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!!

Who To Believe….A Poll Or A Rating??

One of the neat occupations of sports fans is to follow the rankings of their favorite teams. It provides occupation and conversation as to who is better before the actual teams meet. What game is an upset, betting lines are established in some sports, recruiting in colleges is effected, and Bowl matchups are decided, as is seeding in tournaments on the basis of polls and ratings.

A poll is basically a survey of people who should know the relative strength of teams. Polls are subject to bias since the respondents may only see teams within their own conference or region. The NFHCA produces a poll every two weeks in field hockey. It is a survey of coaches and relies on respondents that may or may not be the same every polling period. Each conference uses a preseason poll of SID’s and coaches who may or may not be influenced by past games and familiarity with other teams in the conference.

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Woolston and Boccella charge stop a Villanova corner

In many sports there are mathematical rating systems which use statistical algorithms to arrives at an unbiased result. It relies on observations of actual games and assigning values based on actual results. It’s weakness is early in the season where the observations are small it can be unreliable. Fans of other sports will recognize the Sagarin system as a rating system for football and basketball.

The rating system used in field hockey is used by Chip Rogers and appears in fieldhockeycorner.com and has not been published as yet since I believe he thinks not enough game have been played. Chip calculates a team’s RPI, Strength of Schedule, Margin of Victory, and other variables to come up with a variety of rankings.

Recently BolsterFieldHockey.com is publishing rankings on a running schedule and uses a system based on the ELO SYSTEM. It is a system based on the efforts of Arpad Elo who developed his approach to rank chess players. Elo was professor of physics at Marquette University and a chess master. In 1960 he developed his system to replace the Harkness Rating system and was approved by the United States Chess Federation.

Eventually his system was adopted by association soccer, American football, basketball, major league baseball, table tennis, and several e-sports. An Elo rating is a comparative rating and is valid within the pool where it was established. So you can’t measure the rating between UNC field hockey and the Dutch National team.

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Hefting delivers the ball downfield

I now come to my final point. The Elo system results can be different than a NFHCA poll. In fact it’s more likely than not. However, it does produce a result I like. ( Is my bias showing). BolsterFieldHockey.com ranks LAFAYETTE 24th in the nation this week whereas in the poll Lafayette does not appear in the Top 25.

Now… about those games with Yale and Quinnipiac this weekend!!!!

As a post script Colgate has cancelled their second game because of Covid restrictions. They have rescheduled this game with Cornell. They are down to 14 games this season. Holy Cross lost to Vermont in their rescheduled game from Sunday

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 AD Freeman To Report To College President

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Lafayette has finally given up the last vestige of “Williams envy,” by having the Athletic Department a part of the President’s cabinet. Most if not all Division one schools recognize the importance of athletics in fostering and nurturing a community culture. Twenty percent of the student body at Lafayette are inter-collegiate athletes and it represents a central activity for attracting alumni back campus.

A successful athletic department can be an advertisement for the college name, and allow it to publicize it’s many other attributes. Lafayette’s unique posture as an undergraduate college willing to reach, makes a statement not only to promote itself internally, but make it’s name more readily known to applicants, employers and other potential supporters.

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For years, alumni have heard from successive administrations comparing Lafayette to Williams or Amherst. This act is a statement and recognition by President Hurd, and the Board of Trustees to move our posture to a more consistent level internally, and externally. We are now more like our brethren in the Patriot and Ivy League, than Nescac or the Centennial Conference.

Previously, the department was attached to Student Life, and the AD reported to VP Annette Diorio. VP Diorio was fully supportive of the move in a statement released by the school, recognizing this was a more appropriate structure for a Division One school.

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Nearly 25 years ago President Arthur Rothkopf wanted Lafayette to move to Division 3 but was stopped by outraged alumni. That era has officially now been buried, and the athletic department can get on with it’s mission of creating leadership opportunities for it’s students, and becoming a unifying internal engine for community identification.

This is a demonstration that President Nicole Hurd was not going to let the grass on College Hill grow too long before she takes charge. She is in charge. Well done Madam President!!

Next Up….Ohio State

The Lafayette Leopards will step on a bus early Thursday morning to travel to Columbus, Ohio for two games, Friday, with a ranked Ohio State squad, and an undefeated Indiana squad on Sunday. The Ohio State game will be the home opener for the Buckeyes after losing this afternoon to Kent State 3-1.

I viewed the game this afternoon, which had several interesting moments. Ohio State seemed to have the better of the action in the opening quarter. The Buckeyes managed to spend most of the quarter in Kent State’s half of the field and managed two shots to Kent State’s zero.

The game was played at Kent State under video review which played a key role in the first Ohio State goal. Midway into the second quarter Ohio State was in the attacking circle when it appeared they earned a corner. Instead the Buckeyes called for a video review which indicated a more serious foul in which the officials then called for a penalty. stroke.

Megan McKenna delivered the goal at 21:10 giving Ohio State the first lead. Kent State then seem to energize itself as they were able to finally get to the circle through breakout runs. Luisa Knapp found herself in front the goal keeper to even the score with 3 1/2 minutes left in half. The pace had now tipped in Kent State’s favor as they got off 5 shots to the Buckeye’s 3.

The second half had an invigorated Kent State get the go ahead goal at 34:33. Ohio State continued to attack the right side, trying to get close to the keeper for the tying goal! Although managing 2 shots Kent State had the better of it with 4 shots mostly set up by long runs, and the final goal at 35:24, this time with an assist.

Ohio State changed their goal keeper in the fourth quarter which ended up even on shots. For the game, corners were 3 to 3. Ohio State had 6 saves to Kent State’s 5. They used 19 players during the contest. Kent State led in shots 12 to 10.

This should be a very competitive game on Friday which will be televised on BTN +at 4 pm as will Sunday’s game at 11 am with 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 +.

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!!

Next Up University Of Albany

The Great Danes of the University of Albany will travel down route 287 to eventually arrive at Rappolt Field on Sunday for a 2 pm exhibition game. As a very successful program, coach Phil Sykes usually carries a very lean roster and Sunday will be no exception. The roster has 19 on it consisting of 8 freshman, 3 sophomores, 4 juniors and 4 seniors. They have experience in the cage with the return of senior Sheriden Messier who had a 66.7 save percentage.

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It is apparent their scoring strategy is to collect penalty corners. They had 60 penalty corners last spring and gave up only 32.  They did manage an average 10.5 shots on goal vs 6.5 for their opponents. They turned their shots into 13 goals but did give up 16 on the way to a 5-5 record last spring and 4-4 in the American East Conference. 

Albany was picked to finish 3rd in the American East Conference behind Monmouth and Maine. They intend to open up with Colgate in several weeks.

The Leopards look forward to another good game on the way to their August 27 open with Hofstra. Should be an interesting Sunday!!

Leopards Show Well In Exhibition Against Delaware Blue Hens

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It is hard to judge the outcome of preseason games as each coach has their own objectives, but Coach Stone and her staff saw a lot to be pleased about and a number things that can be improved upon. If you count shoot out goals, Lafayette ended on top with two more goals than the host Blue Hens. During the regular game Lafayette came out firing on all pistons scoring a sweet goal early in the first period by senior Audrey Sawers. It was followed by a strong goal from Molly McAndrew.

In between Lafayette’s two goals, Delaware was to have a breakaway that put Delaware within one at the half. In the second half, as the temperature rose, the Blue Hens were to find themselves behind the Leopard’s defense to score two more goals, one by their all American Femke Strien.

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Lafayette was to use their stars to take advantage, Audrey Sawers was all over the field. Simone Hefting anchored a defense that kept the Delaware offense off balance. Unfortunately, Delaware got one more goal minutes before regulation time. They played two overtime periods to a stalemate and went to practice shootouts, where Lafayette was to get a three goal advantage highlighted by two circus like goals from Molly McAndrew.

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I always like to see how our unfamiliar names would do and there was half the team that was playing in their first Division one contest.There was a plethora talent on the field which will challenge future opponents. I saw stand out performances from Alden Boccella, Lineke Spanna, Filine Gerbrandij, and Mackenzie Hall.

Goaltenders Haile Abbott and Becca Herbert, who was playing against her old teammates did well, collecting numerous saves on the day. In the regular game I counted six shots and three corners.

So the Leopards will lick their wounds, correct their mistakes and build upon a generally good showing against a good team.

Meanwhile the Patriot League Coaches voted today in a preseason poll picking Lafayette to finish fourth. Audrey Sawers was picked as an all league player. American was picked first, Bucknell was in second position, Boston third, Lafayette fourth, Lehigh fifth, Holy Cross sixth, and Colgate ended up seventh. I normally don’t put much stock in preseason polls but it is what it is.

Lafayette’s first Patriot League game is with American University on Sept 18th at 11 am!!!

.Finally Albany comes to Rappolt Field on Sunday and Lafayette will look to polish their skills before meeting Hofstra for a regular season game on August 27th

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!