A Tale Of Two Halves

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With apologies to Charles Dickens, I suppose you could say ” It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves. VCU got off to a two goal lead on three shots in the first half of the game despite the Leopards getting the first shot at 6:28 having ticked off the clock by Catalina Rubel. Lafayette also had the only corner of the game for both sides at 7:50. VCU drew first blood at 14:31 and the second goal happened in second quarter at 21:41.

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In the second half VCU only managed to get off two shots one occurring as Molly McAndrew first got on the board for the second goal of the weekend and the season. Unfortunately, the one goal margin was only to last for four minutes as VCU connected on their only shot of the fourth quarter.

However, the Leopards were not done as they battled by getting off 6 shots in the quarter one of which was a connection by Lineke Spanns at 56:14. Coach Stone pulled her goal keeper but try as they might, they could not get to the circle to deliver a tying goal.

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Lafayette had nine shots to VCU’s five according to the official score keeper. (I didn’t know if her name was “Defarge.)”. Alright I’ll stop now, but there was only one corner in the game and the VCU goalkeeper was forced to make seven saves.

The last quarter did have our Leopards diving for balls and chasing players and balls to the sidelines, all elements of play needed for a winning team. Quinnipiac comes to town on Friday and we’ll see if lessons were learned. A win would follow with a full game like the fourth quarter today!! Go PARDS

Wake Forest Routs Lafayette 6-1

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For those of you who are regular readers of this blog know, I seldom pull my punches. This was not a good game for the Leopards. The good news about tonight’s game is, I know they are better than they were today in Winston Salem. Molly McAndrew did get on the board for the first time this year, five minutes into the second quarter, making the score 3-1 at the time. It was still possible for the Leopards to make a run. However, it wasn’t until 1:45 into the second half that McAndrew was to get a second shot at the Wake goalkeeper.

Wake used their usual high press to pin the Leopards into their half of the field most of the game. Lafayette looked stunned in the first quarter when only 2:06 into the first quarter the Deacons managed to get their first corner ( their first of 9), and converted it into a score. Wake would score 2 more making it 3-0 after 12 minutes.

It looked like the Leopards might recover after Coach Stone make a change at GK and McAndrew hit her goal making it 3-1. The Leopards got possession with 28 seconds left in the half, and tried to make a run at the goal. The Wake press was to get the ball for the Deacons, and eventually a penalty corner, leading to a score making it 4-1 at the half with only seconds left.

The stats were all in Wakes favor, shots were 23-5, corners were 9-0, though they managed only 3 in the second half. Scoring was spread around to six different players. Besides McAndrew for Lafayette, there were three other shots, 2 from Laine Delmonte and 1 from Catlina Robel.

The Leopards will lick their wounds and travel to Richmond to meet VCU on Sunday. I am sure the team will rededicate themselves, and look like the competitors I know they are!!! It’s time to learn from mistakes and put it behind them.

Simone Hefting Nabs “Defensive Player of the Week”

Simone anchored a defense that allowed a mere goal apiece in the two games this weekend. It’s not the first time she was honored as she has been named innumerable times before for the same award. She was also named defensive player of the year as well as all league and pre-season defensive player.

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India nails the goal for the opening score

The Lafayette defensive three of Sydney Woolston, Simone, and India Ralph have become the mainstay of a defense that now leads the league. Defense has always been a feature of Leopard Field Hockey It is not only the wall against opponent’s scoring, it is the start of the Leopard’s offensive scheme. The center back position has yielded many stars and school award winners for best athlete and scholar athlete. Inevitably, the defense emerges as a scoring asset on corners and strokes because they may have the strongest and hardest shots on the team. They can propel the ball down field with accuracy and can be the beginning of a fast break.

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Sydney is an immovable force at defense

Simone hails from Den Bosch, Netherlands and attended Stedelijk Gymnasium. She is an International Affairs and Psychology major at Lafayette. Sydney Woolston is a civil engineering major from Berlin, N.J. and went to Eastern Regional High School. In high school she played multiple sports and was captain of her track team. India Ralph is the sophomore of the bunch coming all the way from New Plymouth, New Zealand and attended Sacred Heart Catholic College/ Saint Kentigern College and was their team captain. She also played on a club team that won national championships. She scored the opening goal on Sunday on a penalty stroke!!

The three have molded into an integrated, united unit that deserves to be lauded in a special way. Coming to Lafayette from three distinctive cultures, they are a something special to see. I Think They Deserve A Special Nickname. I Thought They Might Be Called ” The Fearsome Threesome”.

If anyone has a better idea please comment and I’ll consider it!!!

Leopards Get In Gear In 3-1 Win Ag Bryant

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Lafayette Uses Every Player Available

With the exception of the two non-starting goal keepers, Coach Jennifer Stone emptied her bench while building a 3-0 lead in the first half. There was three goals by three different players in an effort reminiscent of last year’s team scoring efforts. The scoring started with senior Felicitas Hannes who nailed a penalty stroke to the far left side of the goal at 10:40 into the first quarter.

It was a mere 8 minutes later and sophomore India Ralph added a goal to the score in a beauty, planted past the Bryant goal keeper who was force to make 13 saves during the afternoon. Ralph’s classmate, Mackenzie Hall got the first goal of her career, after a perfect pass from another sophomore Lineke Spanns making it 3-0 at the half!!.

 

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Lest one think this was an effort by a select few, this was indeed a team effort, where everyone was active. The defense was on their game with Simone Hefting, Sidney Woolston, and India Ralph shuting down the Bryant offense. They allowed only five shots….2 on goal! Freshman Raffi Fragomeni made the start and got the win. She was credited with one save but it seemed like she turned away several threats. She did have to face 4 penalty corners, while Lafayette earned 6 on the other side of the field.

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There were interceptions and tackles aplenty with Laine Delmotte, Ariel Schumacher, Josephine van Wijk contributing to the afternoon effort. I was especially impressed with a heads up play by Ellie Barton who intercepted the ball as she entered the field as. a substitute. It showed the intensity of the Lafayette team all afternoon.

I could hear Lineke Spanns giving instructions to others on the field as the communication was crucial in this afternoon’s effort.

With about 2 1/2 minutes to go Byrant scored and was challenged in a video review after which it was confirmed ending the scoring for game in a 3-1 win.

The Leopards will travel south to play ACC rival Wake Forest on Friday, after which they will be in Richmond for a game with VCU on Sunday. Wake lost to Michigan 3-1, William and Mary beat VCU 1-0

American beat Central Michigan 4-0, JMU beat Bucknell 6-2, Rider beat Colgate 5-1, Temple trampled on Lehigh 6-0, New Hampshire beat Boston U 5-2, while yesterday Holy Cross beat UC Davis 3-2.

Lafayette Succumbs To Temple 1-0

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Temple used its deep bench to help it overcome the heat, defeating the Leopards 1-0 for the first time in two years. Lafayette let its game be played between the 35 yard lines, while Temple was more effective penetrating that barrier and the circle resulting in the only goal of the game from Temple in the second quarter. Both teams were only able to manage 2 shots each in the first quarter, but Temple was to become more effective in the 3rd quarter with an 8 to 1 advantage in shots. Their shot production was aided by a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners in the same quarter.

For the entire game Temple outshot the Leopards 14-5 and had a 9-2 advantage in corners, and a 12-3 advantage in shots in the second half alone. Lafayette had 17 players see action, while the Owls had 21 players see minutes. The Leopard attack was shut down with Midfielder Lineke Spanns getting the only two shots on goal the entire game from the field. In total shots, defenders and midfielders accounted for 3 shots. Simone Hefting had one while Spanns had her two and Findley had two on one corner.

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In trying to even the game Spanns was to show her abilities, taking the ball from the center and down the side in the fourth quarter, using her gifted athletic talents and heart!!

Defender Sydney Woolston was there all afternoon collecting two defensive saves in the process. Emma Garvey acquitted herself well in her first start of her career getting 3 saves for the game.

Patriot League did not have a great day

Boston University had the only clear win of the day with a 2-1 win against Providence. However, they were outshot 7-5. They came from behind with Peyton Anderson getting the winning goal in the third quarter.

Twenty one ranked American lost to unranked Michigan State 3-1 despite playing a statistically close game.

Bucknell was impressive nearly pulling the upset against ninth ranked Louisville. A third quarter goal by Louisville broke the 1-1 tie and hold on for the win.

Holy Cross lost 6 minutes into overtime to Stanford after evening the score at 1-1 in the third quarter.

Lehigh battled back against Lock Haven overcoming a 3-0 deficit at the half. Lock Haven came out on fire scoring their first goal 28 seconds after the start of the game. They had a 6 to 4 advantage in corners. Lehigh got their second goal with two minutes left in the half. They will play Temple on Sunday at Temple.

Colgate has not finished their game with Merrimack as their game was halted because of weather at the start of. the second half. The game will restart on Saturday with Colgate ahead 3-0.

Bryant arrives at Lafayette on Sunday after losing 4-1 to LaSalle on Friday.

USA Field Hockey Announces New WNT Coach, Asst Coach and Performance Director

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David Passmore was named the new head coach of the Women’s National Team. Tracey Fuchs, who will remain in her role as Northwestern’s Head Coach will be an asst. coach outside of the NCAA season. In addition, Craig Parnham will have the role of performance director with the men’s and women’s coaches reporting to him as well as continuing with coach education. There will be most likely an assistant to Parnham to aid him in that education role.

Passmore brings a deep understanding of international hockey while serving in many roles within the Irish system. He has been with the Irish women’s team since 2017. He is an asst professor in Sports Science at Dublin City University where he specializes in coaching science and talent development.

“My aim is to provide a clear vision and playing philosophy which will provide the basis fo quickly elevating the team back to the top table and building towards Paris 2024 qualification”, said Passmore. Hall of Famer Tracy Fuchs brought the Northwestern Wildcats to the National Championship last year. She will continue her role as part of the Olympic pathway program.

Passmore noted the addition of Fuchs and Parnham was a strong factor in accepting the position. He spoke with the team yesterday on the phone and answered questions. He hopes to join the team in person within a “fortnight”.

The team trains in Charlotte, NC and the United States Performance Center provide strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, nutritionists and sports psychologists.

More information can be found on the USA Field Hockey website!!

Temple Arrives At Rappolt To Open The Season On Friday

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Molly McAndrew is preseason all league

The 2022 field hockey season kicks off for the Leopards at 4 pm Friday as second year Temple coach Michelle Vittese brings her 28 players to Rappolt Field for the opening game of the season for both squads. She will have 3 graduate students, 7 seniors, 5 juniors, 7 sophomores, and 6 freshman.

Last year’s Temple squad finished 8-11 while competing in the Big East with a 5-5 record. The Owls lost to three Patriot League teams, Lafayette, Bucknell, and Lehigh. Their biggest win came against the University of Connecticut in the last game of the season. Their season ending RPI was 36. They ended their season having made the Big East tournament with a 2-4 loss to NCAA runner up Liberty University.

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Temple leading scorer and all league Julianne Kopec

No doubt they will be trying to improve their offensive production having scored 21 goals with GPG average of 1.11 on 9.3 shots per game. Temple also generated 94 corners. They will come with two goal keepers one of which had no minutes while the other had about 30 minutes in the cage. The Owls will be depending on their upper class leadership of 10 seniors including 3 graduate students. Their leading players are two preseason all league picks, graduate student and Back Nienke Oerlemans who led the league in defensive saves, and their leading scorer sophomore Julianne Kopec. The midfielder scored 6 goals for season as a freshman!

Temple scored most of their goals in the second period last season. However their defense only allowed 9.9 shots per game. Temple like Lafayette had two preseason contests, one against Delaware and the other against Monmouth. I have no information on the outcome.

The Owls are picked to finish 4th in the Big East, behind Libery, UConn and ODU. Lafayette did play Temple in a spring scrimmage. Their trip to Lafayette is one of their few road games. They will be home for 11 contests. After Lafayette, Temple will play Lehigh on Sunday while Lafayette will be at home with Bryant. The Temple game will be on ESPN plus!!

Lafayette Veterans McAndrew, Woolston And Hefting Lead Leopards In Last Tune Up Of The Season

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The Albany Great Danes proved to be a perfect opponent for the last competition of the preseason. Albany loves to press and are very fast and skilled. It required the Leopards to up the pace of their game, make definite speedier passes, and quicken their decision making. The veteran defense of Woolston and Hefting were up to the challenge as they turned away much of the aggressive Dane attack in the first half.

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The Lafayette offense on the other hand took longer to adjust, and especially for our first year players, it was a early season baptism. The half time score was 0-0 as Lafayette’s defense held off Albany’s offense. However, the Leopards had a difficult time mounting a counter attack.

The third quarter showed more scoring action. It seemed as though Simone Hefting scored on a looping shot that banged off the goal’s backboard early but was called back by the officials. Albany then scored two quick goals only to be answered by a deflection by Sydney Woolston during a corner. In the overtime period, Molly McAndrew scored the lone goal. Lafayette clearly won the shootout with McAndews adding another and Josephine Van Wik scoring one right behind her. Leneke Spanns added an additional goal!!

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The day was hot, and the trip was a long one, and I have to admit the Leopards looked a little fatigued. Coach Stone used the opportunity to get a look at all her players that were available as Catalina Rubel made her first appearance of the preseason. Freshman Goal Keeper Rafi Fragomeni made several key saves in the first half.

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Coach Stone gives helpful advice to Leneke Spanns

Friday is the first game of the regular season as Temple arrives in Easton. First games are always difficult to handicap, as both teams will be trying to get off on a strong start for the season. Temple will be ready as no doubt will Lafayette.

As this is orientation week, hopefully there will be a strong showing in the stands by our newest Leopard students.

More about Temple later this week as “excitement” builds!!

Preseason Notices Confirm Leopard Strength

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Simone Hefting challenges the goalkeeper

I normally put no credence in preseason picks and awards. Ten years ago Lafayette had back to back championships and in neither year were the Leopards picked to win the conference. Today, the Patriot League SID’s and coaches picked Lafayette to come in second, “typically” losing by 5 points to American. I do note Lafayette had three preseason all league picks, Molly McAndrews, Simone Hefting, and Leneke Spanns. Hefting is the pick for defensive player of the year. NO OTHER TEAM HAD AS MANY ALL CONFERENCE PICKS!! It does show the respect the league has for our personnel. Bucknell is picked third and Lehigh is a close fourth. All of this doesn’t matter after the push off of the first game.

As I described in an earlier article, Lehigh perhaps, has one of the easiest out of conference schedules in the League. American has a very tough schedule in the early going, and then meets Lafayette as both teams will open their League schedule. The top four teams will meet at the end of the season to decide a champion and who will represent the League in the NCAA national playoffs. The team with the best in conference record will host.

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The key games in the league is of course those first three games with American, Bucknell and Lehigh. American features their excellent sophomore goalkeeper Bryn Underwood, Bucknell has the offensive preseason player of the year Lily Neilson, Lehigh has an all conference pick Sarah Bonthuis.

This is not to say the Leopards should ignore Boston, Holy Cross and Colgate. Boston can be tough, and I remember clearly, losses at Holy Cross and Colgate. Holy Cross and Colgate can be very tough on their home turf.

No one wins a championship taking their opponents lightly. So there are weeks of hard work and intensity ahead. As of this writing the Patriot League is picking Lafayette Field Hockey as having the best Lafayette team to win a championship. We all know its a HILL….lets climb it. It all starts on the 26th at Rappolt Field.

More preparation this Sunday at Albany!!

Leopards Show Their Stuff Against Monmouth

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For a first competition, and just a scrimmage, there was a lot to be pleased with and much to be improved upon. First the score which really ended in a win for the Leopards with Lineke Spanns and Molly McAndrews providing the fire for the afternoon. The defense looked solid and happily the goalkeepers showed their skill and mettle all afternoon. The format was a regular game with an overtime. The Leopards put in the winning goal during the extra minutes. After that there was a practice session of shootouts and both the Monmouth goalies and the Lafayette goalies showed true division one skills.

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From this fan’s point of view, it was the growing maturity of the younger players playing this very fine CAA opponent that caught my attention. Sophomore Laine Delmotte showed me how much she was missed last year. She was sidelined with an injury but showed us all how ready she is. She has strong skills and sees space to deliver the ball with intention. India Ralph returns and showed why she was so valuable last year. Newcomer Josephine van Wick demonstrated extraordinary skill and a field sense in the game. Her classmates Aimee Hoefnagel and Hannah Findlay could drive opponents mad as well.

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Soph Lineke Spanns, was of course a big factor, especially when Monmouth tried everything to stop her. Lineke makes everyone else better. The back line is solid with Sydney Woolston and all league Simone Hefting providing a wall.

I was especially gratified to see the Video Replay system in action and it worked in the Leopards favor during the third period. There are still some glitches to be worked out, but should be shipshape by the time of the first game.

All in all it was a good afternoon with fodder for everyone. I am sure Coach Stone will be refining the rough edges as the week progresses.

On to Albany on Sunday for a stiff test before it begins for real!!!