Beware The Tie Breaker

We all know the drill since we have been here in years past. If there is a tie between two or more teams in the league standings the Patriot League tie breakers kick in. However, there are separate field hockey tie breaker specific rules. At the present the Leopards have a 3-1 record in the league tied for second place. American has qualified already for the playoffs but has not locked up that second place. Although Lafayette is in a good position the playoff spot is not locked up. It may depend on tomorrows games to clarify things.

A win by Lafayette against American this week or a win next week against Bucknell would get the Leopards in with a 4-2 record. On the other hand a loss by Holy Cross would knock them out on the head to head tie breaker with Lafayette. Should Holy Cross win the next two game against Bucknell and Boston University, and Lafayette loses to American and Bucknell, Bucknell is in Lafayette is out. If Holy Cross wins against Bucknell and loses to BU and Lafayette loses to Bucknell, it’s 3 way tie and tie breakers are activated. In that case who knows??

The four tiebreakers are:

  1. Comparison of records versus out of league common opponents.
  2. Goal differential between tied teams (capped at +- 4)
  3. Goal differential between tied teams in all league games  (capped at +- 4)
  4. Comparison of NCAA RPI rating.

The answer is simple the Leopard fate is in their hands…just win!!

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Go Pards

 

 

Seniors To Play Their Last Game At Their Home Field As Playoffs Approach

It will be Senior Day on Saturday as the Leopards will meet American University in a game that may lock in their first appearance in the Patriot League Playoffs in three years. They would secure their place with a win or a loss by Holy Cross against Bucknell. A win could also determine a higher seed and chance to finish second in the league standings. In all likelihood, it may not change the ultimate opponent in two weeks but might give many of our player a leg up on much deserved recognition.

Three seniors, Theresa Delahanty, Rachael Bird, and Kristen Taylor are the only players who have playoff experience, having played in the last game against American 3 years ago. All five seniors have been contributors these past years and have had to battle bad luck, injuries and tough times to finally get there again. I don’t believe they will let this opportunity slip by. Delahanty, Bird and Taylor have overcome game missing injuries in the past two years, but along with seniors Adriana Pero and Liza Welch will not let this opportunity get by them again. Saturday’s game could be a statement for them and the team for 2018.

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Adriana Pero sprints after the ball

Number 3 Adriana Pero

Adriana came to Lafayette via Harleysville,Pa and Mount St. Joseph Academy.  Her experience in High School was punctuated with post season success making the district playoffs for four years and state playoffs for two years.  She improved her play by playing for the highly touted WC Eagles and winning the gold medal at the Disney Field Hockey Showcase. As a key member of the defense this year she made significant contributions in games she started in, Fairfield, Boston, and wins at Villanova and Colgate. She has had one defensive save as well this year

Always known for her fitness and determination, Adriana first caught my attention two years ago in a game with Boston University as a smart canny defender. She is a team player who has learned to play for the benefit of all not just herself. But she also stands out in the classroom who at last reckoning had a 3.85 average as a Neuroscience major. She entered Lafayette as National Honor Society member, nominated for the Diocesan Scholar Program, and was an AP Scholar with Distinction. Her academic excellence continues at Lafayette. Last year in preparation  to apply to medical school she has already taken the MCATS. I’ve spoken with two of her neuroscience professors and they speak with great admiration for her scholarship and determination. All agree she will make a great physician in the future.

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Liza Welch moves the ball along the baseline

Number 4 Liza Welch

Liza hails from Sutton, Massachusetts, not far from Holy Cross, and we are glad she found Lafayette to her liking. In High School she scored 61 goals and was named to the Central Mass Super Team. She was the DVC Player of the Year and also played tennis. Academically strong, she earned the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for advanced MCAS scores. She continued her excellent academic work as a Dean’s List student in Chemistry.

Liza made her first start against Harvard in 2016, and during the year had several assists. She plays with precision. In 2015 she appeared in 8 games, the first of which was against Ball State. This year was a breakout year, which actually started at the Women’s National High Performance Championships at Spooky Nook where she scored a goal in the opening game.

Her reverse stick shot has served her and the team well, as she has reached the back of the net 3 times so far this season with goals against Maine, Villanova and Colgate. She also has had assists against Temple and Holy Cross. She is a danger to opponents near the goal with 9 shots on goal.

She impresses me with her intelligence on and off the field and I can hear her on the field helping her teammates. We are lucky to have her at Lafayette and a member of the Leopard squad.

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Senior Kristen Taylor plays her usual tough defense against Fairfield

Number 9 Kristen Taylor

Kristen Taylor has been a mainstay and contributor to the Leopards virtually from her arrival. Her stick skills serve her and Lafayette well. Especially this year, Kristen can be seen weaving her way through the opposition and finding an open teammate, to get the ball in scoring position. She exhibits amazing fitness and combines it with  determination that makes her an elite athlete.

Kristen’s home is in West Vancouver.B.C. and played High School field hockey at the Crofton House School.

One of  three seniors who have been on the field during a playoff, Kristen played in all 19 games in 2015 getting her first two goals against Sienna. In 2016 she had 10 starts in 18 games, scoring against Temple. In 2017 she saw action in 18 games with 4 starts.

Her skill should be no surprise as she arrived at Lafayette after playing 5 years of Hockey at the Crofton House School. As Captain her team won the  British Columbia  High School Provincial Championship. She was a member of the Field Hockey British Columbia Regional Squad representing British Columbia at the Canadian National Championships for three years. She was hampered this year for 3 games due to a broken thumb, but returned to the lineup in a reserve role at Colgate and had an assist. In a crucial game with Holy Cross she started and scored an important goal. Altogether, she started 10 games out of thirteen and will be a crucial factor in the remaining games this season, hopefully including the playoffs.

She is a tough competitor and fearless on the field and uses her skills to great advantage. She is another Neuroscience major with a Dean’s list average of 3.33 at the last accounting.

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Rachael Bird shuts down a Penn attacker

Number 10 Rachel Bird

Rachel has been a key contributor when healthy. She has always had a “big hit” and very strong in the backfield. This year her skill and strength is demonstrated by her ability to launch the ball in the air over the opposing defense. Additionally she has a Patriot League leading 4 defensive saves. ( I actually counted one more against Colgate). Her reliability is reinforced by her role as the “kick back” goalie when the coaching staff pulls the regular goalie, hoping to score a needed goal in closing minutes. She only played in 8 games last year due to injury, and has been  a captain for the last two years.

She was MVP of her High School team and played in numerous national tournaments being name MVP in the Polar Bear Tournament. She comes from West Vancouver and played for West Vancouver Secondary where she was named the Outstanding Senior Female Athlete.

She manages to put herself where needed on the field, and her reemergence as a key player has been an added benefit to the squad. She is a graduate of the Oaks Leadership Academy and at last reckoning had the highest GPA on the team of 3.93, majoring in economics and German.

She is as engaging as she is brilliant, and demonstrates a plethora of skills that will serve her well, it whatever she attempts in the future

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Theresa Delahanty shows her fight competing for the ball

Theresa Delahanty Number 17

“T’ is an all Patriot League midfielder who is known for her aggressive style and competitive spirit. It is no wonder she was elected a co-captain this year. It’s not hard to see her ability, and for that reason she was named to the Women’s National Championship at Spooky Nook and is a member of the US indoor squad. Early on in the season she broke her thumb.and was forced to the sidelines but as soon as she was able to play, her impact could be seen. She started in 13 games scoring 11 points while delivering seven shots on goal connecting for 3 goals and 5 assists. Theresa is the first Leopard opponents have to deal with as they cross the 50 yard line and she often finds herself double teamed.

During the Villanova game she delivered for 2 goals and one assist with three shots. She has a 33 percent shot percentage. She is a natural leader, but is known for her big heart. She volunteered last winter to cut off all her hair in a campaign to raise money for children’s cancer.

Theresa is a native of Washington Crossing Pa. and went to Council Rock North High School and played for the Mystx Field Hockey Club.

She is another veteran of the last playoff game the Leopards were in. I except to see a lot of energy from her and inspiring her teammates in the remaining games. No doubt her opponents will be keying on this playmaker.

She no slouch in the classroom as a Mechanical Engineering major. She arrived at Lafayette as member of the Distinguished Honor Roll, National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society.

******. Just announced Theresa has been selected to play in the Division One all star game in Louisville. Congratulations!!

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Leopards Fans always behind their team!!

The 12th Team Members

I have to recognize the parents of all these outstanding young women who have supported them at Lafayette and before. Playing a division one sport is difficult and the preparation is rigorous…for that.. thank you parents. Your are your daughter’s rock that helped them through their most difficult moments. The outcome in the next few games are unknown, but I know they will be leaving it all on the field, which will be a tribute to you all. In June they will be alumnae and will begin their life’s journey, but they will bring with them the experiences of the last 4 years…. which will make them stronger. GO PARDS

 

Leopards Do Everything But Find The Back Of The Net

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Liza Welch speeds down the center of the field in the first half

Lafayette did a lot of things right at Providence this afternoon, except find the back of the cage. They led in shots, shots on goal, and penalty corners. On several occasions they found themselves point blank at the Friars goalkeeper but could not get a handle on the ball or the Providence fine senior goalkeeper found ways to block or deflect shots away. That, in effect was the whole frustrating afternoon as these teams battled in what might  have been a defensive game, for a majority of the minutes.

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Adrianna Pero get ready to receive the ball

Providence scored in both periods finally ending the game with a 2-0 win on their senior day. The Leopards again used their high press which served them well in their previous game against Holy Cross, and it did deliver several opportunities which were turned away. Providence’s counter attack worked well as both goals, one at 15:18 and the other at 64:57  proved to be enough to defeat the Leopards despite the Leopards having 6 shots on goal to Providence’s 4.

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Rachel Bird and Christine Turnbull close in on Friar attacker

The weekend was still successful as the Leopards are now 6-9 but own a 3-1 League record with a very favorable position to make the playoffs. The terrible Connecticut route 95 traffic gave me lots of time to turn over several permutations regarding the playoff picture. Boston University is 4-0 with two games left and looks solid to host, but there are absurd scenarios where they might lose that position. After that its closely bunched, with American and Lafayette tied for second at 3-1, Bucknell and Holy Cross are  tied in fourth with identical 2-2 records, and Lehigh and Colgate are virtually out of it.

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Kristen Taylor lets one go as Theresa Delahanty follows

Next week Holy Cross plays Bucknell. A win by Bucknell or win by Lafayette next week or the following week would lock up a tournament spot for the Leopards. Holy Cross is meeting Bucknell and Boston University to finish the regular season League games. Lafayette has American next week, followed by a season finale at Bucknell. Holy Cross would need to win against Bucknell and Boston while Lafayette would have to lose against Bucknell and American to throw the race for the playoffs to a tiebreaker scenario between Bucknell and Lafayette in which case the Leopards would not be in the playoffs.

After figuring that all out, the seedings become another matter. So to summarize, a win e against American or Bucknell puts a lock on the postseason, as does a loss by Holy Cross next week against Bucknell or Boston University a week later.

 

 

 

A 3-2 Win At Holy Cross Puts The Leopards In Control

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Molly McAndrews speeds towards the goal

It’s been an amazing turnaround and the game today at Holy Cross  demonstrated every aspect of Leopard play that has brought on Lafayette’s strong recent success. I hesitate to type this, but this was as strong an all around performance I have seen from a Lafayette squad. The Leopards came to play, and from the opening whistle they made a statement. First, Coach Stone and her assistants should be congratulated for an excellent game plan. Second, the execution of the plan by the team from the get go was inspiring. Holy Cross was stymied by the Lafayette high press and had  trouble getting any offensive rhythm going.  The 3-2 score was deceiving, Holy Cross had tremendous difficulty crossing the Lafayette 50 yard line.

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Theresa Delahanty challenges defenders as she approaches the circle

Lafayette had a decided shot advantage (24-7), with shots on goal  (12-4), and corners ( 8-1). Quite frankly, from my vantage point there should have been at least 4 more corners. The second goal became controversial  when an official waived it off, despite a clear deflection from Kristen Taylor, which saw the ball change direction on its way to goal from Kristen’s position inside the circle. After an appeal that official was overruled by the second official who had a better view.

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Sam DiMaio steals the ball

Scoring began at 10:34 as Caroline Turnbull unleashed a strike following an assist by Liza Welch and Lisa van der Geest on a penalty corner. Going into the half, despite controlling the tempo and location of play, the Leopards had a tenuous lead of 1-0. It was the Taylor goal following a long DeLongis pass that was to put the Leopards in a more comfortable 2 goal lead. Why it was necessary was brought home, as Holy Cross’ Oliva Versey at 48:45 placed a rebound in the back of the net. It was Molly McAndrew however, that was to put the game out of reach, with a high rebound at 66:04. Holy Cross’ Emily Loprete was to get a goal with 50 seconds left but the Leopards were to frustrate the Crusaders by finally heading to corner to run out the clock.

The Leopards are 3-1, tied for second with American who they will meet this Saturday at Rappolt Field. Next in the standings comes Bucknell and Holy Cross at 2-2. It’s a little late, but going through the permutations in my head, I don’t see a way the Leopards will be left out of the postseason. Lafayette will play American and Bucknell as two of the four remaining regular season games. Holy Cross will play Bucknell and  Boston University . and Colgate and Lehigh have been eliminated.

Lafayette is playing it’s best hockey of the year and it is not beyond comprehension that they could still end up with a winning record. There remains out of conference games  with Providence ( Sunday at 1) and Cornell a week from Monday.

Given the quality hockey being played so far, the Patriot League Tournament is really up for grabs. It could be an exciting two days come November.

After the game the Welch’s graciously hosted the team and their fans for a tailgate at their home. The faces reflect the celebratory atmosphere.

 

 

 

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Holy Cross, This Is Not About The Numbers

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Rachael Bird shuts down a Penn attacker

The Leopards will be on the road with a 3 game winning streak behind them, traveling to  meet the Crusaders of Holy Cross who have a 3 game winning streak of their own. As most you who follow this blog know, I love to sort out the game using statistics. But these games with Holy Cross have been anything about playing to numbers. Coach Lindsey Jackson somehow manages to get her team ready for Lafayette and enjoys a three game winning streak against our Leopards. The Crusaders love to fast break and high press, and as usual they feature a sprinting forward who can find the goal and an excellent goal keeper to keep it close, if necessary. But just for fun let’s look at the record.

Lafayette is 5-8 while finding a strong offense. They have scored 29 goals in 13 games averaging 2.3 goals per game while taking 162 shots for  12.5 shots per game. The scoring per shot is a very respectable, 18 percent, with a great improvement coming in the  last five games. Even more impressive is the diversity of the attack with 7 players scoring 3 or more goals. The defense can be counted on as well, with Lisa Van der Geest anchoring the backfield as well as scoring a team leading 6 goals. Senior co-captain Rachael Bird has a remarkable 4 defensive saves.  ( Going back over the games I believe there was an additional DS against Colgate which wasn’t recorded).

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Liza Welch moves the ball along the baseline

On the Crusader side, Emily Loprete has a league leading 10 goals on 23 shots for a 23 pct scoring percentage. The team itself has 21 goals on 145 shots. Marica LaPlante, the converted ice hockey goalkeeper, has been a wall with a  78 pct save percentage on 289 shots. The Crusader have gotten 45 penalty corners but have given up 103 corners.  Lafayette has 79 penalty corners and only given up 58 in their 13 games.

Loprete scored two goals in the Crusaders last outing against LaSalle, so she remains the key resource for scoring going into Saturday’s contest. One thing which did stand out to me was the average RPI of Holy Cross’ wins, which was 72 as opposed to Lafayette’s average RPI against teams they defeated is 54 ( higher than their own 55 RPI).

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But as I have learned in the previous three years, forget statistics. Both teams need this game to help them into the Patriot League playoffs. Lafayette and Holy Cross are 2-1 in the league and a win would be a big leg up. In previous years Holy Cross has won on the tiebreaker with the results of head to head competition the deciding factor. After Saturday’s game, Lafayette will meet American and Bucknell. Holy Cross will also meet Bucknell and will play Boston University as one of their final two games. The losing team will probably have to run the table to get in the playoffs.

So it appears Lafayette will need plenty of shots to get beyond LaPlante and Holy Cross will need to fast break to score on the Leopards. High scoring game?? If the recent history is any template for Saturday’s contest it’ll be a close low scoring game with neither side willing to give in and battling all the way. The only numbers that will matter is who has more goals. Go Pards!! It’s an 11 am start in clear cool weather!!

Jenn DeLongis Is A Key Contributor In 2-1 Upset Of Penn

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Molly Mc Andrew closes in on a Quaker

Ranked 20th by RPI the University of Pennsylvania came to Rappolt Field a decided favorite but the Leopards were to take advantage of every opportunity while raising their defense to stop Penn when they needed. Junior Jenn DeLongis made her one shot count by scoring the winning goal at 47:33 into the game assisted by Audrey Sawer. DeLongis found a path through two defenders and the Penn goalkeeper making the score 2-1. She also contributed to the tying score which occurred at 42:49 off a rocket from Lisa Van der Geest fed by DeLongis and Delahanty.

But the defense also stepped up as they closed off opportunity after opportunity by the Quakers. Notably, Rachael Bird had two defensive saves on the night and nearly broke open the game after a Penn miss at the goal (  a high shot) and took the ball almost the length of the field in a heads up play, while the stunned Quakers wanted to argue the “no goal.” Sarah Park had three saves on the night turning away three of Penn’s six SOGs and Bird accounting for two more.

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Liza Welch and Adrianna Pero have all under control

Lafayette again came from behind showing a winning attitude. This was a team effort and was reflected in the bench standing on the sidelines cheering on their teammates.

Attendance again was good as 428 fans showing up to cheer on their friends and daughters.

Lisa Van der Geest again showed great leadership on the field while playing every minute. The Leopards showed offensive diversity as anyone seems to be able to contribute at any moment.

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The Lafayette bench cheers on their teammates

The Leopards also are getting good news as several of its walking wounded are gradually returning and this will undoubtedly be bad news for future Lafayette opponents.

Lafayette will now travel to Holy Cross for a crucial Patriot League matchup this Saturday at 11 am. Holy Cross and Lafayette both have 2-1 record in the league.

Lafayette Emerges With 5-4 Win In A Seesaw Game

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Molly McAndrew, Audrey Sawer and Jen DeLongis close on Colgate

Lafayette spotted Colgate a two goal lead in the opening 18 minutes before launching an offense of their own in a wild first period,  where Colgate pulled all the stops out playing with abandon. In the early going, the Leopards conceded the first 50 yards before engaging an aggressive Colgate team determined to take down their Patriot League rival. Conversely, Lafayette needed this game to have a run at the playoffs and a chance to have a successful league record.

With only 5:46 run off the clock, Colgate’s Meghan Minturn received an assist from Kali Williams and Nicole Salmone during their only corner of the game. Despite going down to block the shot Minturn was able to lift the ball over the Lafayette goalie, Sarah Park, to take a 1-0 lead. The Colgate defense continued to harass Lafayette, keeping control and turning the Lafayette offense back. The Lafayette coaching staff finally called a time out at 12:15 to make some adjustments. Aided by  more aggressive defensive play and interceptions, the Leopards were able to get off several shots by Kristin Taylor who had returned to the field after an injury to her thumb which had sidelined her for the last several games. Molly McAndrew also took a shot which hit the post to the disappointment of Lafayette fans.

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Grace Angelella is swarmed by the Colgate defense

It was shortly after the post miss by McAndrew, that Colgate reorganized and Nora Mulroy assisted by Salmone found the cage at 17:52 making it 2-0 Colgate. Lafayette continued to play and found several shots, until at 21:53 Sam DiMaio got the tap in assisted by Taylor and McAndrew after a turnover. It was a one goal game again as  Lafayette began to have success of their own using a press and were able to get turnovers enabling an offensive surge.

Colgate’s Minturn had a hit post of her own at 22:02, as the back and forth action continued. At 23:46 Molly McAndrew received a long pass from Audrey Sawer, and found herself one on one with the Colgate goalie. Using a very flat angle she found the net making it 2-2 with a beautiful backhand. However, four minutes later Colgate’s Salamone  found her first goal of the season, with the Lafayette goalie out of position as she took advantage of the rebound. Colgate 3-2. Less than two minutes later senior attacker Liza Welch used her reverse stick shot, after a pass from Sawer to get her third goal of the season and more importantly tie the score at the half.

At 40:56 after several shots Lafayette’s Rachel Bird got her first goal of the season during a penalty corner,  assisted by Lisa van der Geest and Theresa Delahanty, by poking it behind the Colgate goalie. Lafayette had multiple shots during the period, but it was Colgate who was to get their fourth and tying goal, receiving a pass in the center of the scoring circle and finding a gap for a low shot.

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Kristin Taylor closely marks her Colgate opponent

With the score tied 4-4 the action went back and forth until, with about 5 minutes left on the clock, Lisa van der Geest assumed the role of hero during a corner and using the assist from Theresa Delahanty and Jen DeLongis  to redirect a hard shot into the goal for the fifth and deciding score for the Leopards.

Colgate called a timeout with three minutes to go to no avail, as the Leopards were able to shutoff any threat and run out the clock for the win.

Despite a game effort by the Raiders, Lafayette was to dominate the stats with 19 shots to 5 for the Raiders. ( The Raiders were to have four shots on goals which all resulted in goals). Colgate had 10 saves the Leopards had none. Lafayette had 9 penalty corners to one for the Raiders.

The Leopards will play a good Penn team at 4 pm at Rappolt Field and will then have an extremely important game at Holy Cross on Saturday. The Leopards have been beaten by the Crusaders for the last three years. A win would move the Leopard chances for a playoff appearance ahead. ( as a win for Holy Cross would do the same for them).