Leopards Do Everything But Find The Back Of The Net

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Liza Welch speeds down the center of the field in the first half

Lafayette did a lot of things right at Providence this afternoon, except find the back of the cage. They led in shots, shots on goal, and penalty corners. On several occasions they found themselves point blank at the Friars goalkeeper but could not get a handle on the ball or the Providence fine senior goalkeeper found ways to block or deflect shots away. That, in effect was the whole frustrating afternoon as these teams battled in what might  have been a defensive game, for a majority of the minutes.

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Adrianna Pero get ready to receive the ball

Providence scored in both periods finally ending the game with a 2-0 win on their senior day. The Leopards again used their high press which served them well in their previous game against Holy Cross, and it did deliver several opportunities which were turned away. Providence’s counter attack worked well as both goals, one at 15:18 and the other at 64:57  proved to be enough to defeat the Leopards despite the Leopards having 6 shots on goal to Providence’s 4.

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Rachel Bird and Christine Turnbull close in on Friar attacker

The weekend was still successful as the Leopards are now 6-9 but own a 3-1 League record with a very favorable position to make the playoffs. The terrible Connecticut route 95 traffic gave me lots of time to turn over several permutations regarding the playoff picture. Boston University is 4-0 with two games left and looks solid to host, but there are absurd scenarios where they might lose that position. After that its closely bunched, with American and Lafayette tied for second at 3-1, Bucknell and Holy Cross are  tied in fourth with identical 2-2 records, and Lehigh and Colgate are virtually out of it.

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Kristen Taylor lets one go as Theresa Delahanty follows

Next week Holy Cross plays Bucknell. A win by Bucknell or win by Lafayette next week or the following week would lock up a tournament spot for the Leopards. Holy Cross is meeting Bucknell and Boston University to finish the regular season League games. Lafayette has American next week, followed by a season finale at Bucknell. Holy Cross would need to win against Bucknell and Boston while Lafayette would have to lose against Bucknell and American to throw the race for the playoffs to a tiebreaker scenario between Bucknell and Lafayette in which case the Leopards would not be in the playoffs.

After figuring that all out, the seedings become another matter. So to summarize, a win e against American or Bucknell puts a lock on the postseason, as does a loss by Holy Cross next week against Bucknell or Boston University a week later.

 

 

 

Holy Cross, This Is Not About The Numbers

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Rachael Bird shuts down a Penn attacker

The Leopards will be on the road with a 3 game winning streak behind them, traveling to  meet the Crusaders of Holy Cross who have a 3 game winning streak of their own. As most you who follow this blog know, I love to sort out the game using statistics. But these games with Holy Cross have been anything about playing to numbers. Coach Lindsey Jackson somehow manages to get her team ready for Lafayette and enjoys a three game winning streak against our Leopards. The Crusaders love to fast break and high press, and as usual they feature a sprinting forward who can find the goal and an excellent goal keeper to keep it close, if necessary. But just for fun let’s look at the record.

Lafayette is 5-8 while finding a strong offense. They have scored 29 goals in 13 games averaging 2.3 goals per game while taking 162 shots for  12.5 shots per game. The scoring per shot is a very respectable, 18 percent, with a great improvement coming in the  last five games. Even more impressive is the diversity of the attack with 7 players scoring 3 or more goals. The defense can be counted on as well, with Lisa Van der Geest anchoring the backfield as well as scoring a team leading 6 goals. Senior co-captain Rachael Bird has a remarkable 4 defensive saves.  ( Going back over the games I believe there was an additional DS against Colgate which wasn’t recorded).

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Liza Welch moves the ball along the baseline

On the Crusader side, Emily Loprete has a league leading 10 goals on 23 shots for a 23 pct scoring percentage. The team itself has 21 goals on 145 shots. Marica LaPlante, the converted ice hockey goalkeeper, has been a wall with a  78 pct save percentage on 289 shots. The Crusader have gotten 45 penalty corners but have given up 103 corners.  Lafayette has 79 penalty corners and only given up 58 in their 13 games.

Loprete scored two goals in the Crusaders last outing against LaSalle, so she remains the key resource for scoring going into Saturday’s contest. One thing which did stand out to me was the average RPI of Holy Cross’ wins, which was 72 as opposed to Lafayette’s average RPI against teams they defeated is 54 ( higher than their own 55 RPI).

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But as I have learned in the previous three years, forget statistics. Both teams need this game to help them into the Patriot League playoffs. Lafayette and Holy Cross are 2-1 in the league and a win would be a big leg up. In previous years Holy Cross has won on the tiebreaker with the results of head to head competition the deciding factor. After Saturday’s game, Lafayette will meet American and Bucknell. Holy Cross will also meet Bucknell and will play Boston University as one of their final two games. The losing team will probably have to run the table to get in the playoffs.

So it appears Lafayette will need plenty of shots to get beyond LaPlante and Holy Cross will need to fast break to score on the Leopards. High scoring game?? If the recent history is any template for Saturday’s contest it’ll be a close low scoring game with neither side willing to give in and battling all the way. The only numbers that will matter is who has more goals. Go Pards!! It’s an 11 am start in clear cool weather!!

Jenn DeLongis Is A Key Contributor In 2-1 Upset Of Penn

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Molly Mc Andrew closes in on a Quaker

Ranked 20th by RPI the University of Pennsylvania came to Rappolt Field a decided favorite but the Leopards were to take advantage of every opportunity while raising their defense to stop Penn when they needed. Junior Jenn DeLongis made her one shot count by scoring the winning goal at 47:33 into the game assisted by Audrey Sawer. DeLongis found a path through two defenders and the Penn goalkeeper making the score 2-1. She also contributed to the tying score which occurred at 42:49 off a rocket from Lisa Van der Geest fed by DeLongis and Delahanty.

But the defense also stepped up as they closed off opportunity after opportunity by the Quakers. Notably, Rachael Bird had two defensive saves on the night and nearly broke open the game after a Penn miss at the goal (  a high shot) and took the ball almost the length of the field in a heads up play, while the stunned Quakers wanted to argue the “no goal.” Sarah Park had three saves on the night turning away three of Penn’s six SOGs and Bird accounting for two more.

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Liza Welch and Adrianna Pero have all under control

Lafayette again came from behind showing a winning attitude. This was a team effort and was reflected in the bench standing on the sidelines cheering on their teammates.

Attendance again was good as 428 fans showing up to cheer on their friends and daughters.

Lisa Van der Geest again showed great leadership on the field while playing every minute. The Leopards showed offensive diversity as anyone seems to be able to contribute at any moment.

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The Lafayette bench cheers on their teammates

The Leopards also are getting good news as several of its walking wounded are gradually returning and this will undoubtedly be bad news for future Lafayette opponents.

Lafayette will now travel to Holy Cross for a crucial Patriot League matchup this Saturday at 11 am. Holy Cross and Lafayette both have 2-1 record in the league.

Lafayette Emerges With 5-4 Win In A Seesaw Game

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Molly McAndrew, Audrey Sawer and Jen DeLongis close on Colgate

Lafayette spotted Colgate a two goal lead in the opening 18 minutes before launching an offense of their own in a wild first period,  where Colgate pulled all the stops out playing with abandon. In the early going, the Leopards conceded the first 50 yards before engaging an aggressive Colgate team determined to take down their Patriot League rival. Conversely, Lafayette needed this game to have a run at the playoffs and a chance to have a successful league record.

With only 5:46 run off the clock, Colgate’s Meghan Minturn received an assist from Kali Williams and Nicole Salmone during their only corner of the game. Despite going down to block the shot Minturn was able to lift the ball over the Lafayette goalie, Sarah Park, to take a 1-0 lead. The Colgate defense continued to harass Lafayette, keeping control and turning the Lafayette offense back. The Lafayette coaching staff finally called a time out at 12:15 to make some adjustments. Aided by  more aggressive defensive play and interceptions, the Leopards were able to get off several shots by Kristin Taylor who had returned to the field after an injury to her thumb which had sidelined her for the last several games. Molly McAndrew also took a shot which hit the post to the disappointment of Lafayette fans.

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Grace Angelella is swarmed by the Colgate defense

It was shortly after the post miss by McAndrew, that Colgate reorganized and Nora Mulroy assisted by Salmone found the cage at 17:52 making it 2-0 Colgate. Lafayette continued to play and found several shots, until at 21:53 Sam DiMaio got the tap in assisted by Taylor and McAndrew after a turnover. It was a one goal game again as  Lafayette began to have success of their own using a press and were able to get turnovers enabling an offensive surge.

Colgate’s Minturn had a hit post of her own at 22:02, as the back and forth action continued. At 23:46 Molly McAndrew received a long pass from Audrey Sawer, and found herself one on one with the Colgate goalie. Using a very flat angle she found the net making it 2-2 with a beautiful backhand. However, four minutes later Colgate’s Salamone  found her first goal of the season, with the Lafayette goalie out of position as she took advantage of the rebound. Colgate 3-2. Less than two minutes later senior attacker Liza Welch used her reverse stick shot, after a pass from Sawer to get her third goal of the season and more importantly tie the score at the half.

At 40:56 after several shots Lafayette’s Rachel Bird got her first goal of the season during a penalty corner,  assisted by Lisa van der Geest and Theresa Delahanty, by poking it behind the Colgate goalie. Lafayette had multiple shots during the period, but it was Colgate who was to get their fourth and tying goal, receiving a pass in the center of the scoring circle and finding a gap for a low shot.

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Kristin Taylor closely marks her Colgate opponent

With the score tied 4-4 the action went back and forth until, with about 5 minutes left on the clock, Lisa van der Geest assumed the role of hero during a corner and using the assist from Theresa Delahanty and Jen DeLongis  to redirect a hard shot into the goal for the fifth and deciding score for the Leopards.

Colgate called a timeout with three minutes to go to no avail, as the Leopards were able to shutoff any threat and run out the clock for the win.

Despite a game effort by the Raiders, Lafayette was to dominate the stats with 19 shots to 5 for the Raiders. ( The Raiders were to have four shots on goals which all resulted in goals). Colgate had 10 saves the Leopards had none. Lafayette had 9 penalty corners to one for the Raiders.

The Leopards will play a good Penn team at 4 pm at Rappolt Field and will then have an extremely important game at Holy Cross on Saturday. The Leopards have been beaten by the Crusaders for the last three years. A win would move the Leopard chances for a playoff appearance ahead. ( as a win for Holy Cross would do the same for them).

Leopards Travel To Colgate For Key Patriot League Matchup

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Colgate defender moves in to block Bucknell shot

We are in, for all intents and purposes, playoff mode, as each league game has a crucial consequence for post season play. This week the spotlight will be in Hamilton, New York as Lafayette tangles with Colgate, the winner emerging with a leg up to qualify for the “third” championship season….the playoffs.  Colgate will arrive on the home turf with a 2-9 record but more importantly, an 0-3 record in Patriot League play. A loss would give them an all important 4 losses, with a virtual wall blocking them into the post season.  Lafayette has a 3-8 record but a 1-1 Patriot League record with a real shot at the playoffs, with a game remaining against Holy Cross, if won, along with a win on Saturday would virtually lock up at least a fourth seed playoff spot.

The recent Leopard record against Colgate has been a mixed bag, and wins have not always come that easily. Last year the Raiders arrived at Rappolt Field and gave the Leopards all they could handle before emerging with a 3-2 overtime win. In 2015 Colgate was to hold Lafayette to one goal in a 1-0 Leopard win. The previous year in Hamilton the score was reversed as Colgate emerged the victor 0-1. In 2013 the 4-3 overtime win in the playoffs  propelled Lafayette to the Championship. Two weeks ago Colgate held BU to two goals in Boston in a 2-0 loss.

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Sam DeMaio and Cam Costello surround a Villanova player

Nothing should be taken for granted and Lafayette’s newly established offense should come to town ready to battle. Colgate has only scored 8 goals but given up 37, Lafayette has scored 22 goals but also given up 38. Colgate has taken 89 shots and allowed 179, Lafayette has taken 139 shots and given up 150. Even when Colgate gets a shot they score only 9% of the time, while Lafayette is scoring on 16 % of their shots due to their recent offensive emergence. Colgate has earned only 46 penalty corners while giving up 86, Lafayette has 69 penalty corners and given up only 47.

Even thought the stats favor the Leopard squad, I keep getting flashbacks of the 2014 game as Colgate scored on one of their few corners gently lifting the ball over the Lafayette goalie’s head late in the game. I don’t know how many shots the Leopards had but they were numerous.

Colgate will pull all the stops and I expect intensity born of desperation by the Raiders. I do not like us in a close game. The Leopards need to continue to find the back of the net in this one. They will travel Friday and practice at the Colgate field to be ready for a noon Saturday start. Go Pards!

Lafayette Unleashes Their Offense On Villanova In 5-2 Win

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Theresa Delahanty shows her fight competing for the ball with Lydia Sydnoor

With several starters out with injury, and resumption of Patriot League play ready to resume on Saturday, the Leopards ignored adversity and ignited their offense against Big East foe Villanova at Villanova. It was perfect weather as the 5 pm game started at Villanova’s turf facility in Conshohockan. Both team were to begin the game feeling each other out, and as expected Villanova began with a press, and seemed to control the tempo and field position.

However, the Lafayette co-captains of Lisa van der Geest, Theresa Delahanty, and Rachel Bird would have none of it, and led the Leopards to a dominating first half, lifting Lafayette to a 3-0 lead. Defense and offense was clicking and corner execution, as well as corner defense were factors in the win.

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Rachel Bird gets position on a Villanova attacker Megan Vermeil

Delahanty started the scoring at 18:30 into the game off a Lisa van der Geest assist that was the result of a rebound from the Villanova goalie. Delahanty was to get 2 goals in the contest and Van der Geest was to collect 3 assists, while playing excellent defense, and she was  a key playmaker in the backfield.

The second goal was from senior attacker Liza Welch at 27:35 assisted by Jen Delongis who had a terrific game stealing passes, and generally making her presence known to the Wildcats backfield. The Leopards finished the first period as freshman McAndrews tipped in an assist from Delahanty and Sawer, on corner a with less than a minute left in the first period.

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Van der Geest has no doubt where the ball was going!!

It was a hard fought first half with plenty of physical play, including a tremendous collision between Leopard goalie Sara Park and two Villanova players. Park was not giving an inch in the circle, and defended her turf with “Leopard Pride.” The refs were forced to stop play as all three needed to recover.

Villanova was not about to give in easily as they opened the second period with two quick goals from Riley Dolan at 37:39 and Megan Vermiel at 38;31. With score now 3-2 the Leopards redoubled their efforts and took back control as Delahanty slipped the ball past the goalkeeper at 45:54 for her second goal of the game using Van der Geest’s second assist. It was not to end until Grace Angelella also used a Van der Geest’s thirst assist on a corner for the “coup de grace.”

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Audrey Sawer continues to fight for possession even as she goes to the turf!!

Villanova pulled their goalie and the Lafayette defense held firm and retired from the field with the 5-2 victory. This was a perfect warm-up for a crucial matchup on Saturday with the Raiders of Colgate. A win would put the Leopards in good position a slot in the Patriot League playoffs. Playing at Colgate has always been an adventure for the Leopards, and the emergence of a solid offense is a great boost to the Leopard’s chances on  Saturday.

The corner offense today was key as 4 out the 5 goals were part of corner opportunities. Persistent play after first shots was also key, as it all seemed to click for the win!.

Lafayette Scores Four Goals In Loss To Boston University

If a fortune teller had come to me and said we were going to score four goals against the vaunted Boston University defense, I would have bet heavily we would have added a win to our record. Not in my wildest dreams did I think Boston would end up scoring six straight goals after Lafayette’s opening goal, 12 minutes into the contest. In front of a crowd of 226 ( smallest of the year so far), our Leopards did everything they needed to do offensively. The offense consisted of long fast passes getting behind the Terrier defense setting up numerous opportunities in front of the goal. Lafayette scored first with Caroline Turnbull getting the first of two goals off a rebound during a corner opportunity.

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Delahanty gets off a shot to make it 6-4

For the next 14 minutes it looked as if it would be a low scoring game, with at worst an overtime opportunity for a Leopard win. It was Miya Denison from Boston who found an opening from the 10 yard line at 25:36 and locked the game in a 1-1 tie. As a fan, I took solace in the fact that the team was still engaged, with great support from the Lafayette bench as they stood on the sidelines cheering their teammates on. Little did we know that the goal was to usher in a series of five more straight  goals.

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Seven minutes late Kara Enoch from Boston was to find an open net to get the second goal however, no one was giving up, even as Boston was to get off 10 shots to Lafayette’s four in the half, while corner opportunities were even at two. However, it was a last minute penalty stroke awarded to Boston, that seemed to deflate the Leopards before the end of the half.

Lafayette was to use only two field players as substitutes all game, and was missing two of its starters in Ana Steps still recovering from a concussion suffered last week, and senior Kristin Taylor who fractured her thumb in practice during the week. Boston on the other hand used their entire bench.

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Pero defends the goal and delivers the ball out of danger

Perhaps it was fatigue, but Lafayette seemed a little deflated at the beginning of the second half as BU rolled off three straight goals at 37:09, 49:02 and 50:12. The bench looked downtrodden as they resumed their seats. But the Leopards on the field were not surrendering as Sam DiMaio made a move on the BU goalie and scored with 19 minutes left in the game. The game prospects brightened as Caroline Turnbull found the cage for the second time, seven minutes later, making it a 6-3 game. But it was the next goal on a corner by Lafayette with a beautiful give and go between Lisa van der Geest and Theresa Delahanty, that restored hope to the faithful.  Delahanty found the cage making it 6-4.

Was a miracle finish  about to happen? Lafayette had put in a new goalie Haily Abbott, but Lafayette was to get a yellow card and Boston’s Molly Rottinghaus was to put it away for the Terriers with the last goal of the day. Leopards were to try to put in the kick back goalie but the yellow card acted to deny the opportunity to finish the game in that formation, as the Leopards were forced to return the goalie rather than play short handed without a goalkeeper.

It was sort of a bizarre game with 11 goals, not a typical Lafayette defensive battle. It is now on to Villanova where  it will be a game between the two “cats.” Lafayette will need to recover their defensive poise while retaining the offensive spark they found this Saturday. Next Saturday, action will be at Colgate in a must win game if playoffs hopes are to be kept alive for both teams.