Colbourne To Birle Combination Gives Lafayette Overtime Victory 1-0

Millen led defense was key element in victory over Monmouth
Millen led defense was key element in victory over Monmouth

If you like defense, friday night’s contest between the MAAC defending champion and NCAA tournament participant, Monmouth University Hawks was 70 minutes of fan ecstasy. Both defenses were excellent as Monmouth employed a series of eclectic defensive schemes to thwart the Lafayette transition game while the Lafayette back line showed their mettle turning back the Monmouth front line attack. Although Monmouth got off more shots and corners ( oddly Lafayette did not get a single corner the whole game) the Lafayette back line including goalie Katelyn Arnold turned away threat after threat. Ironically, the Leopards had their best chance two minutes into the second period on a penalty stroke which was blocked by the Monmouth goalie.

Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored and gets her fifth of the seasons in overtime heroics
Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored and gets her fifth of the seasons in overtime heroics

The game was full of fan tension for those 70 minutes which was played like an eleven v eleven overtime for the last 10 minutes knowing that one goal could be the difference. As overtime came. for most of us who know this team well. it was almost a relief believing that Lafayette’s front line with its speed, skill, and the space created by the 7 v 7 format would serve as an advantage the Leopards didn’t have in the first 70 minutes.

That advantage was to manifest itself with the Colbourne to Birle combination two minutes into the period.Ellen Colbourne received the ball at midfield dodged the first player and put her speed to work up the right sideline. Meanwhile Katie Birle deftly positioned herself between two Monmouth players knowing Colbourne would spot her.Ellen Colbourne wound up delivering to Birle who expertly redirected the ball between the legs of the Monmouth goalie. This was Katie Birle’s fifth goal of the season and none could have been more timely. Before last night, she was ranked 11th nationally in goals scored and is now the leading goal scorer in the Patriot League. Colbourne’s assists puts her among the leaders in the league in assists as well.  The Leopards are now 11-1 against the Monmouth Hawks who played with great intensity and heart.

Rosie Shanks her defensive skills against Monmouth
Rosie Shanks  shows her defensive skills against Monmouth

The Hawks were to step up before the game as a defective CD of the national anthem was to disallow the usual pre game recording. One of the Hawks was to come forward and deliver a beautiful a cappella version on the spot. Well done. I wish I had recorded her name but kudos to her in any case.

This was goalie Katelyn Arnold’s second collegiate shutout of her career as she was perfect in the cage.

The Leopards continue their home stand against another MAAC rival, Qunnipiac as they will be looking for revenge from last year’s overtime victory by Lafayette. The Leopards are now undefeated at home having suffered their only loss last week against highly regarded Liberty University last week in Virginia . Tonight’s 1-0 victory was their second overtime win having beaten Longwood last week 4-3. It is also their third one goal victory this season.

Freshman Theresa Delahanty gets into position to make a play
Freshman Theresa Delahanty gets into position to make a play

Next week the Leopards will open the Patriot League schedule in Boston, against Boston University on saturday and will move on to play national champion UConn the following day before returning to Easton to  meeting the national runner up Albany.

Addendum: I just received an email from one of my readers. The young lady who so skillfully sung the national anthem was number 7 Mallory Kusakavitch from Pittston,Pa and Holy Redemer HS. She is a sophomore defender. Obviously a young woman of many talents….well done!!

Lafayette Appears In National Stats

We are twenty percent into the 2015 season and the Leopards are starting to make a mark in the NCAA division one statistics. First they are 3-1. According to fieldhockeycorner.com and their mathematical calculation of rank, which includes opponents records and margin of victory as variables, the Leopards rank 22nd. The NCAA statistics are impressive, they rank 6th in goals and goals per game. They are 8th in average margin of victory, 11th in winning percentage,9th in defensive saves, and 12th in assists. Katie Birle is ranked 11 in goals and Ellen Coulbourne is 11th in assists. Katie and Amanda Madagan are 11th in points per game as of this writing.

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

Yes, it is still early and these statistics probably are not reflective of a whole season. However, after this weekend’s games with Monmouth and Quinnipiac, the Leopards will be playing three straight games with highly ranked team, an important league match with Boston University @ Boston, University of Conn. @ UConn and Albany @ home. At that point the Leopards will have played more than 50% of their games with top 20 teams. After that, we will have a fair view of where the Leopards are nationally.

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

But it is really the league schedule that hold the key to getting into the national tournament.  A win over the preseason favorite in Boston would be a big step forward. These are must win games to get the Leopards into the League tournament and have a home field advantage. The other games may or may not help to get a second Patriot League  team into the tourney. First things first, and of concern for the team and their coaches is Monmouth’s return to Rappolt Field for a game tomorrow. The Leopards holds a 10-1 all time winning record with Monmouth.

Katie Birle has a league leading lead in goals scored
Katie Birle has a league leading four goals scored

However, Monmouth is an improving program and I do not expect for them to be an easy game. Last night, they lost to Rutgers after taking an early lead. Rutgers tied it before the end of the half and finally pulled ahead in the second half ending the game with a 4-2 win. Monmouth also lost to Bucknell 3-1 in their first game after an early lead. A good early start against this aggressive attacking team would bode well for the Leopards.

We are getting to the belly of the season and with good results it  could go a long way for the Maroon and White to set up  a sprint to reaching their goals. Go Pards!!

Leopards Have Tough Loss To Liberty 2-1

Ami Turner plays defense against Libery
Ami Turner plays defense against Libery

It was a fine day for field hockey,sunny and warm with all the evidence of thunder storms long passed. It was a battle of undefeated teams in a beautiful setting. The facilities are excellent and both teams were able to display their talents to the delight of their respective fans. Liberty took the early lead with a disputed goal from the right side of the Lafayette goalie. Despite the entreaties of the Lafayette captains and coach, who believed that the ball was out of bounds before the shot, the goal stood. Lafayette came back with the fourth goal of the season from Katie Birle delivering during a corner off a rebounded shot from Hannah Millen.

Kristen Taylor passes the ball avoiding a Liberty defender
Kristen Taylor passes the ball avoiding a Liberty defender

Earlier Amanda Magadan  looked like she would deliver the tying goal but it was legitimately ruled too high not hitting the backboard, and there was no deflection. It was later that most Lafayette fans thought a second goal by Liberty suffered the same fate, since there was no sound on the backboard, but it was not to be and was instead the go ahead goal. Lafayette had a last chance with a fast break off an errant Liberty pass. The Liberty goalie came out the cage to defend against  Birle one on one. Birle was not to get the shot or a pass off and the threat to Liberty had ended.

The Lafayette defense played well as did Libery, but Lafayette had fewer chances in the offensive end to use their offensive firepower to test the Liberty Flame’s close in defense.

Ellen Coulburne shows her speed to a Libery defender
Ellen Coulburne shows her speed to a Libery defender

Liberty is a fine team, perhaps even a top twenty team, and they deserve the success they had, but in this case there was more to the score than the play on the field. There are regional and league difference in officiating no doubt, as well as individual tendencies, and Liberty legitimately took advantage of that. For example, in my interpretation of the rules and of others, when an offensive player purposely backs into a defensive player causing contact, that is an offensive foul. This is, of course, much like a basketball player backing into the basket, allowed in basketball, not allowed in field hockey. By my count  this occurred and was called at least four time outside the shooting circle, three times resulting in a short corner with the official calling a deliberate foul against Lafayette.

Lafayette faithful do travel well!!
Lafayette faithful do travel well!!

The first Liberty goal occurred after the ball clearly went out of bounds, in the view of most people, neither of the officials were in a good position.  The second Liberty goal occurred on a first shot and never hit the backboard, the same which occurred earlier in the game against Lafayette’s Amanda Magadan. I hope I can review to see if what I saw was correct but there was no video archived of the game to date. With the advent of video at most Division one Field Hockey games I would hope that there could be video replay available. It is allowed under NCAA rules and occurs at all playoff games and Olympic and World Cup matches. It would eventually even out the regional differences in officiating and make the game fairer, What do you think??

I want it noted this is my opinion alone and does not necessarily reflect any coach’s or player’s opinion. We left shortly after the game for the six hour trip home and did not have a chance to discuss it with players or coach. If anyone at the game or any other reader would like to discuss it, or has contrary opinion, there is a comment option at the bottom the page.

In any case the Leopards will be back in the friendly confines of their home field this friday at 7pm to meet Monmouth.

My amendment:

I got an email from one of our alumni parents. He not only showed me where to see the archived game but had a freeze frame of the first Liberty goal. From that vantage point the ball looked on the line, therefore in play. Looked at it myself and at the halftime highlights the ball looked in bounds. So a good goal!! I stand by my instant replay desire though.

Turner’s Overtime Goal Helps Leopards to Triumph

Magadaan Delivers a goal off a corner
Magadan Delivers a goal off a corner

One of the reasons I love team sports, is because it develops and demonstrates the ability to overcome collectively, obstacles to success. The process of working as team rather than an individual emphasizes the importance of shared responsibility. As an individual you use your talents and efforts to enhance the completion of a shared goal. Yesterday was one of the those moments. When Lafayette needed something, an individual would make a play that seemed to lift the whole enterprise. Was this a game where you look at its result and marvel how we dominated, no. But it was a game where someone on the field came through when needed. Ami Turner’s marvelous deflection of an Amanda Madagan assist three minutes and twenty two seconds into overtime was the end product of a number outstanding individual efforts during the previous 70 minutes.

Turner goes after the ball advancing into the Longwood side
Turner goes after the ball advancing into the Longwood side

First, the Leopards had to overcome a number of obstacles to get to that moment,  73 minutes after the opening whistle. Thursday’s 7 or 8 hour bus ride was reason enough to drain any normal athlete. The Leopards were delayed an hour in Easton leaving at 7:30 pm and arriving after encountering several construction obstacles along the way. On to bed at later than 2 am is not exactly in a training regime for success. Fortunately, the game was to start at 4 pm leaving enough time for rest, but barely enough time to get rest and get a solitary run through  early.

The clouds were more than figurative as a series of thunderstorms rolled in over the Farmville area and both fans and players were frustrated with a series of 1/2 hour delays after local lighting strikes. The delay and the bus ride seemed to have taken its toll as Lafayette seemed to be playing flat footed giving up some early turnovers, which resulted in a score for the Lancers only 5  minutes after the opening push off. Longwood’s Hollie MacDonald took a Jennifer Burris rebound finding space and delivered a shot putting the Lancers ahead. It was to take ten minutes before the Leopards were to answer with a goal of the own off a corner. Amanda Magadan, who was instrumental all day moving the ball between sides and setting up shots for her teammates, delivered a tying goal using an Aliza Furneaux and Ellen Colbourne assist.

Nearly 12 minutes after a scramble in front of the goal during another corner, Kirby Szalkowski took advantage of a loose ball while going to her knees and delivered with a strike to the back of the net putting the Leopards ahead. In less than a minute Edel Nyland of the Lancers delivered one of her own into the Leopard net,unassisted knotting the score at two. The teams were to leave the field tied but contributing to the angst of Leopard fans, Longwood led in shots 8-4, and seemed to be spending intolerable time in Lafayette’s side of the field.

Hannah Millen breaks through the Longwood defense
Hannah Millen breaks through the Longwood defense

Both teams came out renewed for battle but it was Longwood that was to find the back of goal first, six minutes in as Jennifer Burris was to add an unassisted score to her side of the scoreboard. Leopard fans were searching for a spark when Rosie Shanks came through tying the score at three, with eleven and a half to play in regular time using a Hannah Millen shot which she deflected neatly into the goal.

Tied at three the Leopards had the better of possessions leading up to the Madagan to Turner heroics and the win. The Leopards were to have 7-2 advantage in shots in the second and overtime periods as well as a 4-2 edge in penalty corners.

Now,on to a very talented Liberty team in a a battle to leave the field tomorrow unbeaten. As to Longwood’s effort and skill. This was a very entertaining game and Longwood is better than their record would indicate.

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

Preseason Camp Close To Wrapping Up With Columbia Scrimmage

The Leopard Field Hockey team boarded several vans this morning  and drove up route 78 emulating the many commuters who use the route to travel to work from Easton to New York every day. They were not going to an air conditioned high office building today. Perhaps after they have their diploma in hand, it’s what they will doing, but today it was to battle with the Columbia Lions in 95 degree heat which certainly reached well over 105 degrees on the artificial turf. For this scrimmage the two head coaches decided on a format where the first period would be a full 35 minutes followed by two 20 minute periods and a practice shoot out. The three periods of normal hockey resulted in a 1-1 tie with the Lions drawing first blood on a corner and the Leopards returning the favor several minutes later on a corner of their own.

Lafayette and Columbia battle all day in the heat
Lafayette and Columbia battle all day in the heat

I didn’t do an exact count, but I believe the Leopards had 4 or 5 corners in the first period to the Lions’ one. After that period, there were significant substitutions on both sides. Gabrielle Ulery, the Leopard’s freshman goalie played the second period and acquitted herself well, having several saves. The third period again saw significant substitution by both sides.

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

Katlyn Arnold continues to impress and Rosie Shanks and Ami Turner were involved close to the net often all afternoon. The Leopards showed significant speed and stick control as they spread the field well during the scrimmage. The heat, and the days of training showed, as both teams were expending good effort to try dominate play. From this writers perspective, the Leopards had the better of it, spending much of their time in Columbia’s space.

Kendall Weeding advances into the Columbia circle
Kendall Weedling advances into the Columbia circle

The Lafayette defense was on their toes all game turning back a good Columbia offense. It was  a   good competitive finale to preseason, as thursday begins freshman move in. and classes begin the following monday. For the team. it will be time to evaluate these scrimmages. and to get into the rhythm of the regular season. Sunday it’ll be Ball State’s turn to face the Leopards in Lafayette’s home and season opener. Ball State will play Rutgers the day before for their opening game of the  season with a new coach.

I think Lafayette has yet to play their best hockey. There is talent there, and I for one can’t wait to see how they do with fresh legs on Sunday at 12 noon.