In any case, looking at next year there is a lot of work to be done in the preseason with perhaps as many as 10 roster places who will have not played in a single division one game!!
We are coming down to the final games, and Bucknell will be playing their final regular season game with Lafayette on Sunday in Lewisburg. It is a crucial game that has playoff consequences for both teams. No doubt it will be senior day for the 5 seniors on the roster for Bucknell. During the American/ Bucknell game the Bucknell announcer said that Head Coach Cook had no juniors. Looking at the roster and those that played, I find that not to be true. However he is starting a number of freshmen and sophomore’s in key positions.
Like most Lafayette/Bucknell games the stats look very similar given that Bucknell has played one more game. This game, the final game of the regular season is no more vital than any other game against the orange foes.
Bucknell is 2-3 with an overtime win against American. They have 4 goals and given up 11, taken 51 shots ag 68 given up and has 25 penalty corners while giving up 31,
Lafayette on the other hand also has 4 goals, but given up 6, has 27 shots but given up 22, and crucially had only 14 penalty corners but gave up 23.The Leopards need to get to the attacking third and penetrate the circle to get shots and earn corners!!
I hope the team will travel on Saturday to get some rest. Arriving on the same day would not be helpful. Boston, when they played Lafayette took two buses and arrived a day in advance!!
In the rest of the League, American will host Lehigh, and Boston will host Holy Cross.
It was a game that deserved to be in the Leopard column, given the extraordinary effort by the team and especially the senior class. Yes, shots were 6 to 7 in Lafayette favor, saves by freshman goalkeeper were the same at two ( Garvey, the Leopard goalkeeper had a great outing as her debut in division one), but penalty corners were 12-4 in favor of the Eagles. However, many of those corners came in bunches as they were called one after each corner in succession.
In fact, the first goal by American came on the fourth attempt at a corner by Merel Dupont after an assist by Noon Coenen at 7:43 into the game. That gave the lead to American until Audrey Sawers found the back of the cage at 46:42 nearly bending back the glove of Bryn Underwood, American’s freshman GK. The score remained at 1-1 until regulation time ended.
There were several calls for corners by the umpire outside of the shooting circle which was noticed by the partisan crowd at the side lines. In many cases the. Eagles were to draw multiple penalties on several occasions in regular time and the two overtimes. Finally at 75:32 Gaby de Kock received a hard crossing pass from Coenan which was delivered to the right side of the cage.
Coach Stone highlighted all five seniors Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps. Coach Stone cited the five seniors for their leadership during the game. Sawers especially was to make several length of the field runs that nearly set up scoring chances inside the circle. The whole team showed remarkable heart even though the score ended up in favor of American in the end.
They all left it on the field with their heads up, because there was nothing to be down about. It was an outstanding effort. There will be a second chance in DC in the last regular season game at the end of the season. Next week it will be Bucknell at Bucknell!!!
As the Patriot League League Spring/Fall Season reaches the half way point the question for most fans (including myself) is how the field is picked for the League Championship. Four teams will succeed to the tournament to be decided by a predetermined scheme decided by the League.
Patriot League field hockey consists of seven teams with the top four making the 2021 PLFH Championship Field. All games played count toward standings. Each victory is worth 3 points and an overtime loss is worth 1 point. A team losing in regulation does not receive a point. A points per game system would be utilized if teams do not compete in the same number of contests.
To me that gives an advantage to teams playing less games and especially since teams do not have the same schedule eg. Boston was to play Colgate and Holy Cross twice but does not see American. Colgate does not play Lafayette or American. Last Saturday Boston beat Colgate and was to play them a second time on Sunday but didn’t because they had no subs. As most third graders are aware, if the denominator is smaller, but the numerator is the same, the number with the smaller denominator is larger .
The League defines its calculation as Points per game is defined as the number of points compiled though the season divided by. the number of games played.
So does that mean each team has a different denominator?? So far American, Lehigh, Boston and Colgate will only be playing 5 games. Lafayette, Bucknell, and Holy Cross will have played 6 games.
The league has added this in # When comparing records against a single or group of tied teams ( before tie is broken ) the higher winning percentage will prevail even if the number of games played is not equal among the tied teams.( e.g. 2-0 is better than 1-0, 4-2 is better than 2-4,and 0-1 is better than 0-2)
Confused??? Join the club!! It could be fixed by just playing make up games. There is enough space in the week to get that done…other leagues are playing multiple games during a week’s period.
The current standing are Boston University 3-0 9 points, Colgate 2-1 6 points, Lehigh 2-0 6 points, American 1-1 4 points, Lafayette 1-2 4 points, Bucknell 1-3 3 points, and Holy Cross 0-3 1 point.
Several teams could be in precarious positions after this weekend’s game. A win by Lafayette would be extremely helpful for placement in the tournament. Losses by Bucknell, Holy Cross and Colgate in regulation would be disasters for those teams with the ability to only gather 3 more points for Bucknell and Colgate and 6 more for Holy Cross.
In the bizarre background of a Covid season, the 5 seniors on the Lafayette squad compete during an abbreviated season with the goal to return to the Patriot League Championships for the third consecutive year. This has been an especially character revealing year. The season began without a spring season last year, no preseason, and no out of conference games. They have had to put it all together without a large bench, leaving it to the seniors to provide leadership on and off the field.
I don’t know if this will be the last chance to see these remarkable young women compete at Rappolt Field this year but I know it will be their best effort yet of their four year careers. Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Ana Steps, will be announced as seniors at this weekend’s match with American University. The NCAA allows for an extra year of eligibility and this fan can only hope we shall see at least some of them next year, but whatever happens, I know they have set the foundation for great things in the future. So this Sunday I salute Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps!!
Eva comes from Montclair, N.J. with outstanding credentials. The Economics and International Affairs major was a four year letter winner at Montclair, selected as an all- conference and all state player. In addition she was an outstanding Lacrosse player demonstrating her all around athletic ability. As a four year honor roll student, she showed she was well prepared for Lafayette.
She has demonstrated her dedication, team attitude and patience having to wait two years before getting on the game field. As a fan I could not be more struck by her intensity and situational awareness. Her strength, speed and athletic ability were evident in every situation she was placed in. I was especially impressed with her performance during big games fearlessly defending against the best of the Patriot League and division one.
She waited patiently for her chance during her freshman and sophomore year and by her junior year became an important contributor. I was especially impressed with her performance in the championship game last year! But her best could be her last, as she spent over 50 minutes on the field in each of the last two games gaining confidence and displaying leadership. We still have half the regular season left and I am anxious to see what memories she will leave us with as we move forward!!
The moment Audrey stepped on a Lafayette athletic field her appearance just screamed elite athlete. Coming from Handsworth school in North Vancouver, BC she was part of long string of western Canadian athletes to head to the Lafayette Field Hockey program. While at Handsworth, she was a five year starter on the Field Hockey team, and achieved MVP and first team all star in provincials. Not surprisingly she was female athlete of the year for two years participating in soccer, volleyball, basketball, and track and field.
More recently she made the national under 21 team traveling to Ireland two years ago. Her strength, reach, and speed made her a natural at midfield and a feared opponent. As a fan it was exciting to see her develop a skill set to go along with her natural athletic assets. It was evident in the semi final league championship game with Bucknell as she weaved through defenders to score the winning goal. We saw more of that this year against Holy Cross as she was involved in both scores. Spotting space inside the circle she delivered a beautiful shot to put the Leopards up early. She used much of the same skills to find her teammate Simone Hefting as she assisted in the overtime winner.
There is no team member this year who has more minutes than Audrey as her presence on the field is important both offensively and defensively. Her leadership abilities strike me as leadership by example, and her strong competitive spirit get more evident as the game progresses. She is a team co-captain.
I would hope she considers an additional year but I see nothing but success, and maybe even an Olympics in her future!!!
Sophie is just one of those people that light up room when she enters. Always, with a smile, she faces competition and adversity with determination and courage. Looking at her resume one would assume she is a native Irishman. In fact, her mother comes from Pennsylvania and as result she is a US citizen. Her entire secondary school experience is in Ireland. Her brother plays on the Irish national team.
Sophie, like most good athletes succeed in a variety of sports. She is an excellent golfer, and played on a winning cricket team. On the academic side she represented the US at a model UN conference at The Hague.
Coming to Lafayette, she had an excellent freshman year delivering impressive goals. Her performances against Fairfield demonstrated her readiness to play at the division one level. But she was to face an unexpected challenge the spring of her freshman year when she injured her knee. She promptly accepted the challenge of rehabilitation with aplomb and courage. Her sophomore year had her on the sidelines, cheering at games and encouraging to her teammates at practice.
She returned to the playing field, knee brace and all, her junior season, and resumed her impact as a team leader and an important part the program. As an elected leader of the team, she helped to maintain morale, while being a contributor on the field. She has 103 minutes in three games this year and can often be seen sprinting down the field making an important tackle or moving the ball into the opponents area!!
As in the case of most great athletes, she has great character and is an inspiration to her teammates. I would have wished a full season for her, but it’s a privilege to watch her in person perform!!
You had to know Grace was a very special athlete as she endured several orthopedic surgeries in high school just to be in a position to play. She came highly recommended from former Lafayette players from the Harding, Pa area and Wyoming Area High School. She didn’t disappoint Coach Stone because in the first three years she was on the field for virtually every game. In her freshman year she tied for the lead in goal scoring and had several multi goals games. She was rookie of the week several times.
In her sophomore season she just rolled on with goals against Temple, Lehigh, Villanova and Bucknell. She accomplished all this while succeeding in the classroom as a Biology major. She was named to the D-1 academic squad and the Patriot League academic squad as well.
Like her classmates there is a determination in her play that makes her a dangerous foe on the field. Extraordinarily humble, her engaging manner hides the competitive spirit of a winner. She finds a way to be in a position to score and her ability to deliver a strike as something fearsome.
This year, she already put in 138 minutes and its disappointing we won’t see more of her because of this shortened season. However, we have the meat of the season coming up and I am sure she will contribute to the diversity of our attacking options.
Anna has an outstanding career to date. Her most individual memorable year was in 2018, scoring six goals. But getting to the Patriot championship game must have been one of her biggest thrills. For three years she was found in the back line directing play and initiating an offense that had one of its best years. She named preseason defensive player of the year.
She comes from Hamburg Germany where she went to the Children’s International Summer Village program. It is program that begins for 11 year olds which promotes good international relations starting with children. It is there she got the bug to study in the United States. She is still in contact with people who went through the program with her.
A leader on the team Anna was elected co-captain and was crucial to keeping the team connected during the covid pandemic. To date she has played 1054 minutes for the Leopards and I remember her role in beating Temple last year scoring a crucial goal. She is now in the midfield, a position more familiar to her and her hustle and determination as well as her obvious skills are put to good use.
Her affect is pleasant and is obviously very smart excelling in her major of Neuroscience at Lafayette. She is always there to help a friend, and has volunteered to help those studying German and enjoys philosophical writings.
She is an exceptional young woman and no doubt is in line to accomplish great things in the future.