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.