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.