Lafayette AD Freeman To Report To College President

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Lafayette has finally given up the last vestige of “Williams envy,” by having the Athletic Department a part of the President’s cabinet. Most if not all Division one schools recognize the importance of athletics in fostering and nurturing a community culture. Twenty percent of the student body at Lafayette are inter-collegiate athletes and it represents a central activity for attracting alumni back campus.

A successful athletic department can be an advertisement for the college name, and allow it to publicize it’s many other attributes. Lafayette’s unique posture as an undergraduate college willing to reach, makes a statement not only to promote itself internally, but make it’s name more readily known to applicants, employers and other potential supporters.

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For years, alumni have heard from successive administrations comparing Lafayette to Williams or Amherst. This act is a statement and recognition by President Hurd, and the Board of Trustees to move our posture to a more consistent level internally, and externally. We are now more like our brethren in the Patriot and Ivy League, than Nescac or the Centennial Conference.

Previously, the department was attached to Student Life, and the AD reported to VP Annette Diorio. VP Diorio was fully supportive of the move in a statement released by the school, recognizing this was a more appropriate structure for a Division One school.

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Nearly 25 years ago President Arthur Rothkopf wanted Lafayette to move to Division 3 but was stopped by outraged alumni. That era has officially now been buried, and the athletic department can get on with it’s mission of creating leadership opportunities for it’s students, and becoming a unifying internal engine for community identification.

This is a demonstration that President Nicole Hurd was not going to let the grass on College Hill grow too long before she takes charge. She is in charge. Well done Madam President!!

Lafayette Ends The Weekend Undefeated Behind An Offensive Show

McAndrew scores two, Hannes gets one and Spaans adds one to combine for 4 goals against Villanova.

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McAndrew breaks away for her second goal

It didn’t take Lafayette long to take charge, as Felicitas Hannes opened the scoring against the Villanova Wildcats at only 1:27 into the game, using a backhanded feed from Molly McAndrew, and tipping it past the GK. However, the resulting 1-0 lead would be built upon by McAndrew eight minutes later, making it a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter of play.

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Audrey gets ready to launch while Hannes is there for the tip in if neccesary

With only 7 minutes left in the half, freshman Lineke Spaans put the crowd on their feet as she flew the length of the field on a give go from Alex Talkow, scoring a goal that put the Leopards ahead 3-0. The half time stats showed Lafayette ahead in shots ( 10-3), and penalty corners (5-3).

The scrappy Wildcats were to tighten things up a bit in the second half, scoring a third quarter goal at 8:34 into the quarter from Caitlin Van Goverden, using a redirected shot off a rebound. The second half saw the shots even up ( 5-5) and penalty corners even up (5-5).

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Sawers delivers the ball after a Spanns stop on an offensive penalty corner

At this point as Villanova got more aggressive and the the Lafayette defense had to tighten up turning back shots, and attacking efforts at most every opportunity. Simone Hefting and Sidney Woolston, in the defense were like a stone wall, along with Hailey Abbott who had five saves on the afternoon. McAndrew sealed the win after Villanova pulled their goalie in a desperate attempt to get on the board.

At 58:39 McAndrew broke away and executed an unassisted reverse shot to get her second goal of the game. That, for all practical purposes put the game out of reach at 4-1.

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Hefting delivers the ball downfield

Some general impressions…..The Lafayette passing is deadly. Hefting’s accurate passes into traffic remind me of a “Tom Brady,” American football afternoon. This team is remarkable, in this short time they have been able to learn to work together. Passes arrive where the receiving player is going be rather where they are at the moment. The defense takes pride in their work, and keep the ball on the good side of the 40 meter mark most of the afternoon.

I can’t end this account without mentioning the leadership and strength of Audrey Sawers, who is an emotional and physical force on the field. She plays almost every minute and she plays with confidence.

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Woolston and Boccella charge stop a Villanova corner

It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive opportunity or an offensive surge, this team is going 100 percent and results are there. Two games, six goals, 15 points, 27 shots, 22 percent scoring percentage, 70 percent shots on goals and an 86 % save percentage, demonstrate the results of their efforts.

But this is a longer season than just 2 games, and there is a magnificent challenge next week against two Big Ten teams Ohio State, and Indiana!

The Patriot League had mixed results today, Lehigh rebounded to beat Longwood 3 to 2, while the rest of league fell. American lost to ODU 2-3. Colgate dropped a close one to Rider 1-2 and BU lost to Providence 2-1.

Lafayette’s next two opponents had a successful weekend with Ohio State beating Ball State 1-0 and Indiana winning two, Central Michigan 3-2 and Davidson 4-0. Indiana will be playing Miami of Ohio before meeting Lafayette this coming Sunday and Ohio State will be playing Kent State on Tuesday afternoon!! The Ohio State game with Lafayette will be their home opener!!!

The Leopards will depart for Columbus early Thursday. The Friday game will be on BTN +.

Lafayette Earns A 2-0 Opening Win Against Hofstra

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First year Filine Gerbrandij chase down a Hoftra mid

Opening day wins are usually earned after brutal hard fought contests with each team trying to set the tone for the rest of the season. The statistics for game might persuade one to believe that this was an easy dominate win for the Leopards. That was far from the truth. Lafayette earned this one with skill and hockey smarts.

The Leopards outshot the Pride 12-2, with 10 of those shots on goal. Corners were even 2-2. The Hofstra GK, Merilijn van der Vegt was forced to make 7 saves, while Hailey Abbott from Lafayette preserved the shut out with a spectacular save in the third quarter. Lafayette did dominate time of possession for most of the first quarter, and delivered 4 shots “goalward”.

But Hofstra was to come up with the first corner with only 1:47 having run off the clock. The corner defense turned the volume, up blocking the shot, and Lafayette was to travel into the visitor’s circle several times in the quarter getting off 4 shots in the process. One of those shots turned into a goal came at 13:02 into the quarter, from Felicitas Hannes after a feed from Simone Hefting…..the scoreboard lit up, showing the Leopards with a 1-0 lead.

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Audrey Sawers pushes the ball downfield

The second quarter was to frustrate Lafayette, as they used their considerable stick skills, managing to get 6 additional shots several hitting the post in the process. The half ended with the 1-0 advantage showing on the scoreboard.Hofstra came out determined to even the score in the third quarter but shots were still in favor of the Leopards by only 2-1. But one of those shots was to find the back of cage off the stick of captain Audrey Sawers. Sawers muscled her way into the center of the circle and delivered the strike unassisted.

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Felicitas Hannes zeroes on Hofstra mid

The visitors tried valiantly to close the gap but the Lafayette defense stopped them multiple times. Neither team was to get off a shot but the action was still back and forth. Lafayette’s passing and stick work was a fan pleaser all game long. The depth and strength from the bench was reassuring.

It was Lafayette’s first athletic win of the season and Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman was in attendance, along with brand new President Nichole Hurd with her husband Bill. The Leopards will get one day’s rest before taking on the Wildcats of Villanova at Rappolt Field at 3 pm on Sunday. Villanova defeated Lehigh tonight 4-3. They came back from a 2-0 deficit in first quarter, to score two in the second. A 2-1 fourth quarter was to give Villanova the win. Lehigh outshot Villanova 13-12, and out cornered them 13-7. The score was tied with 5 minutes left in the game when Villanova’s Emma Schwarz was to deliver the game winner, her second goal of the game.

Around the Patriot League, American was to defeat VCU 2-1 in overtime, Boston won their opener 2-1 over Monmouth, and Holy Cross bested Merrimack 3-1. Colgate was to drop their opener 5-1 against Albany and Bucknell was to lose 0-3 against JMU.

Storm Locks In Albany, So It’s For Real Against Hofstra On Friday

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Albany was unable to make the trip to Pennsylvania so Sunday’s game with Albany had to be cancelled. Now the Leopards will be concentrating on starting the regular season against the Long Island based Hofstra Pride. They arrive 27 strong at Rappolt Field after a spring season of 4-8 and 1-3 in the CAA conference. The 4 pm game will be televised on ESPN +.

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Ironically, Hofstra did play Albany on August 17, but I have no report on the outcome. They are scheduled to meet Columbia on Monday for a final tune up before their opening game with Lafayette. So the Leopards are at a slight disadvantage having only the one exhibition game.Coach Courtney Veinotte is starting her 3rd year as head coach and has gone far afield to populate her team. In last year’s abbreviated season the 4-8 team managed 16 goals vs 25 for their opponents. That works out to a 1.33 GPG vs 2.08 GPG. Their Junior GK Merlene Van der Vegt from the Netherlands has a 61% save percentage with 119 saves. The 5’9″ GK will be challenged for playing time with Blue Bell, Pa. red shirt keeper Meagan Rielly who had a 85% save percentage her senior year in high school.

They will be led on the field by Jasmijn Verdoes who scored 5 goals last spring. She will be a sophomore and will try to better her 27 shot record with 15 points. The Pride got off 80 shots against 120 shots for the opposition which works out to 6.7 shots a game vs 10. They are picked tied for 6th with Towson in the CAA preseason polls. Lafayette is the only Patriot League team they will play this season

The Leopards will be working this week on defensing against the counterattack and polishing a very potent offense. Hopefully, the weather will be cooler and dry and a nice crowd will greet our players. Move in is the 27th to the 29th, I hope everyone finds time to see their first Leopards athletic contest!!Opening games are always intense, and after the faux season last spring, each team will be wanting to get off on the right foot.

We all have waited for this day and hope for a good leap into the 2021 campaign!!

Next Up University Of Albany

The Great Danes of the University of Albany will travel down route 287 to eventually arrive at Rappolt Field on Sunday for a 2 pm exhibition game. As a very successful program, coach Phil Sykes usually carries a very lean roster and Sunday will be no exception. The roster has 19 on it consisting of 8 freshman, 3 sophomores, 4 juniors and 4 seniors. They have experience in the cage with the return of senior Sheriden Messier who had a 66.7 save percentage.

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It is apparent their scoring strategy is to collect penalty corners. They had 60 penalty corners last spring and gave up only 32.  They did manage an average 10.5 shots on goal vs 6.5 for their opponents. They turned their shots into 13 goals but did give up 16 on the way to a 5-5 record last spring and 4-4 in the American East Conference. 

Albany was picked to finish 3rd in the American East Conference behind Monmouth and Maine. They intend to open up with Colgate in several weeks.

The Leopards look forward to another good game on the way to their August 27 open with Hofstra. Should be an interesting Sunday!!

It All Begins Thursday

The Lafayette field hockey team will climb into their vehicle on Thursday for a 1 pm meeting. It will be the first competition of the fall season, albeit an exhibition game. The Delaware Blue Hens were the winners of CAA tournament and went to the NCAA  tournament, only to lose in the first round to Northwestern 1-4. On the way to the tournament they accumulated a 6-4 record with numerous post season award winners and gaining a wealth of experience along the way.

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Femke Strien will need to be marked

They are picked to finish second in the CAA and the game with Lafayette is their only preseason contest. However, there is a lot experience returning to a fall with none more important than graduate student Femke Strien from the Netherlands  a second team all-American ( number 21). She was also named pre-season player of the year. JMU is the team picked to win it all.

Looking over Delaware’s schedule, it is sprinkled with ranked teams. Princeton, Harvard, American, ODU, JMU and others are highlighted in their very aggressive 18 game schedule.

Lafayette will be playing a second preseason game with Albany on Sunday. For we fans, we will see a very skilled team that has yet to play together. I will be looking at our ability to counter attack and how many good shots we can get off during the afternoon!!

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Audrey Sawers is returning for her fifth year and will be the leader on the field. However, Simone Hefting, Sydney Woolston, and Molly McAndrew will provide experience and skill for the Leopards.

Looking forward to it all!

Lafayette Gets Ready

The sun was barely breaking the horizon, when my wife and I decided to climb into the family chariot, and drive to Easton. We were assuming Coach Stone would beat the heat, and begin practice around 8 am. We guessed right, and the team was already on the field “warming up” under the already 75 degree heat when we arrived.

After about 10 minutes of stretching, jumping and whatever else the trainer had them do, they came to the sideline to pose and greet us. The picture is mounted here for your pleasure. and as you can see all are in fine fettle anxious to begin. They are keeping in mind that in one week, they will have their first challenge against the University of Delaware.

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They did a series of sprints and we tried to keep tab on the fastest players. Not surprisingly, Sydney Woolston and Alex Talkow consistently had the after jets on as soon as the whistle blew. Although I don’t usually pick out individuals at preseason practice, it’s nice to see the all around intensity on the field. After coming together as unit, this team could be very deep and the coaches will be pleased with options the team will present during this fall!!

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The presence of Audrey Sawers on the field is also a plus for this team, of which one half have yet to play a Division one game. I am confident the mix of experience for this team will be less of an issue as we approach Patriot League play. More about that in later blogs.

In the meantime it was great to be in the stands this morning, and gives us confidence we are really going to see a real season!!! It may even be an exceptional one!!

Go Pards!!

Ready….Set……

Collectively, the Lafayette Field Hockey team will have traveled over a distance half the circumference of the planet, to arrive in Easton, Pa. It is August the 9th, one day before the official report time, and already they have begun arriving for the 10th reporting date. It will be the first normal preseason in almost two years. There are new dorms, restaurants, school stores and classrooms ready to begin a semester which will greet the largest freshman class in Lafayette history.

Unlike the last two semesters it will have classrooms filled with young learners, and in person teachers. Vaccinations are mandatory, therefore College Hill will be a safe refuge from Covid. Fall teams are already at work. The football team has been hard at work since Saturday, and the women’s soccer team has already had its first scrimmage with Villanova ( a Lafayette 1-0 win).

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Since the team for all practical purposes are in the environs, tomorrow will lack many of the first day awkwardness. It will be a fun day of medical checks, instruction, and the first opportunity to wear their game uniforms as they pose for publicity pictures. The hard work begins the following day, if it follows previous practice.

There will be two a day practices as our young women greet two new coaches, who join Jennifer Stone’s brain trust. They bring to Rappolt Field skills accumulated over the last several years, but it all needs to be meshed together to make the whole better than the parts. They are intelligent ( or they wouldn’t have been enrolled), athletic and at this point hopefully fit.

There are 9 days until the first test as a team against the University of Delaware…no time to waste!!!

…..Go!!!!!!

Lafayette Adds Two Field Hockey Stars To Their Coaching Ranks

Madison Maguire and Ashley Mendonca Add Wealth Of International and National Experience

Maguire_092217FH22 Madison Maguire will add a wealth of offensive experience. She recently has been playing with the US national team as a striker receiving 5 caps in the process during NIH play!! The Rumson N.J. native earned her collegiate accolades at the University of Maryland. In 2019 she was named the Big Ten Preseason Team and named offensive player of the week. She was also Big Ten all academic Team, all NFHCA Mid Lantic Region, and played on the the Maryland Big Ten championship team as they became the NCAA runner up!!  She was named all American in 2019 and was the Maryland team Captain scoring 34 points with 12 goals and  10 assists! She had two appearances in the National Championships while at Maryland.

Her favorite sports quote is from Derek Jeter, ” There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” And I believe that.

I hope every Leopard repeats that every day!!!

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Ashley Mendonca comes by way of the University of New Hampshire and was an all NFHCA northeast region selection. More recently she served as a graduate assistant coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

At New Hampshire she was also on the American East all championship team and all rookie team. She was also a member of the U21 Canadian National team from 2010 -2017 and qualified for the Pan American Cup in 2016.

As captain of the Wildcats in her senior year and a key defensive player she had  career goals of 16 and 14 assists and an impressive 8 defensive saves. Looking at her stats, I believe she was key member of the offensive corner unit where she led the team in shots!!

The two will meet the 2021 fall Leopard squad on August 10 after which they will. begin preparing for the fall season. The first scrimmage will be at the University of Delaware on August the 19th.

To Vaccinate Or Not For Collegiate Athletes

As reporting day fast approaches, colleges, are beginning to form a policy position for student athletes who will soon be reporting for class. Athletes may be traveling to areas of the country where Covid is starting to surge, and public vaccinations are slowing. There is serious doubt that the US will soon approach herd immunity.

Most the of worry is with regard to variants, but if vaccinations were universal, the variant would not have a chance to emerge. There is good evidence that the two multi-shot vaccines ( Pfizer and Moderna) provide excellent protection against getting the virus and secondly, if you get it, prevents serious outbreaks.

It is in this environment schools are evaluating protocols for the fall. At a large state school the field hockey coach said to me that vaccinations are optional but unvaccinated student athletes must travel and live separately. Team meetings will be done virtually for those students as well. For all practical purposes the unvaccinated will not really be participating fully.

Harvard. Princeton and Yale have stipulated all students must be vaccinated by August 1, and provide evidence of that fact to the school. In the past week, that mandate has been extended to faculty and staff. At all three schools, vaccinations are provided on campus, but a student in residence can not move in without being fully vaccinated. Medical exceptions are granted as are religious reasons judged by a health committee.

In an email to all students, Lafayette College is requiring a completed copy of the Covid 19 vaccination card be submitted to their health portal by August 1, before they will allowed to move into residence halls. Those not in compliance risk their fall enrollment status. If the second dose is after August 1, students are asked to email covid-19.lafayette.edu/covid-19vaccinations. Exemption request were due yesterday July 21. Failure could jeopardize course selections and housing assignments.

Oddly, unlike the Ivies, faculty and staff vaccinations are not required. I think students should be aware of faculty who may not be immunized for their personal safety. Perhaps that will change in the future.

I have been vaccinated and I believe those who are able should be vaccinated for their own safety, the safety of the community and their own family.