In the course of a winning season successful teams must adjust and compensate for many adverse circumstances. The Leopards did all of that on this Saturday afternoon. Sometimes its more than overcoming the other team. Obstacles can be a long bus ride, windy weather, a bouncy turf, or officials and their style of calling a game. All those were in play as the Leopards beat the Boston Terriers in Boston 3-1.
In the case of the Terriers, it was pride in defending a successful program and digging a hole in front of Patriot League post season play, and for the Leopards it was the construction of a path for securing that berth in the post season schedule.
It was up to freshman Lineke Spanns to set the tone early, as she delivered on a early reverse stick shot 4:04 into the game and established an early lead for the Leopards. She was to be involved all game long as the Terriers struggled with her speed and aggressive play. When it seemed like the Terriers were about to tip the balance in their favor, it was Spanns who was make life difficult for them in a break out with red shirted opponents trying to keep up with her.
It was also the leadership of Audrey Sawers and attention given to her, that settled the often intense battle as the Leopards had to contend with a bouncy turf. After 43 minutes following the Spanns goal there was a defensive battle led by Simone Hefting and a strong performance by civil engineering defender Sydney Woolston, who dug in constructing a wall in front of the goal for the Leopards.
Boston’s Thalia Steessens at 47: 23, was able to find an opening, gathering a rebound locking the score at 1-1. But Sawers was to answer right back off a corner, assisted by Spanns and inserter India Ralph, giving the Leopards the 2-1 lead. The Leopards, over the course of game, collected 3 green cards. So for 10 percent of the game were they were playing a player short.
In a desperate attempt to tie the game with 3 minutes to go, the Terriers pulled their goalie. At one point with nearly a minute left, the Leopards were to be called for not putting the ball in play quickly enough ( a call I have never seen in 30 years of watching division one hockey). In addition, the Leopards were called awarding a corner to Boston. Again the defense stood tall allowing Molly McAndews to deliver the “coup de grace” on an open goal at 59:26.!!!
Leopards now have a firm grasp on the post season tournament with only one more in conference win to assure them of a place. The Leopards will meet Ivy League foe Brown University tomorrow in Providence RI!