I normally put no credence in preseason picks and awards. Ten years ago Lafayette had back to back championships and in neither year were the Leopards picked to win the conference. Today, the Patriot League SID’s and coaches picked Lafayette to come in second, “typically” losing by 5 points to American. I do note Lafayette had three preseason all league picks, Molly McAndrews, Simone Hefting, and Leneke Spanns. Hefting is the pick for defensive player of the year. NO OTHER TEAM HAD AS MANY ALL CONFERENCE PICKS!! It does show the respect the league has for our personnel. Bucknell is picked third and Lehigh is a close fourth. All of this doesn’t matter after the push off of the first game.
As I described in an earlier article, Lehigh perhaps, has one of the easiest out of conference schedules in the League. American has a very tough schedule in the early going, and then meets Lafayette as both teams will open their League schedule. The top four teams will meet at the end of the season to decide a champion and who will represent the League in the NCAA national playoffs. The team with the best in conference record will host.
The key games in the league is of course those first three games with American, Bucknell and Lehigh. American features their excellent sophomore goalkeeper Bryn Underwood, Bucknell has the offensive preseason player of the year Lily Neilson, Lehigh has an all conference pick Sarah Bonthuis.
This is not to say the Leopards should ignore Boston, Holy Cross and Colgate. Boston can be tough, and I remember clearly, losses at Holy Cross and Colgate. Holy Cross and Colgate can be very tough on their home turf.
No one wins a championship taking their opponents lightly. So there are weeks of hard work and intensity ahead. As of this writing the Patriot League is picking Lafayette Field Hockey as having the best Lafayette team to win a championship. We all know its a HILL….lets climb it. It all starts on the 26th at Rappolt Field.
More preparation this Sunday at Albany!!