It’s been about five months since Temple and Lafayette last met when the Leopards prevailed 1-0. Today Temple prevailed 2-1 in a spring game that tested both teams. Lafayette at first had trouble adjusting to Temple’s aggressive zone defense but gradually were to get opportunities one of which was a reverse stick shot by Lineke Spanns that found the back of the cage.
Temple was to later connect on a direct shot that made it two to one….an advantage that Lafayette was not able to counter. Lafayette was able to use both their goal tenders Becca Herbert, and Emma Garvey, both having their moments as the game progressed. The Lafayette defense benefits from a veteran backfield of Simone Hefting, and Sydney Woolston. Last year India Ralph saw significant minutes and acquitted herself well today.
The midfield features Lineke Spanns who scored the only Lafayette goal during the regular game. Filene Gerbrandij also showed some of her regular season skills as the game progressed.
The forward line was solid with Molly McAndew getting a few looks on goal as the Leopards out cornered Temple. Laine Delmonte also saw significant action and was in the center of the action often. Ariel Schumacher was visible for her aggressiveness as well.
Coach Stone should be satisfied with the effort today but clearly there is room for improvement. But that is why we have spring hockey. It’s hard to come to any hard and fast conclusion, and I am sure we will see continued progress as the spring moves on. ( Hopefully with warmer days)
The afternoon ended with some practice shootouts that ended in a 4-4 tie.
Next week Syracuse and Monmouth arrive at Rappolt Field and should be a strong test of the Leopards progress!!!
Lehigh was missing their fine goalkeeper, Maddie Kahn who is playing on the under 21 national team. In addition, they only had 11 players to put on the field against the 20 plus strong Temple squad. Temple had a number of rising sophomores in the lineup, which proved too much for the rebuilding Mountain Hawks.
For what it’s worth, Temple scored 7 goals to Lehigh’s 2. The Owls scored with 7 minutes left in the first quarter to get an early 1-0 lead on a corner. Lehigh did manage to get two goals in the second quarter, catching the supine Temple goalie on the ground. Temple answered with two goals of their own, the last coming with 6 seconds left in the half taking a half time lead 3-2
In the second half, Temple turned it up, with 4 additional scores from the field, and from corner opportunities. Temple earned seven corners to Lehigh’s 2. The lack of a bench for Lehigh was a factor as the game progressed.
Lehigh made significant use of aerials to advance the ball from the backfield, but Temple was to use their athletic abilities to spend most of the game in Lehigh territory. Lehigh veterans Anna Piecuch, and Sarah Bonthus, who scored in the game were engaged. Lotte Smorenburg, a rising Junior, performed well in the backfield. Rising junior Emily Mars contributed as well. There will be adjustments and work to be done to replace graduates Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora. I saw no indication of a Lehigh player exercising their Covid option
Temple on the other hand showed progress from last year with a plethora of undergraduate talent returning. Rising Juniors Myrthe Schuilenburg, Olivia Vacari, and Maddie Molchany showed strength. Rising sophomore Julia Bunch looked strong, scoring multiple contested goals. Number 33 Juliane Kopec, another rising sophomore, scored two goals on strong shots while having multiple strong circle penetrations.
Most impressive was number 8, Nienke Oerlemans who appears to be exercising her covid option. As a strong defender and inserter on corners she seems to have that strong hit and control that puts the ball where it needs to be.
Lafayette travels to Temple tomorrow to meet the Owls for a contest of their own!!
The long wait is over as the 2022 edition of Lafayette Field Hockey begins their spring season this Sunday at 1 pm at Temple. The Leopards completed a fine season last fall only to lose to American in the Patriot League championship game 2-1. The last part of the season was marred by several key injuries and there is no doubt a healthy Lafayette squad this year to my mind, makes our Leopards a clear talent leader in the League.
The 3-2 loss at Lehigh was difficult for us fans to take, especially since three starters were missing from the lineup, and the winning goal came after suffering a penalty stroke in overtime. For many of us, that call will stick with us until next year’s contest at Lafayette with full strength n the field!!
The Leopards all last season responded to a difficult schedule with several close losses to quality teams. The double overtime loss to Ohio State and the one goal loss to then number one ranked Rutgers with many Lafayette returning veterans, gives me encouragement on the prospects for the coming fall.
Lafayette beat Temple last year 1-0 on a Molly McAndrews goal on October 24th while dominating the other stats in the process. They out shot Temple 14-9 forcing their GK to make 10 saves. Penalty Corners were 6-3 in Lafayette’s favor ( playing with video referral). The game was played after the Lehigh game and enabled the Leopards to bounce back even with a depleted bench!!
The Leopards have lost a very good senior class but the returning vets are talented and motivated! The coaching staff remains in place as Lafayette will be adding 5-7 new recruits to the roster!
There will be several changes around the League in physical plants, one coaching change, and several teams now adding international players to their squads. At Lafayette, their is a credible effort to add video referral to their resources. Although I have no hard information about the rest of the league ( though I do hear rumors), Lafayette’s out of conference schedule will no doubt be filled with team’s who have video referral!!
Bucknell has welcomed a new coach, Kelsey Kolojejchick who comes from a very successful run as an assistant at Harvard. She arrived at Harvard after a short stint with Syracuse and was a U.S. national player and a four year all American at UNC. Bucknell will add 6 new players including 2 international players from the Netherlands and Germany. Lafayette won two close 1 goal games against the Bisons. The last one was a semi final win in overtime, getting the Leopards into the championship game.
On the other side of the coaching spectrum Boston University head coach Sally Starr continues her amazingly long career having signed an extension this winter, after finishing her 40th year! In addition, Boston is putting down new turf which should fix the problems in the current turf, which made it difficult to transfer the ball from side to side. This spring, Boston will be practicing at Harvard while construction begins, and will be playing their first spring game against Umass this Saturday.
Holy Cross will also be replacing their field after the spring track season. ( their field is surrounded by the track). They will also be installing a more modern irrigation system. Holy Cross is also dipping into the international pool of players by adding two internationals, one from Vancouver and another from England to their 5 person incoming class. Lafayette is at Holy Cross this year. Due to construction, which will not be finished by the fall, the Crusaders will be playing teams in California according to reports.
Lehigh proved themselves to be players last year making the PL tournament for the first time in several years as well as posting a winning record. Leneke Havas and Drew Pecora will not be there this fall but U 21 GK Maddie Kahn will back between the pipes. I am hoping they will upgrade their schedule improving the League RPI in the process. They will be playing Temple on Saturday ( they beat the Owls last year 2-1) which should give us a window on relative strength. Next year the Lafayette/ Lehigh match will be at our house with all its attendant importance.
I have no info on Colgate except we will be playing them in Hamilton in the fall.
There are at least 5 teams that will compete for the title this year. Only four will make the League tournament. With Lehigh improving its schedule hopefully the League could be in a position to make a lot of noise in Division One.
In about two weeks the 2022 version of the Field Hockey Leopards will play their first spring game. Coach Jennifer Stone has released dates and opponents for this spring’s competitions and she has not been reticent in making sure it’ll be tough enough to be worthy of the ability of Lafayette. It includes NCAA qualifiers and a team who during season was ranked number one in nation.
For the first game, the Leopards will travel to Philadelphia to meet the Temple Owls on March 27th for a 1 pm meeting. Last year, Stone’s charges won a 1-0 game late in season. ( As an aside Lehigh will be playing Temple the day before,) On April 3rd Lafayette will host two other teams, Monmouth and Syracuse. Syracuse of course is an ACC rival while Monmouth will be joining the CAA. Six days later it’s back to Philadelphia for a challenging afternoon on April 9 playing a very good St. Joseph team and perennial Big Ten power Penn State, who beat the Leopard 3-1 last fall.
The challenges keep coming as Rutgers travels to the Lehigh Valley and Rappolt Field on April 15 for a 7pm night game. Rutgers was ranked number one last year when the Leopards lost by one goal in the last regular season game in October. The last game of the spring will again be in Philly on April 23rd at UPenn with the University of Delaware joining the festivities.
Coach Stone and the Leopards will be looking for the formula to break through and bring its first championship to Easton in ten years. Last year the Leopards were thwarted in 1-2 loss to American in Washington, DC. Lafayette also lost on September 18 to American in a regular season contest in overtime 0-1.
The Patriot League will be improving as Lehigh has also been knocking on the door as they lost to American in the semi-final 0-1. Lehigh has become more competitive and will be traveling to Lafayette this year. I can also believe that Boston University will also improve as they also will be visiting Lafayette in the fall. Bucknell has a new coach and will be trying to avenge a 2-3 two overtime loss in the regular season and 3-4 exciting overtime loss in the PL semi-final. Having a successful regular season record and hosting the championship game has to be a goal for the Leopards in the coming campaign.
The Leopards will look to replace many key players due to graduation but will still see a veteran team on the field this spring and perhaps 5-7 new recruits. Molly McAndrews will be returning for her Covid season and will be there leading a diversified offense. Leneke Spanns, a fan favorite will be there to spark the offense with her super speed and competitiveness to please the home fans. Alden Boccella a hero of the Bucknell semi-final game will be back with even more experience and playing time to drive opponents nuts. If that isn’t enough, Felcitas Hannes adds her strong shooting skills to bother opposing goalkeepers!
However the defense will also be stout with Simone Hefting providing strength and leadership. Shea Balderson, India Ralph, Alex Darrah,and veteran Sydney Woolston adds to the wall. One key position will be GK, as Emma Garvey steps in. She will be featured in the spring games this year, which will give her the experience and confidence to anchor that position. I will note that she had a fine spring last year and looks to me to be up to the challenge.
The midfield and transition game is solid with the aforementioned Bocella and boosted by Filine Gerbrandji. Today’s Field Hockey game requires solid players to step up and Ariel Schumacher, Carly Kreytak, Alex Darah, Mackenzie Hall, Laine Delmomte and Alexandra Conway are true division one athletes and proved it last year. The spring will be a great opportunity for them to step up!!
One addition could be Tara Hamilton who suffered a knee injury in the Delaware scrimmage last year. Her return could make our offense truly awesome.
I really don’t think I am being just a homer, but I feel this team could be one of our great teams. The preseason predictions have always passed by the Leopards ( even during our consecutive championships) but this team certainly deserves to be challenger for the championship. I can see them as a top twenty team given the work I believe these young athletes will put in between now and August. I am pumped for the spring!!!!