Two Lafayette Players And Asst Coach Heading To USA Field Hockey National Championships

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Molly McAndrew chases down VCU opponent

Veteran Lafayette teammates , senior Molly McAndrew, and junior Sydney Woolston will travel with asst Coach Jenny Rizzo to Virginia Beach on June 15-20 to play in the USA Field Hockey National Championships. The 10 team tournament is a selection opportunity for the U 21-22 US team, and the US Development team. The 10 teams will be sprinkled with current US team members, increasing the competitive talent for each team. Lafayette alumnus and captain of the US Team Amanda Magadan will be playing on Team Spirit, coached by US teammate Melisa Gonzalez.

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Molly McAndrew was assigned to Team Unity coached by Iain Byers head coach at Longwood University, Sydney Woolston will be with Team Brave coached by Ohio State asst coach Kate Lipton, and Jenny Rizzo will be with Team Courage coached by Roz Ellis, University of Iowa asst coach. They will be playing an international format with crossover games at the end to determine a champion.

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Sydney Woolston is part of the stout Leopard defense!!

Aside from the current US Team members, the teams are populated by the best collegiate and post collegiate players in country, competing for a coveted spot on one of the US teams. Because of Covid, the tourney was not played last year.

McAndrew was rookie of the year her freshman year, and subsequently been an all league selection. The respect she gets is demonstrated by her being double and triple teamed on most every occasion. Woolston showed her talent from her initial season at Lafayette on defense, by having defensive saves and is a key member of a very solid defense at Lafayette. Jenny Rizzo played for Penn State and also played professionally in Europe.

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Jenny Rizzo was star goalie at Penn State

Phil Edwards who is USA Field Hockey’s manager of Coaching and Performance congratulated all the participants on being selected to play in this prestigious tournament.

Lafayette To Return Two All Americans This Fall

Emma Garvey and Mary Gould of Lafayette stop Bison attack at the goal

The Lafayette Field Hockey Team has barely finished their spring/fall season and thoughts have changed to a preseason that is less than 60 days away. Covid is still leaving its mark on NCAA sports as the NCAA ruled that all NCAA athletes who were on the roster in the 2020-21 academic year will receive an extra year of eligibility. That means that some seniors may be wearing new jerseys in the fall has they proceed to graduate school or they may be playing an extra season as a graduate student or adding a second major at their present school.

For Lafayette that means Audrey Sawers has elected to go for her fifth year. Audrey was the team’s MVP, first team all league and regional all American. Audrey was just getting into stride as the spring season progressed and in my opinion showed extra ordinary growth in confidence and strength. Sawers played on the under 21 Canadian national team last summer and was clearly a leader at her center mid position.

In addition, Simone Hefting ’23 also a regional all American returns for her Junior year. Her clear athletic ability and big hit will be a huge asset in the backfield which has traditional been a key position for the Leopards over the years.

There are a number of good players who got lots of playing time in a schedule that may have been the toughest in the League. They played American twice, Lehigh, Boston, Bucknell, and Holy Cross.

Coach Stone and the team will still have challenges to meet. On the first day of practice she will have 10 players who have not played one second of division one field hockey. Four are last. years freshman who were unable to play because of Covid rules and the entering class ( two from the Netherlands, one from Canada, one from New Zealand and California and Connecticut. Meshing that all together with the returning players, who played a tough spring schedule will be the task of a very talented coaching staff. Outside of Bucknell, Lafayette was the only league team to complete their assigned schedule.

Meanwhile, the other league teams will keep several seniors for their extra year. American’s Noor Coenan, and Gabby DeKock will be back to challenge league opponents. Lenke Havas returns to Lehigh to raise their hopes as they become more formidable with each season. Of course Bucknell, this year’s champion and winner of one game in the NCAA’s will return a seasoned group of players with confidence.

To me it looks like a great fall for fans!!

Season Ends With A Spectacular Championship Game….Now What??

The North Carolina v Michigan game was worthy of the championship imprimatur. It was a game that not only was played with skill but with heart. Michigan, who beat Bucknell 2-0 and Louisville to get there, showed they were ready. It was a game that demonstrated two different  regional styles of play. On the Michigan Big Ten side, it was physical intense play, but on the UNC side there was more finesse, behind the best player in the country, Erin Matson. It was Matson in the end, who performed on an overtime penalty corner….no fake…no dodge, just sheer power past a very fine Michigan goalie. However, it was still a gutsy performance by Michigan, ultimately hampered by several cards which limited their offensive chances. Great Field Hockey for us fans!!

Meanwhile the Patriot League Makes a Statement

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Congratulations to Bucknell, who put away a game and undefeated Virginia Tech team, on the way to playing the number 2 team in the nation. For the life of me I can not off the top of my head name a dominant star on the Bison team ( like I can name Erin Matson on UNC team). They played a steady, disciplined game, stressing a team approach. In the end Michigan was just too good.  But Bucknell represented the Patriot League well, and as their season progressed, they just got better and better in the end winning six straight!!.

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Sophie Carr sprints to get in position

What will the Patriot League look like next year? The League will be better as teams have already revealed that many senior stars will return for a fifth season. American will return Gaby de Kock and Noor Coenen, and Lehigh will return Lenke Havas. I would be pleased if Lafayette could return one senior who really was a dominant player  on the team…we will see!

In the meantime the Leopards have recruited one of the best classes ever. They dipped into the foreign player pool to pick up two players from the Netherlands, one from Canada and one from New Zealand. In addition, they have added a player from California and one from Connecticut. There are four good players who didn’t see action this spring due to Covid regulatory issues and will battle for playing time.

Coach Stone in her http://www.goleopards.com interview stressed how hard her team of coaches worked in building this class. The skill will be there, but the team and the coaching staff will have to work hard, molding this eclectic group into a  team this summer. Lafayette played every game to a one goal margin and just one other win would have put them into the PL tournament with a team that played Lafayette into overtime.

Lastly, I have urged the League and Lafayette to install video review. There DOESN’T seem to be a monetary reason to delay this any longer. Stay tuned!!

How Did The Various D1 Conferences Perform With Covid

First, the worst performance goes to the Ivy League who played no sports. Not only did they screw their students and athletes,  but ruled they could play a fifth year IF THEY APPLIED FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL AT THE SAME SCHOOL!. Only the ruling came after applications closed for Ivy grad schools. It was reported that many IVY baseball players went to Florida and formed their own league while attending school virtually. There are some graduating seniors who will play at other schools this fall. Grade for a miserable performance is F minus.

The ACC had a fall season and a spring, It was controlled and fair. Grade A

The Patriot League did not have a fall season but managed to put together a spring season with abbreviated schedules. The Field Hockey schedules for this 7 team league was undecipherable with Lafayette not meeting Colgate and playing American twice. Boston University was to play Colgate and Holy Cross twice (they failed to play the second game with Colgate) and did not meet American all season. Boston gets a huge question mark by forcing players to play with masks ( dutifully done by placing them on their chin). There were no cases of “chin” Covid all season!!!Bucknell was the only team in the Patriot League playoffs that played a complete schedule!  Lafayette, on the other hand was the first league member to allow spectators….well done!!  Overall grade for the League… a solid C.

Other leagues allowed out of conference games in almost all cases, so C plus to a solid B for the rest!!

Bucknell Travels To Penn State To Meet VCU In NCAA Tournament

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Emma Garvey and Mary Gould of Lafayette stop Bison attack at the goal

Strangely, the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, in part, will be played at the home of the Nittany Lions, but the Penn State field hockey team will not be playing. They neither won the Big Ten title or received an at large bid following the end of the season conference tournaments. Instead, it will be the nearby Bison of Bucknell who will take the short bus trip to meet VCU, who also won their conference title for the first time by beating St Joseph’s 2-0 in the championship game.

Bucknell’s season was one of recovery, after losing 3 games in row and facing virtual elimination, came back to beat American in overtime and finishing their 3 game sweep with a 3-2 victory over Lafayette. They had to wait a week and a half to play their next game, which turned out to be second seed American. The first seed, Boston was to play 4 seed Holy Cross. Boston got in after not playing a full slate of opponents and had perhaps the weakest schedule in the Patriot League.

In both Patriot League tournament games, Bucknell was to play a patient defensive games using virtually their entire bench. They used 10 bench players in the double overtime win/shootout game with American, aided by 8 saves by Clara McCormick who I believe is the best GK in league at the moment. In addition they earned 12 penalty corners.

In the championship game with Boston they used nine subs, compared two for Boston, and got 15 shots compared to 6 for Boston. In addition, Boston had their two GK’s sidelined and were forced to use a little experienced M/D, who never played in the goal before. They lost several players due to covid protocols as well, and realized only minutes before the game that they were to have no experienced goal keepers. Jeremy Cook correctly surmised, this would be a game of attrition, which was executed perfectly by his team to get the overtime victory at 7:29 into the period.

The VCU game is interesting for its parallels. Its the first time both team have won their conferences. Ironically, VCU only used two subs in it’s 2-0 victory over St Joe’s. In the meantime, their GK, Sasha Elliot had a good outing with 5 saves. VCU’s best win was a win early against ODU, only getting five shots to ODU’s eighteen.

I kind of like Bucknell in this game, but I have no common opponents to judge them by. Clara McCormick is the real deal, and Bucknell earns corners aplenty. The game is at noon Friday and the winner gets to play Michigan on Sunday.

Northwestern, Iowa and Louisville got the at large bids leaving a lot of very good teams watching on their computers!! Crazy year!!

Deja Vu All Over Again

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The Lafayette Field Hockey Team played a magnificent game, but for the second time this season lost in double overtime. If they had won they would have claimed the last slot in the PL championships with 8 points. Holy Cross will get the coveted fourth seed with 7 points.

Jennifer Stone had the team well prepared and they played their hearts out. She had only two field substitutes ( mainly due to aLafayette ill advised covid rule which led to four freshman not being able to play or even been in residence). Each player today stepped up, and had the Eagles stymied at the end of 4 quarters and 1 1/2 overtime. periods. This was a game that is a tribute to the players and Lafayette coaches both

But with minutes left during a corner by American, the umpire committed the unforgivable sin of making a call that may have sealed the Eagle win. I am going to say this so there is no mistake, there was no foul that demanded a stroke. In addition, I have not spoken with any coach or player and the opinion is truly my own and represents only my view as expressed in this independent blog.

Here is a second picture picture the moment the official calls for the stroke. Note, the goaltender is in position, there is another defender near her and if it was a shot the American attacker was at a poor angle . In addition, Audrey is not making an intentional move to foul, she is in a reasonable field hockey position to make a play.

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Coach Stone and the team deserved better today.

I  ran the video five times when I got home. The call was made on Sawers who came out to meet the offensive player during a corner, who was passing to someone on the end line. It  was NOT A SHOT!! The rule is that a stroke is called if the penalty was the result of stopping a sure goal. This call was not even that close or the foul was intentional inside the circle. The reason for a stroke would be an intentional foul inside the circle. Again clearly not occurring

I don’t know how the game would have ended, but to have an obvious offical’s error determine the outcome is wrong. Ironically, yesterday’s soccer game for the PL championship was influenced by a red card during championship, against the undefeated Leopards playing American. Deja Vu!!

I could rail against the officiating, but I don’t see much point, everyone agrees the officiating in field hockey needs improvement. However, I am going repeat my plea to the League, we need to have video replay. All the views I have shown would have been available for video replay. Every major conference has it, and all NCAA tournament games are played with it!!  Patriot League football has it….Patriot League basketball has it…it’s time. The costs are minor and I will make the calls and raise the money myself if necessary. It is my belief with video review eventually the officiating  will get better as well!!

And now the rest of the story

It was obvious from the get go that this was to be an intense game. American was playing for the home field, Lafayette was playing to get into the tournament. But 5:10 into the game the ever dangerous Noor Coenen found the back of the cage off a rebound of a blocked shot. However, with less than 20 seconds left in the opening quarter Lafayette senior Grace Angelella evened it up assisted by Lafayette’s Audrey Sawers. It only took 3:42 into the second quarter for American, and Aidan Rossman to again deliver off a rebound putting American ahead.

With American ahead 2-1 Coach Stone and her assistants had the team ready to respond when Audrey Sawers, who was all over the field making play after play got an assist from Sophie Carr and Anna Steps during a corner delivering the ball to back of the cage evening the score up.

Each team had several chances at the win before play ended in regulation time. The Leopards were possessed during the two overtimes, coming close several times to finishing. Lafayette had 15 shots to American’s 16. Lafayette had 9 on goal to American’s 7. Lafayette had 4 saves to American’s 7, as junior Haile Abbott went all the way. Lafayette had 5 penalty corner’s to American’s 9.

It’s been a bizarre spring as the number one seed was scheduled to play the 4 seed twice and Colgate who came in tied for last ( fifth) twice. BU was NOT scheduled to play American even once. Lafayette had to play American twice and did not play Colgate, but did play Holy Cross and beat them. Lehigh was to play American twice and had the game cancelled. Truly, truly bizarre.

Next year may see several “seniors” return for a rubber last season. American it appears will return two including Noor Coenen. Lenke Haavas from Lehigh is rumored to return and there are several other teams contemplating returning stars to beef up their teams. It could be an exciting fall!!

It’s Simple…Win At American And Colgate And Lehigh Must Lose!

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The message and blog is short this time. Lafayette must win to get 3 points (for a total of 8) and Lehigh and Colgate if they lose would have 6 each. Lafayette would be a 4 seed!! Go Pards!!

You Heard It Here First

The Ivy League has so screwed up the covid protocols with no spring season,

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Sophie Carr sprints to get in position

Ivy grads will use their extra year in another conference. The Ivy League are not the smartest people in the room!!

Lafayette Falls To Bucknell 3-2 In Crucial Game

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Audrey Sawers moves upfield

With three seconds left in the game the Leopards had a penalty stroke opportunity to tie the game. A shot by Alex Talkow was blocked illegally by a Bucknell defender. and  the stroke was called. Audrey Sawers steped quickly to the line and shot to her left and was blocked by sophomore Goal Keeper Clara McCormack. McCormack had been named Goal Keeper of Week by the Patriot League twice this year, but that save may have been the biggest of this abbreviated season.

The game started with the Leopards looking like they were suffering from bus legs as they had traveled to Lewisburg that morning. The first quarter seemed to have the field tilted to favor the Bison. One wonders if the usual travel procedure would have helped. Boston had traveled and stayed overnight traveling to Easton, American did the same, and even the Leopards stayed overnight in Worcester. I am sure there is some “alumnus” that would have footed the bill!!

Anyway the Leopards were to take advantage of Bucknell errors to get a goal 6:27 into the game with a Tara Hamilton beauty after a scrum in front of the cage. However, the lead was to last a mere 4 minutes when Kaitlyn Long hit on a penalty corner tying it up.

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However, with less than 6 minutes left in the half Audrey Sawers took a penalty corner to score and put the Leopards up 2-1.

After the half, the Bison came out on fire with two goals, the first at 36:37 from Rachel Ana and one minute later to take the lead 3-2. The Leopards, for the remainder of the quarter and 5 minutes into the fourth held their defense back behind the 50. With 10 minutes left in the game they began to press and had good success and started to take control of the game. At 1:15 left in the game, Coach Stone pulled the goalie, which eventually led to a corner with 11 Leopards on the edge of the circle and Talkow’s shot. During that fourth quarter the Leopards had 6 shots to the Bison 3 and 3 penalty corners to none for Bucknell.

Emma Garvey and Mary Gould of Lafayette stop Bison attack at the goal

Outside of the 4 th quarter the total stats look familiar.  Shots were 10-10, saves were 6 for Lafayette to 7 for Bucknell, and penalty corners were 5-5. One statistic that stands out is Lafayette had two substitutions, Bucknell had eight.By my reckoning only two missing can be accounted for by injury, the rest seem to be not in residence.

It’s not over yet, with one game left in Washington, D.C against American. In any case, looking at next year there is a lot of work to be done in the preseason with perhaps as many as 10 roster places who will have not played in a single division one game!!

Leopards Gear Up To Meet The Bison

We are coming down to the final games, and Bucknell will be playing their final regular season game with Lafayette on Sunday in Lewisburg. It is a crucial game that has playoff consequences for both teams. No doubt it will be senior day for the 5 seniors on the roster for Bucknell. During the American/ Bucknell game the Bucknell announcer said that Head Coach Cook had no juniors. Looking at the roster and those that played, I find that not to be true. However he is starting a number of freshmen and sophomore’s in key positions.

Like most Lafayette/Bucknell games the stats look very similar given that Bucknell has played one more game. This game, the final game of the regular season is no more vital than any other game against the orange foes.

Bucknell is 2-3 with an overtime win against American. They have 4 goals and given up 11, taken 51 shots ag 68 given up and has 25 penalty corners while giving up 31,

Lafayette on the other hand also has 4 goals, but given up 6, has 27 shots but given up 22, and crucially had only 14 penalty corners but gave up 23.The Leopards need to get to the attacking third and penetrate the circle to get shots and earn corners!!

I hope the team will travel on Saturday to get some rest. Arriving on the same day would not be helpful. Boston, when they played Lafayette took two buses and arrived a day in advance!!

In the rest of the League, American will host Lehigh, and Boston will host Holy Cross.

Leopards Make Heroic Effort, But Fall In Double Overtime

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Audrey Sawers gets ready to launch one against American

It was a game that deserved to be in the Leopard column, given the extraordinary effort by the team and especially the senior class. Yes, shots were 6 to 7 in Lafayette favor, saves by freshman goalkeeper were the same at two ( Garvey, the Leopard goalkeeper had a great outing as her debut in division one), but penalty corners were 12-4 in favor of the Eagles. However, many of those corners came in bunches as they were called one after each corner in succession.

In fact, the first goal by American came on the fourth attempt at a corner by Merel Dupont after an assist by Noon Coenen at 7:43 into the game. That gave the lead to American until Audrey Sawers found the back of the cage at 46:42 nearly bending back the glove of Bryn Underwood, American’s freshman GK. The score remained at 1-1 until regulation time ended.

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Sophie Carr sprints to get in position

There were several calls for corners by the umpire outside of the shooting circle which was noticed by the partisan crowd at the side lines. In many cases the. Eagles were to draw multiple penalties on several occasions in regular time and the two overtimes. Finally at 75:32 Gaby de Kock received a hard crossing pass from Coenan which was delivered to the right side of the cage.

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Eva Kaplan sends a pass downfield

Coach Stone highlighted all five seniors Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps. Coach Stone cited the five seniors for their leadership during the game. Sawers especially was to make several length of the field runs that nearly set up scoring chances inside the circle. The whole team showed remarkable heart even though the score ended up in favor of American in the end.

They all left it on the field with their heads up, because there was nothing to be down about. It was an outstanding effort. There will be a second chance in DC in the last regular season game at the end of the season. Next week it will be Bucknell at Bucknell!!!

It’s All About The Points

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As the Patriot League League Spring/Fall Season reaches the half way point the question for most fans (including myself) is how the field is picked for the League Championship. Four teams will succeed to the tournament to be decided by a predetermined scheme decided by the League.

Patriot League field hockey consists of seven teams with the top four making the 2021 PLFH Championship Field. All games played count toward standings. Each victory is worth 3 points and an overtime loss is worth 1 point. A team losing in regulation does not receive a point. A points per game system would be utilized if teams do not compete in the same number of contests.

To me that gives an advantage to teams playing less games and especially since teams do not have the same schedule eg. Boston was to play Colgate and Holy Cross twice but does not see American. Colgate does not play Lafayette or American. Last Saturday Boston beat Colgate and was to play them a second time on Sunday but didn’t because they had no subs. As most third graders are aware, if the denominator is smaller, but the numerator is the same, the number with the smaller denominator is larger .

The League defines its calculation as Points per game is defined as the number of points compiled though the season divided by. the number of games played.

So does that mean each team has a different denominator?? So far American, Lehigh, Boston and Colgate will only be playing 5 games. Lafayette, Bucknell, and Holy Cross will have played 6 games.

The league has added this in # When comparing records against a single or group of tied teams ( before tie is broken ) the higher winning percentage will prevail even if the number of games played is not equal among the tied teams.( e.g. 2-0 is better than 1-0, 4-2 is better than 2-4,and 0-1 is better than 0-2)

Confused??? Join the club!! It could be fixed by just playing make up games. There is enough space in the week to get that done…other leagues are playing multiple games during a week’s period.

The current standing are Boston University 3-0 9 points, Colgate 2-1 6 points, Lehigh 2-0 6 points, American 1-1 4 points, Lafayette 1-2 4 points, Bucknell 1-3 3 points, and Holy Cross 0-3 1 point.

Several teams could be in precarious positions after this weekend’s game. A win by Lafayette would be extremely helpful for placement in the tournament. Losses by Bucknell, Holy Cross and Colgate in regulation would be disasters for those teams with the ability to only gather 3 more points for Bucknell and Colgate and 6 more for Holy Cross.