Lafayette Propels Into The Playoffs Behind Colbourne Goal And Arnold Saves

With only 27 seconds having run off the clock sophomore midfielder Ellen Colbourne sprinted down the sideline and headed to the circle. She took focus at the prize. Reversing her stick she launched a high shot reminiscent of a missile, as it streamed over the head of the Colgate goalie into the back of the cage. The Leopards were to follow that, during the 70 minute game with 19 more shots, a season high, but were stymied by 12 saves from the Colgate goalie, Maria Krull. The Leopards themselves came up with an outstanding defensive effort,  and Katelyn Arnold was to make key saves giving  her the third shutout of her career. After the game, Colbourne described her feelings scoring her first goal of season, and how excited she was to do it in front of her family, who had traveled all the way from Vancouver to witness her heroics

The game was typical of a Colgate/Lafayette struggle. Three years ago in the playoffs the Leopards had to get beyond the Colgate Raiders to reach the Championship game in an overtime struggle that ended in a 4-3 victory. That season ended with rings for everyone, when the foliowing day the Leopards played a second overtime game to win the championship. Last season Colgate put the hammer to Lafayette’s hopes for a championship in a one-nil game where Lafayette was to have over twenty shots to only low single digit shots for Colgate. Lafayette lost 1-0. The team was looking forward to this chance to avenge that loss but, it was to take a stout defense from the team and Katelyn Arnold’s key saves to bring home the win. The game ended with two Colgate corners with no time on the clock. The team was able to turn them away and preserve the victory.

Hannah Millen shows her offensive skill against a Colgate defender
Hannah Millen shows her offensive skill against a Colgate defender

The win put Lafayette into the Patriot League playoffs as a third seed. All week, fans were using the best of their math and logic skills to envision a path to Boston and a chance for a championship. Lehigh was to make the calculations easy as they defeated Holy Cross 2-1 in a game that started one hour before Lafayette’s game. This left Holy Cross 2-3 in the league and on the bad side of tie breakers. In the end, the Leopards were to put talk of tie breakers aside as the Holy Cross defeat got the Leopards the last place on won/loss record alone,  ending their regular season league campaign at 3-3 and firmly getting their ticket punched for a playoff spot. As they were tied with Bucknell, a Buckell loss to American during the afternoon moved Lafayette to the third seed on the basis of a head to head win against Bucknell earlier in the season. So the season has not ended for our heroes, and a trip to Boston to meet the American Eagles in an afternoon contest on friday for the Patriot League semi-finals is in the offing.

The Lafayette corner offense sprints into action
The Lafayette corner offense sprints into action

The team was not to learn of their fate until after the game when Coach Stone announced it. Hugs and cheers were the result. The regular season is not over as Lafayette is to play Yale in a non-conference finale this afternoon. It is also senior day, as the six seniors cap their careers with their last home appearance in a Lafayette uniform. I usually highlight the careers of the seniors at this point, but since there is still hockey to be played I will leave that until after the final game is played.

Lafayette Falls 3-2 In Key Match-up, Official Calls Remarkable 10 Minute Yellow Card At Key Moment

I have been writing this blog on this format and for a newspaper for years. I have also been an observer of college division one field hockey for 25 years, and yesterday I observed something I have never seen in the hundreds of games I have attended, including games ranging all levels of skill. At 58:30 into this important game an official called her first card of the day of a generally well played match. It was a yellow card against Hannah Millen,  Lafayette’s key defender and captain. OK, stuff happens, and the card was a judgment call. But then we found out she had assigned her a 10 minute penalty! Meanwhile Millen would not return until 1;30 was left, which she did, and scored on a penalty stroke. However, in the meantime Holy Cross was to score using the  extra player advantage which they had for almost the remainder of the final period.

I would assume a ten minute card would be reserved for the most egregious foul, with perhaps a player on the ground. Not so, as you will see in the enclosed video. You make the call. Games are better played when officials do not become part of the outcome. In this case this official became a factor in the eventual result. Not good, especially at this level. It was the first yellow of the game and only second card of the entire game which included a green for Holy Cross.

I don’t want to take anything from Holy Cross who played an inspired second half scoring 3 goals to win and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, but there are 22 contestants on the field and it should be decided there.

Ami Turner breaks upfield in the first half
Ami Turner breaks upfield in the first half

Lafayette started off strong scoring after only seconds were run off the clock in the first period on a corner with a Magadan strike via a Turner to Millen assist. Things looked good for the Leopards as they used the speed of Ellen Coulbourne and Kendall Weedling to advance the ball upfield into scoring position . However, Lafayette had several scoring chances thwarted by Inch, the Holy Cross goalie.

Kendall Weedling cover all angles
Kendall Weedling cover all angles

The second half saw Colbourne double and triple teamed as the Crusaders during halftime planned to take away the Leopards speedy weapon. Having only gotten 4 corners in the first half Holy Cross managed to get 10 corners in the second and at one time 4 corners succeeding in a row were called against the Leopards. The Crusaders were tenacious guarding Lafayette closely and taking advantage of opportunities. Mauren Conolly was active scoring two goals in the second period while Michelle McNeil was to get the go ahead goal on a corner at 55:51. The all important insurance goal was made at 59:58 after the 10 minute yellow.

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Ellen Colbourne speeds up the field with a phalanx of Maroon and White

The game ended on Millen’s goal on a stroke called with five seconds remaining highlighting the importance of that insurance goal assuring there would be no overtime.

So where does that leave Lafayette and Holy Cross now rivals for the fourth and final playoff spot? Lafayette’s hopes lie in a three way tie in the league. If Lafayette, Holy Cross and Bucknell win their next games against Colgate, Lehigh and American respectively there would be a two way tie between Holy Cross and Lafayette and Holy Cross wins the tiebreaker based on head to head competition. If all three lose the same applies. If Holy Cross loses and Lafayette wins Lafayette wins on league record. However the most likely result, a Bucknell loss, and wins by Holy Cross and Lafayette presents us with a three way tie and this is the way it is broken according to the League with all three teams at 3-3. ” If there is a tie between Bucknell, Lafayette, and Holy Cross where all three team are 3-3 in the Patriot League, the teams would remain tied through head to head,and have the same breakdown within the League standings. There is no common opponent between the three, so the next step would be goal differential between the tied teams, In that case Bucknell and Lafayette would be +1 and Holy Cross would be -2. So Bucknell and Lafayette would make it the League tourney in that three way tie. Then we would look at goal differential in all league games to determine the 3/4 slot.”

So you got all that. To the players. just win and what will be will be. And I have become an American fan against Bucknell just for next week!!

The Leopards Still Control Their Own Destiny After 5-2 Loss To American

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Ami Turner introduces herself to an Ameican Eagle counterpart

The American Eagles came right out as expected with a high energy game and sprinted ahead of the Leopards, building a 3-0 lead in the first half. Getting behind early was not in the Leopards game plan as American was to use 23 fresh players during the game to keep Lafayette from coming back. The first three goals came after out shooting the Leopards 10-0 during that half and 5-0 advantage in penalty corners. Two of the three first half goals were off penalty corners . The Leopards were to close the gap early in the second period as Rosie Shanks was to get off a diving shot after a feed from Ami Turner with only 1:11 gone on the clock. But American was to respond with two goals of their own, the first coming 6  minutes later followed by another 3  minutes later. The last goal of the game was scored by Hannah Millen with two minutes to play on a penalty stroke.

Kendall Weedling's stick gets the attention of an American defender
Kendall Weedling’s stick gets the attention of an American defender

As I mentioned in a previous article the Leopards could win a place in the tournament by beating two of their last three opponents including American. Bucknell beat Holy Cross and now the Leopards need only to win next Saturday at Rappolt Field to secure their place in the post season. If they were to lose and still beat Colgate it would then go to a complicated series of tie breakers between three teams if Bucknell were to also lose to American. The tiebreakers might include everything including head to head outcome within the patriot league, relative scores, outcomes against out of conference opponents and even a coin flip.

Aliza Furneaux looks downfield as she carries the ball into American's half of the field
Aliza Furneaux looks downfield as she carries the ball into American’s half of the field

So ladies, just win next Saturday and put an end to it. It’s that simple.

After the game I was treated to Birthday wishes from the team and their moms and dads. I consider them my second family, so combined with felicitations from my own family, the good wishes were well appreciated by this now 70 year old body. Many thanks.

Bill Rappolt

There IS Only One Thing To Think About For The Next Five Days, BEAT LEHIGH

We are now into the meat of the Patriot League Schedule. So far, with a loss to Boston University, we are 0-1 in the League. Lehigh is 0-2, Holy Cross is 1-1, Colgate is 0-2 , Bucknell is 1-0, American and Boston University are 2-0. With a seven team league, 3 losses is virtual elimination in the four team tournament to decide the league championship.  So for the team,forget about past games, this is a must win game. A win keeps us in the hunt and probably eliminates Lehigh and that’s always a good thing

So we arrive at Lehigh’s field on Saturday and for 70 minutes we must tackle like demons, follow the ball, run like this a championship game, make every touch of the ball count and find ways to get to the circle and finish. And there is the fact;

Beating Lehigh is so much fun!!!! So bring your best game because Lehigh will bring theirs. Eleven o’clock on Saturday…bring it!!          GO PARDS!!

Reasons why we need to beat Lehigh:

  1. Their colors are brown and white..( who picks colors like that)
  2. They stole the sword from Lafayette’s statue sixty years ago and it still ticks me off.
  3. Their football fans are rude
  4. They are only 18 miles from Lafayette and that offends me
  5. They used to be called the engineers and now they are called the Mountain Hawks ( Is there even such an animal, I think its actually an eagle??)
  6. Their campus can’t be seen from Rt 22 unlike our school which is majestically visible as you arrive in Easton
  7. I don’t like their football team, basketball team or any other of their teams

Replies from all sorts of fans:

  1. Because WE like to paint Your leopard Brown and White

Lafayette Bows To Number Five Ranked Albany 3-1

Goleopards.com captures Ami Turner and team celebration after goal in the second period
Goleopards.com captures Ami Turner and the team celebration after her goal in the second period

The Albany Danes used only two substitutes as they depended on two first period goals and a third goal in the final period to prevail in a game with the Lafayette Leopards. Before a crowd of over 500 fans ( the largest of the season), the Leopards battled, hoping to outlast a skilled Dane attack and perhaps the best player in country Paula Heuser from Monchengladback, Germany. Heuser put on a clinic on the drag flick as she scored two goals, one in each period to lead the Danes in a three to one hard fought contest.

Meg Lillis shows strong skills during the first period
Meg Lillis shows strong skills during the first period

The Leopards had hoped to use their defense to stop the Dane offense for most of the game, to allow the deep bench of the Leopards to gain an advantage in the second period. It did work to an extent, as the Leopards were to use 6 players from their bench to get 4 of their five shots in the second half, only to be countered with five shots by Albany. The whole game saw Albany get a total 8 shots to the Leopards 5. The difference perhaps was the ability of Albany to get 8 corners to Lafayette being shut out with the officials not seeing a penalty inside the circle against Albany all game.

Amy Turner and Hannah Millen provide defense during the early minutes
Ami Turner and Hannah Millen provide defense during the early minutes

Ami Turner was to provide some excitement for Leopard fans, with about seven minutes to go by diving for the ball late in the game in the middle of the circle.  Seeing an Albany player out of position she was able to flick the ball over a Dane defender’s head and into the cage to close the deficit to  two.

Lafayette’s center back was injured after receiving a blow to the head from a stick, after a shot. The official needed to stop  play as Hannah Millen was helped off the field with no penalty called. Hannah was not to be held out for many minutes of her senior season and returned to the game about five minutes later. Despite the after game ice pack I have no doubt the plucky center back will be in the lineup on Monday against Drexel.

It has been a dreary three games as the Leopards have endured the toughest part of their schedule, but not their most important part. Lessons learned in the last week will no doubt be applied against a 1-5 Drexel squad and an all important league game against arch rival Lehigh next Saturday at Lehigh. Fans will be looking for some of that  offensive cohesiveness that carried them to their 5 wins earlier. The season is now half over and a winning sprint I believe could be in offing.

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The crowd was sprinkled with a fair number of fans from youth field hockey leagues from Forks Township, who put on a display of skills at halftime for an appreciative crowd.

The next game is at Drexel at 7pm on Monday.

It’s All On Penalty Corners And A Penalty Stroke As Neither Side Can Find A Goal From The Field In 3-1 Loss for the Leopards

Amanda Magadan chases down a lose ball against Boston University
Amanda Magadan chases down a lose ball against Boston University

Lafayette could not find consistent control of the ball, while Boston could not score from the field in a game where penalties played a huge role in the scoring chances. Both teams battled for 28 1/2 minutes before the first goal was scored. It was on a penalty corner by Boston University which from my viewpoint, and others should have been disallowed. During a penalty corner after the ball is inserted. the ball must exit the circle first. Then a shot can be taken once it is reinserted by the stopper.  From my angle it looked like the ball never exited the circle. A review of the play by the streaming video was not obvious because of the angle. So, the Leopards retired to the sidelines during the first half with a 1-0 deficit staring them in the face.

Rosie Shanks and Meg Lillis surround Ellie Landsman of Boston University
Rosie Shanks and Meg Lillis surround Ellie Landsman of Boston University

At 43:38 a penalty stroke was called by the official, because in her judgement the goalie took out the attacking player while not making a play on the ball. The judgement call resulted in a penalty stroke and Boston’s second goal of the game. The final goal for Boston came on a less controversial play, although again on a penalty corner, which seemed to ricochet off  a Lafayette stick into the goal at 46:38.

Ami Turner closes in against Boston University
Ami Turner closes in against Boston University

It was then after a timeout by coach Stone, the Leopards came to life, pressing, and moving the ball with more alacrity. They started to find open receivers and threatened several times. Finally at 57:56 into the game on a penalty corner of their own, Amanda Magadan got a feed from Rosie Shanks and Kirby Szalkowski at the top of the circle and blasted a beautiful shot to the goalie’s left lower corner.

Leopard fans were hopeful with 12 minutes left there would be a miracle finish to make it a good day. But despite several good attempts including another penalty corner, time expired and Lafayette could not get the satisfaction of closing the gap.

Kirby Szalkowski turns ball around against Boston University
Kirby Szalkowski turns ball around against Boston University

The closing statistics were hardly conclusive with Lafayette having 7 shots to Boston’s 11, four corners to Boston’s 3 and 2 saves to Boston’s 3.

This is certain to be a game Lafayette would want to play again and they might, if they get to the Patriot League playoffs. Boston is a very solid team and Sofi Laurito is the real deal. I did see improvement from Lafayette. especially in the second half and no doubt by the end of the season they will be even better, but Boston is a team that is justifiably  ranked in the top twenty and one that mistakes cannot be made against, or you will pay a price. This was the best team we have played this year, so far.

The Leopards now move on to the number one ranked team and defending national champion, UConn tomorrow at 2pm.

Katie Birle Lights Up the Scoreboard With A Hat Trick As the Leopards Show Power In 9-1 Win

Katie Birle moves towards goal and awaits a pass
Katie Birle moves towards goal and awaits a pass

In a powerful display of offense the Lafayette Leopards demonstrated their scoring punch during their first ever meeting with Siena. This was the highest number of goals in single game, since the Leopards beat Albany 10-2 when the Leopard’s coach, Jennifer Stone was on the field as a player more than a decade ago. Birle scored 3 goals on 3 shots. with the first two occuring about five minutes into the first period. Both goals were assisted by Amanda Magadan, establishing the Leopards early, on their way to a torrent of goals. After lighting the board at 2:19 and 5:!4 in the first period, Kristen Taylor joined in the fun, by scoring the first goal of her college career at 7:41, unassisted from the left side of the goal.

The first half ended in a 3-0 lead for the Leopards. The statistics were not spectacular as Siena had 4 shots and Lafayette had 5, scoring on 3. I hope coach Jennifer Stone recorded her halftime speech because Leopards were relentless in the second half scoring five unanswered strikes at 45:05,46:29, 47:15, 49:41 and adding an additional goal at 54:41. The goals were spread around to a number of players. Paige Macrae, collected her second goal of the season, Birle competed her hat trick, which came during a corner, assisted by Hannah Millen, who got her own goal for her second of the year assisted by Ami Turner, and Ellen Colbourne, off a corner. Amanda Magadan then got her second of the season (unassisted). Freshman Kristen Taylor got her second of the game, also unassisted, before Ami Turner finished the scoring with an unassisted strike into the left corner from the top of the circle.

Rosie Shanks avoids foul in first period
Rosie Shanks avoids a foul in the first period

The Leopards finished the night with  9 goals on 18 shots making this a very efficient shooting effort. If I were the Leopards next opponent I would be confused as to who to cover. Ellen Colbourne was unstoppable from the midfield outrunning and advancing the ball anytime she touched it. Katlyn Arnold finally gave up a goal at 56:48 as Nichole Miller lofted a soft shot over her head to the top of cage. She was assisted by Brittany Onesto. Coach Stone emptied her bench, as Gabrielle Ulery saw her first collegiate action in goal relieving Katelyn Arnold with five minutes and fifteen seconds to go in the game.

The Leopards will hit the road traveling to the State of Virginia taking on Longwood, on friday ( their second meeting with Longwood in history). The first meeting ended in a tie and went to strokes. The second game of the weekend will be with a powerful Liberty University team who played UNC well last year in the NCAA’s, losing 2-1. Lafayette beat the Flames in their first meeting last year ever 4-2. They will undoubtably be looking for revenge.

Ellen Colbourne shows her speed as she applies the afterburners on the way up the field
Ellen Colbourne shows her speed as she applies the afterburners on the way up the field

As senior Kirby Szalkowski said in an interview earlier this summer, we now move on to the most important game of the year…the next one on the schedule. No doubt Coach Stone will give her charge’s some rest and will then preparations begin in earnest for the weekend.

Leopards Launch New Season With 3-2 Win Over Ball State

Kirby Szalkowski drives upfield
Kirby Szalkowski drives upfield

The Lafayette Leopards found a swarming, diverse  offense in a 3-2 victory this afternoon at Rappolt Field. Paige Macrae used an assist from Ellen Colborne to score the first goal of her career. Using her strength in front of the goal Macrae gathered a nice feed right in the face of the Ball State goalie to open up a 1-0 lead 3 minutes and 15 seconds into the game. Ball State was not to be shut out as Lexi Kavanaugh used a Morgan Nash long pass to deflect the ball into the cage from the right side into the top right corner to knot the score at 1-1 at 20 minutes and 52 seconds into the game. It was at that point that the Leopards were to go ahead at 29:52 and were never to give up the lead when Amanda Madagan launched an unassisted high shot into the top right corner from the top of the circle.

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

However, the Leopards were not done as only five minutes later with only 50 seconds left in the half, Hannah Millen was to deliver an insurance goal off a corner using an assist from Kirby Szalkowski and Rosie Shanks. The Leopards had to work hard for the final victory as Ball State with 46 seconds left in the game had Merinda Morley  take  a pass deflecting the ball into the goal. Time finally expired with Lafayette the victors.

The game had several notable aspects, first the Leopards showed

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

some offensive power as they took 17 shots compared to Ball State’s 13. The second point is the Leopards had too many turnovers, a point  that will surely be corrected in practice before the Sienna game on tuesday. Third, there was a flurry of cards, more than I have seen in most Division one games.Fourth, the field was very hot and contributed to the fatigue that both teams felt, especially at the end of the game. There was a total of 26 minutes worth of cards given out to both sides. Lafayette in the first half, played short players for 12 minutes, which made their 3-1 lead that much more remarkable. In the second half, the Cardinals had 10 minutes in penalties, versus two minutes for the Leopards. A two minute penalty was awarded to Lafayette’s best player Amanda Madagan with less than one minute left in the game. In total. there were 7 cards given out, four yellows and three greens.

The Leopards will now play Sienna on tuesday night at 7pm at home

Kaitlyn Arnold In Goal Shines In Preseason Scrimmage

The Lafayette Field Hockey team got their first test of the year, under the lights at Rappolt Field last night against Rutgers, who entered the field with one scrimmage already under their belt. It was goalie Kaitlyn Arnold playing a standout game by turning away multiple shots on corners and also stoping several penalty stroke shots that caught the attention of fans and the coaches. If there is a better goalie in the Patriot League this year I don’t know her.

The scrimmage consisted of several parts, two halves of hockey under normal game rules, a seven on seven period, and a shoot out. Coach Stone was generally happy with the performance singling out goalie Arnold for praise. She also took note of Ami Turner,Rosie Shanks, and Theresa Delahanty and their play. “We clearly have things to work on next week,” remarked coach Stone, “But overall I’m happy with much of the scrimmage,”

Cody Hunsicker moves the ball upfield
Cody Hunsicker moves the ball upfield

Rutger’s defense was particularly effective containing the Leopard attack, but the Leopard defense turned away many Rutgers opportunities. With the score tied 1-1 at 6 minutes to go, Lafayette unfortunately received two yellow cards benching two Leopard players for 5 minutes. It was in that period with the Leopards short two players, that Rutgers was able to score making the score 2-1.

Cody Hunsicker advances the ball against a Rutgers defender
Hannah Millen  advances the ball against a Rutgers defender

Moving on to the seven on seven phase, the Leopards were to score twice while Rutgers scored once. With the field opened up Lafayette, was to use their speed to their advantage.After that there was a shoot out which would lead in the end to a Rutgers advantage of 8-7.

This was a typical Rutgers/Lafayette game which traditionally are very competitive.The schools are close neighbors but were unable to find an open date this year, so the series is interrupted. I hope they will find a mutual date next year as this series is a natural considering the closeness and history of the schools. The Leopards will have Sunday off and on Monday will practice and prepare for a scrimmage at Columbia University on tuesday at 1 pm.

The Three “T’s” For Today’s Coach……Training, Technology and Teaching

As the Lafayette Field Hockey team entered their state of the art field for practice today I was struck by a coach’s three T’s, training, technology, and teaching. When I was playing football and lacrosse at Lafayette in the “old” days of the 60’s technology consisted of film (sometimes budget wiling} of practice, training camp was more like 3 weeks in some gulag where taking water was a sign of being a “wuss,” and teaching was a coach yelling at you for the next 2 1/2 hours. It all has become far more professional.

Hannah Millen closes in for a shot
Hannah Millen closes in for a shot

We arrived at about 8:30 and within 15 minutes the players began to arrive to begin their second day of pre-season camp. With some gratification it was the freshmen who arrived first. ( no change there I remarked to myself) But as the eventual full 21 player squad arrived I did notice a distinct difference. Players were being wired up. Was this some new NCAA rule to insure that there is no cursing or abuse of players?? After thinking this was another conspiracy to soften our youth, I walked over to Emily Janis, the Lafayette assistant coach who was tending to a computer on the sidelines. Listed on the computer screen was a list of player names with output showing a list of numbers and a number with a percentage sign on it. Emily was more than eager to show me her new toy.

“This is the ultimate in athletic nerd,” volunteered Emily. Each player is wired to record their heart activity, and the coaches can read and record what the player’s heart is doing real time. Emily explained that heart activity has a large correlation with injury. We know at what percentage of the maximum heart rate each player and collectively the team is exerting at any given time. She and the trainer, Jon Edwards explained. Your maximum heart rate according to studies is 220 minus your age, so with this piece of technology we can know in practice and even during a game how long to keep a player in or at what point real training is happening on the field. Jon explained, “Look at Amanda Magadan, her chart spikes as soon as she exerts and comes down equally fast. That is indication of an athlete that is in excellent condition.” Coach Janis says this becomes a tool during games because we will know when a athlete has given as much as she can and might even lead to injury.”

The last of the triad is teaching. Coach Stone’s practices are a model of precision. Before drills begin she explains what is going to happen and what she wants accomplished. At the practice we attended she explained they were practicing shooting with a drill that simulates circle penetration. Then the team assembled with the captains who had words of encouragement ending with a circle cheer of “LC.”

During the session, skills were emphasized, including reverse stick shots, quick flicks, and popping the ball over the defender’s stick. Footwork and speed were closely watched at each station which drilled a specific skill. At 30 seconds left Coach Stone let her team know the drill was ending. Each player was to keep their own tally of goals during the drill which will be repeated in the afternoon practice.

There are of course different levels of skill. Anyone would be impressed with Madagan’s skill set, but others like Millen,  and Turner showed great ball control and Colbourne’s reverse stick shots looked deadly. Earlier in the day I asked Coach Janis on the overall level of fitness. She said about 90 pct came fit and ready to play, those that had not reached their goals are having some remedial training. Well, some things do remain the same after all, but the coaches assured EVERY player would be ready to play when the time came.