Leopards Travel To Colgate For Key Patriot League Matchup

_ENO2528
Colgate defender moves in to block Bucknell shot

We are in, for all intents and purposes, playoff mode, as each league game has a crucial consequence for post season play. This week the spotlight will be in Hamilton, New York as Lafayette tangles with Colgate, the winner emerging with a leg up to qualify for the “third” championship season….the playoffs.  Colgate will arrive on the home turf with a 2-9 record but more importantly, an 0-3 record in Patriot League play. A loss would give them an all important 4 losses, with a virtual wall blocking them into the post season.  Lafayette has a 3-8 record but a 1-1 Patriot League record with a real shot at the playoffs, with a game remaining against Holy Cross, if won, along with a win on Saturday would virtually lock up at least a fourth seed playoff spot.

The recent Leopard record against Colgate has been a mixed bag, and wins have not always come that easily. Last year the Raiders arrived at Rappolt Field and gave the Leopards all they could handle before emerging with a 3-2 overtime win. In 2015 Colgate was to hold Lafayette to one goal in a 1-0 Leopard win. The previous year in Hamilton the score was reversed as Colgate emerged the victor 0-1. In 2013 the 4-3 overtime win in the playoffs  propelled Lafayette to the Championship. Two weeks ago Colgate held BU to two goals in Boston in a 2-0 loss.

DSC_5913
Sam DeMaio and Cam Costello surround a Villanova player

Nothing should be taken for granted and Lafayette’s newly established offense should come to town ready to battle. Colgate has only scored 8 goals but given up 37, Lafayette has scored 22 goals but also given up 38. Colgate has taken 89 shots and allowed 179, Lafayette has taken 139 shots and given up 150. Even when Colgate gets a shot they score only 9% of the time, while Lafayette is scoring on 16 % of their shots due to their recent offensive emergence. Colgate has earned only 46 penalty corners while giving up 86, Lafayette has 69 penalty corners and given up only 47.

Even thought the stats favor the Leopard squad, I keep getting flashbacks of the 2014 game as Colgate scored on one of their few corners gently lifting the ball over the Lafayette goalie’s head late in the game. I don’t know how many shots the Leopards had but they were numerous.

Colgate will pull all the stops and I expect intensity born of desperation by the Raiders. I do not like us in a close game. The Leopards need to continue to find the back of the net in this one. They will travel Friday and practice at the Colgate field to be ready for a noon Saturday start. Go Pards!

Lafayette Unleashes Their Offense On Villanova In 5-2 Win

DSC_5940
Theresa Delahanty shows her fight competing for the ball with Lydia Sydnoor

With several starters out with injury, and resumption of Patriot League play ready to resume on Saturday, the Leopards ignored adversity and ignited their offense against Big East foe Villanova at Villanova. It was perfect weather as the 5 pm game started at Villanova’s turf facility in Conshohockan. Both team were to begin the game feeling each other out, and as expected Villanova began with a press, and seemed to control the tempo and field position.

However, the Lafayette co-captains of Lisa van der Geest, Theresa Delahanty, and Rachel Bird would have none of it, and led the Leopards to a dominating first half, lifting Lafayette to a 3-0 lead. Defense and offense was clicking and corner execution, as well as corner defense were factors in the win.

DSC_5929
Rachel Bird gets position on a Villanova attacker Megan Vermeil

Delahanty started the scoring at 18:30 into the game off a Lisa van der Geest assist that was the result of a rebound from the Villanova goalie. Delahanty was to get 2 goals in the contest and Van der Geest was to collect 3 assists, while playing excellent defense, and she was  a key playmaker in the backfield.

The second goal was from senior attacker Liza Welch at 27:35 assisted by Jen Delongis who had a terrific game stealing passes, and generally making her presence known to the Wildcats backfield. The Leopards finished the first period as freshman McAndrews tipped in an assist from Delahanty and Sawer, on corner a with less than a minute left in the first period.

DSC_5920
Van der Geest has no doubt where the ball was going!!

It was a hard fought first half with plenty of physical play, including a tremendous collision between Leopard goalie Sara Park and two Villanova players. Park was not giving an inch in the circle, and defended her turf with “Leopard Pride.” The refs were forced to stop play as all three needed to recover.

Villanova was not about to give in easily as they opened the second period with two quick goals from Riley Dolan at 37:39 and Megan Vermiel at 38;31. With score now 3-2 the Leopards redoubled their efforts and took back control as Delahanty slipped the ball past the goalkeeper at 45:54 for her second goal of the game using Van der Geest’s second assist. It was not to end until Grace Angelella also used a Van der Geest’s thirst assist on a corner for the “coup de grace.”

DSC_5935
Audrey Sawer continues to fight for possession even as she goes to the turf!!

Villanova pulled their goalie and the Lafayette defense held firm and retired from the field with the 5-2 victory. This was a perfect warm-up for a crucial matchup on Saturday with the Raiders of Colgate. A win would put the Leopards in good position a slot in the Patriot League playoffs. Playing at Colgate has always been an adventure for the Leopards, and the emergence of a solid offense is a great boost to the Leopard’s chances on  Saturday.

The corner offense today was key as 4 out the 5 goals were part of corner opportunities. Persistent play after first shots was also key, as it all seemed to click for the win!.

Lafayette Scores Four Goals In Loss To Boston University

If a fortune teller had come to me and said we were going to score four goals against the vaunted Boston University defense, I would have bet heavily we would have added a win to our record. Not in my wildest dreams did I think Boston would end up scoring six straight goals after Lafayette’s opening goal, 12 minutes into the contest. In front of a crowd of 226 ( smallest of the year so far), our Leopards did everything they needed to do offensively. The offense consisted of long fast passes getting behind the Terrier defense setting up numerous opportunities in front of the goal. Lafayette scored first with Caroline Turnbull getting the first of two goals off a rebound during a corner opportunity.

DSC_5843
Delahanty gets off a shot to make it 6-4

For the next 14 minutes it looked as if it would be a low scoring game, with at worst an overtime opportunity for a Leopard win. It was Miya Denison from Boston who found an opening from the 10 yard line at 25:36 and locked the game in a 1-1 tie. As a fan, I took solace in the fact that the team was still engaged, with great support from the Lafayette bench as they stood on the sidelines cheering their teammates on. Little did we know that the goal was to usher in a series of five more straight  goals.

DSC_5847

Seven minutes late Kara Enoch from Boston was to find an open net to get the second goal however, no one was giving up, even as Boston was to get off 10 shots to Lafayette’s four in the half, while corner opportunities were even at two. However, it was a last minute penalty stroke awarded to Boston, that seemed to deflate the Leopards before the end of the half.

Lafayette was to use only two field players as substitutes all game, and was missing two of its starters in Ana Steps still recovering from a concussion suffered last week, and senior Kristin Taylor who fractured her thumb in practice during the week. Boston on the other hand used their entire bench.

DSC_5856
Pero defends the goal and delivers the ball out of danger

Perhaps it was fatigue, but Lafayette seemed a little deflated at the beginning of the second half as BU rolled off three straight goals at 37:09, 49:02 and 50:12. The bench looked downtrodden as they resumed their seats. But the Leopards on the field were not surrendering as Sam DiMaio made a move on the BU goalie and scored with 19 minutes left in the game. The game prospects brightened as Caroline Turnbull found the cage for the second time, seven minutes later, making it a 6-3 game. But it was the next goal on a corner by Lafayette with a beautiful give and go between Lisa van der Geest and Theresa Delahanty, that restored hope to the faithful.  Delahanty found the cage making it 6-4.

Was a miracle finish  about to happen? Lafayette had put in a new goalie Haily Abbott, but Lafayette was to get a yellow card and Boston’s Molly Rottinghaus was to put it away for the Terriers with the last goal of the day. Leopards were to try to put in the kick back goalie but the yellow card acted to deny the opportunity to finish the game in that formation, as the Leopards were forced to return the goalie rather than play short handed without a goalkeeper.

It was sort of a bizarre game with 11 goals, not a typical Lafayette defensive battle. It is now on to Villanova where  it will be a game between the two “cats.” Lafayette will need to recover their defensive poise while retaining the offensive spark they found this Saturday. Next Saturday, action will be at Colgate in a must win game if playoffs hopes are to be kept alive for both teams.

Boston University Comes To Town

Looking For The Achilles Heel In The Numbers

Boston University arrives tied for first place in the Patriot League with having beaten American University in overtime and last week getting by Colgate 2-0. The win against Colgate was not received well by the BU coaching staff as head coach Sally Starr did not appear for her usual post game interview for the cameras, leaving it for an assistant coach.

The numbers for Boston are not particularly impressive but Starr seems to get the most out of what she has in any given year. This year, the anchor for the team is their defense and Starr has used it to win 6 out of her 9 games in a very difficult schedule. She has found wins against Colgate, American, Northwestern, Miami, New Hampshire, and Northeastern. Loses include being blown out by Penn State, a 2 goal loss to Ohio State, and a tough defensive battle but loss to common opponent Maine 1-2,

DSC_5778
Leading scorer Lisa Van der Geest along with co-captain Rachel Bird execute a corner against Liberty

Their top scores are Ailisa Conolly with five goals and Petra Hall with 4. That would account for 9 of their 21 goals though Ally Hammel, their fine defender, has taken 16 shots   comparable to the leading scorers with shots of 16 and 18. Overall they have taken  112 shots with an 18.8 pct shot percentage.

The Leopards on the other hand have also taken about the same number of shots (117) with less effectiveness (11 pct). The Leopards two wins have come against archival Lehigh in an overtime game and Drexel also in overtime. Losses are with Fairfield, Richmond, William and Mary, Temple, Albany, Maine, and Liberty. The Leopards are capable of playing an up tempo game which does give them better results and will need that capability more with the defensive minded Terriers.

I’ve watched several games there is a pattern to their basic strategy. Their offense starts with their sturdy defense and in that structure may expose what Starr is compensating for. Though they have a 1.55 goals against average the save percentage is less than 60 pct. Boston will compensate by throwing in a  4 player backfield and defending their third of the field and often time stopping penetration of even the fifty. They will press from the outset and that sets up their offense.

It is a virtual certainty the Leopards will see that press but in recent weeks the Leopards with their three back defense led by co-captains Bird and Van der Geest have been able to get the Leopards to the shooting circle.

DSC_5610
Liza Welch charges into the Lafayette circle

The Terriers have earned 51 penalty corners while giving up 58. Lafayette has 58 corners while giving up 37. Can the Leopards get to the circle and produce enough shots and score while holding the Terriers to the middle of the field ? Starr was not happy with her team’s last two outings, but the Leopards seems to be. improving. This could be a very good game. It is on Lafayette’s home turf and with a pro Leopard crowd Lafayette could put themselves in a great position within the League. It is their only game of the week and there has been lots of time to prepare and look at tapes. Who knows..maybe another overtime win??? This will be their toughest in- league game. Will we see a Leopard press to surprise the visitors? Saturday….at noon we will see.

Lafayette Drops One To Liberty University 3-1

No one can criticize the Lafayette Field Hockey Team for ducking the. tough ones as Lafayette left the field having lost to it’s fourth nationally ranked opponent this year. It was all hands on deck as Lafayette kept pace with the Flames from Liberty all afternoon. One could see from the stands the progress made with the speed and intensity demonstrated in a high level Division one game.

DSC_5812
Adrianna Pero shakes a Liberty defender

The game started ominously as Liberty scored with only1;35 having run off the clock as Agueda Moroni, the second leading scorer in the nation nailed a shot during a corner after a Mallory Fotenback insertion and a Kendra Jones pass. Moroni found a spot low and to left giving Liberty the early 1-0 lead.

Maroni was to get off 11 shots, 7 on goal and connecting for all three Liberty scores. But that was not the only story. Lafayette kept pace for the rest of game although they were unable to stop Maroni. Park had a good afternoon making 12 stops while Rachel Bird and   Adriana Pero had two defensive saves.

During the second period after Liberty had established their 2-0 first period lead they were only to manage one more goal as Maroni found the right side of the cage. Lafayette was to answer on the last play of the game with a Van der Geest rocket during a corner assisted by Jenn DeLongis and Theresa Delahanty.

Freshman Molly McAndrews had 3 shots as did Van der Geest and Audrey Sawers as

DSC_5800
Molly McAndrews fights for the ball

Lafayette got off 13 shots during the game. They did outcorner the Flames 9-4.

Sara Park had an 80% save percentage and showed great poise in the cage in her best performance of the season.  The team also moved the ball well especially in the second half and demonstrated the speed and quickness they showed against Drexel and Lehigh. The brand of hockey is first rate and doesn’t reflect yet in their record.

Ana Steps Lafayette’s fine midfielder was sidelined this game recovering from a concussion suffered in Friday’s game. It is hoped she will be ready Saturday.

It was a good crowed of 612 as the Leopards have attracted over 600 fans on average this year. No doubt the Leopards will bring it all for an important match next Saturday at noon against the league favorite  Boston University. As we all left the field, we were remarking how everyone was looking forward to that match.

McAndrews to Van der Geest Gives Lafayette The Overtime Win

DSC_5726

It goes without saying that a 2-1 overtime win is a hard-fought contest but there were so many big plays before the final winning McAndrews to Van der Geest  score in Lafayette’s second overtime win of the season. The first score was to come from Drexel at 21:22 when Avery Powell received a cross from Megan Weist who was able to lift the ball slightly as it dribbled past Sarah Park the Lafayette Goalie. However Sarah was to make 3 saves on Drexel’s 5 shots on goal, none bigger than a leaping save at the end of the game to preserve the tie and forced the game into overtime.

The game was filled with big defensive plays, including an important save early in first half by Rachel Bird keeping the early score 0-0. Play was back and forth as both teams were not able to capitalize on opportunities. Audrey Sawer, who may have had her best game of the season was all over the field while accounting for 3 of Lafayette’s 12 shots with one shot finding its mark at 32:08, delivering off a rebound single handed to tie up the game at 1-1 before the end of the half.

DSC_5708
Van der Geest lines up a pass in the first period

Drexel tried to press Lafayette and made several key steals only to be thwarted by the tough defense from the Leopards, who were able to turn them into a counter attack. In the battle of statistics Lafayette came out on top with 12 shots to 9 and 5 to 4 in penalty corners. Drexel earned all their corners in the second half.

 

The final play occurred with about 1 and 1/2 minutes having run off the overtime period. Drexel had just driven down and missed on a centering pass in front of the Lafayette goal and Lafayette counter attacked. Lisa Van der Geest took the ball at midfield and delivered a pass to the streaking freshman Molly McAndrews. McAndrews drove to the left side of the Drexel goal to be met by a Drexel defender. As Van der Geest sprinted to the goal, Molly McAndrews soon faked out the Drexel defender with a 360 degree spin move and delivered a high pass to Van der Gesst who planted it into the goal.

This was a team effort with hard work by everyone. Difference makers include McAndrews, Van der Geest, Audrey Sawer, Bird and Delahanty.

There will be a days rest before meeting nationally ranked Liberty University at home on Sunday.

.

Maryland vs Princeton

It was a Tuesday night, and my wife had off the following day and we decided to take the 75 minute drive to Princeton to watch the undefeated number 3 ranked Terrapins take on the Number 5 ranked Princeton Tigers in a 6 pm match. This game had several attractions for us. My daughter Sarah played for Maryland and she took the train down from New York to join us, we are still in contact with and friends with Missy Meharg, the very fine Maryland coach and Carla Tagliente, the Princeton head coach  was my daughter’s roommate at Maryland along with assistant coach Dina Rizzo.

It became sort of a reunion, as several parents from my daughter’s playing days showed up to view the game along with Mark Fratto who used to announce the Maryland field hockey games. He arrived with his new baby and was the surprise announcer that night. He has a business providing announcing for many sports events including championship boxing events. In addition, there were old friends from the BOT of US Field Hockey.

Just to make the evening even more friendly Fran Delahanty, Lafayette parent, took the drive over to watch the festivities. None. of us were disappointed as we saw an exciting game where Maryland won 5-4 in double overtime after being down 1-4. No one left the game early, no players or coaches were sitting down on the sidelines conceding, this was an intense, well played match by outstanding, well coached teams.

Maryland opened the scoring after only 1:26 had ticked off on the clock off a turnover by Madison Maguire who passed to Kyler Greenwalt who used a perfect reverse stick to rocket the ball past the Princeton Goalie. But Princeton was not going to lie down as they used their speed and skill to run off 4 goals in row, the first occurred as Clara Roth dribbled along the left side, sending the shot to the backboards at 6:44. Roth was to get her second goal 12 minutes later assisted by Davey Hannah. The third goal came ten minutes later came from Jane Donio-Enscoe assisted by Roth. The second period saw Princeton’s fourth and final goal nine minutes into the  half off a penalty stroke by Julianna Tornetta.

At that point Princeton had taken 5 shots and scored 4 goals and found themselves ahead 4-1. I was impressed with the speed of the Princeton forwards who raced to place themselves at the post at every opportunity, and were to get rebounds or receive long breaking passes from their midfield.

Despite the stroke and goal, Meharg’s halftime “advice” to her charges was beginning to take effect and following a 5 minute yellow card to Princeton’s Hannah Davey at 47:06 the Terrapins began to come back, first off a rebound by Kelee Lepage during a corner. We had to wait nine minutes for the goal that was to bring Maryland within one when Sabrina Rhodes deflected a Brooke DeBerdine shot at 56:54.

The players were exhausted, but I was impressed with Maryland’s patient persistence. With four minutes to go Meharg pulled her goalie and inserted a kickback. With less than 15 seconds left in the game Bibi Donraadt with the assist from Madison Maguire used  two deflections to score the tying goal to send the game to overtime.

Maryland had outshot and out cornered the Tigers but the Tigers were to use their speed and didn’t waste opportunities. The overtime would be anyone’s guess.

Lorenz090218_01
Nike Lorenz scored the winning goal

The first overtime was slower than one would have expected, but Maryland did get off one shot in the first overtime which like several before it in the regular period went off the mark. The overtime became more of chess match than a manic fast paced desperation sudden death it often times is. Perhaps it was the heat and humidity, or perhaps it was just the tension of the game that slowed the pace.

The game ended in the second overtime at 81:27 as Nike Lorenz dribbling to the left corner found some space and finished with her eighth goal of the season. We talked with coaches after the game and the responses were predictable. Maryland will continue on undefeated into their tough Big Ten schedule and Princeton will meet Dartmouth as they kick off their Ivy League schedule. I would not want to be Dartmouth!!

Maryland “Never Gave up” and overcame the 1-4 deficit, and Princeton used their speed to place people in a position to score. Very entertaining contest.