Leopards Travel To DC For Opening League Contest

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The Leopards will meet the Eagles for the third time this calendar year for the opening game of the 2021 Patriot League season. The previous three meetings have resulted in losses by one goal, the last game being a loss on a controversial penalty stroke in the second overtime period. It will be American’s first home game of the current season and the two teams sport records that promises this will be a very competitive game as usual.

Lafayette has played six games against good competition as has American in their five games to date. So we will concentrate on the per game statistics. Lafayette sports a 5-1 record and American is 3-2. Lafayette has 2.83 goals per game while holding their opponents to 1 goal per game. American has 1.8 goals per game and holding their opponents to the same number per game. Lafayette takes 14.6 shots per game against giving up 7.6 per game for the competition. American takes also take slightly more than 14 per game and gives up 11.4 per game. Lafayette averages about 7 penalty corners and gives up 4. American earns 6.5 corners per game and gives up 4 per game. Lafayette’s shot percentage is 19 percent while holding opponents to 12 percent. American’s shot percentage is 12 1/2 percent while giving up 15.6 percent. Shots on goal by opponents is 46 percent for the Leopards and 54 percent for the Eagles.

American scores most of their goals in the first period while Lafayette scores an equal amount in the first and second period. Lafayette earns most of their corners in the second period and American also earns the. most corners in the first, but gives up the same amount in the second.

So what can we glean from the data? Clearly the second period is the most crucial for both teams, but Lafayette has a slight edge in first period goals. The Leopards defensive unit will play a key role, while their offense may be a crucial in the first half in forcing the Eagles out of their defensive sets.

Lafayette has thee players who have scored the most goals McAndrews, Sawyers, and Hannes. Noor Coenen has scored three goals on 23 shots and is clearly the go to player for the Eagles. The rest of the goals are spread among six other players with single scores to their credit.

I like our strong midfield in this one, led by Audrey Sawers but I am sure American has already figured that out. American has had no shutouts this season while the Leopards have had 3.

These are two very well coached teams so it should be exciting for fans to watch and is certainly the “game of the week” in the Patriot League. I will be watching closely on American offensive corners, and I see a few surprises by the Leopards!!! So at 11 am Saturday…see you there/ or on ESPN plus!! Post Script: Neither team is ranked in the NFHCA poll while Lafayette is tabbed 20th and American at 25th on the Bolster Field Hockey ELO rankings.

Lafayette has announced for home games that evidence of vaccination is required for admission or a negative Covid test no later than 72 hours before the contest. Masks will also be required.

Lafayette Bests The Quinnipiac Bobcats 2-0

Defense Shines In Shutout

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Lafayette struck for two goals in the first half. The first was beauty by Molly McAndrew at 5:!4 in the first quarter off a rebound. It was the fifth goal of the season for the senior captain who is a threat every time she touches the ball! The goal followed a penalty corner shot by Co-Captain Audrey Sawers.The Bobcat GK stopped the shot as it rebounded back into the circle when McAndrews found the handle and delivered it back to the cage and beyond the goal keepers reach.

The second goal came 10 minutes later in the second quarter as first year player India Ralph took a. pass from Sawers again during a penalty corner to make the score 2-0. The team was playing like a machine, changing offensive sets, confusing the Bobcat defense, all the while getting off 17 shots during the afternoon game, and earning 11 corners. Quinnipiac only managed 3 shots and two corners all day. There were no shots on goal for Quinnipiac while Lafayette managed 7.

In order to play for Jennifer Stone you must play defense regardless of your position, and play they did!!! Quinnipiac only managed to squeeze off their first shots by the 4th quarter and two of them came off their penalty corners which also didn’t happen until the final minutes. The defense is led by Simone Hefting who is normally in position to start play from the backfield. Defender Sydney Woolston seems to be everywhere plugging holes when needed!! Lineke Spanns continues to excite even on the defensive side of the field stopping play and turning it into an attack! Mary Gould is solid and can be seen inserting on offensive corners when needed. Shea Balderson had 23 productive minutes in the game. Alex Darrah was effective in 26 minutes. In all cases, the team did not lose a step no matter who was in the game!!!

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Eighteen players saw action and only the injured and the two reserve goal keepers were on the sideline,

The Leopards must now prepare for their first Patriot League contest in Washington, DC against the Eagles of American University who beat a very good UMass team today 3-2 in overtime. The last meeting with the Leopards was in spring and ended in a controversial penalty stroke goal in overtime. The previous game was at Lafayette which also was won by American by one goal. The year before in the PL playoffs American won 3-2 after Lafayette had the first goal and American responded with three straight goals before Lafayette scored their second goal with 48 seconds to go!!

The game is to start at 11 am and I hope the team is traveling the day before to be ready for this important meeting. This should be game filled with tension and exceptional play. But more about that later this week.

First Year Players Spanns And Schumacher Score In Overtime Thriller

Spanns Scores To Deliver Overtime Win

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Lineke Spanns delivered the game winning goal as the Leopards took a 2-1 overtime win against a very fast and skilled Yale squad. It was an intense and entertaining game for fans as they were treated to a display of fine hockey from both sides. However, aside from the final score Lafayette was to garner many stats.

They led in corners 11-1 and shots 16-3, as the defense rose to the occasion, while Lafayette’s goalkeeper, Hailey Abbott was take home her 4th win and was required to make only one save on the night.

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The final goal was a thing of beauty as Lafayette stars, Molly McAndrews, Audrey Sawers brought the ball to the circle in the 7 on 7 overtime. It looked like Yale was to take the ball away, when Leneke Spanns picked the pocket of the Yale defender and delivered a shot to the right corner ending the game early in the OT period.

Lafayette’s first goal was to come at the 11:51 mark in the third quarter by Schumacher, using a tip in after receiving a reverse sweep pass from senior Audrey Sawers. It was the rookie’s first goal of her collegiate career.

That lead was not to last for long, as only 20 seconds had elapsed when Yale’s Lena Ansari found the back of goal, evening the score once again. The score was to remain knotted for the remainder of regulation at 1-1.

This team showed again and again their determination and ability to overcome diversity. From a fans point of view, there are so many talented Leopard players that the exceptional has become the common. Sawers is the leader out there no doubt, and it’s a privilege to watch such emerging talents like Spanns and Schumacher perform on the field. One should not forget the efforts and talents of the whole team.

There was an active and enthusiastic crowd at the game consisting of parents, siblings and students. In addition, there was a plethora of administrators and faculty in attendance along with President Nicole Hurd and her husband!!!

On to New England where Quinnipiac awaits the Leopards for their next game. I expect we will travel well, as the saying goes. GO PARDS!!

Three Patriot League Out Of Conference Games Postponed Due To Covid Protocols

While Lafayette was in Columbus, Ohio on Sept fifth beating Indiana, three other Patriot League team postponed their game due to Covid protocols. Holy Cross was to play at Vermont, Colgate was to host Lock Haven and American was to play their first home game with William and Mary. All cited Tier 1 protocols as the reason. Tier 1 is described as consisting of individuals for whom physical distancing and/or face coverings are not posible or effective during athletic training or competition, including student athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials.

It was indicated that the problem occurred within Holy Cross and the Colgate programs, while William and Mary pointed out the problem was within their field hockey team and swimming teams. William and Mary said the field hockey team would be able to continue practicing and resume games this week. Holy Cross will play their game with Vermont today, September 7th. Both the American/William and Mary and the Colgate/Lock Haven games have yet to set a date for rescheduling.

If the American game is not rescheduled it will leave American with only 15 games ( you need 13 to qualify for the NCAA’s) and the Lafayette game, will not only be their first Patrtot League game, but American’s home opener.

Meanwhile Leopards collected most the hardware as a result of their outstanding work this weekend. Audrey Sawers was the outstanding Patriot League Offensive player for her goals and assists and Haile Abbott was the outstanding Goalkeeper for the second week in a row which included another shut out for her!! In addition, Simone Hefting was named honorable mention for her defensive work.

The NFHCA poll came out today. I thought Lafayette had a shot at cracking the top 25. In my opinion it’s probably the weakest and most political of the polls. I did see some on there who we would give a hard game. Delaware is still there, as is Maine and JMU. Ohio State dropped from the list. Several year ago I wrote about the pools and likened the struggle for recognition like the song from Aretha Franklin….RESPECT. It sort of became a theme for the rest of the year. Maybe its time to drag it out again.

Meanwhile Yale pulls into Rappolt Friday evening and Quinnipiac is hosting Lafayette on Sunday. These are two opportunities for Lafayette to earn some more RESPECT.

Lafayette Dominates In 4-0 win Against Indiana

Playing against their second BIG TEN opponent in three days the Leopards took on the undefeated Hoosiers from the University of Indiana. It wasn’t as if Indiana had played the Little Sisters of the Poor to arrive at Columbus with that zero in the loss column. There was a quality win against a pretty good Miami of Ohio team last week that made me take notice.

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Taking that all into consideration, this was an outstanding performance by Lafayette. The Leopards took multiple shots on goal led by captain Audrey Sawers who had 7 shots, with two of them finding the back of the net. She also had 2 assists demonstrating her versatility, leadership, and skill. It was teammate Molly McAndrew who started off the scoring in the first quarter, hitting on a goal in one of 3 shots during the game. Felicitas Hannes had the fourth goal and the “coup de grace” to ice the game for the Leopards off a Sawers feed.

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McAndrews breaks away

In total, the Leopards were to outshoot the Hoosiers 17 to 7, scoring a goal in each period. They had 10 shots in the second period alone. Meanwhile they out cornered Indiana 9-6. Haile Abbott put in another sterling effort with 2 saves and earns the shutout. The Leopards earned this one after a disappointing loss on Friday. But the coaches and the team demonstrated their character and inner strength. They next take on Yale at Rappolt Field on Friday!!

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Lafayette Loses Heartbreaker To Ohio State In Overtime 4-3

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There were three moments in this game I thought we had the win. The Leopards put on a terrific offensive and defensive display in the first half. Lafayette took 5 shots to Ohio State’s 1 in the first two periods and connected for two goals. The first goal was belonged to Sawers with a Molly McAndrew assist, in a cross in front of the cage, a mere 23 seconds into the second period. The second goal came from Felicitas Hannes with 6 minutes left in the half. The Leopards struck multiple times with sudden bursts of offense, putting Ohio State on their heels at the half, down 2-0.

At the time, I thought…we got this!! But to State’s credit they came out determined, scoring their first of two goals in the second period at 31:16. We still have the lead, said I. But at 43:09 Megan McKenna, off a give and go planted the tying goal in the lower right. There was a reason a 2-0 score was called the most dangerous score in field hockey. Tied it was, to remain for the remainder of the quarter.

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It was four minutes into the fourth quarter and Molly McAndrew hit a redirect from Felicitas Hannes making it 3-2 Lafayette’s favor….we got this I said to myself… for the second time. Just hold on for 11 minutes!! But with six minutes left in the game a foul was committed, and a yellow card was pulled out by the official. That meant for the last six minutes the Leopards were to be one player short for five minutes of those minutes. Then the Buckeyes were to increase their firepower, by pulling the goaltender, making their offensive set a 2 player advantage. Emma Goldean was to hit on a goal with less than four minutes left in the game and three minutes on the penalty. Three minutes later the buzzer sounded and it was overtime ahead.

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The ball was to go back and fourth across the midline during most of the 10 minute overtime, with Ohio State getting several corners in the process. However with a number of breakaways, Lafayette seemed to ready to strike a final blow. Molly McAndrews seems to score it after going one on one with goaltender…goal. we got this!!!…..maybe not. Ohio State called for a video review and the goal is reversed, and the two teams play on into a second overtime. This time at 4:53 into the second overtime, Megan McKenna from Ohio State hits for the winning goal!!

It’s hard to say Lafayette deserved the win. But they played hard in an epoch effort, against a ranked opponent. The Leopards are a good team with good coaching, and if they are as smart as I think they are, this team could go far. There are 15 games left. They should not forget this game, but learn from it, and make themselves better. I believe in them, and would bet a lot of money they will be the better for it.

Now onto their second Big Ten opponent on Sunday, Indiana.

Lafayette Ends The Weekend Undefeated Behind An Offensive Show

McAndrew scores two, Hannes gets one and Spaans adds one to combine for 4 goals against Villanova.

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McAndrew breaks away for her second goal

It didn’t take Lafayette long to take charge, as Felicitas Hannes opened the scoring against the Villanova Wildcats at only 1:27 into the game, using a backhanded feed from Molly McAndrew, and tipping it past the GK. However, the resulting 1-0 lead would be built upon by McAndrew eight minutes later, making it a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter of play.

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Audrey gets ready to launch while Hannes is there for the tip in if neccesary

With only 7 minutes left in the half, freshman Lineke Spaans put the crowd on their feet as she flew the length of the field on a give go from Alex Talkow, scoring a goal that put the Leopards ahead 3-0. The half time stats showed Lafayette ahead in shots ( 10-3), and penalty corners (5-3).

The scrappy Wildcats were to tighten things up a bit in the second half, scoring a third quarter goal at 8:34 into the quarter from Caitlin Van Goverden, using a redirected shot off a rebound. The second half saw the shots even up ( 5-5) and penalty corners even up (5-5).

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Sawers delivers the ball after a Spanns stop on an offensive penalty corner

At this point as Villanova got more aggressive and the the Lafayette defense had to tighten up turning back shots, and attacking efforts at most every opportunity. Simone Hefting and Sidney Woolston, in the defense were like a stone wall, along with Hailey Abbott who had five saves on the afternoon. McAndrew sealed the win after Villanova pulled their goalie in a desperate attempt to get on the board.

At 58:39 McAndrew broke away and executed an unassisted reverse shot to get her second goal of the game. That, for all practical purposes put the game out of reach at 4-1.

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Hefting delivers the ball downfield

Some general impressions…..The Lafayette passing is deadly. Hefting’s accurate passes into traffic remind me of a “Tom Brady,” American football afternoon. This team is remarkable, in this short time they have been able to learn to work together. Passes arrive where the receiving player is going be rather where they are at the moment. The defense takes pride in their work, and keep the ball on the good side of the 40 meter mark most of the afternoon.

I can’t end this account without mentioning the leadership and strength of Audrey Sawers, who is an emotional and physical force on the field. She plays almost every minute and she plays with confidence.

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Woolston and Boccella charge stop a Villanova corner

It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive opportunity or an offensive surge, this team is going 100 percent and results are there. Two games, six goals, 15 points, 27 shots, 22 percent scoring percentage, 70 percent shots on goals and an 86 % save percentage, demonstrate the results of their efforts.

But this is a longer season than just 2 games, and there is a magnificent challenge next week against two Big Ten teams Ohio State, and Indiana!

The Patriot League had mixed results today, Lehigh rebounded to beat Longwood 3 to 2, while the rest of league fell. American lost to ODU 2-3. Colgate dropped a close one to Rider 1-2 and BU lost to Providence 2-1.

Lafayette’s next two opponents had a successful weekend with Ohio State beating Ball State 1-0 and Indiana winning two, Central Michigan 3-2 and Davidson 4-0. Indiana will be playing Miami of Ohio before meeting Lafayette this coming Sunday and Ohio State will be playing Kent State on Tuesday afternoon!! The Ohio State game with Lafayette will be their home opener!!!

The Leopards will depart for Columbus early Thursday. The Friday game will be on BTN +.

Lafayette Earns A 2-0 Opening Win Against Hofstra

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First year Filine Gerbrandij chase down a Hoftra mid

Opening day wins are usually earned after brutal hard fought contests with each team trying to set the tone for the rest of the season. The statistics for game might persuade one to believe that this was an easy dominate win for the Leopards. That was far from the truth. Lafayette earned this one with skill and hockey smarts.

The Leopards outshot the Pride 12-2, with 10 of those shots on goal. Corners were even 2-2. The Hofstra GK, Merilijn van der Vegt was forced to make 7 saves, while Hailey Abbott from Lafayette preserved the shut out with a spectacular save in the third quarter. Lafayette did dominate time of possession for most of the first quarter, and delivered 4 shots “goalward”.

But Hofstra was to come up with the first corner with only 1:47 having run off the clock. The corner defense turned the volume, up blocking the shot, and Lafayette was to travel into the visitor’s circle several times in the quarter getting off 4 shots in the process. One of those shots turned into a goal came at 13:02 into the quarter, from Felicitas Hannes after a feed from Simone Hefting…..the scoreboard lit up, showing the Leopards with a 1-0 lead.

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Audrey Sawers pushes the ball downfield

The second quarter was to frustrate Lafayette, as they used their considerable stick skills, managing to get 6 additional shots several hitting the post in the process. The half ended with the 1-0 advantage showing on the scoreboard.Hofstra came out determined to even the score in the third quarter but shots were still in favor of the Leopards by only 2-1. But one of those shots was to find the back of cage off the stick of captain Audrey Sawers. Sawers muscled her way into the center of the circle and delivered the strike unassisted.

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Felicitas Hannes zeroes on Hofstra mid

The visitors tried valiantly to close the gap but the Lafayette defense stopped them multiple times. Neither team was to get off a shot but the action was still back and forth. Lafayette’s passing and stick work was a fan pleaser all game long. The depth and strength from the bench was reassuring.

It was Lafayette’s first athletic win of the season and Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman was in attendance, along with brand new President Nichole Hurd with her husband Bill. The Leopards will get one day’s rest before taking on the Wildcats of Villanova at Rappolt Field at 3 pm on Sunday. Villanova defeated Lehigh tonight 4-3. They came back from a 2-0 deficit in first quarter, to score two in the second. A 2-1 fourth quarter was to give Villanova the win. Lehigh outshot Villanova 13-12, and out cornered them 13-7. The score was tied with 5 minutes left in the game when Villanova’s Emma Schwarz was to deliver the game winner, her second goal of the game.

Around the Patriot League, American was to defeat VCU 2-1 in overtime, Boston won their opener 2-1 over Monmouth, and Holy Cross bested Merrimack 3-1. Colgate was to drop their opener 5-1 against Albany and Bucknell was to lose 0-3 against JMU.

Storm Locks In Albany, So It’s For Real Against Hofstra On Friday

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Albany was unable to make the trip to Pennsylvania so Sunday’s game with Albany had to be cancelled. Now the Leopards will be concentrating on starting the regular season against the Long Island based Hofstra Pride. They arrive 27 strong at Rappolt Field after a spring season of 4-8 and 1-3 in the CAA conference. The 4 pm game will be televised on ESPN +.

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Ironically, Hofstra did play Albany on August 17, but I have no report on the outcome. They are scheduled to meet Columbia on Monday for a final tune up before their opening game with Lafayette. So the Leopards are at a slight disadvantage having only the one exhibition game.Coach Courtney Veinotte is starting her 3rd year as head coach and has gone far afield to populate her team. In last year’s abbreviated season the 4-8 team managed 16 goals vs 25 for their opponents. That works out to a 1.33 GPG vs 2.08 GPG. Their Junior GK Merlene Van der Vegt from the Netherlands has a 61% save percentage with 119 saves. The 5’9″ GK will be challenged for playing time with Blue Bell, Pa. red shirt keeper Meagan Rielly who had a 85% save percentage her senior year in high school.

They will be led on the field by Jasmijn Verdoes who scored 5 goals last spring. She will be a sophomore and will try to better her 27 shot record with 15 points. The Pride got off 80 shots against 120 shots for the opposition which works out to 6.7 shots a game vs 10. They are picked tied for 6th with Towson in the CAA preseason polls. Lafayette is the only Patriot League team they will play this season

The Leopards will be working this week on defensing against the counterattack and polishing a very potent offense. Hopefully, the weather will be cooler and dry and a nice crowd will greet our players. Move in is the 27th to the 29th, I hope everyone finds time to see their first Leopards athletic contest!!Opening games are always intense, and after the faux season last spring, each team will be wanting to get off on the right foot.

We all have waited for this day and hope for a good leap into the 2021 campaign!!

It All Begins Thursday

The Lafayette field hockey team will climb into their vehicle on Thursday for a 1 pm meeting. It will be the first competition of the fall season, albeit an exhibition game. The Delaware Blue Hens were the winners of CAA tournament and went to the NCAA  tournament, only to lose in the first round to Northwestern 1-4. On the way to the tournament they accumulated a 6-4 record with numerous post season award winners and gaining a wealth of experience along the way.

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Femke Strien will need to be marked

They are picked to finish second in the CAA and the game with Lafayette is their only preseason contest. However, there is a lot experience returning to a fall with none more important than graduate student Femke Strien from the Netherlands  a second team all-American ( number 21). She was also named pre-season player of the year. JMU is the team picked to win it all.

Looking over Delaware’s schedule, it is sprinkled with ranked teams. Princeton, Harvard, American, ODU, JMU and others are highlighted in their very aggressive 18 game schedule.

Lafayette will be playing a second preseason game with Albany on Sunday. For we fans, we will see a very skilled team that has yet to play together. I will be looking at our ability to counter attack and how many good shots we can get off during the afternoon!!

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Audrey Sawers is returning for her fifth year and will be the leader on the field. However, Simone Hefting, Sydney Woolston, and Molly McAndrew will provide experience and skill for the Leopards.

Looking forward to it all!