Coach Stone Reveals a Challenging Schedule for 2015

Ellen Colbourne dodges a Boston University defender in 2014
Ellen Colbourne dodges a Boston University defender in 2014

As the season progresses, I will give a more detailed account of each opponent as game day approaches, but I thought I would give a quick overview of the upcoming schedule. The overall schedule will have the Leopards meeting 5 NCAA tournament teams and two final four teams including the NCAA national division one champion. Out of conference games are usually constructed to give your team a chance to reconstitute itself, as old and new team members are integrated into a smooth operating unit. The Leopards have a small jump on that process with a successful trip to Spain, as the extra days of practice and games with good competition have helped the younger players gain confidence. That is a first part of the process as new first year players will join the team on August 13.

Katelyn Arnold excutes a kick save against Uconn in 2014
Katelyn Arnold excutes a kick save against Uconn in 2014

The first game will be with Ball State on on August 30 as they will arrive at Rappolt Field for the second time in four years. The last game with Ball State resulted in a 5-1 victory for the Leopards, but Ball State will come with a new competitive coach who will have a different outcome in mind.  The Leopards will not enter the game cold turkey, as multiple practice days will be highlighted with two scrimmages, where the coaches will be able take a look at their charges in Division one competition. The first scrimmage will be a home event at 7pm on August 21 against Big Ten foe Rutgers University. Four days later the Leopards will board a team bus to New York to take on Columbia University on the afternoon August 25 for their final tune up. It is also the day before freshmen orientation and they will move into their new dorm rooms and participate in a  series of meetings and events designed especially for them.

Paige Macrae zeroes in on Lehigh attacker in 2014 5-1 win
Paige Macrae zeroes in on Lehigh attacker in 2014 5-1 win

The next game will feature Siena College as one of the ten home games scheduled this year. The Sept 1 game will be a night game at 7 pm under the lights.The Leopards will then travel south to Virginia to take on Longwood University for the first time in many years. The Leopards continue their tour of Virginia to take on the tough Liberty University Flames who won their conference last year and lost to UNC in the first round of the NCAAs 2-1. The Flames will be looking to avenge a 4-2 loss last year in Easton. The Leopards will begin to get into the meat of their schedule against an always tough Monmouth squad before taking on annual foe Quinnipiac who will be trying to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss from last year. On saturday Sept 19 Lafayette again boards a bus this time to Boston as they open their league schedule against last year’s league champion Boston University. Lafayette will be out to get their first win against the Terriers since they entered the League. Lafayette in both contests lost by 1 goal despite out shooting and out cornering their opponent. It will be an intensive weekend as Lafayette will go to Uconn to take on the two time defending national champion on Sunday the 20th. It does not get easier as Albany, a final four team from last year arrive Easton for a game on the 25th at home at night.  A game with Drexel follows in Philadelphia on Monday at 7pm.

Ami Turner outflanks American University defender in 2014 game
Ami Turner outflanks American University defender in 2014 game

October is dominated by Patriot League games which will decide which 4 teams will play for the Patriot League Championship and a coveted spot in the NCAA national tournament. There will also be games at the University of Pennsylvania ( the most played game outside of Lehigh by Lafayette field hockey), Temple, and Yale. The schedule provides the team with chance to blend together and contains opponents strong enough to give Lafayette an RPI high enough to earn a national ranking. In addition, it appears many of the Patriot League teams have likewise kept their schedules equally challenging, which should enable the league as a whole to advance Each team member has been provided a training regimen so that upon their arrival coaches can concentrate on orienting the team to game schemes and team patterns. It will be a challenging year set to begin in about three weeks.

Seniors Hannah Millen and Kirby Szalkowski talk about the coming season

Recently, while visiting Total Hockey field hockey camp, I had an extended conversation with two of Lafayette’s veterans, Hannah Millen and Kirby Szalkowski. Entering their senior year this fall, these two roommates are determined to make the most of their last season on the Leopard’s turf. ” I suppose it’s a cliche,” said Millen, ” But this is our moment and we will try to make this a great memory for the whole team.” Millen is a history major and Szalkowski is a psychology major.

Rappolt: Are you anxious about this being your senior year?

Szalkowski: No, but we have been playing for the last 3 years and we intend to make the most of  it.

Rappolt: What game are you looking forward to?

Szalkowski: Always the next one……So right now, it’s Ball State on August 30th!! It is always one game at a time and stay focused.

Rappolt : Can you remember the obstacles you had to overcome as freshmen, and can you give any advice to your first year players?

Millen: The biggest adjustment is the speed of the game and to be open to new strategies.

Szalkowski: Yes the pace of the game is much quicker and requires faster decisions.

Millen and Szalkowskow: It’s a hinderance not come to preseason in fit condition. There is a lot to learn and adjust to, and being out of shape is just another thing to be worried about. But that gets sorted out after the first beep tests!!

Rappolt: Are you in contact with each other during the summer, and are you doing anything to integrate the new players.

Millen: Every first year player has someone assigned to her to answer questions, and for help during the summer. We also have 7-10 informal practices so everyone can get together, and begin to feel like we are one seamless  unit.

Szalkowski: That is always an objective. We want to support everyone and feel like one team, not a group of individuals. We are going to be very tight, with one single objective on game day.

Rappolt: Tell me about your experience in Spain.

Millen: It was a great time to bond and I think we played very well. Barcelona and Valencia were beautiful and the beach was great.

Szalkowski: It was great experience. I would love to go back!!

Rappolt: Did your Spanish improve?

Szalkowski and Millen: (Laugh) The effort was there. Amanda Magadan was our translator since she is fluent. But we all tried, and the local population was very helpful. Aside from the field hockey, seeing another culture and the beauty of the architecture left an impression on all of us.

Rappolt: You played one game against a men’s side, any differences???

Millen: Yes they hit the ball harder, and they were very strong.

Szalkowski: They had very accurate passing, but it was a great experience!

Rappolt: What did you get out of it the trip, overall field hockey wise?

Szalkowski: In the first game we were a little tentative but once we got our confidence, I thought we played well. That first contest we won 2-0 I think.

Millen: The other game was in our favor 6-2 as we played as a complete unit, the men’s game was 0-5 but we learned a lot. The last game was cancelled because of a thunderstorm. But I really think we came together during the trip!

Rappolt: Any last words? What will you be doing the rest of the summer?

MIllen and Szalkowski: We are looking forward to the season, when we have the whole team in camp. Millen said she will be working for her uncle, and Szalkowski will be working earning extra money for the fall. Both will continue to play hockey and remain sharp.

Lafayette field hockey camp gives high school players a peek at division one

Liza Welch shows her defensive skills in a scrimmage
Liza Welch shows her defensive skills in a scrimmage

The Total Field Hockey Camp run by Lafayette head coach Jennifer Stone is giving high school athletes and rising college freshman a peek at training at the division one level. Work starts early at the four day camp as these young athletes are exposed the rigors and mental training it takes to be an elite level field hockey player. Stone has assembled her own coaching staff, ex-national team members, along with stars from Lafayette College to give team and individualized instruction. They are showed the requirements needed to become better in their sport including weight training, nutrition, psychological tips, and intensive game experience between camp teams After the organized sessions there is a chance to play with the camp instructors.

Theres Delahanty zeroes in on an opponent during a scrimmage
Theresa Delahanty zeroes in on an opponent during a scrimmage

The camp participants play everyday on the state of the art astroturf XII surface, that is the exclusive field for Lafayette’s field hockey team. Aside from the exposure to the athletic resources of the College, the camper lives in the college dorms and can sample campus life on this 230 acre private school on the banks of the Delaware River. The camp is also populated by many of Lafayette’s 2015 recruits, giving the coaches a peek at their level of fitness and a chance to sharpen their skills before reporting for the official opening of preseason on August 13. Enthusiasm was rampant as nearly 90 pct of the participants stayed later after 9 pm to play against the staff on their own. In fact, my observation was that the intensity and spirit of these game was more intensive than the official sessions.

Campers absorb on field action between games
Campers absorb on field action between games

It is not surprising that many of a school’s eventual recruits come from these camps, and I would speculate that this camp will be no exception. Personally, it was a chance for me see many of Lafayette’s new players in action. While the adjustment to the next level will not be without future hard work, I did see flashes of why these young athletes were selected to be Leopards this coming season. Samantha Broadhurst has a nose for the goal, Theresa Delahanty  demonstrated good fitness, intensity and stick skills, Adriana Pero showed  me her speed, athleticism,and hockey intelligence, Gabby Ulery has quick reactions and foot agility in the goal, and Liza Welch’s speed, athletic ability, and hockey skills demonstrated to me how her addition on the field will strengthen the Leopards this fall. In a conversation with two of Lafayette’s seniors, Captain Hannah Millen, and Kirby Szalkowski after the end of Saturday’s  session, I asked what will these young players have to adjust to. The teammates both opined, the speed of the game is so much higher in college which will require fitness and quick decision making in order to be successful.( Later on this week I will publish a more extensive interview with Hannah and Kirby). There is only one month before pre-season camp opens. After summer preparation is over, the Leopards will begin preparation for their first game with Ball State, and the championship season, but it is these efforts this summer that will spell success in the fall.

Amanda Madagan is named to the United States Under 21 team

The selections have been made, and Amanda Magadan, Co-Captain of the Lafayette College field hockey squad, was named today to the United States under 21 team. Seventeen players were picked, and there will be five more selected from an additional test group. This the second year on the team for the junior midfielder for the Lafayette Leopards. The under 21 team will represent the United States in the under 21 Pan Am Games next spring.

Madagan has already played against Canada and the Netherlands this past year as a member of the US squad.

Lafayette Builds On Impressive Patriot League Records

Megan Monahan sets all time Patriot League records in goals scored
Megan Monahan sets all time Patriot League records in goals scored

It is July fourth, and I note there are only 40 days left until Lafayette players will report for preseason on August the thirteenth. As I have been a long time fan of college field hockey, a new season is a time to think about future prospects and hopes for the season, it also is for me, a time to reflect upon history.  Division one college hockey has had a remarkable evolution over the past 40 years as Title IX of the civil rights act in particular, and american culture in general has had a tremendous impact. As any fan can attest, this it not the same game played by the grandmothers, and mothers of today’s players. The invention of artificial turf, the attention to fitness, and evolving athleticism has made this game  more demanding and crowd pleasing. As a result we have seen young women discover the joy of team sport. Fans today witness a game with evolving rules ,including the  elimination of the offsides, self start off a foul, and this year the ability to raise the stick above the shoulder. The use of the ariel pass in recent years is as much a change in the game as the forward pass in american football 70 years ago.

All the changes do not diminish the accomplishments of past athletes. Lafayette was a school who did not admit women until 1972, and it has been field hockey  that has distinguished itself as a premier sport for the school. I guess I can consider myself old, and I am beginning to see daughters of some our original players, who played on an irregular grass fields in front of fans you could count on one hand, now step on to an automatically watered artificial turf field averaging several hundred fans at game.  Quite rightly ,it has evolved to the point whereas the team in the 70’s was called the “lady leopards,” by the school paper, while today they are quite proudly “The Leopards.”

It wasn’t until 1990 that the first Patriot League field hockey season was inaugurated. Since that time, Lafayette field hockey has garnered an enviable record, collectively and individually. Lafayette is located in the Lehigh Valley where high school field hockey has flourished producing numerous olympic players. It is in this atmosphere that Lafayette  has established a legacy to be envied. Let’s go down the list of all time records. In career assists there is a Lafayette player in the first,second,third, eighth,and ninth spot. Emily Valeo,Meredith Hahn,Deanna DiCroce, Jennifer Stone, and Megan Monahan are the owners in that order of that record. Those same names in a different order appear in the record for  assists in a single season with Deanna holding the single game record of 6.

Jennifer Stone in her playing days sets records
Jennifer Stone in her playing days sets records

Kelsey Andersen is third in goals against in a career with a 1.37 average. Danielle DeHoratius in 1994, posted the all time goals against average in a season of .63 and Jackie D’Angelo is second with a .67 season average in 1990. The latter two share the record for save percentage at .91 in a season. In 1994 Lafayette set the record for fewest goals allowed at 15.

Lafayette holds the record for consecutive victories of 19 set in 2002. Offensively you will see a host of players in goals and points scored. Leopards are ranked first, second, and sixth in career points from Megan Monahan, Deanna DiCroce, and present coach Jennifer Stone. Monahan leads all patriot league players with a gaudy 80 points in a single season, Suzy Farrell is second with 70 points, DiCroce is third with 51 points, Stone is fourth with with 50, Kelly Salber is ninth, and Monahan is tenth having had two high scoring seasons in her career.

Emily Valeo sets all time record for career assists
Emily Valeo sets all time record for career assists

Megan Monahan is the all time goal scorer with 65 in her career with the nearest player six goals away. Farrell and Monahan share the season title with 33 and Jen Stone is third with 24,Salber is fourth with 20, DiCroce is 10th with 18 sharing that spot with Monahan who did it in her junior season as well.

There are other records but I might run out of space. Legacy means something in sports. As today’s players step on that field in August they are standing on the accomplishments of others. No doubts some of the records I named above will be broken. It would be my hope when recorded there will be Lafayette after the name.

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Lafayette Junior Amanda Magadan Continues to Impress at Women’s National Championships

Fresh off her experiences with the Lafayette team in Spain, junior Amanda Magadan continued her intensive field hockey play by being invited to the Young Women’s National Championship, at the US training center at Spooky Nook in Lancaster,Pa. This is part of the selection process for the US teams for the coming year and beyond. Amanda has already played one year on the US under 21 team and she is hoping to continue on with the team and play in the Junior Pan Am games in the spring of 2016.

All of the selectees were randomly assigned to one of eight teams. For the most part, these groups of strangers needed to figure out how to find success in game play over the course of the one week tournament. Amanda’s team USA Gold was assigned two coaches, Jarred Martin ( associate coach at Duke University) and Grant Fulton ( asst. coach at the University of North Carolina). Both coaches have extensive international experience and the team was led by the coaches who were, “hilarious, smart, and helpful,” according to Magadan.  She continued,” Our team, USA Gold really grew over the week. We improved each game and really bonded.” The chemistry seems to have been there as they were undefeated in pool play during the week.

Amanda sprints upfield during a game last season

The team learned to win going away and won the close games as they recorded goals of 4-1 in the first game, 1-0 in the second game and 2-1 in the third game. Amanda was active in the games as she recorded 1 goal and 1 assist. Many of the team’s goals were the result of their attack penalty corners. Their team managed to go to the championship but lost 2-4. Demonstrating her completive spirit Amanda added,” Although the week would have been a little sweeter ending with a win , our team had lots of fun on and off the field and I genuinely enjoyed my coaches and teammates.

But the object of the tournament was to select players for the under 21 team and Amanda was again selected to Junior National Camp this tuesday June 30 through Friday July 3. It is there where the final selections will be made. Individually, Amanda has seen great strides in her play and hockey intelligence from being a part of the process, which she is grateful for. She will work hard and is aiming to get better. Ultimately all this work is preparing her for the season at Lafayette. She is looking forward to being with her fellow Leopards soon to begin final preparations for a successful fall in a maroon and white uniform.

This fan can’t wait for preseason as the whole team returns in August.

The rain in Spain does not always fall mainly on plain

Professor Henry Higgins would have to change his little ditty for Eliza Doolittle if he was with our Lafayette leopards today at the shore city of Valencia. Try as they might, the game with the Valencia hockey club had to be cancelled because of thunderstorms. They tried to wait it out, but it was not going to clear up, so the two teams decided to have dinner together anyway, and as the above picture demonstrates new friends were easily acquired. The dinner became a last night celebration and the Valencia Hockey Club could not have made better dinner companions!

Our Leopards get instruction from Coach Stone
Our Leopards get instruction from Coach Stone

Soon the team will trek back to Madrid to catch their plane to JFK and the Lehigh Valley. By all accounts, the trip was a great success not only for their play on the field, but also the bonding experience they had during their adventures in three outstanding Spanish cities. They got a chance to play against good european competition, watch the very best play in the World games while in Valencia, and experience a new culture. They were able to visit and see interesting venues, learned to cook with a Spanish flare, and had time to get some Mediterranean sun in the process.

l can’t wait to see their new skills on the field as they apply their experiences in Spain to their NCAA division one opponents.  I will be following all the action. It will include the opening of preseason camp in 60 days as well as an assessment of all the Patriot League teams. If there is any news, be sure to check here for updates. As for now, welcome back and well done ladies!!

Offense And Defense Clicks In 6-2 Win For Lafayette

As Lafayette  moved on to Valencia, they gathered additional momentum and inspiration from the World League games and put it all together in a 6-2 win in the fifth day on Spanish soil. Goals were spread amongst six players Meg Lillis,Rosie Shanks, Kirby Szalkowski,Kaitlyn Ewing and Katie Birle.  Abby Stefanides, fresh from her flight from London where she is taking a summer course joined in the scoring with a goal of her own. It was the defense, who took inspiration from the offense as they found their rythm and held the Xaloc team to 4 shots, two of which were stopped by Katelyn Arnold.

Our team views the blue turf they will play  on during the game
Our team views the blue turf they will play on during the game

After the game both teams joined together in a friendly meal and exchange of gifts. As is the custom, the meal was a late one after which our “pards” boarded their transportation to return to the hotel for a well deserved rest. Tomorrow’s activity is more informal as the team will have chance to explore Valencia on their own before they become spectators again at the World Games. There will certainly be partisan interest as the games attended will include the USA vs Germany, Great Britain vs Canada, and China vs Argentina.

Dinner is expected to be on their own as the now experienced travelers will choose from the great Spanish cuisine at their disposal before heading for bed. Maybe it will be more Tapas or some tasty fresh fresh fish from the Med.  Monday will feature some more free time before their fourth and last game with a Valencia hockey club and a dinner afterward with their new friends.

Coach Stone continues to be pleased the overall experience for her charges, as her team has responded to the challenge.

Lafayette College plays spanish U-18 men’s team

The Lafayette field hockey team encountered an unexpected challenge tonight as they arrived at the ATCH stadium in a suburb of Barcelona. Unfortunately the Leopard’s opponent, one of Spain’s top women’s club team, wasn’t able to field a team, but the club’s under 18 men’s team volunteered to fill in. Discounting the 0-5 score to Lafayette’s disadvantage, Coach Jennifer Stone was delighted at the opportunity. ” We took awhile to adjust, but the second half was very good and we were SO improved by the end of the game”, Stone said. Stone also singled out the work of goalie Katlyn Arnold who had 6 saves. In addition, there was special mention for her as the two teams practiced shoot outs at the end of the game. ” This was a great experience for the team and can only help our development,” Stone added.

The team’s tour continues tomorrow as our “Pards” move on to Valencia where they will become spectators as well as players. They will be attending World League games where team USA will be matched up with South Africa. After that our Leopards will play a local club team in the third match of the tour. Finally they will end the day watching another World League match between Spain and Canada.

The weather has been spectacular and Spanish people and field hockey players have been extremely friendly, as our team absorbed all there is available of Spanish culture and sport. A special shout out to Dave Blasic the Lafayette administrator accompanying the team, who provided the featured picture at the top of the page.

Barcelona Beaches Beckon

After an exciting and activity filled day on wednesday, our team gets some deserved rest and recreation, with what seems to be their favorite chill out destination …the beach. No doubt the rest was well earned, but our high energy cohort won’t let the grass grow beneath their feet. The sunny 80 degree weather joined with a bit of humidity  adds to the draw. But it won’t be lying around after lunch, as they will receive paddle surf lessons, after which they will tackle the warm Mediterranean surf. After some sun and fun, they will again have a chance to sample more Spanish cuisine with an atypical 6 pm dinner. Perhaps they will be thinking about tomorrow’s time to explore more of Barcelona on their own, and their next game with the Valles hockey club.

They will be reinforced tomorrow with two of their teammates, who will join them this weekend, while taking a break from their studies in Europe. I am sure they are emailing their friends and parents at home as well!!! I hope they are aware that the president of Lafayette College, Alison Byerly, sent her greetings to all after the game last night. As Lafayette’s first ex field hockey player president can attest, its hard to stay away from the game.