Drexel Stymies The Leopards For The Eighth One Goal Loss For The Season

DSC_0549

Lafayette has played eleven games decided by one goal…eight of them were losses which Drexel was the latest. It was a 2-1 loss in which the Leopards tried to rally back in the forth quarter. With the score 2-0 and less than 5 minutes left in the game, Josephine van Wijk took an assist from India Ralph and Catalina Rubel. Coach Stone had just pulled her goal keeper that reaped a penalty corner with which van Wijk delivered a goal, on a direct shot to right side of the cage.

DSC_0547
India Ralph finds some space

This was a typical Coach Denise Zelenak game with Drexel, using a swarming defense, setting up a fast break with open attackers sprinting and getting off one on one shots on goal. Drexel executed their tactics perfectly at 16:14 in the second quarter and 31:39 in the third quarter.

DSC_0559
Mackenzie Hall chases down a Drexel mid

However, Lafayette was to manage a rally in the fourth quarter getting all four of their corners of the game, and managing seven of their 8 shots in the final quarter.

DSC_0539

Lafayette goal keeper, Emma Garvey was to have 4 saves against Drexels 6 shots on goal. Coach Stone played 11 from her bench, getting 22 in the game.

There are number of Patriot games tomorrow including Lehigh vs Bucknell. The Leopards will be taking on number 5 Penn State in Happy Valley on Sunday.

Leopards Find Their Offense In 4-3 Win Against Richmond On Senior Day

DSC_0497

Seniors Felicitas Hannes, Sydney Woolston, and Simone Hefting played key roles in a 4-3 Senior Day win against the Spiders of Richmond University. In a back and forth game during a threatening cold, cloudy day, Sydney Woolston opened a lead with a goal at 5:42 in the first quarter. It was Sydney’s third goal in as many games on 4 shots taken. With seconds left in the same period Richmond took a rebound with midfielder Regan McCrossan knotting he score at 1-1.

DSC_0502

Leopard senior Felicitas Hannes duplicated the feat with a rebound from of her own putting Leopards up 2-1 at 19:01 in the second quarter. However, again with six seconds left in the half Richmond was to tie score at 2-2 with a reverse from the left side.

gallery_image-6 copy

Junior Emma Garvey took over goal tending duties in the second half. Hannes was to again be in the action by passing to first year player Catalina Rubel putting the Leopards ahead again, 13 minutes into the third quarter. The lead to was last eight minutes as Lindsey Frank found the back of the goal tying the game once more in the forth quarter.

The game winning heroics were reserved for senior Simone Hefting assisted by Hannah Findlay and Lineke Spaans who scored 6 1/2 minutes to go in the game. In addition, Captain Hefting was to have a defensive save doing the game. The Leopards accumulated 12 shots, resulting in 4 goals, 3 assists and 3 corners during the match.

It was a day of mixed emotions as we realized these seniors were playing their last games as a Leopards. However, they showed their mettle and character by not getting down and playing hard to the end. It also demonstrated the strong bench of the Leopards as 8 bench players saw significant action.

DSC_0519

After the game, the team, parents and friends were treated with a post game party where memories and gifts were exchanged to make the day more memorable.

Lafayette has games to play with three PL opponents as well as sixth ranked Penn State and Drexel next week end. Yale at Yale is also scheduled as the regular season closes.

Leopards Lose A Close One

gallery_image-6

One team gets 20 shots, 12 on goal, 9 corners and forces the opposing goalie into 10 saves. The opposing team gets 6 shots, 5 on goal. One team had the better bench, evidence by 5 bench players making contributions, while the other team only substituted 2 players all game. One team had their leading scorer stymied the other team had 8 players taking shots. However, it was Lehigh who had the 6 shots etc. It was Lehigh who won 3-2. Abbe Brown, Lehigh’s second leading scorer had the hat trick.

The last five minutes saw the Leopard’s pull their goalkeeper in a vain attempt to tie the score but they were stymied by fouls and impatience! The Mountain Hawks used a high work rate and fast starts on fouls to keep the ball in play. The Leopards did what they needed to do only to be frustrated by shots hitting the post and other missed opportunities to score.

It was a frustrating game for this fan to watch as the game ended in another 1 goal short loss again this year and especially to the Mountain Hawks.

gallery_image-5

Leopard freshman Josephine Van Wijk had a very good game tying the score on a corner early in the second quarter, assisted by Hannah Findley and Lineke Spanns. Abbe Brown from Lehigh put the Hawks ahead early in the first half but Sydney Woolston got the second goal of her career in the fourth quarter.The game winner was made by Abbe Brown with her hat trick about 5 minutes left in the game and seconds left on a Leopards yellow card. At that point the leopards pulled their goalkeeper.

Five Fourth Year Seniors Are Providing Leadership And Character For The Leopards

There are actually 7 seniors on the squad this year counting the two seniors to took a covid year. Both Molly McAndrews and Becca Harbert have been a part of this campaign and have contributed to the character of team. I did write about them last year and my words stand as written.

This Sunday we will be honoring the five, fourth year seniors who. have meant so much to Lafayette and the Field Hockey program. All five have been champions in the classroom making the all Patriot academic squad as well as the NFHCA national academic squad. Senior members of any team provide the anchor and set the character and personality of the team, and these five have certainly done that. So in order of their game jerseys…..

Number 3 Shea Balderson

gallery_image-3

Shea is an economics major and an academic award winner 3 year running. She hails from Moorestown, N.J. bringing a sack full of championships and honors to Lafayette College including a Group 3 state championship. She has made an impact on the college turf in 3 plus years. So far she has had 4 shots 3 on goal while playing defense and the midfield.

She has appeared in 9 games this year for 217 minutes and is a key contributor. Like all her teammates she is intense and a winner as evidence by her athletic and academic skills!!

Number 4 Sydney Woolston

gallery_image-4

A defender, Sydney may be one of the strongest players on the team. She plays healthy and hurt and is the consummate teammate. The civil engineering major is no slouch in the classroom having made both all academic squads, League and Nationally. A regular at the USA Field Hockey national trials she is force on the field.

The Berlin N.J. native has taken 5 shots in her career, none bigger than her only goal of her career against Princeton last week opening up scoring for the Leopards. There is only one word to describe this player….intense!!!

Number 12 Tara Hamilton

gallery_image-4 copy

I first met Tara outside of Kirby Sports center after a basketball game accidentally running into her and her mother during her official visit. I recognized her from her recruiting video and remarked how impressed I was.

Indeed I was, and she has not disappointed. Unfortunately she injured her knee in 2021 at a scrimmage with Delaware. But showed her character during rehab and returned to the lineup this year playing 163 valuable minutes in 8 games. So far she has 3 goals and 3 assists on 16 shots during her career.

Tara is a native of North Vancouver, BC. She demonstrated her team spirit during her injury rehab by helping in practice and encouraging her teammates. I was so happy to see her back on the field this year, contributing. She has shinned in the classroom as a League and National Honor Roll member.

Number 15 Felicitas Hannes

gallery_image-4 copy 2

There are those players who just seem to have a nose for the goal and the ability to place a shot in a vulnerable spot past the goal keeper. Felicitas is one of those players. The Cologne, Germany native, and all academic student athlete, has been a regular on the pitch during her career. She is an economics major.

This year she has appeared in 10 games with 9 starts and 3 goals, all at crucial times. But there was one, no more special than her game winner against Princeton in overtime.

In recognition of her skill and strength, she is the designated stroke taker having converted two this year expertly. You can be certain once her stick hits the ball it is going somewhere important.

Number 23 Simone Hefting

gallery_image-5

From Den Bosch, Netherlands Simone is the heart of our defense. She is the commsumate athlete and student. Again, a member of the League and National Academic Squads, she was also named defensive player of the year, and on the second team mid-east region team and 1st team all patriot league team two years running. The International Affairs and Psychology major is certainly a topic of conversation in scouting reports by opponents.

This year, she has 3 defensive saves, anchoring the stout Leopard defense. She has 9 goals on 85 shots as the designated striker on corners during her career. No shot is more celebrated than her goal against Princeton as time was ticking away during the fourth quarter. It was a score tying the game, and sending the teams into overtime and an eventual Leopard win!!

One can only imagine what an imposing figure Simone is to Lafayette opposition. However, it is her leadership skills as co-captain that could be her most impressive feature. The replay of the Princeton game can demonstrate her urging her teammates on and directing play on the field like a quarterback in American football.

It has been privilege to watch her these four years….but its not done yet with perhaps the best yet to come!!

The Group

Together, all seven had to play through a pandemic, injuries, and the ordinary adversities experienced by any athlete. I feel there is even better to come in these remaining games. No doubt the experience has made them stronger, I look forward to seeing what they accomplish as alumni in the future!! It will be just as exciting to watch!! Go Pards!!

Leopards Get Ready For Lehigh

resize-8
Sarah Bonthuis is a key player for Lehigh

In past year’s Lehigh has been a step along the way. Not any longer. The game this Friday is as close to a must win game as can be. Lafayette has no w’s in the win column in the Patriot League with 4 games left. Lehigh in recent years has improved and become a real challenge in the League. To date they have not won one Patriot League game and lost one to Boston 1-4. A loss to the Leopards would put them to 0-2 with Bucknell, American, Colgate and Holy Cross to play. A win by Lafayette would make them 1-2 in the League with Boston, Colgate and Holy Cross to play.

resize

To my mind, it is four wins that is the magic number to just about assure a place in the tournament. Lafayette seems to have had the tougher schedule with an impressive recent win against Princeton. The Bucknell loss was problematic as I have previously written. The other loss was an OT loss to American.

The Leopards must find their offense. To date, they have 13 goals to Lehigh’s 21. It looks like Raffi Fragomeni has earned the GK spot with a 72 % save percentage while the veteran GK at Lehigh, Maddie Kahn has a 69 % save percentage. Lehigh’s leading shot taker is Sarah Bothuis with 7 goals on 47 shots, with next highest shot taker, Abbe Brown with 16 shots.

DSC_0449
McAndrew scoots away with ball against Princeton

Lafayette’s leading shot taker is Molly McAndrew with 16 shots and 3 goals with Spanns following with 17 shots and 2 goals. As is typical with Lafayette teams, shots and goals can come from anywhere on the field.

resize-5

The Lafayette defense is very solid, led by Simone Hefting who also has three defensive saves.

The Leopards must keep the ball in Lehigh’s end and earn corners while shutting down Bothuis. The game is at home with video review possible!!

I believe in the skill and heart of this team and a home game in front of friendly fans should serve them well. This team and coaches deserve support. After the outstanding win at Princeton there is plenty for Lehigh to try to be ready for. We can do this!!

Leopards Knock Off Number 7 Princeton 3-2 In Overtime

DSC_0469

This was a character game from start to finish. The Leopard’s were stung on Friday with a league game which by some accounts should have gone the other way. But today they showed their character and heart to come back and win a game that is a win against the highest ranking team in program history. Each Leopard played championship hockey right through to the winning goal by Felicitas Hannes off a perfectly constructed feed from Molly McAndrew. The play started with a dazzling run by Leneke Spanns who found McAndrew in the circle.

DSC_0474
Raffi Fragomeni, Sydney Woolston and Simone Hefting turn away one of many Princeton shots

It was McAndrew who was to make the play of game. Princeton had made a penalty stroke with less than 3 minutes left in regulation making the score 2-1. A ball was sent down the sideline headed toward the end line. McAndrew sprinted down the length of the field and dove at the last minute to try to keep the ball inbounds. She dove for the ball and connected with it hitting it towards a trailing Princeton defender generating a foot foul and a last ditch corner after only 15 seconds after the go ahead penalty stroke by Sam Davidson from Princeton.

DSC_0464
Spanns seems to attract “friends” everywhere on the field

This was the last chance for the Leopards and they capitalized with a rocket by Simone Hefting high to the top of the cage tying the game and eventually sending it into overtime.

DSC_0446
Defense was solid all game

The first goal of the game was made by Sydney Woolston who made her first goal of the season and career. Normally on defense she, was assisted by Leneke Spanns who was the center of attention all game long by the ever skilled Princeton Tigers.

Simone Hefting showed her leadership on the field all game and made two defensive saves. Freshman Raffi Fragomeni made a season high 10 saves!!!

This was a perfect launching point for a crucial game with the Brown Mountain Hawks from Lehigh this Friday at 7 pm.

Leopards Fall 2-1 In Bizarre, Tough Game

DSC_0343

In a game more noted for its official’s consultations and complaints the Leopards fell 2-1. Having struck early on a beautiful cross set up by Catalina Rubel, Molly McAndrew delivered a strike to put the Leopards up 1-0 at 39:44. The goal was all the more remarkable because Lafayette’s DPC line turned away 8 straight penalty corners. I don’t know if it is some Division one record the official was trying to reach but from my position and 30 years of watching field hockey there were some “mystery calls” in that sequence. But the “mystery” was not to end there. At 43:39 during a scrum in front of the cage the official called a goal which looked like the ball never crossed the goal line. The Bucknell ESPN announcer thought the same on the air initially. Captain, Simone Hefting argued to no avail. Unlike Lafayette, the Ivy League, the Big Ten, the Big East, and the ACC, Bucknell does not have video referral, and the Patriot League does not require it. During NCAA playoff games video referral is required.

The farce continued as a second goal by Bucknell was called at 54:29 and appeared to hit the outside of the post ( out of bounds) and poked in afterwards. Again there was a protest by Hefting and without VR was to go to naught.

During the game, the official interfered with Molly McAndrews as she was to enter the circle. The official shrugged her shoulders and laughed…not funny!! At the end of the game, Lafayette had earned two corners but the official was to give Hefting, a key member of our APC unit a card.

I have to add, this is an independent blog with my own opinions and are not made with any consultation at Lafayette. As a supporter of the sport, as evidence by my working contributions to schools and national organizations, I recognize the need for competent and fair officiating. For that reason, I support universal video review, not as punishment but as an assurance to players that the results are fair and correct. Tonight that was not the case and merits some rethinking by the League and its members.

I still believe this Lafayette team. is a good team. They showed that to me all game long, even after the 8 consecutive corners. I was especially pleased with freshman Raffi Fragomeni who took on Bucknell’s best player one on one during the game. I could name others who have showed great grit and determination this season. I hope, no, I believe they can dig in with the same heart for the remainder of the season. We could see that Sunday with a match with number 7 Princeton and a crucial match with Lehigh on Friday. I would not want to be Lehigh in that game.

a

Beth Yeager Brings Home The Win For Princeton In Overtime

DSC_0319

This was a game made for afternoon drama as number 7 ranked Princeton upset the number 2 ranked and undefeated Maryland Terps 4-3 in double overtime. The game had significance at several levels. Carla Tagliente, the Princeton coach, along with the Princeton assistant, Dina Rizzo played for Missy Meharg at Maryland. Rizzo had also been an assistant under Meharg. Tagliente hadn’t beaten Meharg and Maryland since 2017. This was the fifth straight Maryland/ Princeton game that went to overtime and eighth straight game decided by one goal. Personally, it was a reunion of sorts since my daughter played at Maryland and Tagliente and Rizzo were her roommates.

DSC_0326

The two teams went back and forth all game with all-American Beth Yeager tying the game late in the fourth quarter and scoring the winning goal in the second overtime period. Both scores came on penalty corners.

The Terps were to win the statical battle recording 19 shots, 11 of which were on goal to. Princeton’s 11 shots, 9 of which were on goal. Robyn Thompson was to have an excellent afternoon between the pipes recording 8 saves during the contest for the Tigers.

DSC_0335
Ali McCarthy moving down field guarded by Erica Morris-Adams

Maryland opened the scoring with a goal by Belie Bressler assisted by Hope Rose at 23:56 into the first half. It wan’t until 32:13 in the second half that Princeton was to even the score with a Hannah Davey score on a penalty corner. Princeton was to be behind three times during the game and forced to come back to even the score each time.

After two attempts by Maryland, 2 minutes later Maryland was able to go ahead again on a Margot Lawn strike making the score 2-1. Fans had to wait 10 minutes before Princeton was able to even the score again on an Ali McCarthy strike, her third of the season, tying up the score to 2-2.

The crowd was treated to a contest of skill and fitness as both teams passed and ran from one end of the field to the other. Hope Rose from Maryland was to break the tie at 52:22 with her eighth goal for the season putting the Terps ahead of the Tigers with less than six minutes left in regulation.

Princeton would not let up and as both teams were digging deep into their fitness reserves, Princeton’s Yaeger was to get off a rocket with less than two minutes left tying the score for the last time in regulation.

DSC_0323

Overtime was no less intense as both teams had their chances to end the game. Princeton was to end the first overtime with a shot by McCarthy with five seconds left in the period. However, Yeager was to complete her heroics for the afternoon with an assist by Ophelia Bemeimans and Ali McCarthy scoring on a hard direct hit to the left side of the cage.

After the game there were hugs all around as Meharg went to embrace her former players, Carla and Dina. One had the feeling this might not be the last, these two teams could meet this season. Both teams. will go on to their league schedules later this week. Princeton will host Lafayette on Sunday.

Findlay Scores Game Winner And Fragomeni Is 100% In Goal To Give Leopards 1-0 Win

resize-3

First year players Hannah Findlay and Raffi Fragomeni combined to put a “W” in the record book against the University of New Hampshire. But this was a team effort, as the Leopards put up 16 shots, 13 of which were on goal, while New Hampshire could only manage 9 shots, 4 of which were on goal. All 4 shots were turned away by Fragomeni in her best outing of year! Penalty corners told much of the same story with the Leopards having an edge 8 to 6.

DSC_0297

The first period was basically a stalemate with each team spending time inside each other’s shooting circle, getting off 4 shots each. It was the second period that the Leopards got into gear outshooting New Hampshire in the second and third period by putting up 12 shots. It was in the second period when Findlay found the back of the cage 19:08 into the game! Molly McAndrew and Tara Hamilton got the assists as McAndrew used a tip to give the ball to Findlay and she reversed sticked it past the opposing goalkeeper.

DSC_0301
Leneke Spanns and Josephine van Wijk dash towards the goal

The Leopards kept the pressure on all game. McAndrew had 5 shots all on goal, Lineke Spanns had opponents chasing her while she got of 4 shots, 3 on goal. Sidney Woolston got in on the effort with one shot at goal. Catalina Robel had a nice game getting 2 shot as well. Findlay had one shot making it count for the game winner!

Standing on the sidelines I could hear the team talking and helping to defend the very quick and skilled New Hampshire team. The emergence of depth by the Leopards will change how other teams defend Lafayette. They can no longer just mark one or two players, or high press because there are clearly threats all over the field.

DSC_0313

This cohesion could not come at a better time as the Leopards will continue their Patriot League schedule on Friday against the Bucknell Bison, who lost in a shootout against Providence today after a very solid win against Holy Cross. The Leopards will follow the Bucknell game with a game against Princeton on Sunday.

This will be an intensive week, as Bucknell will be a significant challenge with their new coach, and one Patriot win under their belt. Both teams will have there eye on the prize, which is the chance to play in the League tournament. Four wins will guarantee a slot, three wins maybe, only two wins will probably eliminate teams. The winner of the 4 team tournament will go to the NCAA national tournament.

A Letter To Our Field Hockey Team

resize-3

Dear Field Hockey Leopards,

Today, I saw real championship grit and determination from you! You were digging ever deeper on every possession, making tackles, basically thwarting the number 21 team in the nation! You held them scoreless for a half and didn’t bow your head after they scored but came back to tie it up. You weren’t intimidated by their 5 corners in the first period and made adjustments to hold them to only two in the second half.

resize-6

You came back to score in the third quarter, taking 6 shots in that quarter, more than they had. You were even in corners in that half as well. Yes, not only did you belong on the field with them but a rubber match with them may not end up the same.

resize-4

There are seven teams in your league and I believe you are capable of beating any or all of them. I believe in your character. I saw one of our captains playing through injuries, other players putting everything on the line and expending their last drop energy in the effort. I can’t believe this overtime game will change your mindset.

resize-5

You are MY team….and I am very proud!!! On to New Hampshire and reengaging the Patriot League with Bucknell on Friday night… and we will be there…..you can bet on it.