Lafayette To Meet Holy Cross In Worcester For Senior Day Clash

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Audrey Sawers moves upfield

The Leopards will board a bus on Saturday and travel to Massachusetts for an 11 o’clock Sunday meeting between the 0-2 teams. Both teams of course want to earn their first Patriot League win. Both teams have lost by one goal in their previous two games but that’s where the comparison’s end. Holy Cross has taken 25 shots against 29 for their opponents. Lafayette on the other hand has taken 10 shots and given up 7 in regulation time. So on the surface, this looks like Holy Cross’ offense vs Lafayette’s defense

Holy Cross has lost their excellent goalkeeper to graduation and still appear to be unsettled at the position. Lafayette appears to have not lost a step in their defense, but like many sports have had difficulty getting their offense in gear early on. With regard to penalty corners they have earned mid single digits while giving up the same.

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Grace Angelella moves the ball into Lafayette territory

At this early point one might think it might be helpful to compare performances between common opponent Boston University. Holy Cross got off 11 shots (five on goal) while giving up 13 ( 7 on goal). Lafayette had 3 shots in regulation and Boston had 4 in regulation. Boston had 3 penalty corners to Lafayette’s single corner. Holy Cross on the other hand had 3 penalty corners to Boston’s 7.

Holy Cross in recent years has relied on the fast break and counter attack to put points on the board while Lafayette relies on a more structured offense. Last years, 8-0 win by Lafayette stymied their attack, and built a wall around the cage. It might not be that easy this time given the emotion of senior day and the consequences for the loser.

Holy Cross has modified its spectator regulations but it doesn’t include admission for visitors. Sadly, its not clear that there will even be streaming TV as of this writing, but we shall see.

Going forward the Leopards will meet American twice and Bucknell once before the end of the regular schedule, while Holy Cross will meet with Lehigh, Boston and Colgate.

I look forward to Lafayette finally showing an offense that we know is possible with this team. Secondly, I see no reason for defense to take a step backwards. I am wishing for TV, so I will keep my fingers crossed!!

Good News Lafayette /Holy Cross Has Appeared On The ESPN plus  Schedule!!!

It’s A One Goal Game Again…This Time Lehigh Leaves On Top

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Eva Kaplan Sweeps the Ball away

This will make the sixth straight year that Lafayette/ Lehigh ended with a one goal lead for the victor. It was Lehigh who would take home the win in a gritty contest played at a windy Rappolt Field more reminiscent of a November end of season contest than an opening day game. Everything is backwards this year, so why not??

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Even the watering of the field had to be done manually to avoid the watering system freezing and pipes splitting at night. Neither team was about to miss this game windy, cold or what. What could be better than, rivalry, first game, and PL play. The college wisely allowed students, parents and alumni from the home side to attend, one would have assumed the intangibles were on the Leopards side!!

The game began with Kahn and Abbott in their respective goaltender positions and as the game progressed it turned into defensive affair, where it became obvious this may have been destined to become a 1-0 game. My feeling was Lafayette had the better of the action in the beginning and literally and figuratively the wind was at their back.

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Audrey Sawers was busy all day on both sides of the field

Simone Hefting from Lafayette repeatedly showed her skill with long, strong hits from the backfield to speedy forwards. The timing was not quite there as Lafayette did have several chances but couldn’t seem finish.The first shot came from Lafayette’s Audrey Sawers at 3:51 into the quarter. The officials couldn’t seem to keep their hand from their pockets when finally at 11:08 Molly McAndrew got her first yellow.

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Defense took center stage all day

17:30 into the game Lehigh picked up their first corner which was smartly turned away. However at 17:54 McAndrew was to take her first shot saved by Lehigh’s Kahn. Lafayette was to get two corners at 18:21 and 18:42 with Felicitas Hannes’ shot going wide on the second corner!!

Lehigh came out in the third period pressing hard until at 40:41 they were awarded a corner. Drew Pecora took the initial shot which resulted in a scrum in front of the cage until freshman Julia Gatelien was to poke it into the cage for the 1-0 lead. The period ended with Audrey Sawers getting a Green at 44:31.

At the beginning of the fourth Lafayette got a corner but could not convert again.  Alex Talkow was to get off a shot at 56:57 which got the fans excited but was saved by Kahn. Lafayette was to get  3 more corners during the period while Lehigh attempted to run out the clock. With about 3 1/2 minutes to go they began to strategically run for the corners letting precious seconds tick away. However at 58:02 Lafayette was to have its last corner of game and it was blocked.

The statistical tale was interesting. Lehigh had 3 shots 2 on goal and 5 corners, Lafayette had 7 shots 2 on goal, and 6 corners. Lafayette had no shots in the third quarter and Lehigh had none in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile Bucknell lost to American 4-0 and has two losses on the season. Next up for Lafayette (0-1) is Boston (1-0) next Sunday. The other two PL games will be Bucknell ( 0-2) at Lehigh (1-0) and Holy Cross (0-1) at Colgate (1-0)

Good News!!! Lafayette To Allow Limited Spectators at Outdoor Venues

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Molly McAndrews eludes a VCU defender. Molly is named to All Patriot preseason first team

In a burst of sound logic Lafayette will allow a limited amount of spectators at outdoor venues. The process started when Pennsylvania announced it would allow 20 percent of a venue’s capacity to attend a gathering. For Field Hockey, the capacity in the stands at Rappolt Field is about 800 people meaning that 160 could attend, although there has been as many has 1700 people who attended an event there years ago. ( a lacrosse game in which Lafayette was actually nationally ranked against another ranked team).

Ana Steps named preseason defensive player of the year

In the announcement, the College announced that outdoor events scheduled for March 13 and beyond, would permit two guests per Leopard student athlete ( to accommodate parents of family members), families of coaches, and a limited number of Lafayette students in residence on campus, as long as the college is at level one operational level. This will not include parents and fans of opposing teams. Faculty and staff enrolled in the College’s weekly testing protocol will also be allowed in.

Invited guests are receiving instructions via email as this is being written, they must register and adhere to strict guidelines. Spectator guidelines include 13 points which include a self assessment, wearing of masks, practice six feet distancing, no tailgates, specific entry points, specific contact for invited guests, designated seating areas, no contact with players before, during or after the event, portable restrooms must be used, no concessions, mandatory notification if anyone exhibits Covid symptoms or test positive within 14 days after the event, and the consequences for not following the rules could result in suspension at future events, or complete shutdown of access to spectators in general.

In additional news, Ana Steps and Molly McAndrews are named to the first team All Patriot League team, while Lafayette is picked second in a poll of coaches and SID’s.

American is picked first in the preseason poll, Lafayette second, Boston third, Bucknell fourth, Lehigh fifth, Holy Cross six and Colgate seventh.

Pat Myers Head Lafayette Lacrosse Coach in a separate message, said, ” We continue to review options for alumni attendance as we move forward.” So we shall see!!

Lehigh v American Game Scheduled For Sunday Postponed Due To Covid Concerns

Stone Adds Former PSU Goal Keeper Jenny Rizzo As Assistant Coach

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Those of you who are regular readers, or know me personally know, I am not one to mince words. The plain fact is Patriot League Coach of the Year Jennifer Stone as assembled a coaching staff that may prove out to be the best in the Patriot League. Earlier in the year she announced that Olympian and Captain of the Canadian National team Scott Tupper would join the Lafayette coaching staff. The arrival of Jenny Rizzo sends a clear message that Lafayette clearly has its sights sets on the next step in the program!! There is an emphatic communication to recruits and current players to be prepared to sacrifice and train, while they receive the excellent education Lafayette offers. Please don’t apply unless you are ready to make the commitment!!!

Rizzo graduated from Penn State after playing 79 games for the Lions in the cage. Her career save percentage was .749. She also played for the US U-19, U-21, and US development squad. She also was a member of the USFHA all academic squad with a major in Bio Behavioral Health. She is a twin to her brother Jack and calls Hersey her home.

Her 5400 minutes between the pipes at Penn State will be an asset in the development of Lafayette’s three goalkeepers. Frosh, Emma Garvey, Junior, Becca Herbert, and Junior, Hailey Abbott. In words to live by, she says, ” Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Only you can decide what you’re capable of.”

Ivies Appear Not To Be The Smartest In The Room

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Anna Steps show perfect form

During last summer as schools struggled for the right strategy on college athletics, there was veiled criticism of the Patriot League as being Ivy followers, seemingly because it was perceived the League would follow the “Ancient Eight,” wherever they would go!! The exception was the service academies, who struck out on their own, citing that athletics was central to its educational mission and they would, as best as possible, carry on, playing full schedules.

Those who follow this blog know I favor the approach of the service academies and see competitive athletics as part of the educational offering and opportunities that schools like Lafayette should be committed to. As a senior officer in my company, I would always, all things being equal, favor the student athlete applicant over the applicant who led a more monastic existence at a college. A study executed by a faculty committee when Lafayette was considering adding athletic scholarships revealed, students athletes received higher paying job offers than non-student athletes. In fact, since the addition of scholarships, student athletes on average outperform non- student athletes in the classroom. I can’t think of any “under water basket weaving majors” at Lafayette.

The Patriot League broke with its Ivy League brethren ( wisely), and opted to return to competitive sports this winter and will offer a modified spring schedule for the fall sports and almost a full schedule of spring sports this semester, while returning most students to on campus living.

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The Ivies on the other hand, have embraced a modified on campus living arrangement while many are at home enjoying the “University of Phoenix,” style of higher education. All the while, collecting hefty tuition fees and earnings on their 11 figure endowments. One member of the Yale community called the on-campus experience at Yale, “Yale Jail.” There are some who think the Ivy League will continue its stoppage of athletics into the fall, reckoning that the powers that be have already decided, but are afraid to admit it to its student and applicant populations.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal it is reported, “Athletes are in limbo. Sports are so important to some of them that they are unenrolling from their Ivy League schools to prolong their athletic eligibility.” The Ivy League has been reluctant to restart competition despite scientific evidence that indicates the biggest risks for viral transmission do not occur on the field. The Journal points out, that out of 357 division one men’s basketball teams, 347 are playing, the Ivies represent 8 of the 10 not playing.

Prominent Ivy alums are beginning to stir. Bob Warden who oversees private equity at Cerebus, stated, “The Ivy League should be on the forefront of developing ways to reopen…They certainly have the experts and money to make it happen.” Offers to help, at least monetarily, have been rebuffed.

Meanwhile, rosters for more than 23 Ivy League teams have contracted by at least one half. Women’s ice hockey at Harvard went from 24 to 3 players. One baseball coach told me he is down to 12 players, not enough to field a team this spring. Yale’s highly ranked men’s Lacrosse team went from 48 players to 8 this spring.

Again in the Journal article, Jack Starr, Yale’s lacrosse goalie said, ” Online learning is frustrating and tough. Zoom fatigue is real….. I didn’t want a shadow of Yale…I wanted the rich, unabridged version of the school I experienced the first two and a half years.”

In a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that there has been nearly a 70% increase in serious mental depression in student athletes on the sidelines. I applaud the Patriot League for not being a “follower.” Do I wish the spring season ( especially) for field hockey was more robust?? Sure I do. But breaking from the supposed ” smartest people in the room,” was a right and brilliant decision.

Who Will Be Able To Attend Lafayette Field Hockey Games This Spring

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So we finally know that there will be field hockey this Spring. The Patriot League let it be known to all, that fall sports will be played, albeit with strings attached. The seasons, will, for the most part be truncated by playing only Patriot League teams with overnight stays to be limited along with travel. The Patriot League is a multi state league so there is bound to be Patriot League, as well as state and local rules. In addition, I assume individual schools will have there own regulations.

As I watch our basketball teams play, it does gives some insight to how a spring field hockey season may play out. Even the play by play announcers, Gary Laubach and John Leone, at Lafayette, are broadcasting remotely from an RCN studio. In Boston, this weekend, both Colgate and Boston were wearing masks on and off the court. All League games had the bare minimum in attendance with cardboard cutouts in the stands ( available for a slight fee).

Molly McAndrews and Sam Dimiao challenge a Bucknell mid

In Pennsylvania, and nationwide, governors and national leaders are struggling with the rollout of vaccines. Locally, in Pennsylvania we are on the brink of moving on to Phase 1B where the second level vaccinations will be administered. ( That would include those of us who are 75 years and older along with teachers and others). By March 7th I would expect vaccinations would be on the cusp of a universal availability. By April 24, the date of the championship, hopefully many of us will have been inoculated. But that’s all speculation. I note that the governor of New York allowed about 7,000 live fans at the site of the Bills/Colts football game yesterday!

Fortunately, we live in an age of streaming services and hopefully, parents and fans will be able at least see their favorite teams on TV. The Patriot League has announced a new partnership with ESPN plus to telecast games nationally, and Stadium Sports internationally.

I emailed AD Sherryta Freeman who has been leading her staff to make this opportunity to play a reality. What’s the fun of being an Athletic Director supervising zoom meetings??? I asked her about plans for televising all spring activities. I got this answer. ” Yes, we are making plans. Each League member is making every effort possible to broadcast its home events. I know that our Communications team has been working on Covid-related solutions throughout the pandemic for all return to play scenarios. So stay tuned as we to continue to navigate those details.”

So details matter, as Lafayette navigates practice and game schedules to give our charges the chance to play, and fans get a chance to watch them in action. So get your subscription to ESPN Plus or Stadium Sports, to be ready for a return to action!!

If former home and home league protocols apply, we will playing American, Boston and Lehigh at home and Colgate, Holy Cross, Bucknell away. The championship game will be played at the home of the winning regular season team, and any play in game to the NCAA tournament could be at Lafayette and any further games away.