July Is A Tough Month

Last night, I watched the Division One Championship between Liberty and Northwestern for at least the third time. It was a great game for fans as there were two teams who had never been NCAA Champs in field hockey. The intensity was palpable as players were diving to the turf and using every ounce of energy to bring the trophy home. Liberty pulled their goalkeeper with over 6 minutes left, down 2 goals which were scored by Northwestern late in the third quarter.

We had two coaches, one, the head coach from Liberty who had been on the job about 5 years, and Tracy Fuchs the former 2 time olympian whose time at Northwestern was in the mid-teens. My leanings were to Tracy who to my mind deserved it. She is well liked and respected by her peers, and I kind of thought the hockey “world” was on on her side. Not surprisingly in my third watch of the game, Northwestern still won, and demonstrated a championship determination that cou;d please most fans.

It’s now July. Yes, we have college camps, Nexus games and other competitions but its not the same thing. FIH games are over ( sadly without the US in the World Cup). But, I comfort my boredom with watching Lafayette alum Audrey Sawers playing on the big stage with the Canadian national team. Hard to believe less than a year ago, she was playing in the Patriot League playoffs.


McAndrews goes after the ball

In one month, preseason will begin for our Leopards, with the first exhibition game on August 17 against Monmouth. I imagine veteran players and first year players are starting to get serious about conditioning. I am excited to see out new first year’s, which have been described to me by another Division one coach as “really good.” Potential is not enough to win championships as a team must mesh together and that process begins with a well conditioned team.

On paper, this Lafayette team looks like an ideal mix of veterans and newcomers. but I know Coach Stone is actively thinking about how to get the best from this potential. Right now, July seems like a long time to wait!!!

Meanwhile

The US women’s national team goes into offseason mode. Many of the senior members will play on club teams overseas, while the college age players will retreat to their NCAA homes. The FIH schedule resumes next spring but there are rumors of a game in December at their training site at Queen’s College in Charlotte,NC. By the way Queen’s College is moving to division one

Santiago Panamerican Cup 2022 women Match 5 – USA vcCanada Photo: Copyright WorldSportsPics/Rodrigo Jaramillo

USA Field Hockey has advertised a post for the Head Coach position. Resumes have been asked to be returned by July 22nd.

There will be a new Head Coach at Bucknell as the Patriot League continues to improve. There will be two players at Lafayette exercising their Covid option year, which should help with depth. I suspect there will be a third coach added by Coach Stone before the beginning of practice.

Filene Gerbrandij sees Felicitas Hannes

Players that return will see video review installed, new dressing up of Rappolt Field and capital improvements on the campus proper. ( Most noticeable, reconstruction of the parking garage behind Markle). During Orientation it appears the new larger than expected first year class will be encouraged to go to a soccer or field hockey game. ( Maybe there will be big crowds at those first games)!

Anyway it.s July….at least 30 days to wait. I guess I’ll go get my 2nd Covid Booster today to be ready for the fall!!!

2022 Class Announced For Lafayette

Yesterday I covered the beginning of the announcement of the incoming class for Lafayette Field Hockey with Josephine van Wijk. This morning the rest of this group of 8 outstanding athletes have been revealed.

Mackensie Switzer

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Mackensie will add her 5’9″ frame to the roster. She has great defensive skills that were noted in the state championship tournament. She was mentioned in the Max Field Hockey watch list which list the top players in the country. She is celebrated as a first team all state player and just for emphasis, is a black belt in Karate and plays the guitar!!

Catalina Robel

Catalina comes to Lafayette by way of Atlanta,Ga but her roots are in Buenos Aries, Argentina. She attended the Washington School and played for the Atlanta FHC. She is advertised as a striker/midfielder and has exhibited strong stick and scoring skills. The 5’6″ athlete played for Gimnasia y Eqima de Buenos Aries where she no doubt picked up her strong reverse stick shot.

Aimee Hoefnagel

Amiee hails from Rotterdam and comes as a midfielder, but has demonstrated her versatility as a five sport athlete, Field Hockey, Tennis, Gymnastics, Alpine Skiing and Sailing. She was selected to train with the Dutch National U 18 team.

Peyton Guinter

Peyton attended Archbishop Spalding and played her club hockey at Freedom. At 5’7 she was a !st team all conference nominee, while cited as the 4th highest scorer in the state. Her coaches describe her as a driven team player, and will add to the strength of the Leopards this fall!!

Raphaela Fragomeni

Raffi will travel all the way from Mountain Lakes. N.J. to attend Lafayette this fall to be Goal Keeper in this first year class. She holds the county record for career saves at 393. This past fall she had a game in which she had 32 saves against Randolph, only to lose 1-0. She was an all state Group one selection and named a Max 100 selection.

We look forward to welcoming her this fall as she starts a career that will no doubt add to Leopard successes.

Hannah Findlay

Hannah Findlay will have the longest trip of this class. Hannah will come all the way from New Zealand and bring with her a host of on the field skills. She was selected for the New Zealand U 18 development squad as well as the best all around female athlete in senior High School.

Her stick skills were evident in her club play. I think she will find her place early this August as the Leopards prepare for the season!!!

Ellie Barton

Coming to Easton from Concord Massachusetts, Ellie shows a profile that is similar to her classmates. She is a multisport athlete also playing ice hockey and lacrosse. She loves the Bruins, and her Middlesex and club coaches describe as coachable and intense.

Viewing her videos certainly shows her intensity, intercepting passes, and taking shots. She is also disciplined, as she finds a way to get open or to pass to her teammates. No doubt she will enjoy the Leopards New England swing to Yale and Holy Cross as well as home games with Quinnipiac and Boston U.

Along with yesterday’s article on Josephine van Wijk, that is Lafayette’s class of 2026. They will all be traveling beginning in August…… a short 60 days away. The team has no doubt received a training schedule and along with the intense preparation in August, will be ready for the first pre season game at Lafayette against Monmouth at 1 pm on August 17. Start running everyone!!!!

Field Hockey Celebrates 100 Years

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It’s been 100 years since field hockey was first played in this country, and USA Field Hockey is not letting the year pass without a celebration. On June the 18th at the Union League, beginning with a 5 pm cocktail hour, fans, players, coaches, and USA officialdom, will gather for a celebratory banquet. There will be US team members, and as a special treat new members of the the US Hall of Fame will be honored.

A limited amount of tickets are still available on the US Field Hockey site. However, for my readers I have 16 free seats available for Lafayette current players, alumni, fans, and parents of alumni. Significant others are included. It promises to be a fun evening with all of those who love the game. Please PM or otherwise email me if you would like to go and claim a seat for free which I will arrange.

First preseason game is less than 100 days away.

Spanns burts out on an offensive corner

The Leopards will be meeting Monmouth on Aug 17th at home in a preseason meet-up. They will be changing their conference to the CAA next year, and they have seen a steady improvement in recent years. It should be the kind of game the Leopards will need, with a very challenging season approaching. The Leopards will actually arrive days before in Easton, for conditioning and practice, with some bright new shinny recruits donning the Maroon and White for the first time. ( Tip..it’s not too early to start your preseason conditioning).

In the meantime our US players will be high performing.

Molly McAndrews heads for the goal

Several of our players will most likely apply to play in some of USA Field Hockey’s high performance events in June at Virginia Beach. Keep an eye out for their appearance on the turf as they take their shot at national teams. Lafayette’s Amanda Magadan is the current captain of the US national team and Audrey Sawers is on the Canadian national team who will be in the World Cup this year!!

Coaches will not be idle either

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The Lafayette coaches, will soon announce the incoming class in the coming days, but will also be active looking at players that will arrive in 2023. In addition, they will also be announcing the schedule as the season approaches.

Recently, I was present as the last details were tested for the installation of video referral. There could be as many as 9 views available to assist officials. The system could also be used at practice as a coaching tool. Everyone, all during practice can be watched for progress!! Stay tuned for more information. Lafayette will be the first to use video referral in the Patriot League.

Although we will be missing some key players from last year’s 14-5 season, this is a veteran team that will certainly be capable of challenging for a title!! Go Pards!!

Leopards Finish Tough, Challenging Spring

Lafayette finished their last competition of the spring defending a series of shots on goal as Penn desperately tried to find the back of the net. Becca Harbert turned away three in a row putting an exclamation point on a spring where Stone’s warriors challenged some of the best in Division one. They improved their tempo and pace as the spring marched on while dealing with adversity and very little bench to give them a break on the field.

There were some teams in the league that were content to play some divsion 2 and 3 teams, but our Leopards steeled themselves for a challenging season this fall.

Lafayette started out with Delaware and gave up 2 goals on corners, but in the second quarter they answered with a goal from Lineke Spanns who was busy all afternoon. Felicitas Hannes found her range later on against Penn and was threat to be reckoned with as she wound up towards the goal.

Fans got a glimpse of the future as Spanns and McAndrew teamed up moving the ball up the field. We also saw progress from Alex Conway and Shea Balderson and they were able to turn the direction of their opponents consistently.

Simone Hefting and Sydney Woolston were a wall in the back line often time starting the offensive attack. Despite shortages of personnel, this team shows promise for the fall. There will be 6 or 7 new recruits to bolster the lineup, and springtime injuries will have healed in the coming 100 days.

In any case, our Leopards showed their toughness and skill and will be a considerable threat. Goals missed during the spring will be made this fall, as this could be a fun season for all!!!

Stand Still And Be Run Over

Every year the powers that be, review the rules for field hockey to look for improvements for the game. Coaches look to new ways to arrange their team to take advantage of opponents. Likewise, technology marches on, providing coaches, players and officials with tools to make the game fairer and accurate.

Several years ago there was the advent of cardiac monitors to give coaches on the sideline a view of the effort and stress on the field. For most Division one teams this has become a standard addition for practices and even for monitoring during games. Officials now communicate with each other via headphones on the field.

The next generation of technological innovation is being worked on at Lafayette. My wife and I were on campus yesterday and took a short drive to Metzgar athletic campus and observed there was installed in the south side of the field hockey field, three cameras. Lafayette is now testing a system that will eventually include as many as six cameras for video referral.

Video referral is now standard at many schools including those in the Big Ten, ACC, and many Big East schools. It is required to be provided by host schools in the NCAA tournament. Lafayette will be the first school in the Patriot League to have video referral at home games. Which means potentially, Lafayette might only play 3 games without referral. If Lafayette were to host the Patriot League tournament that tournament like the NCAA tournament, would be played under referral rules.

Aside from games, the software could be used at practice to focus on individual players to assist coaches in improving skills and tactics. Yes, Lafayette initially will be the leader in the Patriot League in providing this technology. I believe it won’t be long before the rest of league will be catching up. Those who stand still, risk being run over!! Go Pards.

No doubt other improvements are being considered as Lafayette builds a winning culture…stay tuned!!!

Spring Is A Time For Learning

The Leopards are still in the construction phase of organizing their team for the fall. Coach Stone has presented the team with strong challenging opponents, which should in the end expose weaknesses as well as, strength while providing learning opportunities. This afternoon, the Leopards faced two good teams. The Hawks of Monmouth, newly a member of the CAA, and the ACC’s Syracuse Orange who showed why they are highly regarded.

The afternoon started out with great promise as Lafayette scored the first goal of the afternoon in an intense scrum in front of the cage. Molly McAndrew found the handle finally to score with only 1 minute having run off the clock.

For the next two periods Monmouth displayed their fast breaking slashing style. The Lafayette’s defense held up well, but the Hawks managed two more goals ( one on a corner). During the three quarters, Monmouth managed as many corners as goals.

Syracuse, who was an NCAA tournament team, also scored 3 goals against another goal by McAndrew. Syracuse also had four penalty corners and five shots on the afternoon.

The weather was threatening all afternoon, and I have to say the Leopards played their best quarter against Syracuse on their third try. The Lafayette offense has yet to get in mid season form, managing few shots and circle penetrations. Most concerning was the lack of any penalty corners all afternoon after six quarters of hockey.

But this is why we have spring “games.” It is not only an opportunity for young players to find their place, but for coaches to evaluate and groom their current talent before the new recruits arrive. The fall will have fewer opportunities before the beginning of the championship season.

For many of the players this is their first spring training where they are having the opportunity to improve their skills and for their teammates to know where they are on the field. Meeting teams like Syracuse, Penn State, Temple and Monmouth is an opportunity, as they may see them again this fall!!

Next week gets no easier, with games at St. Joseph’s with Penn State joining in the fun. I expect our passes to be crisper and energy to be more obvious.

Temple Surges Past Lehigh In Early Spring Contest

Lehigh was missing their fine goalkeeper, Maddie Kahn who is playing on the under 21 national team. In addition, they only had 11 players to put on the field against the 20 plus strong Temple squad. Temple had a number of rising sophomores in the lineup, which proved too much for the rebuilding Mountain Hawks.

For what it’s worth, Temple scored 7 goals to Lehigh’s 2. The Owls scored with 7 minutes left in the first quarter to get an early 1-0 lead on a corner. Lehigh did manage to get two goals in the second quarter, catching the supine Temple goalie on the ground. Temple answered with two goals of their own, the last coming with 6 seconds left in the half taking a half time lead 3-2

In the second half, Temple turned it up, with 4 additional scores from the field, and from corner opportunities. Temple earned seven corners to Lehigh’s 2. The lack of a bench for Lehigh was a factor as the game progressed.

Lehigh made significant use of aerials to advance the ball from the backfield, but Temple was to use their athletic abilities to spend most of the game in Lehigh territory. Lehigh veterans Anna Piecuch, and Sarah Bonthus, who scored in the game were engaged. Lotte Smorenburg, a rising Junior, performed well in the backfield. Rising junior Emily Mars contributed as well. There will be adjustments and work to be done to replace graduates Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora. I saw no indication of a Lehigh player exercising their Covid option

Temple on the other hand showed progress from last year with a plethora of undergraduate talent returning. Rising Juniors Myrthe Schuilenburg, Olivia Vacari, and Maddie Molchany showed strength. Rising sophomore Julia Bunch looked strong, scoring multiple contested goals. Number 33 Juliane Kopec, another rising sophomore, scored two goals on strong shots while having multiple strong circle penetrations.

Most impressive was number 8, Nienke Oerlemans who appears to be exercising her covid option. As a strong defender and inserter on corners she seems to have that strong hit and control that puts the ball where it needs to be.

Lafayette travels to Temple tomorrow to meet the Owls for a contest of their own!!

Let The Games Begin!!

Hefting was there when needed

The long wait is over as the 2022 edition of Lafayette Field Hockey begins their spring season this Sunday at 1 pm at Temple. The Leopards completed a fine season last fall only to lose to American in the Patriot League championship game 2-1. The last part of the season was marred by several key injuries and there is no doubt a healthy Lafayette squad this year to my mind, makes our Leopards a clear talent leader in the League.

The 3-2 loss at Lehigh was difficult for us fans to take, especially since three starters were missing from the lineup, and the winning goal came after suffering a penalty stroke in overtime. For many of us, that call will stick with us until next year’s contest at Lafayette with full strength n the field!!

The Leopards all last season responded to a difficult schedule with several close losses to quality teams. The double overtime loss to Ohio State and the one goal loss to then number one ranked Rutgers with many Lafayette returning veterans, gives me encouragement on the prospects for the coming fall.

Lafayette beat Temple last year 1-0 on a Molly McAndrews goal on October 24th while dominating the other stats in the process. They out shot Temple 14-9 forcing their GK to make 10 saves. Penalty Corners were 6-3 in Lafayette’s favor ( playing with video referral). The game was played after the Lehigh game and enabled the Leopards to bounce back even with a depleted bench!!

The Leopards have lost a very good senior class but the returning vets are talented and motivated! The coaching staff remains in place as Lafayette will be adding 5-7 new recruits to the roster!

There will be several changes around the League in physical plants, one coaching change, and several teams now adding international players to their squads. At Lafayette, their is a credible effort to add video referral to their resources. Although I have no hard information about the rest of the league ( though I do hear rumors), Lafayette’s out of conference schedule will no doubt be filled with team’s who have video referral!!

Bucknell has welcomed a new coach, Kelsey Kolojejchick who comes from a very successful run as an assistant at Harvard. She arrived at Harvard after a short stint with Syracuse and was a U.S. national player and a four year all American at UNC. Bucknell will add 6 new players including 2 international players from the Netherlands and Germany. Lafayette won two close 1 goal games against the Bisons. The last one was a semi final win in overtime, getting the Leopards into the championship game.

On the other side of the coaching spectrum Boston University head coach Sally Starr continues her amazingly long career having signed an extension this winter, after finishing her 40th year! In addition, Boston is putting down new turf which should fix the problems in the current turf, which made it difficult to transfer the ball from side to side. This spring, Boston will be practicing at Harvard while construction begins, and will be playing their first spring game against Umass this Saturday.

Holy Cross will also be replacing their field after the spring track season. ( their field is surrounded by the track). They will also be installing a more modern irrigation system. Holy Cross is also dipping into the international pool of players by adding two internationals, one from Vancouver and another from England to their 5 person incoming class. Lafayette is at Holy Cross this year. Due to construction, which will not be finished by the fall, the Crusaders will be playing teams in California according to reports.

Lehigh proved themselves to be players last year making the PL tournament for the first time in several years as well as posting a winning record. Leneke Havas and Drew Pecora will not be there this fall but U 21 GK Maddie Kahn will back between the pipes. I am hoping they will upgrade their schedule improving the League RPI in the process. They will be playing Temple on Saturday ( they beat the Owls last year 2-1) which should give us a window on relative strength. Next year the Lafayette/ Lehigh match will be at our house with all its attendant importance.

I have no info on Colgate except we will be playing them in Hamilton in the fall.

There are at least 5 teams that will compete for the title this year. Only four will make the League tournament. With Lehigh improving its schedule hopefully the League could be in a position to make a lot of noise in Division One.

The 2022 Field Hockey Leopards Are On The Field

Spaans outruns the Bucknell defense

In about two weeks the 2022 version of the Field Hockey Leopards will play their first spring game. Coach Jennifer Stone has released dates and opponents for this spring’s competitions and she has not been reticent in making sure it’ll be tough enough to be worthy of the ability of Lafayette. It includes NCAA qualifiers and a team who during season was ranked number one in nation.

For the first game, the Leopards will travel to Philadelphia to meet the Temple Owls on March 27th for a 1 pm meeting. Last year, Stone’s charges won a 1-0 game late in season. ( As an aside Lehigh will be playing Temple the day before,) On April 3rd Lafayette will host two other teams, Monmouth and Syracuse. Syracuse of course is an ACC rival while Monmouth will be joining the CAA. Six days later it’s back to Philadelphia for a challenging afternoon on April 9 playing a very good St. Joseph team and perennial Big Ten power Penn State, who beat the Leopard 3-1 last fall.

McAndrews goes after the ball

The challenges keep coming as Rutgers travels to the Lehigh Valley and Rappolt Field on April 15 for a 7pm night game. Rutgers was ranked number one last year when the Leopards lost by one goal in the last regular season game in October. The last game of the spring will again be in Philly on April 23rd at UPenn with the University of Delaware joining the festivities.

Mary Gould and Felicitas Hannes get into position

Coach Stone and the Leopards will be looking for the formula to break through and bring its first championship to Easton in ten years. Last year the Leopards were thwarted in 1-2 loss to American in Washington, DC. Lafayette also lost on September 18 to American in a regular season contest in overtime 0-1.

The Patriot League will be improving as Lehigh has also been knocking on the door as they lost to American in the semi-final 0-1. Lehigh has become more competitive and will be traveling to Lafayette this year. I can also believe that Boston University will also improve as they also will be visiting Lafayette in the fall. Bucknell has a new coach and will be trying to avenge a 2-3 two overtime loss in the regular season and 3-4 exciting overtime loss in the PL semi-final. Having a successful regular season record and hosting the championship game has to be a goal for the Leopards in the coming campaign.

The Leopards will look to replace many key players due to graduation but will still see a veteran team on the field this spring and perhaps 5-7 new recruits. Molly McAndrews will be returning for her Covid season and will be there leading a diversified offense. Leneke Spanns, a fan favorite will be there to spark the offense with her super speed and competitiveness to please the home fans. Alden Boccella a hero of the Bucknell semi-final game will be back with even more experience and playing time to drive opponents nuts. If that isn’t enough, Felcitas Hannes adds her strong shooting skills to bother opposing goalkeepers!

Hefting was there when needed

However the defense will also be stout with Simone Hefting providing strength and leadership. Shea Balderson, India Ralph, Alex Darrah,and veteran Sydney Woolston adds to the wall. One key position will be GK, as Emma Garvey steps in. She will be featured in the spring games this year, which will give her the experience and confidence to anchor that position. I will note that she had a fine spring last year and looks to me to be up to the challenge.

The midfield and transition game is solid with the aforementioned Bocella and boosted by Filine Gerbrandji. Today’s Field Hockey game requires solid players to step up and Ariel Schumacher, Carly Kreytak, Alex Darah, Mackenzie Hall, Laine Delmomte and Alexandra Conway are true division one athletes and proved it last year. The spring will be a great opportunity for them to step up!!

One addition could be Tara Hamilton who suffered a knee injury in the Delaware scrimmage last year. Her return could make our offense truly awesome.

I really don’t think I am being just a homer, but I feel this team could be one of our great teams. The preseason predictions have always passed by the Leopards ( even during our consecutive championships) but this team certainly deserves to be challenger for the championship. I can see them as a top twenty team given the work I believe these young athletes will put in between now and August. I am pumped for the spring!!!!

Go Pards!!!

Fourteen Seconds Adds To Lafayette Field Hockey Lore

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Alden Boccella lines up a pass

With fourteen seconds left on the clock in regulation I must admit it looked pretty bleak but THIS team was not finished. Short handed, due to a late card, the Leopards had pulled their goalkeeper but somehow managed to earn a corner and lined up what was perhaps the last play of the game. The first shot went to the top of cage bouncing off the crossbar….damn I said to myself. But Alden Boccella, sophomore midfielder, who had been sidelined with an injury since the Lehigh game stepped up and smacked the ball in to tie the score….overtime.

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Filine Gerbandij fights for possession

But this game was filled with additional heroics and character. Senior attacker, Molly McAndrew opened scoring with a rocket squeezed past the Bucknell goalie only 4:46 into the first quarter. Bucknell later answered with a goal at 9:38 and 32:54, which gave them a 2-1 advantage by the third quarter.

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McAndrews goes after the ball

The final heroics began in the fourth quarter, as rookie of the year freshman, Lineke Spaans took control at midfield, turning on her afterburners, and scoring an unassisted goal at 48:25. Spaans was clearly on Bucknell’s mind all game as she was marked closely, but her speed was evident on both defense and offense along with her ball control.

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Spaans outruns the Bucknell defense

Bucknell was to respond with about 7 minutes left in the game with their own freshman ace scoring on a corner, making it 3-2 Bucknell, setting up the last minute tying score by Boccella.

Overtime, with its 7 v 7 format, opened up space for the Leopards and they patiently waited for their opportunity. The Bucknell aggressive play was to backfire, as a Bison player was cited for a hard tackle near the circle causing not only a card but a corner!! Audrey Sawers took the game in her hands, delivering a hard shot to the right side of the goal in a small space left vacant by the Bison goal keeper as she went down.

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Offense Player of the Year Audrey Sawers shows some offense

As we left the field, I thought of the difference in this Lafayette team. It occurred to me it can be explained in the meanings of sport and athleticism. Good athletes exhibit skill which enable them to play their sport. How they apply their athletic ability allows them to be successful!

This 14-5 Leopard team, who will play for a championship this Saturday, understands character and the objective of their sport. Team sport in particular builds team memories and program “lore.” Everyone, fans, players and coaches had that added to their DNA on November 4th!!