Leadership At Work..Lafayette Captains Lead Leopards To 2-1 Victory

Magadan eyes the goal as she steals the ball headed for the first goal of the game

At times it is just being on the field, but it was the Lafayette captains, two time Patriot League defensive player of the week. Hannah Millen and Amanda Magadan, one of the leading scorers in the League and a member of the US under 21 team who showed the way as each scored a goal in each period against Quinnipiac, enabling the Leopards to end the week at 5-1. It wasn’t without some last second dramatics as the Bobcats were award three straight short corners after time had expired. But it was the defensive battery that was to come up big and turn away the final shot ending the game.

It was Magadan who opened the scoring with a crowd pleasing dash to the goal, stealing the ball outside the circle, avoiding two defenders and then “juking” the goalie in a final move, before placing it in the back of the cage unassisted thirteen minutes into the game. It was then that Millen and company in the back line stiffened and denied Quinnipiac the circle while they managed to get only two shots the whole first half, only one of which required a save by goalie Katelyn Arnold. Lafayette did suffer two green cards and played 4 minutes of the half down a player.

MIllen sends the ball upfield turning back a Bobcat attack
MIllen sends the ball upfield turning back a Bobcat attack

Lafayette looked as though it might break the game open in the second half as Millen scored the second goal off a corner sending a rocket past the Quinnipiac goalie using assists by Ami Turner and Ellen Coubourne one minute and fourteen seconds into the second period. Lafayette threatened several times to make it three but got turned away. Take away the final 3 corners with no time left by Quinnipiac, they managed only three corners during the game. Lafayette had 7 corners, 5 in the second half alone.

Amy Tuner shows as she takes a shot
Ami Tuner shows her form as she takes a shot

Lafayette used its bench, substituting in every able bodied field player available demonstrating how deep they are this season. Each coach took a time out, Quinnipiac to get organized as Lafayette looked like it might take complete control, and Lafayette did it for the same reason as Quinnipiac eventually did score a nifty goal by Michelle Fedrico on a backhanded shot assisted by Meghan McCulloch. In addition, Rosie Shanks was to get a yellow card with 6:47 to go in the game. but Lafayette did manage to earn a corner with 3:15 left on the clock. Amanda Magadan was to get the last Lafayette shot which was saved by the Quinnipiac goalie with 30 seconds to go.

It never over until its over, as Quinnipiac earned their corner which resulted in three last chances to tie the score with time having expired. The defense came together and finally sealed the victory batting the ball out of the circle ending the game.

The offensive corner battery gets ready right before Millen's second period goal
The offensive corner battery gets ready right before Millen’s second period goal

The Leopards next take on the Boston University Terriers in Boston next Saturday at noon. This will open the Patriot League Championship season which will decide the final four participants in the League tournament and the home field advantage.

Colbourne To Birle Combination Gives Lafayette Overtime Victory 1-0

Millen led defense was key element in victory over Monmouth
Millen led defense was key element in victory over Monmouth

If you like defense, friday night’s contest between the MAAC defending champion and NCAA tournament participant, Monmouth University Hawks was 70 minutes of fan ecstasy. Both defenses were excellent as Monmouth employed a series of eclectic defensive schemes to thwart the Lafayette transition game while the Lafayette back line showed their mettle turning back the Monmouth front line attack. Although Monmouth got off more shots and corners ( oddly Lafayette did not get a single corner the whole game) the Lafayette back line including goalie Katelyn Arnold turned away threat after threat. Ironically, the Leopards had their best chance two minutes into the second period on a penalty stroke which was blocked by the Monmouth goalie.

Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored and gets her fifth of the seasons in overtime heroics
Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored and gets her fifth of the seasons in overtime heroics

The game was full of fan tension for those 70 minutes which was played like an eleven v eleven overtime for the last 10 minutes knowing that one goal could be the difference. As overtime came. for most of us who know this team well. it was almost a relief believing that Lafayette’s front line with its speed, skill, and the space created by the 7 v 7 format would serve as an advantage the Leopards didn’t have in the first 70 minutes.

That advantage was to manifest itself with the Colbourne to Birle combination two minutes into the period.Ellen Colbourne received the ball at midfield dodged the first player and put her speed to work up the right sideline. Meanwhile Katie Birle deftly positioned herself between two Monmouth players knowing Colbourne would spot her.Ellen Colbourne wound up delivering to Birle who expertly redirected the ball between the legs of the Monmouth goalie. This was Katie Birle’s fifth goal of the season and none could have been more timely. Before last night, she was ranked 11th nationally in goals scored and is now the leading goal scorer in the Patriot League. Colbourne’s assists puts her among the leaders in the league in assists as well.  The Leopards are now 11-1 against the Monmouth Hawks who played with great intensity and heart.

Rosie Shanks her defensive skills against Monmouth
Rosie Shanks  shows her defensive skills against Monmouth

The Hawks were to step up before the game as a defective CD of the national anthem was to disallow the usual pre game recording. One of the Hawks was to come forward and deliver a beautiful a cappella version on the spot. Well done. I wish I had recorded her name but kudos to her in any case.

This was goalie Katelyn Arnold’s second collegiate shutout of her career as she was perfect in the cage.

The Leopards continue their home stand against another MAAC rival, Qunnipiac as they will be looking for revenge from last year’s overtime victory by Lafayette. The Leopards are now undefeated at home having suffered their only loss last week against highly regarded Liberty University last week in Virginia . Tonight’s 1-0 victory was their second overtime win having beaten Longwood last week 4-3. It is also their third one goal victory this season.

Freshman Theresa Delahanty gets into position to make a play
Freshman Theresa Delahanty gets into position to make a play

Next week the Leopards will open the Patriot League schedule in Boston, against Boston University on saturday and will move on to play national champion UConn the following day before returning to Easton to  meeting the national runner up Albany.

Addendum: I just received an email from one of my readers. The young lady who so skillfully sung the national anthem was number 7 Mallory Kusakavitch from Pittston,Pa and Holy Redemer HS. She is a sophomore defender. Obviously a young woman of many talents….well done!!

Lafayette Appears In National Stats

We are twenty percent into the 2015 season and the Leopards are starting to make a mark in the NCAA division one statistics. First they are 3-1. According to fieldhockeycorner.com and their mathematical calculation of rank, which includes opponents records and margin of victory as variables, the Leopards rank 22nd. The NCAA statistics are impressive, they rank 6th in goals and goals per game. They are 8th in average margin of victory, 11th in winning percentage,9th in defensive saves, and 12th in assists. Katie Birle is ranked 11 in goals and Ellen Coulbourne is 11th in assists. Katie and Amanda Madagan are 11th in points per game as of this writing.

Amanda Madagan looks for a teammate near the scoring circle
Amanda Madagan looks for a teammate near the scoring circle

Yes, it is still early and these statistics probably are not reflective of a whole season. However, after this weekend’s games with Monmouth and Quinnipiac, the Leopards will be playing three straight games with highly ranked team, an important league match with Boston University @ Boston, University of Conn. @ UConn and Albany @ home. At that point the Leopards will have played more than 50% of their games with top 20 teams. After that, we will have a fair view of where the Leopards are nationally.

Aliza Furnaux moves past a Ball State defender
Aliza Furnaux moves past a Ball State defender

But it is really the league schedule that hold the key to getting into the national tournament.  A win over the preseason favorite in Boston would be a big step forward. These are must win games to get the Leopards into the League tournament and have a home field advantage. The other games may or may not help to get a second Patriot League  team into the tourney. First things first, and of concern for the team and their coaches is Monmouth’s return to Rappolt Field for a game tomorrow. The Leopards holds a 10-1 all time winning record with Monmouth.

Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored
Katie Birle has a league leading four goals scored

However, Monmouth is an improving program and I do not expect for them to be an easy game. Last night, they lost to Rutgers after taking an early lead. Rutgers tied it before the end of the half and finally pulled ahead in the second half ending the game with a 4-2 win. Monmouth also lost to Bucknell 3-1 in their first game after an early lead. A good early start against this aggressive attacking team would bode well for the Leopards.

We are getting to the belly of the season and with good results it  could go a long way for the Maroon and White to set up  a sprint to reaching their goals. Go Pards!!

Leopards Have Tough Loss To Liberty 2-1

Ami Turner plays defense against Libery
Ami Turner plays defense against Libery

It was a fine day for field hockey,sunny and warm with all the evidence of thunder storms long passed. It was a battle of undefeated teams in a beautiful setting. The facilities are excellent and both teams were able to display their talents to the delight of their respective fans. Liberty took the early lead with a disputed goal from the right side of the Lafayette goalie. Despite the entreaties of the Lafayette captains and coach, who believed that the ball was out of bounds before the shot, the goal stood. Lafayette came back with the fourth goal of the season from Katie Birle delivering during a corner off a rebounded shot from Hannah Millen.

Kristen Taylor passes the ball avoiding a Liberty defender
Kristen Taylor passes the ball avoiding a Liberty defender

Earlier Amanda Magadan  looked like she would deliver the tying goal but it was legitimately ruled too high not hitting the backboard, and there was no deflection. It was later that most Lafayette fans thought a second goal by Liberty suffered the same fate, since there was no sound on the backboard, but it was not to be and was instead the go ahead goal. Lafayette had a last chance with a fast break off an errant Liberty pass. The Liberty goalie came out the cage to defend against  Birle one on one. Birle was not to get the shot or a pass off and the threat to Liberty had ended.

The Lafayette defense played well as did Libery, but Lafayette had fewer chances in the offensive end to use their offensive firepower to test the Liberty Flame’s close in defense.

Ellen Coulburne shows her speed to a Libery defender
Ellen Coulburne shows her speed to a Libery defender

Liberty is a fine team, perhaps even a top twenty team, and they deserve the success they had, but in this case there was more to the score than the play on the field. There are regional and league difference in officiating no doubt, as well as individual tendencies, and Liberty legitimately took advantage of that. For example, in my interpretation of the rules and of others, when an offensive player purposely backs into a defensive player causing contact, that is an offensive foul. This is, of course, much like a basketball player backing into the basket, allowed in basketball, not allowed in field hockey. By my count  this occurred and was called at least four time outside the shooting circle, three times resulting in a short corner with the official calling a deliberate foul against Lafayette.

Lafayette faithful do travel well!!
Lafayette faithful do travel well!!

The first Liberty goal occurred after the ball clearly went out of bounds, in the view of most people, neither of the officials were in a good position.  The second Liberty goal occurred on a first shot and never hit the backboard, the same which occurred earlier in the game against Lafayette’s Amanda Magadan. I hope I can review to see if what I saw was correct but there was no video archived of the game to date. With the advent of video at most Division one Field Hockey games I would hope that there could be video replay available. It is allowed under NCAA rules and occurs at all playoff games and Olympic and World Cup matches. It would eventually even out the regional differences in officiating and make the game fairer, What do you think??

I want it noted this is my opinion alone and does not necessarily reflect any coach’s or player’s opinion. We left shortly after the game for the six hour trip home and did not have a chance to discuss it with players or coach. If anyone at the game or any other reader would like to discuss it, or has contrary opinion, there is a comment option at the bottom the page.

In any case the Leopards will be back in the friendly confines of their home field this friday at 7pm to meet Monmouth.

My amendment:

I got an email from one of our alumni parents. He not only showed me where to see the archived game but had a freeze frame of the first Liberty goal. From that vantage point the ball looked on the line, therefore in play. Looked at it myself and at the halftime highlights the ball looked in bounds. So a good goal!! I stand by my instant replay desire though.

Turner’s Overtime Goal Helps Leopards to Triumph

Magadaan Delivers a goal off a corner
Magadan Delivers a goal off a corner

One of the reasons I love team sports, is because it develops and demonstrates the ability to overcome collectively, obstacles to success. The process of working as team rather than an individual emphasizes the importance of shared responsibility. As an individual you use your talents and efforts to enhance the completion of a shared goal. Yesterday was one of the those moments. When Lafayette needed something, an individual would make a play that seemed to lift the whole enterprise. Was this a game where you look at its result and marvel how we dominated, no. But it was a game where someone on the field came through when needed. Ami Turner’s marvelous deflection of an Amanda Madagan assist three minutes and twenty two seconds into overtime was the end product of a number outstanding individual efforts during the previous 70 minutes.

Turner goes after the ball advancing into the Longwood side
Turner goes after the ball advancing into the Longwood side

First, the Leopards had to overcome a number of obstacles to get to that moment,  73 minutes after the opening whistle. Thursday’s 7 or 8 hour bus ride was reason enough to drain any normal athlete. The Leopards were delayed an hour in Easton leaving at 7:30 pm and arriving after encountering several construction obstacles along the way. On to bed at later than 2 am is not exactly in a training regime for success. Fortunately, the game was to start at 4 pm leaving enough time for rest, but barely enough time to get rest and get a solitary run through  early.

The clouds were more than figurative as a series of thunderstorms rolled in over the Farmville area and both fans and players were frustrated with a series of 1/2 hour delays after local lighting strikes. The delay and the bus ride seemed to have taken its toll as Lafayette seemed to be playing flat footed giving up some early turnovers, which resulted in a score for the Lancers only 5  minutes after the opening push off. Longwood’s Hollie MacDonald took a Jennifer Burris rebound finding space and delivered a shot putting the Lancers ahead. It was to take ten minutes before the Leopards were to answer with a goal of the own off a corner. Amanda Magadan, who was instrumental all day moving the ball between sides and setting up shots for her teammates, delivered a tying goal using an Aliza Furneaux and Ellen Colbourne assist.

Nearly 12 minutes after a scramble in front of the goal during another corner, Kirby Szalkowski took advantage of a loose ball while going to her knees and delivered with a strike to the back of the net putting the Leopards ahead. In less than a minute Edel Nyland of the Lancers delivered one of her own into the Leopard net,unassisted knotting the score at two. The teams were to leave the field tied but contributing to the angst of Leopard fans, Longwood led in shots 8-4, and seemed to be spending intolerable time in Lafayette’s side of the field.

Hannah Millen breaks through the Longwood defense
Hannah Millen breaks through the Longwood defense

Both teams came out renewed for battle but it was Longwood that was to find the back of goal first, six minutes in as Jennifer Burris was to add an unassisted score to her side of the scoreboard. Leopard fans were searching for a spark when Rosie Shanks came through tying the score at three, with eleven and a half to play in regular time using a Hannah Millen shot which she deflected neatly into the goal.

Tied at three the Leopards had the better of possessions leading up to the Madagan to Turner heroics and the win. The Leopards were to have 7-2 advantage in shots in the second and overtime periods as well as a 4-2 edge in penalty corners.

Now,on to a very talented Liberty team in a a battle to leave the field tomorrow unbeaten. As to Longwood’s effort and skill. This was a very entertaining game and Longwood is better than their record would indicate.

Preseason Camp Close To Wrapping Up With Columbia Scrimmage

The Leopard Field Hockey team boarded several vans this morning  and drove up route 78 emulating the many commuters who use the route to travel to work from Easton to New York every day. They were not going to an air conditioned high office building today. Perhaps after they have their diploma in hand, it’s what they will doing, but today it was to battle with the Columbia Lions in 95 degree heat which certainly reached well over 105 degrees on the artificial turf. For this scrimmage the two head coaches decided on a format where the first period would be a full 35 minutes followed by two 20 minute periods and a practice shoot out. The three periods of normal hockey resulted in a 1-1 tie with the Lions drawing first blood on a corner and the Leopards returning the favor several minutes later on a corner of their own.

Lafayette and Columbia battle all day in the heat
Lafayette and Columbia battle all day in the heat

I didn’t do an exact count, but I believe the Leopards had 4 or 5 corners in the first period to the Lions’ one. After that period, there were significant substitutions on both sides. Gabrielle Ulery, the Leopard’s freshman goalie played the second period and acquitted herself well, having several saves. The third period again saw significant substitution by both sides.

Kaitlyn Arnold and Hannah Millen protect the cage
Kaitlyn Arnold and Hannah Millen protect the cage

Katlyn Arnold continues to impress and Rosie Shanks and Ami Turner were involved close to the net often all afternoon. The Leopards showed significant speed and stick control as they spread the field well during the scrimmage. The heat, and the days of training showed, as both teams were expending good effort to try dominate play. From this writers perspective, the Leopards had the better of it, spending much of their time in Columbia’s space.

Kendall Weeding advances into the Columbia circle
Kendall Weedling advances into the Columbia circle

The Lafayette defense was on their toes all game turning back a good Columbia offense. It was  a   good competitive finale to preseason, as thursday begins freshman move in. and classes begin the following monday. For the team. it will be time to evaluate these scrimmages. and to get into the rhythm of the regular season. Sunday it’ll be Ball State’s turn to face the Leopards in Lafayette’s home and season opener. Ball State will play Rutgers the day before for their opening game of the  season with a new coach.

I think Lafayette has yet to play their best hockey. There is talent there, and I for one can’t wait to see how they do with fresh legs on Sunday at 12 noon.

Championships Are Won On The Field Not In Silly Polls

I have never been a big fan of polls and the latest Patriot League preseason polls demonstrates to me how worthless they can be. The best that can be said is that they are, in general an opinion of relative strength. The latest example is the league field hockey poll with the predicted order of finish of Boston University, American University, Bucknell, Lafayette, Colgate, Lehigh,and Holy Cross. Coaches and SID’s (sports information directors) do the voting. Basically, they vote based on last year’s finish and maybe a little tweak here and there. When Lafayette won two championships in a row, the Leopards were not picked first in either case. I sometimes wonder if new classes and graduations are seriously considered by SID’s who couldn’t tell you if there are offsides in college field hockey. (There isn’t).

Kaitlyn Arnold kicks the ball away against the University of Connecticut last year
Kaitlyn Arnold kicks the ball away against the University of Connecticut last year

What is obvious to me is how competitive the Patriot League has become. Anyone of the top five in the poll will be in the mix at the end. Only four teams will make the League tournament, that will decide who goes to the NCAA’s. In the League games last year that Lafayette lost, the Leopards lost by only one goal in each of those games. Colgate got in despite a losing record and a very weak schedule. I don’t agree with the premise, that it’s only the league games that count. Yes, you must win the league games to go on, but in the year when the Leopards won their last championship their RPI and number 10 national ranking got them a better seed, and past the play in game with Princeton ( who won the eventual national championship). The leopards then played a competive game with Maryland losing 2-0.

Senior Kendall Weedling will an offensive weapon with her speed
Senior Kendall Weedling will be an offensive weapon with her speed

So what we are looking at are must win games in the league ( Colgate,Holy Cross and Lehigh) to get to the league tournament. Beating at least one of the other three  guarantees a place and a good seed, and perhaps the home field. The leopards enter the season with a good freshman class which by all accounts will result in at least good minutes for its members.They will have large strength in their offense with multiple players capable of finding the back of the cage. The Lafayette goalie will be Kaitlyn Arnold, a high school all american now entering her junior year. The defensive line will be anchored by Hannah Millen entering her fourth year as a starter.

Junior Ami Turner plays offense and defense well and has good vision on the field
Junior Ami Turner plays offense and defense well and has good vision on the field

It is a long season and the belly of the season with Uconn, Albany, Temple and a very dangerous Liberty University team (who lost to UNC 2-1 in the NCAA’s) provide very tough out of conference competition. It will all start tomorrow with a scrimmage with an improving  Rutgers team at 7pm at home. Beating up on each other for the last week of two a days can get boring and tomorrow we get a peek at the future.

Leopards Look Forward and Celebrate the Past

The 2015 version of Lafayette Field Hockey finally officially arrived today, August the thirteenth. For the first year teammates, it’s the end of a journey that began as long a two years ago. There were searches, showcase camps, recruiting visits, a coveted offer, and finally signed commitment letters. This was not the first meeting for the new leopards. Each new leopard was a assigned a team mentor and has already had the opportunity to bond with their new teammates with whom they will be spending much of their college hours. My observation at the opening tailgate hosted by the veteran parents is that this group is already a team. It was a time for good-byes and welcomes, greetings and “see you soons,” and maybe a tear or two from anxious parents.

But this will be a group that will be in contact often, as they follow their daughters in their next adventure, and friends will be gained as the Leopard’s most loyal fans will be in stands in Easton to Boston,Lynchburg Va. to Washington DC. From the other parents, they will learn about new rivalries and new hopes for new championships.

Coach Stone and her staff will waste little time putting together this new team. The afternoon will be occupied by getting new uniforms, physicals, or receiving new practice equipment. Their first taste of intercollegiate division one field hockey will come next week against Big Ten Rival Rutgers in a pre-season scrimmage. It is then, after a week of two a day practices, and strength training that all that effort will be put to the test. There are certainly questions to be answered. What will a newly constituted defense look like? Where will the scoring come from, and can the leopards raise their goal production in the coming season. Is the bench going to be deeper?

Deanna DeCroce sprints past American University defender
Deanna DiCroce sprints past American University defender

This a program with a deep tradition of success and some of that recognition came in the form of the Patriot League naming of athletes to the all 25 year team. The Leopards claimed 5 to the team, Andrea Dagostino ’94, Deanna DiCroce ’13, Suzi Farrell ’92, Megan Monahan ’03, and Jennifer Stone ’04. To my mind there are two missing names, Emily Valeo who holds the Patriot record for assists, and Jackie DeAngelo who hold the single season records for save percentage of .91. Since there were multiple nominations for goalies, I suppose that hurt her chances but to this fan I think it was a glaring omission.

In the coming weeks I hope to be able to report from practices spiced up with pictures and video. Until then good luck to everyone.

Coach Stone Reveals a Challenging Schedule for 2015

Ellen Colbourne dodges a Boston University defender in 2014
Ellen Colbourne dodges a Boston University defender in 2014

As the season progresses, I will give a more detailed account of each opponent as game day approaches, but I thought I would give a quick overview of the upcoming schedule. The overall schedule will have the Leopards meeting 5 NCAA tournament teams and two final four teams including the NCAA national division one champion. Out of conference games are usually constructed to give your team a chance to reconstitute itself, as old and new team members are integrated into a smooth operating unit. The Leopards have a small jump on that process with a successful trip to Spain, as the extra days of practice and games with good competition have helped the younger players gain confidence. That is a first part of the process as new first year players will join the team on August 13.

Katelyn Arnold excutes a kick save against Uconn in 2014
Katelyn Arnold excutes a kick save against Uconn in 2014

The first game will be with Ball State on on August 30 as they will arrive at Rappolt Field for the second time in four years. The last game with Ball State resulted in a 5-1 victory for the Leopards, but Ball State will come with a new competitive coach who will have a different outcome in mind.  The Leopards will not enter the game cold turkey, as multiple practice days will be highlighted with two scrimmages, where the coaches will be able take a look at their charges in Division one competition. The first scrimmage will be a home event at 7pm on August 21 against Big Ten foe Rutgers University. Four days later the Leopards will board a team bus to New York to take on Columbia University on the afternoon August 25 for their final tune up. It is also the day before freshmen orientation and they will move into their new dorm rooms and participate in a  series of meetings and events designed especially for them.

Paige Macrae zeroes in on Lehigh attacker in 2014 5-1 win
Paige Macrae zeroes in on Lehigh attacker in 2014 5-1 win

The next game will feature Siena College as one of the ten home games scheduled this year. The Sept 1 game will be a night game at 7 pm under the lights.The Leopards will then travel south to Virginia to take on Longwood University for the first time in many years. The Leopards continue their tour of Virginia to take on the tough Liberty University Flames who won their conference last year and lost to UNC in the first round of the NCAAs 2-1. The Flames will be looking to avenge a 4-2 loss last year in Easton. The Leopards will begin to get into the meat of their schedule against an always tough Monmouth squad before taking on annual foe Quinnipiac who will be trying to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss from last year. On saturday Sept 19 Lafayette again boards a bus this time to Boston as they open their league schedule against last year’s league champion Boston University. Lafayette will be out to get their first win against the Terriers since they entered the League. Lafayette in both contests lost by 1 goal despite out shooting and out cornering their opponent. It will be an intensive weekend as Lafayette will go to Uconn to take on the two time defending national champion on Sunday the 20th. It does not get easier as Albany, a final four team from last year arrive Easton for a game on the 25th at home at night.  A game with Drexel follows in Philadelphia on Monday at 7pm.

Ami Turner outflanks American University defender in 2014 game
Ami Turner outflanks American University defender in 2014 game

October is dominated by Patriot League games which will decide which 4 teams will play for the Patriot League Championship and a coveted spot in the NCAA national tournament. There will also be games at the University of Pennsylvania ( the most played game outside of Lehigh by Lafayette field hockey), Temple, and Yale. The schedule provides the team with chance to blend together and contains opponents strong enough to give Lafayette an RPI high enough to earn a national ranking. In addition, it appears many of the Patriot League teams have likewise kept their schedules equally challenging, which should enable the league as a whole to advance Each team member has been provided a training regimen so that upon their arrival coaches can concentrate on orienting the team to game schemes and team patterns. It will be a challenging year set to begin in about three weeks.

Seniors Hannah Millen and Kirby Szalkowski talk about the coming season

Recently, while visiting Total Hockey field hockey camp, I had an extended conversation with two of Lafayette’s veterans, Hannah Millen and Kirby Szalkowski. Entering their senior year this fall, these two roommates are determined to make the most of their last season on the Leopard’s turf. ” I suppose it’s a cliche,” said Millen, ” But this is our moment and we will try to make this a great memory for the whole team.” Millen is a history major and Szalkowski is a psychology major.

Rappolt: Are you anxious about this being your senior year?

Szalkowski: No, but we have been playing for the last 3 years and we intend to make the most of  it.

Rappolt: What game are you looking forward to?

Szalkowski: Always the next one……So right now, it’s Ball State on August 30th!! It is always one game at a time and stay focused.

Rappolt : Can you remember the obstacles you had to overcome as freshmen, and can you give any advice to your first year players?

Millen: The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game and to be open to new strategies.

Szalkowski: Yes the pace of the game is much quicker and requires faster decisions.

Millen and Szalkowskow: It’s a hinderance not come to preseason in fit condition. There is a lot to learn and adjust to, and being out of shape is just another thing to be worried about. But that gets sorted out after the first beep tests!!

Rappolt: Are you in contact with each other during the summer, and are you doing anything to integrate the new players.

Millen: Every first year player has someone assigned to her to answer questions, and for help during the summer. We also have 7-10 informal practices so everyone can get together, and begin to feel like we are one seamless  unit.

Szalkowski: That is always an objective. We want to support everyone and feel like one team, not a group of individuals. We are going to be very tight, with one single objective on game day.

Rappolt: Tell me about your experience in Spain.

Millen: It was a great time to bond and I think we played very well. Barcelona and Valencia were beautiful and the beach was great.

Szalkowski: It was great experience. I would love to go back!!

Rappolt: Did your Spanish improve?

Szalkowski and Millen: (Laugh) The effort was there. Amanda Magadan was our translator since she is fluent. But we all tried, and the local population was very helpful. Aside from the field hockey, seeing another culture and the beauty of the architecture left an impression on all of us.

Rappolt: You played one game against a men’s side, any differences???

Millen: Yes they hit the ball harder, and they were very strong.

Szalkowski: They had very accurate passing, but it was a great experience!

Rappolt: What did you get out of it the trip, overall field hockey wise?

Szalkowski: In the first game we were a little tentative but once we got our confidence, I thought we played well. That first contest we won 2-0 I think.

Millen: The other game was in our favor 6-2 as we played as a complete unit, the men’s game was 0-5 but we learned a lot. The last game was cancelled because of a thunderstorm. But I really think we came together during the trip!

Rappolt: Any last words? What will you be doing the rest of the summer?

MIllen and Szalkowski: We are looking forward to the season, when we have the whole team in camp. Millen said she will be working for her uncle, and Szalkowski will be working earning extra money for the fall. Both will continue to play hockey and remain sharp.