Who Will Be Able To Attend Lafayette Field Hockey Games This Spring

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So we finally know that there will be field hockey this Spring. The Patriot League let it be known to all, that fall sports will be played, albeit with strings attached. The seasons, will, for the most part be truncated by playing only Patriot League teams with overnight stays to be limited along with travel. The Patriot League is a multi state league so there is bound to be Patriot League, as well as state and local rules. In addition, I assume individual schools will have there own regulations.

As I watch our basketball teams play, it does gives some insight to how a spring field hockey season may play out. Even the play by play announcers, Gary Laubach and John Leone, at Lafayette, are broadcasting remotely from an RCN studio. In Boston, this weekend, both Colgate and Boston were wearing masks on and off the court. All League games had the bare minimum in attendance with cardboard cutouts in the stands ( available for a slight fee).

Molly McAndrews and Sam Dimiao challenge a Bucknell mid

In Pennsylvania, and nationwide, governors and national leaders are struggling with the rollout of vaccines. Locally, in Pennsylvania we are on the brink of moving on to Phase 1B where the second level vaccinations will be administered. ( That would include those of us who are 75 years and older along with teachers and others). By March 7th I would expect vaccinations would be on the cusp of a universal availability. By April 24, the date of the championship, hopefully many of us will have been inoculated. But that’s all speculation. I note that the governor of New York allowed about 7,000 live fans at the site of the Bills/Colts football game yesterday!

Fortunately, we live in an age of streaming services and hopefully, parents and fans will be able at least see their favorite teams on TV. The Patriot League has announced a new partnership with ESPN plus to telecast games nationally, and Stadium Sports internationally.

I emailed AD Sherryta Freeman who has been leading her staff to make this opportunity to play a reality. What’s the fun of being an Athletic Director supervising zoom meetings??? I asked her about plans for televising all spring activities. I got this answer. ” Yes, we are making plans. Each League member is making every effort possible to broadcast its home events. I know that our Communications team has been working on Covid-related solutions throughout the pandemic for all return to play scenarios. So stay tuned as we to continue to navigate those details.”

So details matter, as Lafayette navigates practice and game schedules to give our charges the chance to play, and fans get a chance to watch them in action. So get your subscription to ESPN Plus or Stadium Sports, to be ready for a return to action!!

If former home and home league protocols apply, we will playing American, Boston and Lehigh at home and Colgate, Holy Cross, Bucknell away. The championship game will be played at the home of the winning regular season team, and any play in game to the NCAA tournament could be at Lafayette and any further games away.

Patriot League Announces Fall and Spring Schedule Play

A plan has been hatched by the Patriot League to play baseball, field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, mens and women’s soccer, softball, and volleyball during the 2021 spring semester. The league will hold championships for men’s and women’s cross country, golf, outdoor track, swimming and tennis.

Scheduling, unfortunately for field hockey as well as football, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball will be limited to league only contests. The other sports may schedule non-league games at the individual school’s discretion. Detailed schedules will be announced at later date.

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Specifically, the League announced that the seven field hockey programs will play a six game League-only schedule beginning Sunday, March 7. The end of the regular season will be Sunday April 18. That will mean 7 weeks to play 6 games. The championship tournament will be on April 22, a Thursday, with the championship on the Saturday the 24th. The winner of course goes on the NCAA tournament.

To sum up, that means a possibility of 8 League games including the tournament and more if we were to go all the way to the NCAA tournament. We will just have to continue winning to keep playing. It is gong to be an intense season and season prep will be key. There is the integration of first year players as well roster and position adjustment at the get go. I also presume there will be no pre-season scrimmages. Certainly a coaching challenge!!

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender

Coach Stone wrote to the list of LCFH supporters, about the spring league only schedule. ” Our team remains eager, grateful, and excited to return to campus for the start of classes and prepare on February 8th. We know we have to remain smart, healthy and flexible.’

There is no word yet on fans, but I am sure it depends on local rules and. progress on Covid vaccinations. In Pennsylvania, it has been announced there is a goal for the general population to be well into vaccinations by spring.

Most Of Division One Field Hockey Getting Ready For A Spring Start

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For the past month, I’ve been feeling how the writers for the Jerry Seinfeld must have felt. How do you write about nothing?? So rather than wait for news, I thought I might pass on what I hear, not only about Lafayette and the Patriot League, but for the prospects of a Division One season this spring.

Most leagues seem determined to begin the season this April. The Big Ten, CAA, and others from my contacts with those programs are already beginning to shape schedules. Nearly all seem to be structuring their schedule as an all league schedule. ( except of course during the national playoffs). Since the ACC has already played for their championship, it will be interesting to see what they do.

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Hanna Lewis challenges Lehigh defender

The Ivy League will not be playing any sports at all this winter and spring, which will open another at large berth for the national playoffs. The Patriot League is playing its winter basketball schedule. Next week Lafayette basketball will open with two games with Lehigh. ( The second game on Sunday January 3rd, will be televised on CBS sports nationally). That schedule will be all in conference, while playing some teams 4 times and not playing others. Lafayette for example, will not be playing Holy Cross.

I suspect the spring will be similar for field hockey, perhaps playing each PL team twice, in a home and home schedule. The out of conference teams will have to wait for the post season to see Lafayette on their schedule. I think its obvious, rather than modifying schedules for safety from Covid, the schedules are constructed to save money!

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Everyone who is a regular reader of this blog, knows my feelings on athletics and higher education. It is part of the experience for qualified and motivated student athletes. We are looking at the end of the Covid emergency, with the arrival of vaccines, so it is my belief the college should even dip into part of its 900 million dollar endowment to provide testing, and training personnel to make it possible for opening of all sports. It may be games without fans in the seats if appropriate, but seniors should not be allowed to miss their final season.

I feel the same about the academic experience, there is a disappointing 70 pct of the classes to be virtual. I support that all teachers should be vaccinated, but it’s not my call! Bucknell and Colgate have done a remarkable job in returning students to classes with very few if any Covid spikes. Perhaps they could share their knowledge. Yes, some of the reticence is in expensive testing, again I believe those schools with endowment are obliged to provide as close to a normal experience for returning students.

Now that I have irritated my friends on the Hill, back to field hockey!!

In the last week the PL president’s council met with a later meeting by the PL AD’s. My usual contacts and logic tell me there is significant enthusiasm to play spring and fall sports this spring. Certainly Army and Navy will play and have said so publicly. Bucknel and Colgate, since they had successful control and testing protocols will want to play and I hear that Lehigh will join. Though there is “some” sympathy for canceling the spring season at all the schools, it is my belief there will be a spring season and a spring season for fall sports.

In the meantime, PL field hockey coaches are struggling with blackout recruiting and cancellation of the field hockey festival. Even so, many recruits have sent commitments based on previous year’s recruiting. MaxSports has reported early commitments to the following PL schools:

American…Delia Rabatin from Va, Alexa Kratz from Pa

Boston University.. Michelle Prario. Ct, Ella Rottingaus Pa, Erin Little Ma, Tegan Poerio Pa., Katherine Devine Ma.

Bucknell….Isabella Pavlides NJ, Lindsey Fogelslanger Pa. ( sister a curent senior), Tullah Fuhs Co.

Colgate… Charlotte Hamilton NJ

Holy Cross..Molly Vinton Ma, Maddie O’Hare

Lafayette..Alex Darrah CT, Mackenzie Hall Ca

Lehigh…none reported

No doubt there will be more signing before the end of the school year and I’ll cover that when it occurs.

Most, if not all teams have been practicing. BU and Bucknell seems to have had everyone present this fall, while the others have had a partial appearance on the practice field. Lafayette has had six veterans on campus while several others have been playing in Europe and elsewhere. Lafayette’s new assistant coach ( Canadian national team captain Scott Tupper) has been working with those in residence.

I hope by April, as a spry 75 year old and my wife, will have had the vaccine and will be able to watch first hand, what I believe will Be a strong Lafayette squad in league play!!

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In the meantime there will an important announcement soon on the establishment of a new National Team field hockey headquarters. I will cover that when the announcement occurs. I firmly believe with a new coach arriving from Australia and new training digs the US team will be in the hunt for a spot in the Paris Olympics!!

Addendum: Pennsylvania has stated that teachers and people over 65, among others, are in the first phase for vaccine innoculations. Surely that includes college teaching staff. I hope it means Lafayette can improve on the 70 percent online classes scheduled next semester,

Additionally, this winter, Lehigh does have a wrestling schedule, surely that hints at their determination to field teams this spring!!!

Ivy League Decides To Trash Winter Sports And Fall Sports As Well

In a press release delivered last night, the Ivy League has decided to eliminate all winter sports but in the same release said that they will not play the fall sports in the spring. They still held out the possibility for spring sports to be played starting in March. They did not explain why field hockey could not played but lacrosse could be. However, some of the Ivy Schools have implemented an attendance schedule where only specific classes are allowed on campus eg. freshman and juniors this fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring. This would make it difficult to field full teams.

This has to be disappointing for many seniors who will miss their final season while others play. With the advent of a vaccine for Covid it makes it more likely athletes could play without significant health risks.

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Audrey Sawers meets up with a William and Mary attacker

The Patriot League has left open the possibility to play fall sports this spring and the momentum and desire to play seems likely to make that happen. The only league to play has been the ACC. The other division one schools seem ready to play with a national championship to be played in April. Now there will certainly be three teams who will be invited to play via the at large route.

I am grateful that the Lafayette Athletic Administration has been working overtime with the other Patriot League administrators to present a scenario that makes the President’s council comfortable, if not anxious to open. Well done, for their hard work and I imagine great thanks will come from our hard working student athletes is in order!!!

There are now six field hockey players on campus and the whole team will be back along with the whole school in January!! Go Pards!!!

Patriot League And Lafayette College Announce Return Of Sports

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In a coordinated announcement at 9:29am the Patriot League along with its member institutions announced a plan to return to the courts and playing fields in the near future. Sherryta Freeman, Lafayette AD, followed with an email at 9:32 to alumni and others explaining the steps to put Lafayette Athletics back into competition with the rest of the collegiate athletic world. It was a welcome communication, as the outlines of the return of fall sports ( including field hockey) could begin for this spring. The only conference playing field hockey this fall, is the ACC, who completed its championship yesterday with UNC beating Louisville. UNC will get the ACC auto-bid for a spring national championship. Louisville is certainly worthy of consideration of the one of the at large bids.

Freeman stated in her email, “I’m excited to share some good news. Just a few moments ago, the Patriot League Council of Presidents announced that it endorsed a plan for a league only 2021 men’s and women’s basketball schedule beginning Saturday Jan 2.” Freeman added…forthcoming….

In addition, the council supported continued planning for competitive fall sports schedules during the spring semester under a variety of parameters.

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Sophie Carr is on the ball!!

She added, ” I am anxious and excited to see our teams compete again and build upon last year’s success. Achieving our goal of creating a championship culture remains our priority and we will be ready when competitions begin.”

The details for basketball are a little complicated and deserve study, as it may be a clue as to how field hockey will schedule this spring. In any case, it looks like Lafayette and the Patriot League are making sure all its schools will be eligible for NCAA tournaments.

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The basketball schedule features a significant reduction in travel and restricts games to Patriot League opponents. No team will be permitted to fly to games. This sounds more like a cost saving measure as there does not appear to be any scientific data that would compromise health by flying or staying in hotels. There will still be travel but the League has split into three regional mini conferences with teams playing four games against each regional opponent. This will give the conference participants the 16 games necessary to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Eight of the ten teams will qualify for the Patriot League Tournament. The service academies are excempt from all provisions regarding out of conference play. The three divisions are North ( Army,Boston, Colgate, Holy Cross), Central (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh), and South (American, Loyola,and Navy).

The result according to the schedule is that Lafayette will not play Holy Cross or Army, during the regular season, but will play Bucknell and Lehigh four times, and Boston, Loyola,American, Colgate and Navy twice. It must be my 75 years but the logic escapes me, but I’ll take it. Championships will be March 6,10 and March  14. Women’s Basketball is similar with championship games March 7, 11 and the 14th.

I could see a similar scheduling attempt for Field Hockey while playing each team twice in a season similar to the ACC’s already completed fall season. So that would mean 12 games and potentially two additional games in the championship. And then on to the NCAA with the auto bid.

ACC Title Games Play On

Proving that Field Hockey can be played this fall, the ACC played the first part of their championship tournament following an abbreviated season playing each other.

In a game that may prove to be a classic, UNC defeated Syracuse in overtime 4-3 at Karen Shelton Stadium on the campus of UNC. The semi-final game set up the Tar Heels for their 23rd ACC championship game and fourth consecutive championship. It also marked Karen Shelton’s 701st win surpassing UCONN’s Nancy Steven’s all time wins as a coach.

However, it was not to be easy, as Angie Bradley’s charges from Syracuse attempted to knock off the the Tar Heels. It was Bradley’s 14th season at the helm and gave UNC all they could handle.

Syracuse’s goalkeeper Syd Taylor was up to the task as she came through with 6 saves until the final heartbreaker when Erin Mastson entered the circle and Taylor came out to meet her. Although it appeared Taylor was going for the ball her follow through tripped Matson and set up a penalty stroke, which was executed at 4:52 into the first overtime by Bryn Boylan.

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UNC struck first at 3:08 with Boylan connecting on the penalty corner her first of two goals for the game. The lead was to stand up until early in the third quarter when Nieuwenhof from Syracuse  evened the score at 1-1. Erin Matson from UNC, 18 minutes later was to put the Tar Hells ahead 2-1 which was followed by a  Paitlyn Wirth shot and was to give the Tar Heels a 2 goal lead.

The Orange were not to be intimidated when, with less than nine minutes to go, Pleun Lemmers put Syracuse within one. Down by one goal and only 45 seconds left in regular time, Haile Bitter evened the score setting up overtime.

It was an entertaining game and season, disproving the assertion that Field Hockey could not be played this fall. The championship will be played between UNC and Louisville who broke UNC’s winning streak in October.The winner will get the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament this spring, and most certainly there will others from the ACC getting the available at large berths.

Although Lafayette has not played UNC for several years, last year Lafayette battled Syracuse, only to lose in overtime in New York.

The NCAA championship will consist of a smaller field, with the automatic berths to be filled with conference champions and two at large teams. The at large slots will probably be added to, with the Ivy League not playing spring sports.

The Patriot League and Lafayette should be playing this spring and I look forward to confirmation of that soon. Lafayette should not disappoint its student athletes, alumni and fans. I have to say the decision to play by the ACC make me envious. This week end would have been the Patriot League playoffs.

I look forward to a correct decision by Lafayette and Patriot League.

Catching Up On Field Hockey Events

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New Head Coach Named For U.S. Women’s National Team

After a long and exhaustive search USA Field Hockey, after sifting through an impressive list of qualified candidates, Simon Hoskins Executive Director announced the selection of Anthony Farry as the new U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach. Simon remarked,  ” He has built a great track record of success and has a wealth of experience as a head coach that will serve him well as we all at USA Field Hockey work to achieve our mission of sustained international success.”

He comes after serving as the performance director and head coach of the Japan Women’s National Team, a role he’s held for three years. Farry was also asst coach of the Australian Women’s team in 2010. He was also was as an asst coach for the Canadian Men’s team before becoming the head coach.  While in that role he coached Scott Tupper the newly hired Lafayette asst coach who is also the captain of the Canadian Men’s Team.

During a zoom meeting last night during a PM with me, Tupper had high praise for Farry and said it was a great hire for the US and attributed much of Canada’s success to him.

Lafayette Turf Talk

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For the second time, Coach Jennifer Stone arranged for we parents, fans and alumni to stay connected to the program. Hosted by Kaitlyn Arnold, Lafayette alumna, former scholar athlete, and all league goal tender, gave everyone chance to meet Scott Tupper, the new asst coach, Eva Kaplan junior midfielder, and Audrey Sawers one of the team captains.

Coach Stone started the one hour meeting by stating the school has changed to a hybrid system and everyone will be on campus in the spring. This will enable the full team to be present and to perhaps have a spring season. Welcome news!

Katilyn who is the voice of Lafayette field hockey broadcasts, added to her credentials as a TV personality by adroitly introducing each guest, and was well prepared with interesting questions for us to absorb. We learned  what it’s like for the five team members on campus, and Eva ran through her experience at home staying in shape and doing clinics for young athletes.

Scott spent time explaining his career, as Stone had prepared highlights of Scotts play for us to enjoy. His corner shots were like rockets. He is a defender at heart and credits hard work and perseverance for his success. Asked about the Leopards team, he is excited to see the team together. He has been working with the 5 team members in residence.

We learned his wife is a US citizen and comes from Lancaster,Pa. He brings a great work ethnic combined with a keen sense of humor, which should make future team practices interesting.

There Are College Teams Playing

The ACC is playing a fall season and did give this fan a chance to see live field hockey.  Last weekend’s overtime game from Chapel Hill between UNC and Duke was a classic.

The ACC has been playing all fall, I hope the Patriot League will come to its senses and start scheduling for the spring!

Griggs_Hannah_du_2087 Our student athletes are entitled and have earned that experience.

Go Pards!

Stone Adds Transfer Becca Harbert To The Roster

Coach Jennifer Stone added a transfer to her roster from the University of Delaware, GK Becca Harbert. Becca is a rising Junior who was a two time letter winner at the University of Delaware. The National Academic Squad member, is a biology major and will join two other goalkeepers already on the squad. Becca played high school field hockey at Cumberland Valley, and was a mid-Penn all star.

Nancy Stevens Retires

The long time coach for the Connecticut Huskies announced her retirement yesterday after 30 years, She is the winningest coach in NCAA field hockey history. She has been a collegiate coach for 43 years but will remain as a volunteer coach this year. She led the Huskies to National Championships (2013, 2014, and2017). She finishes her career with an all time record 700-189-24.

Paul Caddy, recognized as one of the top assistants in country will be elevated to the head coaching position. He has been with UConn for the last 20 years.

NCAA Sets Table For Spring Championships

The D1 Board of Directors approved the blanket eligibility waiver for fall sports student athletes regardless of whether they compete this fall or spring. The waiver allows schools to exempt athletic aid of a fall sport athlete would have exhausted eligibility in 2020-21 extending the athletes eligibility time. The extension will not count against team limits for 2021-22. The board also recommended fall championships be moved to the spring and directed the Competition and Oversight Committee to develop NCAA championship models for the impacted sports.

There has been no response from either the Patriot League or Lafayette at the moment.

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

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Mark Emmert president of the NCAA called off all NCAA fall championships, which left the FBS intact, the one the NCAA has made out of reach. Most of these schools are clinging with dogged determination to keep football playing this fall, along with other sports. Emmert climbed out of his bunker to declare the fall season over for most schools and set off a battle between the large power 5 schools and the rest of college athletics.

Emmert is clearly trying to pressure the remaining conferences to give in and play their championships in the spring. The remaining six football conferences are clearly up against the wall but it sets up a showdown between the NCAA who usually bows to the large conferences and all the rest of college athletics.

Sports Illustrated reports one Group of 5 AD said, ” Does the fall proceed with only six FBS conferences playing football and no one else doing anything.” The dynamic has changed this fall with many sports reaching less than 50% playing the many other sports and therefore triggering cancelling all fall championship tournaments. Is Karen Shelton at UNC going to be content to play 6 or 7 games and be ineligible to play for a national championship?

It was the Big Ten move and Pac 12 move that reduced the leverage of the remaining conferences. ” Among our frustrations with the NCAA is that they keep making announcements like this, without having first decided the myriad of associated issues involving eligibility, scholarship limits, competition season, roster size, etc ” said one Power 5 AD.  These are all legitimate issues and issues that have not been addressed by conferences like the Patriot League leaving many student athletes in limbo!!

The NCAA is not without fault neither is the Patriot League. These are important issues which ultimately go to credibility. IF THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT A SPRING SEASON ( THE LAST CHANCE FOR MANY ATHLETES TO PLAY THIS ACADEMIC YEAR ) THEY SHOULD BE SPENDING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS SOLVING THESE PROBLEMS.

As many of you already know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA, for the main reason they have closed their eyes to the larger issues in college sports and chosen to encourage enforcement of a  plethora of ridiculous minor violations  ( like five dollar gift prohibitions to former athletes). The members schools of the NCAA have gone along with this and bear some responsibility for the current situation.

I do not believe the NCAA should go away, but be a better regulatory organization focusing on the “big stuff.” That takes engagement by the president’s of the colleges and universities. We should be returning to sport, not politics, power and egotism. We should be encouraging the lessons of athletics which are learned best on the playing field than in back room deals by interested combines. Sports has become entwined in other efforts recently, perhaps we all should take deep breath and decide how we get our student athletes back on the field! Full Stop!!

Icata Alea Est….The Die Is Cast

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It was reported that on January 10th 49 BCE Suetonis said to Julius Caesar, “Icata Alea Est,” as he led is forces across the Rubicon in northern Italy in defiance of the Senate. There is nothing that can stop the inevitable. Similarly, the Big Ten athletic conference deferred all fall sports to the spring, making  almost all Olympic Sports, in particular Field Hockey,  fall short of the 50% guideline for a NCAA championship season.

As I had opined last Friday, the action by the Mid American Conference moved Division one field hockey into failing to get the needed 39 to stage an NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The move by the Big Ten assures that Field Hockey will have enough competitions in the spring ( should they play) to stage that tournament.

The one remaining field hockey playing conference to go, is the ACC, which is being held hostage by Football,  along with several other power five conferences are  insisting on playing this fall. In the case of field hockey, who will the ACC be playing??  No doubt each other, and will that make them ineligible for a spring NCAA championship?? At the moment, they are being held prisoner by their football playing brethren.

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The NCAA has almost made their leadership ineffective, as they played no role in the Big Ten ( and Pac 12) action. Some Ivy League schools may still not have enough student athletes to field a team so the moves yesterday made it more likely the 39 team limit could be met this spring.

My hope is Lafayette has begun planning for the spring, to allow the next phase to happen. As it stands now, there will be about 700 students on campus this fall. There are 4-5 months now to plan and insure that the spring population is sufficient to resume all activities. GO PARDS!!