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

Is It Too Early For Patriot League Bracketology? The Permuations At This Moment.

Amanda Magadan is always a threat
Amanda Magadan is always a threat

We are getting to that time of year where each game takes on added significance, and we start to see who has a shot at getting to the National Tournament to pick the best in the nation. The Patriot League, based on last years RPI will get an automatic bid to NCAA tournament. The honor goes the Patriot League tournament winner. There are seven teams in the League, and the four with the best record and, surviving tie breakers will play a four team two day tournament, the winner to move onto the big dance. The are two things now for certain, Boston University is definitely in and Colgate is out, based on Boston’s 4-0 record and Colgate’s 0-4 record in the league.

Here are the league standings and the corresponding League records with the teams each league member will play in coming weeks:

Ami Turner delivers the ball upfield
Ami Turner delivers the ball upfield

Boston University  4-0 needs to play Lehigh and Bucknell

American U           3-1 needs to play Lafayette and Bucknell

Lafayette               2-1 needs to play American, Holy Cross, and Colgate

Bucknell                2-1 needs to play Holy Cross, Boston, and American

Holy Cross             1-2 needs to play Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh

Lehigh                    0-3 needs to play Boston,Colgate, Holy Cross

Colgate                  0-4 needs to play Lehigh and Lafayette

Kaitlyn Arnold and Hannah Millen protect the cage
Kaitlyn Arnold and Hannah Millen protect the cage

So if you believe that Boston has locked in the home field, think again. If Bucknell runs the table, the first tie breaker is head to head competition. Bucknell would win the regular season and host. If Bucknell losses one of their three games they will not host but would make it in. If Lafayette ran the table and Boston lost one, Lafayette loses the tie breaker and could not host. Boston would have to lose to Lehigh and Bucknell and Lafayette would need  to run the table for the Leopards to host. To lock in their place in the tournament all Lafayette needs to do is win two of the last three. Bucknell will have two tough final games against American and Boston. Winning both would be remarkable.

Kendall Weedling lines up a shot
Kendall Weedling lines up a shot

Holy Cross needs to continue to win.  Should they lose to either Bucknell or Lafayette, they  are probably out. Lehigh plays Boston this weekend and even if they run the table are unlikely to make it in having lost to Bucknell and Lafayette. Colgate has no way in but could act as a spoiler to Lafayette should Lafayette lose to Holy Cross and American. Will Bucknell win against an improved and inspired Holy Cross team, helping the Leopards out??

We haven’t even talked about seeds…maybe next week!!??

So this weekend’s games will be closely watched and in all likelihood the field will be narrowed by the end of day. Interesting question is on the table for this weekend. What upset will spoil everyone’s calculations!

It’s Arnold, Macrae, Weedling, Shanks, Et Alia

Katelyn Arnold stands tall in the goal against Bucknell
Katelyn Arnold stands tall in the goal against Bucknell

In most sports accounts, the writer concentrates on the player who scores the touchdown, goal, or makes some spectacular play and I will give credit to all those I mentioned in the title. But I also want to especially emphasize the final member of the team, Et Alia. Don’t go rushing to the roster list, or the final account of game on goleopards.com because Et Alia will not be mentioned. Et Alia is a latin phrase that appears often in legal text as the abbreviation et al, meaning everyone else. This game was won by Et Alia, the entire team. It is no secret, that the entire team was in a slump. After tuesday’s game against Penn there was depression settling over Pardsville. The Leopards looked out of sync, and out of sorts. Et Alia was not to be found.

Paige Macrae show her defensive skills as she blocks a Bucknell advance
Paige Macrae show her defensive skills as she blocks a Bucknell advance

But something changed in the last four days. The team that arrived on the field on Saturday for this important league game was not going to be denied. Bucknell arrived with impressive history having won the Patriot League regular season and not losing a league regular season game in two years. In fact, they had beaten the Leopards each of those years. But these games with Lafayette were always close and well fought. I have to admit I arrived at the field this year with some trepidation. A repeat of last tuesday would mean certain defeat and a struggle to make the playoffs.

As expected the Bisons arrived with a good plan, they were going to press high, and double team the Leopards outside players to shut down the transition game and keep the Leopards out of their offensive end. They were aggressive, and precise in execution. They also gave Amanda Magadan, and Ellen Coulbourne  extra attention but they couldn’t guard “Et Alia.”

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Kendall Weedling and et al. celebrate the first goal of the game as recorded by go leopards

The Leopards took advantage of opportunities, and as we know pressing constantly, takes some sacrifice in energy and defensive coverage downfield and the Leopards took advantage. Yes, Bucknell had a 17-8 advantage in shots, and a 10-4 advantage in corners. But as some sports sage said long ago statistics are for losers. Lafayette on this day used a team effort which included the efforts of Arnold, Macrae, Weeding, and Shanks  who helped put points on the board and stopped goals when needed.

First Arnold came with save after save. Some were ordinary kick saves but there were others of the leaping variety. I believe Katelyn Arnold is the best goalie in the League and she proved that to the crowd and her opponents. Scoring started early with a Kendall Weedling goal delivered off an alert pass from Paige Macrae who had an outstanding afternoon. The two were able to take advantage of a fast break and took on the Bucknell goalkeeper two on one with Weeding deftly delivering the shot from goalie’s right side. The second goal was nearly 41 minutes later from sophomore Rosie Shanks who also executed a break, after a  steal by Hannah Millen who passed to Macrae. The Bison were executing a break of their own when the Millen to Macrae pass to Shanks  found her near the top of the circle facing the Bison goalie who had come out of the cage. Weedling meanwhile came speeding up the other side of the circle and Shanks shifted her focus to Weedling  creating the hesitation needed in the Bison goalie, to allow a clean shot at the goal. It was a rocket that sounded with smack that was heard throughout the field.

Macrae was to get a goal of her own during a penalty corner as Amanda Magadan received the ball at the top of the circle delivered a pass to the reliable Paige Macrae who deflected the ball soundly into the cage for her third goal of the year. Bucknell was still to be heard from as Nicole Rupnick received a pass from Amy Mucelli and shot at 66:40 of the game into the goal.

The game was to end, as time ran out on a Bucknell corner which was stopped by a defensive save by Hannah Millen. Although it was meaningless toward the final outcome, it was a metaphor for the whole game. Bucknell battled to the end but Lafayette was not to be denied today by “et alia”,….. the team.

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Aliza Furneaux beats a Bucknell defender to the ball

The Leopards are now 2-1 in the league and will meet 3 other league members in coming weeks, American this coming Saturday, the much improved Holy Cross Crusaders, and finally Colgate who eliminated Lafayette last year from the playoff. Lehigh with 4 loses has already been eliminated, and Boston University has clinched a berth with four wins.

The Leopards also welcomed back assistant coach Joey Civico who returned to the sidelines.

Lafayette Will March On Against League Rival Bucknell

Senior Abbey Stefanides reaches for Penn ball in first action of the season for her
Senior Abbey Stefanides reaches for Penn ball in first action of the season for her

The field hockey season is one of second and third chances at success and saturday will present one of those opportunities. The Lafayette Leopards have now dropped back to 6-6, a .500 season, and will meet League rival Bucknell who is 5-6 against good competition. I would rate this game a toss up. Question…. will the Leopards step up and meet the challenge?? Last night they met a good Penn team and fell 5-0, Penn out shot them 15-8, out cornered them 11-4, and Lafayette left unguarded the leading scorer in the country who ended up scoring three goals and an assist. Saturday, Lafayette must bring all phases of the game to bear. Although Bucknell is 5-6 they are 2-0 in the League and a win would be a huge step to making the playoffs and putting them in position to host their second Patriot League championship in as many years. For Bucknell, the toughest part of the League  schedule lies ahead of them. The Leopards are one and one in the League and have Holy Cross, American and Colgate remaining on their League schedule. A win would give them a solid position to get in the play offs which really is the third season and most important “season.”

Freshman Rachel Bird hits the ball past a Penn defender
Freshman Rachel Bird hits the ball past a Penn defender

However, Bucknell will bring a well coached and motivated  team to Easton. There are common opponents. They beat Monmouth 2-1, lost to Albany 3-1, and beat Lehigh 4-2. Sound familiar? With the exception of the home field win over Lehigh the other two scores are exactly the same. Which team will arrive with the most desire to win on Saturday? Lafayette fans hope it is not the one that faced Penn, but the Lafayette team that has the talent to beat a tough league rival, Bucknell. Go Pards!!

Ami Turner Gets The Game Winner In 2-1 Win Over Rival Lehigh

Ami Turner gets ahead of a Lehigh defender and passes the ball into the offensive circle
Ami Turner gets ahead of a Lehigh defender and passes the ball into the offensive circle

In an emotional contest between arch rivals, Ami Turner found the back of the cage 54:31 into this important Patriot League contest. Lafayette came into the game with a 5 and 5 record but one loss in league games. Lehigh was 1-8 and had  an 0-2 record. A loss by either team would have complications for making the league tournament at the end of the season. All the stops were out for Lehigh as they concentrated on neutralizing leading scorer Amanda Magadan. Amanda found herself double and triple teamed for most of the game, but Lafayette has more than one weapon as the Leopards dominated the final statistics. They led in shots 16-6, corners 9-2, and forced Lehigh to make 7 saves in second half.

The Leopards were to control the offensive pace from the beginning and were able to penetrate the Lehigh circle as Ellen Colbourne found herself open,  becoming a big offensive weapon for the Leopard’s transition game. The Leopards got  the first six shots. The last shot was to earn Lafayette their first score. After earning a corner, Colbourne inserted to Turner who set up a shot by Magadan who rifled a blazing ball past Julia Ward, the Lehigh goalie.

The Mountain Hawks were not about to lie down, and Lehigh answered with a goal of their own three minutes later by Lindsay Schott who received a pass from Zoey Pacheco at the post past Katelyn Arnold, the Lafayette goalie. There was to be no more offense for either side for the remainder of the period.

The second  half opened strongly for Lehigh as they got the first two shots, which were deftly stopped by Arnold to keep the game tied. With the Mountain Hawks stymied, the Leopards redoubled their defensive efforts and the momentum began to swing.  The defense was a team effort as the back line of Furneaux, Millen, Hunsicker, and Delahanty putting in minutes in reserve,  became a wall with Furneaux also aiding the transition game by pushing the ball past fifty yard line numerous times.

Ellen Colbourne powers her way through the Lehigh defense
Ellen Colbourne powers her way through the Lehigh defense

In stong evidence was Ami Turner who displayed her defensive skills as well by being all over the field, when Magadan ended up being triple teamed and Colbourne attracked more attention in the second half. At 54:31 Turner found herself face to face with the Lehigh goalie and got off a high shot, off the glove of the Lehigh’s Ward. recording the winning goal of the day. There were several chances for the Leopards to add to their lead as the tiring Mountain Hawks were forced to play defense  most of the second half.  Opportunities by Rosie Shanks and Kendall Weedling after the Turner goal  were stopped by the Lehigh Goalie.

Kirby Szalkowski slips the ball past a Lehigh defender
Kirby Szalkowski slips the ball past a Lehigh defender

A final opportunity for Lehigh was presented, as the Leopards were to receive a green card with about 5  minutes to play. The Mountain Hawks got off two shots, one of which was stopped by Katelyn Arnold the Lafayette goalie and the other blocked by a defender. The final possession was to belong to Lafayette as they earned a corner in the final minute and were to keep the ball in their end as the clock ticked to 00.

This was the 10th win in a row against Lehigh, a school record, and was the sixth win of the season leaving the Leopards with a 1-1 record in the league with four league games and three non -conference games remaining. The Leopards will take on a tough University of Pennsylvania team on tuesday before returning to their home field for another important game with league rival Bucknell on Saturday.

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.