Leopards Make Heroic Effort, But Fall In Double Overtime

DSC_8155
Audrey Sawers gets ready to launch one against American

It was a game that deserved to be in the Leopard column, given the extraordinary effort by the team and especially the senior class. Yes, shots were 6 to 7 in Lafayette favor, saves by freshman goalkeeper were the same at two ( Garvey, the Leopard goalkeeper had a great outing as her debut in division one), but penalty corners were 12-4 in favor of the Eagles. However, many of those corners came in bunches as they were called one after each corner in succession.

In fact, the first goal by American came on the fourth attempt at a corner by Merel Dupont after an assist by Noon Coenen at 7:43 into the game. That gave the lead to American until Audrey Sawers found the back of the cage at 46:42 nearly bending back the glove of Bryn Underwood, American’s freshman GK. The score remained at 1-1 until regulation time ended.

DSC_8149
Sophie Carr sprints to get in position

There were several calls for corners by the umpire outside of the shooting circle which was noticed by the partisan crowd at the side lines. In many cases the. Eagles were to draw multiple penalties on several occasions in regular time and the two overtimes. Finally at 75:32 Gaby de Kock received a hard crossing pass from Coenan which was delivered to the right side of the cage.

DSC_8162
Eva Kaplan sends a pass downfield

Coach Stone highlighted all five seniors Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps. Coach Stone cited the five seniors for their leadership during the game. Sawers especially was to make several length of the field runs that nearly set up scoring chances inside the circle. The whole team showed remarkable heart even though the score ended up in favor of American in the end.

They all left it on the field with their heads up, because there was nothing to be down about. It was an outstanding effort. There will be a second chance in DC in the last regular season game at the end of the season. Next week it will be Bucknell at Bucknell!!!

Seniors Prepare For Last Regular Season Game At Home

In the bizarre background of a Covid season, the 5 seniors on the Lafayette squad compete during an abbreviated season with the goal to return to the Patriot League Championships for the third consecutive year. This has been an especially character revealing year. The season began without a spring season last year, no preseason, and no out of conference games. They have had to put it all together without a large bench, leaving it to the seniors to provide leadership on and off the field.

I don’t know if this will be the last chance to see these remarkable young women compete at Rappolt Field this year but I know it will be their best effort yet of their four year careers. Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Ana Steps, will be announced as seniors at this weekend’s match with American University. The NCAA allows for an extra year of eligibility and this fan can only hope we shall see at least some of them next year, but whatever happens, I know they have set the foundation for great things in the future. So this Sunday I salute Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps!!

Eva Kaplan

DSC_8028
Eva Kaplan Sweeps the Ball away

Eva comes from Montclair, N.J. with outstanding credentials. The Economics and International Affairs major was a four year letter winner at Montclair, selected as an all- conference and all state player. In addition she was an outstanding Lacrosse player demonstrating her all around athletic ability. As a four year honor roll student, she showed she was well prepared for Lafayette.

She has demonstrated her dedication, team attitude and patience having to wait two years before getting on the game field. As a fan I could not be more struck by her intensity and situational awareness. Her strength, speed and athletic ability were evident in every situation she was placed in. I was especially impressed with her performance during big games fearlessly defending against the best of the Patriot League and division one.

She waited patiently for her chance during her freshman and sophomore year and by her junior year became an important contributor. I was especially impressed with her performance in the championship game last year!  But her best could be her last, as she spent over 50 minutes on the field in each of the last two games gaining confidence and displaying leadership. We still have half the regular season left and I am anxious to see what memories she will leave us with as we move forward!!

Audrey Sawers

_big_a16LC_M8352
Audrey Sawers moves upfield

The moment Audrey stepped on a Lafayette athletic field her appearance just screamed elite athlete. Coming from Handsworth school in North Vancouver, BC she was part of long string of western Canadian athletes to head to the Lafayette Field Hockey program. While at Handsworth, she was a five year starter on the Field Hockey team, and achieved MVP and first team all star in provincials. Not surprisingly she was female athlete of the year for two years participating in soccer, volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

More recently she made the national under 21 team traveling to Ireland two years ago. Her strength, reach, and speed made her a natural at midfield and a feared opponent. As a fan it was exciting to see her develop a skill set to go along with her natural athletic assets. It was evident in the semi final league championship game with Bucknell as she weaved through defenders to score the winning goal. We saw more of that this year against Holy Cross as she was involved in both scores. Spotting space inside the circle she delivered a beautiful shot to put the Leopards up early. She used much of the same skills to find her teammate Simone Hefting as she assisted in the overtime winner.

There is no team member this year who has more minutes than Audrey as her presence on the field is important both offensively and defensively. Her leadership abilities strike me as leadership by example, and her strong competitive spirit get more evident as the game progresses. She is a team co-captain.

I would hope she considers an additional year but I see nothing but success, and maybe even an Olympics in her future!!!

Sophie Carr

_big_z_DSC0092-1
Senior Sophie Carr shows her defensive form

Sophie is just one of those people that light up room when she enters. Always, with a smile, she faces competition and adversity with determination and courage. Looking at her resume one would assume she is a native Irishman. In fact, her mother comes from Pennsylvania and as result she is a US citizen. Her entire secondary school experience is in Ireland. Her brother plays on the Irish national team.

Sophie, like most good athletes succeed in a variety of sports. She is an excellent golfer, and played on a winning cricket team. On the academic side she represented the US at a model UN conference at The Hague.

Coming to Lafayette, she had an excellent freshman year delivering impressive goals. Her performances against Fairfield demonstrated her readiness to play at the division one level. But she was to face an unexpected challenge the spring of her freshman year when she injured her knee. She promptly accepted the challenge of rehabilitation with aplomb and courage. Her sophomore year had her on the sidelines, cheering at games and encouraging to her teammates at practice.

She returned to the playing field, knee brace and all, her junior season, and resumed her impact as a team leader and an important part the program. As an elected leader of the team, she helped to maintain morale, while being a contributor on the field. She has 103 minutes in three games this year and can often be seen sprinting down the field making an important tackle or moving the ball into the opponents area!!

As in the case of most great athletes, she has great character and is an inspiration to her teammates. I would have wished a full season for her, but it’s a privilege to watch her in person perform!!

Grace Angelella

_big_a21LC_M8459
Grace Angelella moves the ball into Lafayette territory

You had to know Grace was a very special athlete as she endured several orthopedic surgeries in high school just to be in a position to play. She came highly recommended from former Lafayette players from the Harding, Pa area and Wyoming Area High School. She didn’t disappoint Coach Stone because in the first three years she was on the field for virtually every game. In her freshman year she tied for the lead in goal scoring and had several multi goals games. She was rookie of the week several times.

In her sophomore season she just rolled on with goals against Temple, Lehigh, Villanova and Bucknell. She accomplished all this while succeeding in the classroom as a Biology major. She was named to the D-1 academic squad and the Patriot League  academic squad as well.

Like her classmates there is a determination in her play that makes her a dangerous foe on the field. Extraordinarily humble, her engaging manner hides the competitive spirit of a winner. She finds a way to be in a position to score and her ability to deliver a strike as something fearsome.

This year, she already put in 138 minutes and its disappointing we won’t see more of her because of this shortened season. However, we have the meat of the season coming up and I am sure she will contribute to the diversity of  our attacking options.

Anna Steps

_big_DSC_0377
Anna Steps leads the midfield again this year

Anna has an outstanding career to date. Her most individual memorable year was in 2018, scoring six goals. But getting to the Patriot championship game must have been one of her biggest thrills. For three years she was found in the back line directing play and initiating an offense that had one of its best years. She named preseason defensive player of the year.

She comes from Hamburg Germany where she went to the Children’s International Summer Village program. It is program that begins for 11 year olds which promotes good international relations starting with children. It is there she got the bug to study in the United States. She is still in contact with people who went through the program with her.

A leader on the team Anna was elected co-captain and was crucial to keeping the team connected during the covid pandemic. To date she has played 1054 minutes for the Leopards and I remember her role in beating Temple last year scoring a crucial goal. She is now in the midfield, a position more familiar to her and her hustle and determination as well as her obvious skills are put to good use.

Her affect is pleasant and is obviously very smart excelling in her major of Neuroscience at Lafayette. She is always there to help a friend, and has volunteered to help those studying German and enjoys philosophical writings.

She is an exceptional young woman and no doubt is in line to accomplish great things in the future.

Lafayette To Meet Holy Cross In Worcester For Senior Day Clash

_big_a16LC_M8352
Audrey Sawers moves upfield

The Leopards will board a bus on Saturday and travel to Massachusetts for an 11 o’clock Sunday meeting between the 0-2 teams. Both teams of course want to earn their first Patriot League win. Both teams have lost by one goal in their previous two games but that’s where the comparison’s end. Holy Cross has taken 25 shots against 29 for their opponents. Lafayette on the other hand has taken 10 shots and given up 7 in regulation time. So on the surface, this looks like Holy Cross’ offense vs Lafayette’s defense

Holy Cross has lost their excellent goalkeeper to graduation and still appear to be unsettled at the position. Lafayette appears to have not lost a step in their defense, but like many sports have had difficulty getting their offense in gear early on. With regard to penalty corners they have earned mid single digits while giving up the same.

_big_a21LC_M8459
Grace Angelella moves the ball into Lafayette territory

At this early point one might think it might be helpful to compare performances between common opponent Boston University. Holy Cross got off 11 shots (five on goal) while giving up 13 ( 7 on goal). Lafayette had 3 shots in regulation and Boston had 4 in regulation. Boston had 3 penalty corners to Lafayette’s single corner. Holy Cross on the other hand had 3 penalty corners to Boston’s 7.

Holy Cross in recent years has relied on the fast break and counter attack to put points on the board while Lafayette relies on a more structured offense. Last years, 8-0 win by Lafayette stymied their attack, and built a wall around the cage. It might not be that easy this time given the emotion of senior day and the consequences for the loser.

Holy Cross has modified its spectator regulations but it doesn’t include admission for visitors. Sadly, its not clear that there will even be streaming TV as of this writing, but we shall see.

Going forward the Leopards will meet American twice and Bucknell once before the end of the regular schedule, while Holy Cross will meet with Lehigh, Boston and Colgate.

I look forward to Lafayette finally showing an offense that we know is possible with this team. Secondly, I see no reason for defense to take a step backwards. I am wishing for TV, so I will keep my fingers crossed!!

Good News Lafayette /Holy Cross Has Appeared On The ESPN plus  Schedule!!!

Lafayette Loses 2-1 In Overtime

Lafayette put in a determined effort, but slipped to 0-2 in the Patriot League standing, tied with Holy Cross who lost to Colgate 1-0 today, but ahead of Bucknell who is now 0-3 after losing to Lehigh 0-4 in Bethlehem. All tied are American, Boston, Lehigh and Colgate who remain undefeated. Colgate and Boston will meet twice next week, on the 27th and 28th, American will meet Bucknell, and Lafayette will travel to Worchester in a must win game.

DSC_8072
Felisitas Hannes and Anna Steps close in

Lafayette showed sparks of determination and heart, after falling behind one goal in the third period, but not quite 4 minutes later Tara Hamilton slipped the ball past the laid out Boston goalkeeper to even it up. Both the Leopards and the Terriers stepped up their efforts. Whereas each team had recorded  one shot each in the first half, shots by the end of regulation were 4-3 in favor of Boston. Penalty corners were in Boston’s favor 3-1 for regulation and the game.

DSC_8077
Simone Hefting clears the ball

BU’s defense was marked by an aggressive press, but as they acquired possession their passes were crisp and accurate. Lafayette started out slowly but picked up intensity as the third period progressed.  Audrey Sawers was all over the field on offense and defense and Grace Angelella appeared whenever needed for a defensive play. Sydney Woolston was visibly in the face of many BU players. 

DSC_8041

There was an ebb and tide to the game that raised or lowered spirits for the 70 odd fans in attendance. But the Leopards never gave up. Sadly, in the overtime, BU was to get off two shots, with the second at about 2 minutes into period striking gold. Senior Alexis Pettisani from BU reacted by lifting the ball slightly over the GK stick scoring the deciding goal.

This bizarre schedule continues with BU playing two games with Colgate back to back next week, and Lehigh will be playing American twice by season’s ( one is a make up game).

PS. During the Lehigh game yesterday, the announcer stated that senior Lenke Havas will attend an additional year at Lehigh, and play as per NCAA rules. Will there by others in PL who will take the extra year ?!!!

It’s A One Goal Game Again…This Time Lehigh Leaves On Top

DSC_8028
Eva Kaplan Sweeps the Ball away

This will make the sixth straight year that Lafayette/ Lehigh ended with a one goal lead for the victor. It was Lehigh who would take home the win in a gritty contest played at a windy Rappolt Field more reminiscent of a November end of season contest than an opening day game. Everything is backwards this year, so why not??

DSC_7982

Even the watering of the field had to be done manually to avoid the watering system freezing and pipes splitting at night. Neither team was about to miss this game windy, cold or what. What could be better than, rivalry, first game, and PL play. The college wisely allowed students, parents and alumni from the home side to attend, one would have assumed the intangibles were on the Leopards side!!

The game began with Kahn and Abbott in their respective goaltender positions and as the game progressed it turned into defensive affair, where it became obvious this may have been destined to become a 1-0 game. My feeling was Lafayette had the better of the action in the beginning and literally and figuratively the wind was at their back.

DSC_8000
Audrey Sawers was busy all day on both sides of the field

Simone Hefting from Lafayette repeatedly showed her skill with long, strong hits from the backfield to speedy forwards. The timing was not quite there as Lafayette did have several chances but couldn’t seem finish.The first shot came from Lafayette’s Audrey Sawers at 3:51 into the quarter. The officials couldn’t seem to keep their hand from their pockets when finally at 11:08 Molly McAndrew got her first yellow.

DSC_8008
Defense took center stage all day

17:30 into the game Lehigh picked up their first corner which was smartly turned away. However at 17:54 McAndrew was to take her first shot saved by Lehigh’s Kahn. Lafayette was to get two corners at 18:21 and 18:42 with Felicitas Hannes’ shot going wide on the second corner!!

Lehigh came out in the third period pressing hard until at 40:41 they were awarded a corner. Drew Pecora took the initial shot which resulted in a scrum in front of the cage until freshman Julia Gatelien was to poke it into the cage for the 1-0 lead. The period ended with Audrey Sawers getting a Green at 44:31.

At the beginning of the fourth Lafayette got a corner but could not convert again.  Alex Talkow was to get off a shot at 56:57 which got the fans excited but was saved by Kahn. Lafayette was to get  3 more corners during the period while Lehigh attempted to run out the clock. With about 3 1/2 minutes to go they began to strategically run for the corners letting precious seconds tick away. However at 58:02 Lafayette was to have its last corner of game and it was blocked.

The statistical tale was interesting. Lehigh had 3 shots 2 on goal and 5 corners, Lafayette had 7 shots 2 on goal, and 6 corners. Lafayette had no shots in the third quarter and Lehigh had none in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile Bucknell lost to American 4-0 and has two losses on the season. Next up for Lafayette (0-1) is Boston (1-0) next Sunday. The other two PL games will be Bucknell ( 0-2) at Lehigh (1-0) and Holy Cross (0-1) at Colgate (1-0)

Lafayette And Lehigh Field Hockey Prepare To Open Season

_big_a1DO2F1355
Molly McAndrews shows her defensive skills at Lehigh last year

Lafayette and Lehigh will square off for their annual rivalry game, and this time the fans will not have to wait for the middle of the season to see this rivalry renewed. Lehigh was to play a game with American last week, and it was hoped that we might get a look at Lehigh before this week’s game. The game was postponed, so not only is it a big rivalry in any case, it is the opener for both teams, bringing additional intensity.

In the last 19 meetings Lafayette holds 16-3 edge, but be not fooled, the last several years has seen Lehigh close the competitive gap. The last five games have been decided by one goal, with two of those wins by Lafayette decided in overtime. Last year’s 1-0 win for the Leopards was at Lehigh, where a second period goal by Molly McAndrews was made to stand up by a stout Lafayette defense.

_big_DSC_0377
Anna Steps will lead the midfield again this year

Maddie Kahn, the Lehigh goal keeper was to turn away a furious Lafayette attack that  peppered her with 18 shots, 15 of which were on goal, giving her an amazing 14 saves on the night. Now a sophomore, she brings a year’s additional experience to the game. Lehigh managed only 2 shots in that game, one of which was on goal. I am sure, Coach Caitlin Dallmeyer is looking to improve in that area!

In the off season, she has moved to strengthen the attack, and now has three dutch players including a new freshman attacker Lotte Smorenburg. Lenke Havas, their fine senior defensive pre-season all league player who  returns for another shot at Lafayette.

_big_a6LAF_4352-1
Hanna Lewis turns the corner

Lafayette answers with a new person in goal, no matter who of the three Goal Keepers on the team will be picked to start. It will be a key decision for Coach Stone, who also will bring a lot of experience to the field from returning veterans from their 12-8 season last year. The defense will be anchored by Sophomore Simone Hefting with senior Eva Kaplan, sophomores Sydney Woolsten and  Shea Bolderson ready . Lafayette will support a solid midfield with Captain Anna Steps leading the transition along with Senior Grace Angella and Audrey Sawer supported by Mary Gold and Kara Tiedke. The attack is ready with Junior Molly McAndrew, Senior Sophie Carr and Alex Talkow along with sophomores Fecitas Hannes and Tara Hamilton.

The Leopards are deep. Last year, Lehigh substituted only 2 players the whole game, while Lafayette used their depth with 6 substitutions. Opening day, an abbreviated schedule, and some fans in the stands makes this an intriguing match. Although Lehigh has said it is considering allowing fans at their games, Lafayette is allowing at least parents to this game. ( Unfortunating two 70 plus year old, fully vaccinated fans have to watch it at home…..we could consider a temporary adoption!!! But I will save that for another blog)

There are no definite wins this year ( can I remind everyone of Bucknell’s loss to Colgate last week??)!  Both teams will want this one for a variety reasons. Wish I could be there in person, but ESPN plus is already saved for this one!!

PS: Lafayette is allowing a limited amount of alumni at games….my wife and I have registered and will be in attendance. No need for a temporary adoption!!!

Good News!!! Lafayette To Allow Limited Spectators at Outdoor Venues

DSC_7094
Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender. Molly is named to All Patriot preseason first team

In a burst of sound logic Lafayette will allow a limited amount of spectators at outdoor venues. The process started when Pennsylvania announced it would allow 20 percent of a venue’s capacity to attend a gathering. For Field Hockey, the capacity in the stands at Rappolt Field is about 800 people meaning that 160 could attend, although there has been as many has 1700 people who attended an event there years ago. ( a lacrosse game in which Lafayette was actually nationally ranked against another ranked team).

Ana Steps named preseason defensive player of the year

In the announcement, the College announced that outdoor events scheduled for March 13 and beyond, would permit two guests per Leopard student athlete ( to accommodate parents of family members), families of coaches, and a limited number of Lafayette students in residence on campus, as long as the college is at level one operational level. This will not include parents and fans of opposing teams. Faculty and staff enrolled in the College’s weekly testing protocol will also be allowed in.

Invited guests are receiving instructions via email as this is being written, they must register and adhere to strict guidelines. Spectator guidelines include 13 points which include a self assessment, wearing of masks, practice six feet distancing, no tailgates, specific entry points, specific contact for invited guests, designated seating areas, no contact with players before, during or after the event, portable restrooms must be used, no concessions, mandatory notification if anyone exhibits Covid symptoms or test positive within 14 days after the event, and the consequences for not following the rules could result in suspension at future events, or complete shutdown of access to spectators in general.

In additional news, Ana Steps and Molly McAndrews are named to the first team All Patriot League team, while Lafayette is picked second in a poll of coaches and SID’s.

American is picked first in the preseason poll, Lafayette second, Boston third, Bucknell fourth, Lehigh fifth, Holy Cross six and Colgate seventh.

Pat Myers Head Lafayette Lacrosse Coach in a separate message, said, ” We continue to review options for alumni attendance as we move forward.” So we shall see!!

Lehigh v American Game Scheduled For Sunday Postponed Due To Covid Concerns

Bizarre Patriot League Field Hockey Schedule Begins On Sunday

mail

March 7 is opening day for Patriot League Field Hockey’s seven team league. There are no preseason games, no scrimmages just six games to determine who will be the four who will play in the Patriot League tournament, which will decide who gets the auto bid for the NCAA national tournament. The patriot league winner then will play a minimum of nine games, far less than a normal season.

The question is how do you handicap this season? Freshman had no preseason competition, sophomores did not have a spring season last year, so one might think the team with the most upper class players has an advantage. Conversely coaches might think of this season like a spring season except for the playoffs. There are several conferences that have already started and doubling up on games between conference foes. I should note also there a several schools like Old Dominion and Liberty who are letting a limited amount of spectators. Temple who plays in the city had spectators looking through the fence on the southern end street!!

Just to breakdown the schedules and rosters of all Patriot League Teams!!!

American University

_big_a25DO2F9512
Ana Steps takes control against Temple

March 7 @ Lehigh, March 14 with Bucknell, March 28 at Bucknell, April 4 @Lafayette, April 11 with Lehigh, April 18 with Lafayette.

American will dress 23 players which includes 3 seniors and 8 Juniors. The fabulous Noor Coenen is back for her senior season. Dani Acuna is the junior GK with a freshman Bryn Underwood who is the freshman who bring some competition to the position. They won the PL title last year beating Lafayette in their two games by one goal in each game. On paper, it looks tough to repeat and they have a tough schedule playing Bucknell and Lafayette twice.

 

Boston University

March 7@ Holy Cross, March 21 @ Lafayette, March 27, Colgate, March 28 Colgate, April 11 Holy Cross, April 18 Lehigh

Always a contender in the league, Boston had a disappointing season, not even making the Patriot League tournament. If someone were drawing a schedule for Boston to make it back they could not have make it better. They have more games at home then any other team in the League with Lafayette their toughest game away. They will only carry 20 players but with 6 seniors and 4 juniors. 

They did pick up a GK from New Zealand ( a regular supplier of BU talent) and there will be competition for sophomore Caroline Kennedy.

The team has been practicing all fall and it’s hard to believe Sally Starr won’t make progress this season.

_big_a21LAF_6115 

 

Bucknell University

Bucknell always fields a competitive team and no doubt Jeremy Cook will get his team ready. They will be playing American and Colgate twice, along with single games each with Lafayette and Lehigh. They open March 7 hosting Colgate, and travel March 14 and 21 at American and Lehigh repectively. American will come to play on March 28 then on April 4 will travel to Colgate for the rubber match and finish on April 11 hosting Lafayette.

Bucknell will dress a second highest amount players at 25 with 6 Seniors and 7 Juniors providing the experience. I see no reason why Bucknell can’t win at least 3 games and be in the hunt.

 

Colgate University

Colgate will play the least number of games at home and will play Boston, Holy Cross and Bucknell twice. They open @Bucknell on March 7, will host Holy Cross on the 21st, they then will travel to Boston for a March 27 and 28  7pm games. They finish hosting Bucknell on the 4th of April and travel to Holy Cross on the 18th. Of all the Patriot League teams, their schedule is hard to understand.

Dressing 9 senior and 5 juniors experience aplenty is their main asset for their 22 player roster. The first two games may tell the tale for the Raiders.

Holy Cross

Holy Cross will be one of the Patriot League teams that will play two Patriot League teams twice. Boston University will arrive in Worchester on March the 7th for a 7 pm  game, followed two weeks later at Colgate on March 21st, and will host Lafayette on the 28th at 11 am. The Crusaders will then travel to Lehigh on the 16th and Boston return match at 7pm on the 11th. They finish with a home game at Colgate on the 18th.

Holy Cross will dress a league leading 26 players with 7 seniors, 5 juniors, 6 sophomores, and 8 freshmen. They lost against American in the PL playoffs and would dearly like a second shot this year.

DSC_7910
Freshman Simone Hefting was a welcome returnee for the playoff season

Lafayette College

_big_a6DO2F1305

Lafayette lost to the American Eagles in the championship game by one goal, and they would like a second shot. The schedule may be the most competitive in the league but that just the way Head Coach Jennifer Stone would like it. They have the first week off which will give them time to watch Lehigh take on American on the 7th. So the first week will be March 14 at home against Lehigh at 1 pm, followed by a home match against Boston on March 21 as Boston looks for revenge their overtime loss to the Leopards last year. On March 28 there is the trip to Holy Cross followed by a home game with American at 2  pm.  The Leopards hit the road on April 11 and 18 with Bucknell and American respectively. A successful run with this schedule could set up the Leopards well, for the post season.

Lafayette will field a balanced team with 22 players consisting of 5 seniors, and 6 juniors, five sophomores and 6 freshman. It will be difficult to replace Lisa Van der Geest but Simone Hefting could come up big. Seniors Grace Angelella, Anna Steps and Audrey Sawer should be a pain to opponents from the midfield. Eva Kaplan showed solid minutes last year and is destined to be an important contributor. Sophie Carr part of the leadership is ready to be an important force on the field!! Molly McAndrews is ready to explode on the attack.  The GK position will have three competitors for Goalie coach Jenny Rizzo to bring along.

I like the Leopards but there are no games to be taken for granted with this schedule, and Lehigh could be tougher than most people think.

Lehigh University

Lehigh has been improving every year and last year finished their season by beating Boston at home. They seem to have been working all fall as most Lehigh athletic teams did. Lehigh opens with American and they would dearly love to send a message to the league on March 7th. Then on March 14 they will travel to Lafayette for the “Rivalry.”  It will be Lafayette’s first game and Lafayette coaches will have had some time to get a “book” on the mountain hawks. They will host Bucknell at home on the 21st and then Holy Cross on April 4th. Their rubber match with American will be in DC on the 11th,  then finishing in Boston on the 18th.

They will feature a strong defense with a a senior GK, and there will be Lenke Havas at D/M, the question will be, where the goals will come from. 22 players will dress with 4 seniors, 4   Juniors, 9 sophs and 6 freshman. Will there be enough bench strength? That question will dominate their season??

 

The League

It really could a year with a  close race. Four wins gets you to the playoffs, there could be several teams at 3-3 with a difficult tie breaker in play. It’s hard to dismiss Lafayette and American to repeat, or Bucknell to be in the hunt. Lehigh may be a year away, and Boston needs improvement, but its hard to believe Sally Starr would not lead a team to the promised land with that schedule. Holy Cross is always filled with surprises, and Colgate with 9 seniors might be another surprise!!

 

Important Additions: Gov. Wolf Modifies Rules For Gatherings….Will Allow 20 PCT OF Capacity For Outdoor Stadiums!! Will PL Follow New Guidelines!!????

Stone Adds Former PSU Goal Keeper Jenny Rizzo As Assistant Coach

Rizzo2

Those of you who are regular readers, or know me personally know, I am not one to mince words. The plain fact is Patriot League Coach of the Year Jennifer Stone as assembled a coaching staff that may prove out to be the best in the Patriot League. Earlier in the year she announced that Olympian and Captain of the Canadian National team Scott Tupper would join the Lafayette coaching staff. The arrival of Jenny Rizzo sends a clear message that Lafayette clearly has its sights sets on the next step in the program!! There is an emphatic communication to recruits and current players to be prepared to sacrifice and train, while they receive the excellent education Lafayette offers. Please don’t apply unless you are ready to make the commitment!!!

Rizzo graduated from Penn State after playing 79 games for the Lions in the cage. Her career save percentage was .749. She also played for the US U-19, U-21, and US development squad. She also was a member of the USFHA all academic squad with a major in Bio Behavioral Health. She is a twin to her brother Jack and calls Hersey her home.

Her 5400 minutes between the pipes at Penn State will be an asset in the development of Lafayette’s three goalkeepers. Frosh, Emma Garvey, Junior, Becca Herbert, and Junior, Hailey Abbott. In words to live by, she says, ” Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Only you can decide what you’re capable of.”

Ivies Appear Not To Be The Smartest In The Room

DSC_7907
Anna Steps show perfect form

During last summer as schools struggled for the right strategy on college athletics, there was veiled criticism of the Patriot League as being Ivy followers, seemingly because it was perceived the League would follow the “Ancient Eight,” wherever they would go!! The exception was the service academies, who struck out on their own, citing that athletics was central to its educational mission and they would, as best as possible, carry on, playing full schedules.

Those who follow this blog know I favor the approach of the service academies and see competitive athletics as part of the educational offering and opportunities that schools like Lafayette should be committed to. As a senior officer in my company, I would always, all things being equal, favor the student athlete applicant over the applicant who led a more monastic existence at a college. A study executed by a faculty committee when Lafayette was considering adding athletic scholarships revealed, students athletes received higher paying job offers than non-student athletes. In fact, since the addition of scholarships, student athletes on average outperform non- student athletes in the classroom. I can’t think of any “under water basket weaving majors” at Lafayette.

The Patriot League broke with its Ivy League brethren ( wisely), and opted to return to competitive sports this winter and will offer a modified spring schedule for the fall sports and almost a full schedule of spring sports this semester, while returning most students to on campus living.

DSC_7964

The Ivies on the other hand, have embraced a modified on campus living arrangement while many are at home enjoying the “University of Phoenix,” style of higher education. All the while, collecting hefty tuition fees and earnings on their 11 figure endowments. One member of the Yale community called the on-campus experience at Yale, “Yale Jail.” There are some who think the Ivy League will continue its stoppage of athletics into the fall, reckoning that the powers that be have already decided, but are afraid to admit it to its student and applicant populations.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal it is reported, “Athletes are in limbo. Sports are so important to some of them that they are unenrolling from their Ivy League schools to prolong their athletic eligibility.” The Ivy League has been reluctant to restart competition despite scientific evidence that indicates the biggest risks for viral transmission do not occur on the field. The Journal points out, that out of 357 division one men’s basketball teams, 347 are playing, the Ivies represent 8 of the 10 not playing.

Prominent Ivy alums are beginning to stir. Bob Warden who oversees private equity at Cerebus, stated, “The Ivy League should be on the forefront of developing ways to reopen…They certainly have the experts and money to make it happen.” Offers to help, at least monetarily, have been rebuffed.

Meanwhile, rosters for more than 23 Ivy League teams have contracted by at least one half. Women’s ice hockey at Harvard went from 24 to 3 players. One baseball coach told me he is down to 12 players, not enough to field a team this spring. Yale’s highly ranked men’s Lacrosse team went from 48 players to 8 this spring.

Again in the Journal article, Jack Starr, Yale’s lacrosse goalie said, ” Online learning is frustrating and tough. Zoom fatigue is real….. I didn’t want a shadow of Yale…I wanted the rich, unabridged version of the school I experienced the first two and a half years.”

In a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that there has been nearly a 70% increase in serious mental depression in student athletes on the sidelines. I applaud the Patriot League for not being a “follower.” Do I wish the spring season ( especially) for field hockey was more robust?? Sure I do. But breaking from the supposed ” smartest people in the room,” was a right and brilliant decision.