Darrah, Barton, Schumacher, and Findley Combine For Four Goals In Spring Game For The Leopards

The final score was 4-2 as Lafayette dominated the second half of play against Drexel, a team they lost to 1-2 during the regular season last fall. The Leopards demonstrated a diverse attack that may make scouting this team in the fall very difficult for opposing coaches.

Drexel drew first blood late in the second quarter to take the early lead. The first half was an even affair but to my eye Lafayette had the best of time of possession, but failed to find the back of the cage. In addition, Drexel was to earn several corners, threatening to score

During the third quarter Drexel was called for a penalty stroke, however, Lafayette failed to convert leaving the score 1-0 in Drexel’s favor. It wasn’t long until the Leopards found their stride with four different teammates finding the cage for four straight goals. Alex Darrah, Ellie Barton, Ariel Schumacher and Hannah Findlay lit up the scoreboard to the delight of their fans and parents. Assists were made by Lineke on the Schumacher goal, Catalina Robel’s hard shot with a diving effort to Alex Darrah and Hanna Findley to Barton.

It was a team effort as the defense began turning away Drexel attacks. India Ralph was directing the defense as the game wore on. The field was shifted from one side to the other and Leneke Spanns drew attention freeing up her teammates to attack the circle.

Laine Delmotte was back from Barbados after playing in the under 21 Pan Am games for Canada and fit right into play. The spring has turned into a valuable experience for all. There were some bumps and bruises along the way but I expect that will be all gone by August. Catalina Rubel was an active threat all afternoon. Carley Kreytak was in the face of Drexel attackers. Aimee Hoefnagel and Josephine van Wijk showed increasing skill and leadership. Alex Darrah will be a real force this fall and Mackenzie Hall showed her gritty determination all spring. Alex Conway showed growing maturity.

Our two goalies, Emma Garvey and Raffi Fragomeni are showing improvement and are playing like upper classmen.

The Leopards again, will be playing an interesting schedule in the fall which will include Big Ten and Acc teams along with its usual opponents in the Patriot League. Boston, American, and Lehigh will be on the road. ( Boston will have a new field). Bucknell, Holy Cross and Colgate will our guests at home.

There will also be the usual list of clinics and camps in the coming months and the coaches will be on the road scouting for talent for 2024 and beyond.

Leopards Get In High Gear With Two Goals From Rubel

In their third competition of the spring season, ” The Rivalry” was renewed on Lafayette’s home field. Originally scheduled to be played at Lehigh, the meeting was rescheduled to Lafayette due to the fact that Lehigh’s watering system was broken.

From the first push off, this had the feeling of a regular season game. In fact, the Metzger weather cooperated by giving us a deja vu of conditions in the late season. A chilling wind blew in from the west forcing fans to wrap themselves in warm blankets, but the players on the field seemed to ignore it as they battled for all sixty minutes.

The first half was a back and forth affair as both sides had their chances. Each goalkeeper turned away multiple shots. Raffi Franomeni withstood several penalty corner chances and several follow up shots.

The second half was to see the Leopards take charge. Emma Garvey was to get her first minutes of the spring, and preserve the shut out. It was the offense, with some excellent mid field work that was to finally “break the ice.”

Midway, in the third quarter Lafayette was to get their chance with a penalty stroke. Alex Darrah delivered and the Maroon was to go up 1-0. The team became energized, and Catalina Rubel was to deliver two more goals, the first off a left side base line circle entry and putting a hard sweep into the far corner. Later on she was to add to her first goal by receiving an Ellie Barton pass, after Barton carried it on the right side baseline, finding Cata at the stroke line, who touched it into the goal.

The last goal of the day was delivered by Hannah Findley during a penalty corner on a sweep from the left side into the far corner!!

The leopards were aided by some outstanding play in the field. Peyton Guinter thrilled with a nice interception, Mackenzie Hall made her self known on mutiple occasions, while Hoefnagel and and van Wiik were solid in the midfield. Spanns was a threat all evening while Darrah and Findley found themselves open on several attacking opportunities. India Ralph looked comfortable directing the defense from her center back spot!!

Although a sparse crowd, both Lehigh and Lafayette parents retreated to the warmth of their cars to watch the game but there were brave souls wrapped in blankets who were to lend their support to both sides from the sideline.

I benefited from standing next to several senior players, but was especially appreciative of Felicitas Hannes who provide her expert observations of the action on the field.

The last competition of the spring will be at Lafayette this Saturday at noon against Drexel!

Spring Games Are A Work In Progress

As much as any fan observing their team, I really want them to “win” every contest. But springtime is about more than winning. It is in fact a time of reconstruction! We have lost a talented senior class and we have yet to see our new additions. So while observing any of the these spring “games” we must be cautious and look at them in a different way. For many team members they are in new positions, and are still trying to know their place as well as their teammates place on the field.

Passing at the high school level, for example is delivering the ball to where their teammate is, while at this level, division one, it is delivering the ball to where your teammate will be. It all about creating and finding space!

There is no doubt this edition of Leopard Field Hockey is individually talented, the question during this spring is how they are beginning to mesh together as a team!

Today, they were to be playing in Delaware, but unfortunately Delaware and Columbia were to come up with an insufficient number to field a viable squad. Temple stepped up and invited St. Joseph’s, Yale and Lafayette to play several 1/2 game simulated scrimmages. Each squad is trying to accomplish the same things, evaluate players, try different offensive and defensive sets, and give their team a chance to test their skills against another team. In this case, three other teams.

Not surprisingly, St. Joseph’s with their larger bench probably was the biggest challenge of the day. Temple, Lafayette and Yale were more or less equal at this stage of the spring.

I am still impressed with the underlying skill of our Leopards, but clearly there is more work to be done. The corner defense looked improved from last week and the midfield showed more cohesiveness as the games progressed.

Like many teams, there were several missing pieces. Two players were playing for the under 21 Canadian national squad and several minor injuries are keeping some off the pitch.

I am enjoying the determination and spark of Ellie Barton. She seems to leave it all on the field. Aimee Hoefnagel and Josephine van Wijk are showing more leadership every minute they play. Alex Farrah shows some confidence. I could hear Raffi Fragomeni directing her teammates from the cage. I could name every individual on the team who are playing more like the elite athletes they are.

Tuesday night they will meet last year’s Patriot League champion, the Brown and White of Lehigh. That, my readers, might be a good time to put it all together. GO PARDS

There Is Growth In The Spring

Lest I be accused of being a “homer,” I sampled some opinion from some of the fans at the spring game with Temple last night. Yes, some were parents, who no one can expect to be unbiased, but there were alumni, fans and others in attendance. The consensus was this team is improving and beginning to show some real personality.

Temple is a competitive team and one of those that Lafayette lost to by one goal last year! One parent was pleased to see some real growth in their daughter’s confidence and skills. One alumna said there seems to be some real skill on this team which was revealed in the shoot out at the end of the game. I saw real reason for confidence in the play our goalkeeper, perhaps the result of the coaching received from our newest assistant.

The details of the evening reveal even more. The game was played like a regular game, four quarters with officials ( but no instant replay review). Both teams had small benches due to lack of graduating seniors and incoming freshman. Lafayette had two players missing who are playing in the junior Pan Am games in Barbados, and a small number of injured sideline players.

Temple started the scoring with a goal in the first quarter, followed shortly thereafter with a goal by Carly Kreytak. The score stayed knotted until the second half when Temple opened up a two goal lead. Lafayette started their comeback on the shoulders of Lineke Spaans, who brought the Leopards within one with a slashing sprint to the goal and a reverse stick shot. The tie was delivered by Californian Mackensie Hall who dug out the ball during a scrum in front of the Temple keeper, and delivering it to the back of the cage.

Lafayette easily won the shoot out which in season would give the Leopards the win. After a first half that showed some tentative passing, the team seemed to come alive in the last 20 minutes. The passing became crisp and hard. There was less finesse, and more confidence and power in their play…all characteristics needed in the regular season.

Coach Stone had seen improvement by many players in the scrimmage last week at Monmouth with Rutgers, and to my mind and observation, much of that came together in second half against Temple.

As an aside we could see in the distance, ground has been broken as reconstruction of Metzger Field is beginning with a new soccer venue. Eventually, the refurbishment will include an upgrading for Lacrosse and Field Hockey.

The Leopards will travel to Delaware next Saturday for a playday format with Delaware, Drexel, Temple, St. Joe’s, Columbia and Bucknell.