An Afternoon Of Field Hockey, Syracuse v Umass Lowell and Maryland v New Hampshire

SEPT_1_2019_0322.png

Syracuse vs Umass Lowell

Umass Lowell has only been in Division One for a short time but they gave Syracuse all they could handle. Syracuse came away with with the statistic that counts, a one goal win. In every other category it was Umass who had the edge. Umass lead in shots ( 14-8), SOG (12-2), and corners (4-6). The majority of the game was a defensive battle with Umass carrying the game to the Orange. It looked for a moment that “The River Rocks,” would score the first goal in the fourth quarter but Hoffman from Syracuse made a spectacular diving save, stopping what looked like a goal dribbling into the net. Ironically this would lead to the winning goal by freshman Charlotte DeVries, (number 10) who was to beat a sole defender on the counter attack- break away. It was DeVries third goal of the season and second game winner. On Friday she not only got the tying goal against Vermont but the winner in overtime.

The  Syracuse freshman goal keeper Sara Sinck put in nearly 58 minutes and to date has an 88 percent save percentage between the two games.

Syracuse of course is Lafayette’s next opponent and the Leopards must find some way to contain DeVries who is the real deal. She was ranked the number 10 recruit in the country by Max Sports. Syracuse did not make the NCAA playoffs last year and came in last in the very tough ACC. However, they were ranked 18 th in the NFHCA pre- season poll. The 6pm game tomorrow will be Syracuse’s 3rd game in 4 days.

Maryland vs New Hampshire

DSC_7137

As I wrote earlier this year,  I would travel to other NCAA Division One games. I had the afternoon free and decided to make the short trip the University of Maryland who were to challenge the University of New Hampshire. Both were experiencing their second game. New Hampshire lost 4-2 to American and Maryland had beaten Richmond on Friday 5-1.

In a short conversation with Missy Meharg before the game she lauded her team who has great talent. Given the rule change to 15 minute quarters, she had the enviable concern of getting playing time to all who deserve it. She needn’t have been concerned because the 5-0 score and athletic domination of the game allowed her to sub in almost everyone included her goalkeeper. The stats tell it all. The Terps had 25 shots to UNH’s 6, along with a two corner advantage, 6-4.

DSC_7153

At the beginning of the game from the sidelines it seemed like UNH were like deers in headlights, before they settled in. However, the obvious athleticism of Maryland was to carry the day. I am sure Missy Meharg, the fine coach she is, will need to polish up their execution in coming weeks, as it is obvious to me that their best game is in front of them.

The first goal came at 2:36 on a penalty corner, the second at 21:54 on a chip shot and goal off another corner and rebound at 24:10. That was a warm up for the second half when the fourth goal  came at 50 minutes,  and short time later the last goal was put with an assist.

DSC_7155.JPG

Maryland’s preseason ranking is 2nd in country and based on their ability certainly deserve it. It is a young but deep team who will undoubtedly be there at the end in the playoffs. As always, there is a need to polish things up and the team will have 5 days to do that before traveling to Evanston, Ill. for the ACC/Big Ten Cup. They will first meet with Boston College. I have included several photos taken from the position  I try to occupy at every game I attend including Lafayette. Enjoy!!!

Since Maryland is a Big Ten school the game was played using  video replay which was used once reversing a referees decision.

In other games, PL and other future opponents were busy. American lost to Richmond in overtime 3-2, William and Mary topped Duke decisively 4-0, Bucknell got past Lock Haven 1-0, Liberty dominated JMU 5-1, and Northeastern tripped up Monmouth 3-2 in overtime.

It’s All In The Details At Individual Camp

Head Coach of the Lafayette Leopards, Jennifer Stone, has annually organized two camps in early July to help young players develop their skills, and to improve team  dynamics. The first of those camps is a camp devoted to individual skill development, and the second camp is a team camp.  The camp instructors and demonstrators are the Lafayette coaching staff, and some of the current Lafayette players. This year there was an added opportunity for athletes preparing for the fall season. Stone invited two members of the USA Field Hockey team defender Julia Young and Midfielder Amanda Magadan to instruct. For those of you looking for a metaphorical comparison, it would be like two members of NFL champion New England Patriots giving instruction on how to play football.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The two USA players are part of a young squad, that will be defending their title at the important July 26-August 11 Pan Am Games this summer in Lima Peru. As an olympic qualifier, the games have added significance. Both athletes have a list of honors too long for this blog. Amanda and Julia both graduated from college in 2017, Amanda from Lafayette, and Julia from UNC. Both were named all-Americans and first team all-conference.   Both were members of the World Gold Cup  semi-final teams in South Africa in 2017. That was after working their way up to the US Team through the various junior national teams. Amanda has 67 international caps, and Julia has 44 caps. Illustrating the youth of our national team, only 7 team members of the 27 listed on the roster have more caps.

I was able to have a short conversation with both of these athletes and posed a few questions  to them:

What makes or defines an “elite athlete.?”

Both agreed elite athletes have to be able to put in the work,  and prepare every day. In Amanda’s USA bio she quotes Emerson, ” What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you.”  In Julia’s bio she says, ” Hold yourself to a high standard and don’t stop raising the standard as you grow and get better.”

Can you spot a future US Team member early?

Both agreed, you can only see potential, but that potential has to be nurtured. Julia started playing  futures in 7th grade in 2004, Amanda  an excellent softball player, only began playing field hockey in 2009.

What is the one skill you practice everyday?

Again the two elite athletes agreed, as they almost said in unison “the right foot pass.”  Now as a 25 year hockey dad, that was a new one, and it had to be explained to me. Since the stick is always in essence a ” right handed” instrument, the tendency is to step with the left foot when passing. Developing a right foot step can give you an advantage against a defender and a player can shield the ball from the defender.

How do we “grow the game.”

As a trustee for the US Field Hockey Foundation I was curious about their vision. Julia felt people need to hear more about the game, and there is a need for more publicity about Field Hockey to get people interested. Amanda pointed out the need for equipment for younger players to play, and cited that the team has been giving sticks to younger players to encourage them. That was symbolically demonstrated at the FIH game with Germany this year when before the game sticks were given away by the team.

DSC_6922
Julia and Amanda demonstrate for campers

The rest of the day was filled with drills and Coach Stone organized stations around the field where individual skills were demonstrated and tried under the watchful eye of Julia, Amanda, Coach Stone and her staff.

The 30 or so campers were certainly advantaged to have the opportunity to learn skills that will used in their respective fall seasons.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak to these young women. This fall I will be expanding my writing beyond just Lafayette Field Hockey. I may start covering and attending other college games in the future, and I will certainly be covering the journey of the US Team in their quest for Olympic recognition.

An Ivy League Field Hockey Tournament

DSC_4465
Audrey Sawers shadows a Harvard midfielder

The ancient eight may be trying to live up to their name by denying, for the last 24 years, an opportunity for the only exclusive women’s team sport, a post season championship. Forget that mens and women’s lacrosse have a tournament. Overlook that  basketball has a tournament. There seems to be no logic for the absence of a field hockey tournament for the Ivy League.

Every other conference has an established league post season competition. The Patriot League has a four team competition with the best four teams in the League held at the site of the regular season champion. The winner at the end gets the auto-bid to the NCAA national tournament.

DSC_3979
Kristen Taylor gallops through the Columbia defense.

Recently a large majority of the Ivy coaches have been lobbying the League to include the Field Hockey programs in the post season. My information is that it is close to a unamious application by member schools. There are a variety of formats they could consider. The ACC includes everyone, and the Big Ten has a majority of the field hockey playing schools in the tournament for example..

There is a petition circulating, which at this moment has almost 1200 signatures from fans, coaches, alumni, former and current players, and parents. Tournaments can be the highlight of an experience that encompasses  a four year collegiate career. It could carry memories that last a lifetime as well as solidify a connection to the game.

Kyle DeSandes-Moyer, Penn ’13 and Head Coach of LIU writes, ” At Penn, I was given countless opportunities to play high level field hockey….but I also felt  cheated of an experience as a student athlete….As an alumna, I always want the team’s experience to be better than my own.”

It is astonishing that the Ivy League, that bastion of liberal education, is the last league to deny its female athletes what most athletes in the league and  other leagues have been experiencing for decades. I find little reason for rejecting it. Unlike basketball it would not be expensive to produce, has great support among its participants, and would be in line with the experience of other female student athletes. Only the most stubborn or selfish would reject this effort.

Anyone can sign this petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Ivy-league-field-hockey-tournament. The petition was started by  Penn alum Kyle DeSandes-Moyer. Help to grow the sport and support her in this campaign. It’s good for the Ivy League and more importantly it is even better for the sport!!