Lafayette Falls To American…Madagan And Millen Chosen To All Tournament Team

Senior Paige Macrae moves towards the goal
Senior Paige Macrae moves towards the goal

In the intense atmosphere worthy of a semi- final game, Lafayette fell 4-2 to American University on friday afternoon. The Leopards came out on fire jumping out to a 2-0 lead 21 minutes into the first period. With many playing their best hockey of the season Lafayette used their speed and intensity breaking American’s high press and striking them where they were most vulnerable, on fast breaks. Amanda Magadan was a thorn in American’s side all afternoon attracting triple team coverage at times. At 12 minutes spent in the game Madagan picked up the ball along the sideline and drove to the base line shot and then shot the rebound slamming her 10th goal of the season into the backboards stunning the confident American Eagles. Eight minutes later while attracting double coverage Madagan found the speedy Kendall Weedling along the right side and she beat the Eagle defender and then avoided the American goalie for the second goal of the game, and her second of the season.

Kenall Weedling shows her defensive skills after scoring a goal in the first period
Kendall Weedling shows her defensive skills after scoring a goal in the first period

Madagan was to be threat all game, taking 7 of Lafayette’s 14 shots. After Lafayette’s second goal the American Eagles regathered themselves and within 3 minutes they tied the score with a strike by freshman Rafela Rubas with an assist by Katie McCormick. The Lafayette defense was to dig in until Lafayette was to give up a penalty corner with time running out. With 00 showing on the clock Rubas again found the back of cage knotting the score at 2 each.

Junior Amanda Magadan backs up American defender
Junior Amanda Magadan backs up American defender

As each team retreated to the sidelines most fans were afraid the last score would signal a turn in momentum. American was in fact able to get the first penalty corner 4 minutes into the second half which was saved by Arnold who had 8 saves all  game. She was to save another shot one minute later just about the same time American got a green card. With a player advantage, Leopard fans took heart. The next shot came from Lafayette Junior Aliza Furneaux the defending weekly Patriot   League defender of the week. McBeath, the American goalie made the save. Lafayette had the next three penalty corners without a result.

Senior defender and co-captain Hannah Millen delivers the ball upfield
Senior defender and co-captain Hannah Millen delivers the ball upfield

At 50:45 as a result of a shot on goal by an American player illegally blocked by a lafayette defender, the official called a penalty stroke  ending in a score for American breaking the tie. Lafayette was to have several opportunities but could not convert. With minutes left on the clock, fans were wondering when Lafayette would pull the goalie in a last minute attempt to tie the game.

Before that was to happen American was awarded a penalty corner and scored on a redirect of a shot putting  them up by two goals. The Leopards at that point pulled the goalkeeper putting Millen in goal for the last 2 minutes.

It was a somber team after the game, but they played well and with great energy. In the second period they out shot American 7-6 and out cornered them 8-4. For the whole game American had the edge in shots 17-14 and there was a tie 10-10 in corners. Second team all league junior goalkeeper Katlyn Arnold had 8 saves, six in the first period alone.

Lafayette defenders close in on American
Lafayette defenders close in on American

This of course was the last game for our seniors and it was clear they left it all on the field. It was perhaps Kendall Weedling’s best game of her career. The intensity of Paige Macrae was evident as well in front of the goal. Kirby Szalkowski was in the face of Eagles all day. Abbey Stefanides made the most of her appearances on the field overcoming losing 1/2 the season to injury. Katie Birle was looking for one of her patented deflections to add to her five goals this year. Co-Captain Hannah Millen was a force in the backfield and on corners, and was rewarded with a deserved all tournament selection. They will soon be Lafayette alumna with new fields to conquer, but will no doubt draw from their experience on the turf to succeed in whatever they choose to do. Good Luck ladies!!

As for the remaining team, there is a respectful period of reflection and soon a rededication. A spring season awaits as this talented team which has the ability to be a factor next fall. Soon we will know the names of out newest Leopards as we reload for next year.

Junior Amanda Madagan and Sophomore Rosie Shanks team up
Junior Amanda Madagan and Sophomore Rosie Shanks team up

American went on to lose to Boston University in the finals 2-1, today. Boston will represent the Patriot League in the NCAA national tournament. The league is getting stronger each year and I can see the day when the League could get two bids in the future. My assessment of the League going forward is a topic for a future article.

The Team.. And The Difference Between A Loss And Defeat…Kevin Lacz’s Model Of A True Hero

Kevin Lacz in front of humvee in Iraq
Kevin Lacz in front of humvee in Iraq

Last night Pam and I had the privilege of sharing dinner with Kevin Lacz,probably one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. Kevin was a Navy Seal. You may remember  the movie “American Sniper.” He played himself and he is every bit as impressive as he was on the big screen . All of 6’3″ and some 230 pounds, he has that boy next store smile that anyone could warm up to as he approaches. There is something though in his demeanor that says so much more. His 33 years belies a life experience only few could imagine.

Born in central Connecticut, Kevin had enrolled at James Madison University. He was inspired by the attacks on September 11 which took the life of a good friend’s father and he decided to leave school.  Even he admits that school was not for him at this time in his life. He was immature and needed something else to direct his life. He saw a poster in a Navy recruiter’s office and decided to enlist with the intention of becoming a Seal. Before going to BUD’s training in Coronado he attended the Combat Medical School at Fort Bragg to learn to be a Hospital Corpsman. He did two platoons at SEAL Team Three as a platoon sniper, breacher, and combat medic, each with a deployment to Iraq. It was there that he met Chris Kyle, the subject of the “American Sniper,” It was his experiences in Ramadi that most of the movie is based on. He was awarded the Bronze Star with a Combat V along with other medals before leaving the service.

After his enlistment ended, he returned to school at the University of Connecticut eventually graduating Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Political Science in 2011. Drawing on his experience in combat medicine he applied to Wake Forest with the goal of becoming a Physician Assistant, Today Kevin works with Regenesis  Llc in Pensacola, Florida. He works actively to support his brothers and sisters currently in the service and with veterans in the community.

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Introduced to Clint Eastwood, Kevin was hired to play himself shortly before shooting was to begin on the basis of a Skype interview. He also served as a technical advisor for the film. For those of you who saw the film, he was the guy in one scene who had a target tattooed on his back and his buddies played darts at it. He neither confirms or denies the veracity of the scene.  However, he denies having the tattoo.

So, why am I writing all this? Lacz explained to us why people are able to do extraordinary things in the most stressful circumstances. In an incident in Ramadi while his platoon was pinned to a rooftop an RPG landed in the middle of his team. One of his friends, immediately dove on the device smothering the blast and saving his buddies. He of course died in the effort.

Service and Misson..ideals to live by
Service and Misson..ideals to live by

“We were a team”, Lacz said. Nothing got accomplished without a cooperative effort. There was no hesitation on the part of that man and you got the impression if it wasn’t him, someone else would have made the sacrifice. The field hockey pitch or any other playing field are not the streets of Fallujah or Ramadi, but the lesson is similar. He said the difference between success and failure is always on top of the shoulders and between your ears. If you need to run faster, you have to think and believe in yourself to run faster. Defeat is not an option, whether it be in an ordinary life or on the battlefield. Yes, there may be losses along the way but you can not  be defeated unless you become defeated in your mind. Lastly. he defined leadership as calm in the middle of chaos. Your heart may be racing and world may be collapsing but the leader expresses that calm that keeps everyone to the task at hand.

We need heroes to remind us what is possible if we just let the human spirit within ourselves drive our actions. We may think we live mundane lives, but the next time we see little bumps ahead  think of Chris Kyle or Kevin Lacz and their model of living. As we departed, Kevin gave me a friendly embrace, the warmth of which will remain with me the rest of my days.

Senior Day Win Against Yale Sparked By Shanks And Arnold

Rosie Shanks attacks the circle in game against Colgate and scores winning goal against Yale
Rosie Shanks attacks the circle in the game against Colgate and scores the winning goal against Yale

Junior Katelyn Arnold and Sophomore Rosie Shanks stepped up on Senior Day to have key roles in a 1-0 victory over Yale. Seniors Hannah Millen, Paige Macrae, Kirby Szalkowski, Kendall Weedling, Katie Birle and Abby Stefanides appeared for the last time in a Lafayette uniform at Rappolt Field. All were determined to make their last appearance on their home turf a memorable one. Pre-game ceremonies included introduction of all six players who were joined by their parents at center field in front of an appreciative crowd. This senior class has not only seen winning seasons but a Patriot League championship, a national ranking as high as seventh and an appearance in the national NCAA Division one tournament. They have also traveled as a team this year to Spain to compete and they have distinguished themselves in the classroom.

Corner offense of Kirby Szalkowski, Amanda Madagan, Abby Stefanides, Katie Birle, and Hannah Millen put the play in action
Corner offense of Kirby Szalkowski, Amanda Madagan, Abby Stefanides, Katie Birle, and Hannah Millen put the play in action

This year the team has qualified for the Patriot League tournament which will be played this friday and saturday in Boston. The winner of the tournament gets to go the NCAA tournament as a final sixteen participant. Sunday’s game with Yale, although a non-conference game was important, in that the seniors would leave with nine wins for this year ( three more than last year), a record tying appearance in the Patriot League tournament, and a chance to continue playing. They also succeeded in scoring more goals than the last two years in a season. This class wears a Patriot League Championship ring, and in their freshman year were consistently ranked in the top 20 while appearing in the NCAA division one tournament losing to Maryland 0-2.

The game with Yale was hotly contested evidenced by the 0-0 score at halftime, although Lafayette led in shots 5-3 and corners 4-2, each team was to hit the post. Yale’s Carol Middough was to hear the clank of metal at 18:32 and Ami Turner on the Lafayette side was to hit the post at 25:29. After the halftime break Yale came out determined to guard Lafayette closely and try to force turnovers, the Leopards were trying to flood the circle in hope of getting that second or third rebound to find the back of the cage. At 39:38 it was Rosie Shanks of Lafayette who was to break the tie as the ball came off the glove of the Yale goalkeeper into the air. Shanks spotted it mid waist, and batted it with the skill of a baseball player into cage. It was that goal that was to stand up for the remainder of the game as Katelyn Arnold was to make 2 key saves giving her and the team their second consecutive shutout of the weekend and Arnolds’s fourth of her career.

Senior Abby Stefenides gets ready to receive the ball against Yale
Senior Abbey Stefanides gets ready to receive the ball against Yale

So as the clock ticked to 00, the seniors reached that poignant moment of walking off the home turf wearing the Maroon and White for the last time. ( I sometimes wonder if there is more melancholy from the student athletes or the parents) There would be the celebratory tailgate with memorable poems and laughter, and they were to do it with a win at their back. There is still work and things to accomplish in the coming days but for today they can return to the Hill after a job well done.

Lafayette Propels Into The Playoffs Behind Colbourne Goal And Arnold Saves

With only 27 seconds having run off the clock sophomore midfielder Ellen Colbourne sprinted down the sideline and headed to the circle. She took focus at the prize. Reversing her stick she launched a high shot reminiscent of a missile, as it streamed over the head of the Colgate goalie into the back of the cage. The Leopards were to follow that, during the 70 minute game with 19 more shots, a season high, but were stymied by 12 saves from the Colgate goalie, Maria Krull. The Leopards themselves came up with an outstanding defensive effort,  and Katelyn Arnold was to make key saves giving  her the third shutout of her career. After the game, Colbourne described her feelings scoring her first goal of season, and how excited she was to do it in front of her family, who had traveled all the way from Vancouver to witness her heroics

The game was typical of a Colgate/Lafayette struggle. Three years ago in the playoffs the Leopards had to get beyond the Colgate Raiders to reach the Championship game in an overtime struggle that ended in a 4-3 victory. That season ended with rings for everyone, when the foliowing day the Leopards played a second overtime game to win the championship. Last season Colgate put the hammer to Lafayette’s hopes for a championship in a one-nil game where Lafayette was to have over twenty shots to only low single digit shots for Colgate. Lafayette lost 1-0. The team was looking forward to this chance to avenge that loss but, it was to take a stout defense from the team and Katelyn Arnold’s key saves to bring home the win. The game ended with two Colgate corners with no time on the clock. The team was able to turn them away and preserve the victory.

Hannah Millen shows her offensive skill against a Colgate defender
Hannah Millen shows her offensive skill against a Colgate defender

The win put Lafayette into the Patriot League playoffs as a third seed. All week, fans were using the best of their math and logic skills to envision a path to Boston and a chance for a championship. Lehigh was to make the calculations easy as they defeated Holy Cross 2-1 in a game that started one hour before Lafayette’s game. This left Holy Cross 2-3 in the league and on the bad side of tie breakers. In the end, the Leopards were to put talk of tie breakers aside as the Holy Cross defeat got the Leopards the last place on won/loss record alone,  ending their regular season league campaign at 3-3 and firmly getting their ticket punched for a playoff spot. As they were tied with Bucknell, a Buckell loss to American during the afternoon moved Lafayette to the third seed on the basis of a head to head win against Bucknell earlier in the season. So the season has not ended for our heroes, and a trip to Boston to meet the American Eagles in an afternoon contest on friday for the Patriot League semi-finals is in the offing.

The Lafayette corner offense sprints into action
The Lafayette corner offense sprints into action

The team was not to learn of their fate until after the game when Coach Stone announced it. Hugs and cheers were the result. The regular season is not over as Lafayette is to play Yale in a non-conference finale this afternoon. It is also senior day, as the six seniors cap their careers with their last home appearance in a Lafayette uniform. I usually highlight the careers of the seniors at this point, but since there is still hockey to be played I will leave that until after the final game is played.

Let’s Remember This Is A Team Sport

I know I have written this before, but I love team sports. It’s one thing to run in circle to see how long it takes to get back where you started. or accepting the winning trophy because you hit the little ball into the hole in a smaller amount of strokes, but organizing a group to act and perform as one is an achievement. Strong societies are built on collective achievements, something that seems to have escaped many today. Yes, we look for heroes to carry the day, but  truly great things are done by teams today. Team playing in governing, scientific accomplishment by building on research of others, and winning wars working together are examples of team effort today.

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Katie Birle chases down a ball as a Temple player is in hot pursuit.

Women’s sports are no exception. It has only been in the last 20 years or so that women’s sports actually have begun going beyond the idea of a recreational club. Field Hockey in the United States first arrived at the turn of the 20th century, and it really took the invention of astro-turf to have it start to look like a sport rather an up tempo game of croquet. The women look like athletes instead of like the “Belles of St. Trinians.” ( That movie still cracks me up especially the field hockey game.)

When I first proposed an astro-turf field at Lafayette 15 years ago, the response I got was, “yeah great but really, stands for actual fans??” Today the team even in down years averages more than 200 fans a game and if we have an important game 500 to 1000 might show up. There are many in the academe who mourn that women’s athletics is getting more like the male sports but they miss the point

Plaque dedicated to two year old Lucy
Plaque dedicated to two year old Lucy

Saturday we dedicated a tree in memory of a recent alumna whose little two year old died of leukemia. All her teammates were there to support her. One friend even gave her daughter a middle name after the little girl! This is what team is all about. You care for each other, you trust one another, you believe in common goals, and that never goes away.

Teammates always, Abby Stefanides, Katie Birle, Hannah Millen, Kirby Szalkowski, Paige Macrae, Kendall Weedling
Teammates always, Abby Stefanides, Katie Birle, Hannah Millen, Kirby Szalkowski, Paige Macrae, Kendall Weedling

Next Sunday we will celebrate Senior Day as they will play their last regular season game together. Hopefully after playing Colgate the day before they will come together and perhaps again qualify for the League Tournament. It will happen because they were a team and were not running circles to see how fast they can end up at the same spot they started from.(No offense to our track athletes). If we win its because we care for one another ( enough to put in the extra effort to help each other out), that will engender trust to know your teammate will be there when you see a space, and you believe and want that common goal, not for yourself but for your team. Go Leopards!

Lafayette Falls 3-2 In Key Match-up, Official Calls Remarkable 10 Minute Yellow Card At Key Moment

I have been writing this blog on this format and for a newspaper for years. I have also been an observer of college division one field hockey for 25 years, and yesterday I observed something I have never seen in the hundreds of games I have attended, including games ranging all levels of skill. At 58:30 into this important game an official called her first card of the day of a generally well played match. It was a yellow card against Hannah Millen,  Lafayette’s key defender and captain. OK, stuff happens, and the card was a judgment call. But then we found out she had assigned her a 10 minute penalty! Meanwhile Millen would not return until 1;30 was left, which she did, and scored on a penalty stroke. However, in the meantime Holy Cross was to score using the  extra player advantage which they had for almost the remainder of the final period.

I would assume a ten minute card would be reserved for the most egregious foul, with perhaps a player on the ground. Not so, as you will see in the enclosed video. You make the call. Games are better played when officials do not become part of the outcome. In this case this official became a factor in the eventual result. Not good, especially at this level. It was the first yellow of the game and only second card of the entire game which included a green for Holy Cross.

I don’t want to take anything from Holy Cross who played an inspired second half scoring 3 goals to win and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot, but there are 22 contestants on the field and it should be decided there.

Ami Turner breaks upfield in the first half
Ami Turner breaks upfield in the first half

Lafayette started off strong scoring after only seconds were run off the clock in the first period on a corner with a Magadan strike via a Turner to Millen assist. Things looked good for the Leopards as they used the speed of Ellen Coulbourne and Kendall Weedling to advance the ball upfield into scoring position . However, Lafayette had several scoring chances thwarted by Inch, the Holy Cross goalie.

Kendall Weedling cover all angles
Kendall Weedling cover all angles

The second half saw Colbourne double and triple teamed as the Crusaders during halftime planned to take away the Leopards speedy weapon. Having only gotten 4 corners in the first half Holy Cross managed to get 10 corners in the second and at one time 4 corners succeeding in a row were called against the Leopards. The Crusaders were tenacious guarding Lafayette closely and taking advantage of opportunities. Mauren Conolly was active scoring two goals in the second period while Michelle McNeil was to get the go ahead goal on a corner at 55:51. The all important insurance goal was made at 59:58 after the 10 minute yellow.

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Ellen Colbourne speeds up the field with a phalanx of Maroon and White

The game ended on Millen’s goal on a stroke called with five seconds remaining highlighting the importance of that insurance goal assuring there would be no overtime.

So where does that leave Lafayette and Holy Cross now rivals for the fourth and final playoff spot? Lafayette’s hopes lie in a three way tie in the league. If Lafayette, Holy Cross and Bucknell win their next games against Colgate, Lehigh and American respectively there would be a two way tie between Holy Cross and Lafayette and Holy Cross wins the tiebreaker based on head to head competition. If all three lose the same applies. If Holy Cross loses and Lafayette wins Lafayette wins on league record. However the most likely result, a Bucknell loss, and wins by Holy Cross and Lafayette presents us with a three way tie and this is the way it is broken according to the League with all three teams at 3-3. ” If there is a tie between Bucknell, Lafayette, and Holy Cross where all three team are 3-3 in the Patriot League, the teams would remain tied through head to head,and have the same breakdown within the League standings. There is no common opponent between the three, so the next step would be goal differential between the tied teams, In that case Bucknell and Lafayette would be +1 and Holy Cross would be -2. So Bucknell and Lafayette would make it the League tourney in that three way tie. Then we would look at goal differential in all league games to determine the 3/4 slot.”

So you got all that. To the players. just win and what will be will be. And I have become an American fan against Bucknell just for next week!!

Leopards Have Key Game This Weekend With The Holy Cross Crusaders.

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

The Leopards will meet the Crusaders for the 32nd meeting between these schools. Lafayette has an edge with 18 wins against thirteen loses. The last win by Holy Cross was a 2-1 OT win in Easton in 2009. In that game, the Leopards had 26 shots to 3 for Holy Cross. The Crusader goalie had 12 saves in that encounter, but Lafayette scored the first goal in the first period and looked like they were on their way to a win when, with 6 minutes left to play, Holy Cross found the back of the cage to tie it up. The Leopards had chances in the end. including two corners, and the game ended in a tie. Two overtimes later. it came down to strokes and the Leopards ended on the short end losing 2-1. The Crusaders had a losing season and put the Leopards in a difficult spot regarding the playoffs.

Amanda Magadan and Ellen Colbourne closely guard a UConn player
Amanda Magadan and Ellen Colbourne closely guard a UConn player

This Crusader team is a better team coming in with a 6-9 record but having lost the last 6 out of 7 games. Their goalie, Inch is a key player and the Leopards must find their way to the circle to exercise their 24 pct scoring percentage. Holy Cross is 19 pct but take more shots and get more penalty corners than the Leopards have. Outside of Boston University I see no ranked team on their schedule but have posted a good win against Harvard early on.

Kirby Szalkowski turns ball around against Boston University
Kirby Szalkowski turns ball around against Boston University

This is the part of the season where individual games  matter. In order to get to the post season, these league games must end up in the W column. The Leopard’s fate is in their hands. They win, they are in the post season, if they lose its too complicated for my 70 year old brain to calculate but it is clear it will depend on other teams to make it all possible.

Twelve o’clock it all happens. The sky’s will be clear and a brisk fall afternoon is anticipated. Here’s hoping it ends in Maroon   happiness!!! Come on out and enjoy the action.