Leopards Travel To DC For Opening League Contest

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The Leopards will meet the Eagles for the third time this calendar year for the opening game of the 2021 Patriot League season. The previous three meetings have resulted in losses by one goal, the last game being a loss on a controversial penalty stroke in the second overtime period. It will be American’s first home game of the current season and the two teams sport records that promises this will be a very competitive game as usual.

Lafayette has played six games against good competition as has American in their five games to date. So we will concentrate on the per game statistics. Lafayette sports a 5-1 record and American is 3-2. Lafayette has 2.83 goals per game while holding their opponents to 1 goal per game. American has 1.8 goals per game and holding their opponents to the same number per game. Lafayette takes 14.6 shots per game against giving up 7.6 per game for the competition. American takes also take slightly more than 14 per game and gives up 11.4 per game. Lafayette averages about 7 penalty corners and gives up 4. American earns 6.5 corners per game and gives up 4 per game. Lafayette’s shot percentage is 19 percent while holding opponents to 12 percent. American’s shot percentage is 12 1/2 percent while giving up 15.6 percent. Shots on goal by opponents is 46 percent for the Leopards and 54 percent for the Eagles.

American scores most of their goals in the first period while Lafayette scores an equal amount in the first and second period. Lafayette earns most of their corners in the second period and American also earns the. most corners in the first, but gives up the same amount in the second.

So what can we glean from the data? Clearly the second period is the most crucial for both teams, but Lafayette has a slight edge in first period goals. The Leopards defensive unit will play a key role, while their offense may be a crucial in the first half in forcing the Eagles out of their defensive sets.

Lafayette has thee players who have scored the most goals McAndrews, Sawyers, and Hannes. Noor Coenen has scored three goals on 23 shots and is clearly the go to player for the Eagles. The rest of the goals are spread among six other players with single scores to their credit.

I like our strong midfield in this one, led by Audrey Sawers but I am sure American has already figured that out. American has had no shutouts this season while the Leopards have had 3.

These are two very well coached teams so it should be exciting for fans to watch and is certainly the “game of the week” in the Patriot League. I will be watching closely on American offensive corners, and I see a few surprises by the Leopards!!! So at 11 am Saturday…see you there/ or on ESPN plus!! Post Script: Neither team is ranked in the NFHCA poll while Lafayette is tabbed 20th and American at 25th on the Bolster Field Hockey ELO rankings.

Lafayette has announced for home games that evidence of vaccination is required for admission or a negative Covid test no later than 72 hours before the contest. Masks will also be required.

Lafayette Bests The Quinnipiac Bobcats 2-0

Defense Shines In Shutout

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Lafayette struck for two goals in the first half. The first was beauty by Molly McAndrew at 5:!4 in the first quarter off a rebound. It was the fifth goal of the season for the senior captain who is a threat every time she touches the ball! The goal followed a penalty corner shot by Co-Captain Audrey Sawers.The Bobcat GK stopped the shot as it rebounded back into the circle when McAndrews found the handle and delivered it back to the cage and beyond the goal keepers reach.

The second goal came 10 minutes later in the second quarter as first year player India Ralph took a. pass from Sawers again during a penalty corner to make the score 2-0. The team was playing like a machine, changing offensive sets, confusing the Bobcat defense, all the while getting off 17 shots during the afternoon game, and earning 11 corners. Quinnipiac only managed 3 shots and two corners all day. There were no shots on goal for Quinnipiac while Lafayette managed 7.

In order to play for Jennifer Stone you must play defense regardless of your position, and play they did!!! Quinnipiac only managed to squeeze off their first shots by the 4th quarter and two of them came off their penalty corners which also didn’t happen until the final minutes. The defense is led by Simone Hefting who is normally in position to start play from the backfield. Defender Sydney Woolston seems to be everywhere plugging holes when needed!! Lineke Spanns continues to excite even on the defensive side of the field stopping play and turning it into an attack! Mary Gould is solid and can be seen inserting on offensive corners when needed. Shea Balderson had 23 productive minutes in the game. Alex Darrah was effective in 26 minutes. In all cases, the team did not lose a step no matter who was in the game!!!

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Eighteen players saw action and only the injured and the two reserve goal keepers were on the sideline,

The Leopards must now prepare for their first Patriot League contest in Washington, DC against the Eagles of American University who beat a very good UMass team today 3-2 in overtime. The last meeting with the Leopards was in spring and ended in a controversial penalty stroke goal in overtime. The previous game was at Lafayette which also was won by American by one goal. The year before in the PL playoffs American won 3-2 after Lafayette had the first goal and American responded with three straight goals before Lafayette scored their second goal with 48 seconds to go!!

The game is to start at 11 am and I hope the team is traveling the day before to be ready for this important meeting. This should be game filled with tension and exceptional play. But more about that later this week.

First Year Players Spanns And Schumacher Score In Overtime Thriller

Spanns Scores To Deliver Overtime Win

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Lineke Spanns delivered the game winning goal as the Leopards took a 2-1 overtime win against a very fast and skilled Yale squad. It was an intense and entertaining game for fans as they were treated to a display of fine hockey from both sides. However, aside from the final score Lafayette was to garner many stats.

They led in corners 11-1 and shots 16-3, as the defense rose to the occasion, while Lafayette’s goalkeeper, Hailey Abbott was take home her 4th win and was required to make only one save on the night.

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The final goal was a thing of beauty as Lafayette stars, Molly McAndrews, Audrey Sawers brought the ball to the circle in the 7 on 7 overtime. It looked like Yale was to take the ball away, when Leneke Spanns picked the pocket of the Yale defender and delivered a shot to the right corner ending the game early in the OT period.

Lafayette’s first goal was to come at the 11:51 mark in the third quarter by Schumacher, using a tip in after receiving a reverse sweep pass from senior Audrey Sawers. It was the rookie’s first goal of her collegiate career.

That lead was not to last for long, as only 20 seconds had elapsed when Yale’s Lena Ansari found the back of goal, evening the score once again. The score was to remain knotted for the remainder of regulation at 1-1.

This team showed again and again their determination and ability to overcome diversity. From a fans point of view, there are so many talented Leopard players that the exceptional has become the common. Sawers is the leader out there no doubt, and it’s a privilege to watch such emerging talents like Spanns and Schumacher perform on the field. One should not forget the efforts and talents of the whole team.

There was an active and enthusiastic crowd at the game consisting of parents, siblings and students. In addition, there was a plethora of administrators and faculty in attendance along with President Nicole Hurd and her husband!!!

On to New England where Quinnipiac awaits the Leopards for their next game. I expect we will travel well, as the saying goes. GO PARDS!!

Who To Believe….A Poll Or A Rating??

One of the neat occupations of sports fans is to follow the rankings of their favorite teams. It provides occupation and conversation as to who is better before the actual teams meet. What game is an upset, betting lines are established in some sports, recruiting in colleges is effected, and Bowl matchups are decided, as is seeding in tournaments on the basis of polls and ratings.

A poll is basically a survey of people who should know the relative strength of teams. Polls are subject to bias since the respondents may only see teams within their own conference or region. The NFHCA produces a poll every two weeks in field hockey. It is a survey of coaches and relies on respondents that may or may not be the same every polling period. Each conference uses a preseason poll of SID’s and coaches who may or may not be influenced by past games and familiarity with other teams in the conference.

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Woolston and Boccella charge stop a Villanova corner

In many sports there are mathematical rating systems which use statistical algorithms to arrives at an unbiased result. It relies on observations of actual games and assigning values based on actual results. It’s weakness is early in the season where the observations are small it can be unreliable. Fans of other sports will recognize the Sagarin system as a rating system for football and basketball.

The rating system used in field hockey is used by Chip Rogers and appears in fieldhockeycorner.com and has not been published as yet since I believe he thinks not enough game have been played. Chip calculates a team’s RPI, Strength of Schedule, Margin of Victory, and other variables to come up with a variety of rankings.

Recently BolsterFieldHockey.com is publishing rankings on a running schedule and uses a system based on the ELO SYSTEM. It is a system based on the efforts of Arpad Elo who developed his approach to rank chess players. Elo was professor of physics at Marquette University and a chess master. In 1960 he developed his system to replace the Harkness Rating system and was approved by the United States Chess Federation.

Eventually his system was adopted by association soccer, American football, basketball, major league baseball, table tennis, and several e-sports. An Elo rating is a comparative rating and is valid within the pool where it was established. So you can’t measure the rating between UNC field hockey and the Dutch National team.

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Hefting delivers the ball downfield

I now come to my final point. The Elo system results can be different than a NFHCA poll. In fact it’s more likely than not. However, it does produce a result I like. ( Is my bias showing). BolsterFieldHockey.com ranks LAFAYETTE 24th in the nation this week whereas in the poll Lafayette does not appear in the Top 25.

Now… about those games with Yale and Quinnipiac this weekend!!!!

As a post script Colgate has cancelled their second game because of Covid restrictions. They have rescheduled this game with Cornell. They are down to 14 games this season. Holy Cross lost to Vermont in their rescheduled game from Sunday

Lafayette Loses Heartbreaker To Ohio State In Overtime 4-3

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There were three moments in this game I thought we had the win. The Leopards put on a terrific offensive and defensive display in the first half. Lafayette took 5 shots to Ohio State’s 1 in the first two periods and connected for two goals. The first goal was belonged to Sawers with a Molly McAndrew assist, in a cross in front of the cage, a mere 23 seconds into the second period. The second goal came from Felicitas Hannes with 6 minutes left in the half. The Leopards struck multiple times with sudden bursts of offense, putting Ohio State on their heels at the half, down 2-0.

At the time, I thought…we got this!! But to State’s credit they came out determined, scoring their first of two goals in the second period at 31:16. We still have the lead, said I. But at 43:09 Megan McKenna, off a give and go planted the tying goal in the lower right. There was a reason a 2-0 score was called the most dangerous score in field hockey. Tied it was, to remain for the remainder of the quarter.

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It was four minutes into the fourth quarter and Molly McAndrew hit a redirect from Felicitas Hannes making it 3-2 Lafayette’s favor….we got this I said to myself… for the second time. Just hold on for 11 minutes!! But with six minutes left in the game a foul was committed, and a yellow card was pulled out by the official. That meant for the last six minutes the Leopards were to be one player short for five minutes of those minutes. Then the Buckeyes were to increase their firepower, by pulling the goaltender, making their offensive set a 2 player advantage. Emma Goldean was to hit on a goal with less than four minutes left in the game and three minutes on the penalty. Three minutes later the buzzer sounded and it was overtime ahead.

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The ball was to go back and fourth across the midline during most of the 10 minute overtime, with Ohio State getting several corners in the process. However with a number of breakaways, Lafayette seemed to ready to strike a final blow. Molly McAndrews seems to score it after going one on one with goaltender…goal. we got this!!!…..maybe not. Ohio State called for a video review and the goal is reversed, and the two teams play on into a second overtime. This time at 4:53 into the second overtime, Megan McKenna from Ohio State hits for the winning goal!!

It’s hard to say Lafayette deserved the win. But they played hard in an epoch effort, against a ranked opponent. The Leopards are a good team with good coaching, and if they are as smart as I think they are, this team could go far. There are 15 games left. They should not forget this game, but learn from it, and make themselves better. I believe in them, and would bet a lot of money they will be the better for it.

Now onto their second Big Ten opponent on Sunday, Indiana.

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 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.

Leopards To Play Four Big Ten Schools In Challenging Fall Schedule

Alix Talkow blocks pass against American

The fall schedule was posted on twitter but with a couple of changes needed. It was incorrectly reported that Lafayette will play 20 games. ( The article incorrectly reported the first two scrimmages with Delaware and Albany as official games). However here are schools and dates for games as reported.

The two scrimmages are Aug 19 and 22. Delaware will be away at 1pm and Albany at home reportedly at 2 pm. The first official game will be home August 27th with Hofstra @ 4pm,  followed by an August home contest with Villanova on the 29th@ 3pm. Then, the following weekend will be the first two games away with Big Ten opponents, Ohio State on September 3rd @. 4pm and Indiana on September 5th @11 am.  The Leopards will return home on September 10th to host Yale in a game under the lights @7 pm. They will then hop to a bus to travel to Quinipiac on Sept 12th for a 1 pm game.

The first Patriot League game will be with the likely Patriot League favorite American University in DC on September 18th @12 pm. The Leopards went to overtime in both games with American this past spring including a controversial call in the second game which led to a game winning stroke. The Patriot League schedule continues the following weekend at home against Holy Cross on September 25 @noon. Lafayette will stay at home for the next two games on October 2 and 3rd against Colgate @ 11 am and Fairfield @2pm respectively. 

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Eva Kaplan sends a pass downfield

The next week the Leopards will again hit the road against Boston University on Oct 9th@ 12 pm and Brown Oct 10th @ 1 pm. The following friday, Oct 15th @7 pm will see the Nittany Lions of Penn State at Rappolt field, followed by Drexel on Sunday October 17 @ 1pm. The Patriot League schedule resumes with a game against arch rival Lehigh on Friday October 22nd in a game under the lights. @ 7pm. Temple will host the Leopards on Sunday Oct 24th @1 pm.

The Patriot League final regular season game will be marked by a visit by the spring league champion Bucknell on Oct 30th @12 pm quickly followed by a visit to Piscataway for a game with the fourth Big Ten rival Rutgers @2 pm.

This is an ambitious schedule which if successfully navigated could certainly lead to at least a top 20 ranking. A Patriot League championship by winning the Patriot League tournament would amount to an automatic slot in the NCAA national tournament.

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Audrey Sawers will be back to challenge Patriot League foes

One half of the Leopards had an intense spring game experience, the other half which includes a very talented freshman class will have not played a single division one game. The early games will be good experience and preparation for the latter part of the season. Audrey Sawers will be returning for her covid season bonus and should be a key leader on a team that saw each game played this spring to one goal margins as well as a number of overtime games.

American will return two for their bonus season and Lehigh will return two as well. Grace Angelella will be playing for Temple, a late season game as she will studying for a masters degree at the Philadelphia school. In addition, Teressa Delahanty a Lafayette  graduate from several year ago will be a volunteer coach at Drexel.

NIL Starts To Kick In

Lehigh University softball player Carley Barjaktarovich has signed an endorsement deal with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the minor league team. The July 22 theme night will feature a paid appearance at the Iron Pigs game. Last Monday the Iron Pigs announced that she has signed an endorsement deal. The Iron Pigs say it is the first professional sport deal since the NCAA decision to allow college athletes to accept endorsements for the use of their name, image and likeness while still competing for their school. Terms were not disclosed. Under Pennsylvania law, schools and leagues cannot sanction college athletes for deals like this.

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Meanwhile Erin Matson who plays for UNC has reported that she has signed a deal with Longstreath and other equipment companies for an undisclosed amount of money.

PS. I have just learned the game with Indiana will be at Ohio State in Columbus!!

Managing Change

The March To A “Normal” Season

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Audrey Sawers moves upfield

It’s only six weeks away, as coaches are preparing for a “normal” fall, where they will be returning to seasons dealing with restructuring, and building their teams for a run at championships. Players, fans, and parents are trying to adjust fall schedules to be in attendance, to watch any number of sports.   Student athletes will eventually be back to live classrooms and hopefully leaving the words like “zoom” behind them. In one and one half months bags will be packed and delivered to new dorm rooms. and college athletes will step on the field with their teammates. As the time approaches, all should all be increasing their off season training. Coach Stone believes in a fit squad, and quite logically the task of molding a squad that plays better as group than as individuals, can’t begin with a team more concerned about their next breath than their next pass, shot or defensive assignment.

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Emma Garvey and Mary Gould of Lafayette stop Bison attack at the goal

The past year has brought new changes as well. Lafayette will have a new president who will no doubt have her own idea about structure. By all accounts she and her spouse are committed fans of college athletics, given their experiences at Notre Dame, Virginia and UNC. In the world of NCAA athletics, it’s interesting how change that was unneeded or unwise has force schools and institutions back to the middle. Many schools, who had tried to drop sports, have now reversed their decisions. William and Mary not only reversed their decision to drop sports, but fired their AD and hired new talent. Stanford, who only 9 months ago decided to drop field hockey altogether will welcome Roz Ellis as their new coach. The Ivy League lost the chance to retain seniors who were deprived of their final  season.  They will see their graduates play somewhere else. Juliana Tornetta having graduated from Princeton, as an all american and now a member of the US Team, will play at Maryland this year! The Patriot League is preparing to deal with NIL and perhaps they have finally given up their aspiration to be “Ivy Light.”  The Ivy League certainly did not demonstrate any superiority of management last year. .

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Leopards get ready in Maroon Club weight training center!!

The NCAA is managing itself to irrelevance, as they seem stuck to managing minutia, as opposed to dealing with real problems. Their efforts seemed limited to changing small elements of the language in their regulations than addressing real problems.

Hopefully, Lafayette will emerge stronger, chastened by over zealous administration of rules, but keeping what is good. I expect athletics will emerge stronger as  Intercollegiate Athletics gets new attention, starting with a change in the reporting structure. All indications seem to be moving in that direction.

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A traffic jam in front of the Lafayette goal

I am ready to get down to the nitty gritty of fall competition. Lafayette will soon have on campus one of their most talented classes ever. Certainly it can be said individually, they can be as competitive with any team in the league. The question is repeated here, How will they mold together as a team?.

With many teams returning players for additional seasons, it will be challenging. Audrey Sawers the Lafayette captain, will be returning for her senior plus season and will be a threat to Patriot League foes. But Lehigh will return Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora, and American will return Noor Coenen and Gaby De Kock.

The League will be improved, and perhaps a better performance in out of conference games will get the League a better seed in the NCAA tournament. Bucknell’s performance in the national tournament certainly helped. Schedule’s are being finalized and Colgate already has reported a schedule that includes Albany in August. a late game with Syracuse. and two games with Cornell. Lafayette will host Colgate on Oct 2 at Rappolt Field. By my count, having reported only 15 games Colgate will have room for more games. There are reports that Lafayette will be playing  Yale on Sept 10 also at Rappolt.

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I will be interested in those early games and scrimmages, as experience must be gained. There will be 10 players for Lafayette who have never played in a Division one game. All manner of challenges, as the season approaches and certainly fodder for us fans!!

Two Lafayette Players And Asst Coach Heading To USA Field Hockey National Championships

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Molly McAndrew chases down VCU opponent

Veteran Lafayette teammates , senior Molly McAndrew, and junior Sydney Woolston will travel with asst Coach Jenny Rizzo to Virginia Beach on June 15-20 to play in the USA Field Hockey National Championships. The 10 team tournament is a selection opportunity for the U 21-22 US team, and the US Development team. The 10 teams will be sprinkled with current US team members, increasing the competitive talent for each team. Lafayette alumnus and captain of the US Team Amanda Magadan will be playing on Team Spirit, coached by US teammate Melisa Gonzalez.

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Molly McAndrew was assigned to Team Unity coached by Iain Byers head coach at Longwood University, Sydney Woolston will be with Team Brave coached by Ohio State asst coach Kate Lipton, and Jenny Rizzo will be with Team Courage coached by Roz Ellis, University of Iowa asst coach. They will be playing an international format with crossover games at the end to determine a champion.

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Sydney Woolston is part of the stout Leopard defense!!

Aside from the current US Team members, the teams are populated by the best collegiate and post collegiate players in country, competing for a coveted spot on one of the US teams. Because of Covid, the tourney was not played last year.

McAndrew was rookie of the year her freshman year, and subsequently been an all league selection. The respect she gets is demonstrated by her being double and triple teamed on most every occasion. Woolston showed her talent from her initial season at Lafayette on defense, by having defensive saves and is a key member of a very solid defense at Lafayette. Jenny Rizzo played for Penn State and also played professionally in Europe.

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Jenny Rizzo was star goalie at Penn State

Phil Edwards who is USA Field Hockey’s manager of Coaching and Performance congratulated all the participants on being selected to play in this prestigious tournament.