They arrived from far and wide!! They began their journey from New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, New Jersey, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Connecticut, California, and Maryland and landed in Easton. Now begins the hard work of becoming a team with this eclectic group of elite athletes. The Leopards got all the way to the championship game last year only to be denied by a one goal margin. They return a mix of experience and young enthusiasm that hopefully will be able to make that extra step.
I was able to stop by to watch Coach Stone and her assistant Ashley Mendonca put her charges through a series of drills, building a base of skills that will have Leopards attacking the season as strong as they possibly can be.
There were several aspects of practice that brought a smile to my face. First, by and large they looked fit and ready. I was especially pleased to see Tara Hamilton on the field playing with her usual intensity after a long rehab due to an injury last year. Molly McAndrew’s stick work looked as clever as ever. Sydney Woolston looked fearsome as she resumes her roll in that very awesome defensive backfield. Simone Hefting showed her leadership and skills that will help lead this version of Leopard Field Hockey. Felicitas Hannes looks ready with a shot that rockets off her stick. Shea Balderson will display her veteran skills stopping opponents in their tracks. There will of course be Lineke who will do her impression of the “Flash,” while opponents watch stunned!!
The rest of the Junior, Sophomore and Freshman classes will amaze us and befuddle opponents. Coach Stone also has a competition going in goal with three talented athletes who could man the door to the cage. The most experienced is Senior ( covid semester allowed) Becca Harbert. Then there is Emma Garvey the Junior who had a productive spring. Raffi Fragameni is the Freshman rounding out this talented trio!!!
Their first competition is August 17 against a very good Monmouth squad. Go Pards!!
Schedules just don’t randomly happen, but are manufactured by Head Coaches, and it reflects what the Head Coach feels about what team they can be competitive with. It also tells us what a Coach thinks about what they need to prepare for it’s conference games. A schedule in Division One may also tells us the amount of money a team may be able to spend. It also reflects the games outside of conference they can take that will not hurt their RPI, should they get to the NCAA tournament, and their ability to get an at large bid.
Most teams will play up to 18 game regular season schedule, plus two exhibition games, before their conference tournament. The Big Ten, for example, with a conference of 9 teams will play 10 out of conference games. The Patriot League with 7 teams could play 12 maximum out of conference games.
This year Lafayette will play 12 out of conference games, American will play 9, Lehigh will play 12, BU will play 10, Bucknell will play 11, Holy Cross will play 11, and Colgate will play 12.
BU, while presumably repairing their field, will play all their games on the road. The league games that would have been at home, looks like they will play at Harvard or BC. I will assume they will also be practicing at BC. and Harvard. It’ll be a challenge.
American will be playing Queen’s College in their first year as a Division one school. Queen’s is hosting the US team at their Charlotte playing facility in the off-season. There is one other team entering Division One, Stonehill in Massachusetts, who will be playing Colgate this season.
How strong are the Patriot schedules??? It is an important question since the seeding for the NCAA tournament will depend on the RPI of the winning team, and the possibilities of an at large bid. American had an RPI of 12 at the end of last year’s regular season and played Iowa with an RPI 4 ( nearly pulling off the upset). Lafayette with an end of season RPI of 25 played Rutgers tough with an RPI of 1.
One would hope the league itself would work to improve its overall RPI, and try to improve its chances for an at large bid. This coming season the league average RPI is 45.4 for out of conference games ( derived from last year’s RPI numbers)
There are three teams who are playing an out of conference schedule with last year’s RPI over 50, Lehigh 55, Holy Cross 59, and Colgate at 53. There are four teams playing an out of conference schedule with RPI’s below 40, Lafayette at 38, American at 37 ( assigning a score of 80 to Queens), Bucknell at 39 and BU at 36!
Last year’s RPI for the League at the end of the season was 46. So the out of conference average is about right, but there is an extreme difference between the top and bottom teams. Therefore, there is a lot to be gleaned from schedules even before the first push off of the season. Let the games begin!!!!
If there is a field hockey equivalent to the NFL, Major League Baseball, or professional soccer it is the National and Olympic teams. Unlike the aforementioned professional sports teams the field hockey national team players must compete with their entire nation for a spot. There is a professional league in field hockey which at the moment pays very little, so the players are really playing for the honor and glory of their country.
Recently, the Patriot League has been making its mark by having their athletes selected for their respective national teams. Some of the teams of the Patriot League have been playing more competitive schedules and its players are being noticed. American, Bucknell, Boston, and Lafayette in particular, have been filling their schedules with high ranking teams, intensifying the competition they regularly play with. Lafayette for example played Rutgers last year ( in some rankings were rated the number one team in the nation at the time) to a 1-2 loss in the last game of the season. Penn State appears in the Bucknell and Lafayette schedule this year. ODU and Maryand are regular opponents for American. Duke and Princeton have recently appeared on the Boston schedule. When the last three PL schedules are announced I will attempt to compare the RPIs of all 7 Patriot League out of conference team opponents.
Recently there were 3 Patriot League field hockey players named to the US Team, 2 to the under 21 team and development squads, and two were named to the Canadian National squad. Some have already appeared in the World Cup, and Pan Am games, and our Canadian athletes are now appearing in the Commonwealth Games.
Amanda Magadan, a 2017 Lafayette graduate from Randolph,N.J. and a third team all American, now sports 108 caps. She first started playing internationally her junior year while on the Junior National team. She is now the Captain of a very young US squad that will be shooting for the 2024 Paris Olympics. She has appeared in the Pan Am Cup and Pan Am Games scoring a goal against Peru. She was selected again this year and will lead our team going forward.
Alexandra Hammel was a standout defender at Boston University, class of ’19 earning first team all American honors. A Duxbury, Mass. native she has already earned 26 caps as a starting member of the US Team during the last FIH season. She is an intense competitor who worries less about glory than by playing her best!! She seems to love playing her best and no doubt will make an impact in coming years.
Natalie Konerth is a 2016 graduate of American University who seems to have the middle name “persistence”. She was named to the US Team for the first time after the Nexus tryouts this month. She was a 2 time first team PL selection during her college career. However, she has earned 5 caps playing on the under 21 squad and has appeared during the FIH season as a sub. Perhaps what best shows her intensity and intelligence is her 4.0 average while at American!
Meanwhile American goal keeper Bryn Underwood and Lehigh Graduate Maddie Kahn will or have made their marks on the US under 21 team.
Looking beyond US shores, two ex Patriot Leaguers, Audrey Sawers from Lafayette, and Marcia LaPlante from Holy Cross are members of the Canadian National Team. Both were on their team during the World Cup recently!
Audrey was named the PL offensive player of the year having graduated after her fall covid year. She was a key player and earned second team all American in the process. She led the Patriot League in shots, shots on goal, assists and points!! As one of the youngest members of a very experienced Canadian team she will no doubt be a asset in future years. She played against former teammate Amanda Magadan in the Pan Games in Chile.
Marica LaPlante was a standout goalie for the Holy Cross Crusaders. Most noticeable was her 78.6 pct save percentage ranked sixth nationally in college. She has 4 caps and 2020 graduate of Holy Cross. Interestingly, she came to Holy Cross Field Hockey via the ice hockey team. She was asked if she’d like to be the Field Hockey GK and the rest is history!!
The story of the these athletes speak well for the PL and the level of play!!
Last night, I watched the Division One Championship between Liberty and Northwestern for at least the third time. It was a great game for fans as there were two teams who had never been NCAA Champs in field hockey. The intensity was palpable as players were diving to the turf and using every ounce of energy to bring the trophy home. Liberty pulled their goalkeeper with over 6 minutes left, down 2 goals which were scored by Northwestern late in the third quarter.
We had two coaches, one, the head coach from Liberty who had been on the job about 5 years, and Tracy Fuchs the former 2 time olympian whose time at Northwestern was in the mid-teens. My leanings were to Tracy who to my mind deserved it. She is well liked and respected by her peers, and I kind of thought the hockey “world” was on on her side. Not surprisingly in my third watch of the game, Northwestern still won, and demonstrated a championship determination that cou;d please most fans.
It’s now July. Yes, we have college camps, Nexus games and other competitions but its not the same thing. FIH games are over ( sadly without the US in the World Cup). But, I comfort my boredom with watching Lafayette alum Audrey Sawers playing on the big stage with the Canadian national team. Hard to believe less than a year ago, she was playing in the Patriot League playoffs.
In one month, preseason will begin for our Leopards, with the first exhibition game on August 17 against Monmouth. I imagine veteran players and first year players are starting to get serious about conditioning. I am excited to see out new first year’s, which have been described to me by another Division one coach as “really good.” Potential is not enough to win championships as a team must mesh together and that process begins with a well conditioned team.
On paper, this Lafayette team looks like an ideal mix of veterans and newcomers. but I know Coach Stone is actively thinking about how to get the best from this potential. Right now, July seems like a long time to wait!!!
The US women’s national team goes into offseason mode. Many of the senior members will play on club teams overseas, while the college age players will retreat to their NCAA homes. The FIH schedule resumes next spring but there are rumors of a game in December at their training site at Queen’s College in Charlotte,NC. By the way Queen’s College is moving to division one
USA Field Hockey has advertised a post for the Head Coach position. Resumes have been asked to be returned by July 22nd.
There will be a new Head Coach at Bucknell as the Patriot League continues to improve. There will be two players at Lafayette exercising their Covid option year, which should help with depth. I suspect there will be a third coach added by Coach Stone before the beginning of practice.
Players that return will see video review installed, new dressing up of Rappolt Field and capital improvements on the campus proper. ( Most noticeable, reconstruction of the parking garage behind Markle). During Orientation it appears the new larger than expected first year class will be encouraged to go to a soccer or field hockey game. ( Maybe there will be big crowds at those first games)!
Anyway it.s July….at least 30 days to wait. I guess I’ll go get my 2nd Covid Booster today to be ready for the fall!!!
In a document distributed on August 24, 2021 the NCAA established the rules regarding video referral. For those of you that want to see the specific document it is the edited version of “Field Hockey Rules Modification Document,” appendix A beginning on page 16 and ending on page 25.
Lafayette will have video referral for all home games and perhaps some away games. If Lafayette wins the regular season in the Patriot League it will host and the games will be played under Video Referral Rules as will all subsequent NCAA tournament games.
The guidelines begin, ” The primary purpose of the Video Umpire Referral System is to assist umpires in their decision making and to help reduce major errors which could materially impact the result of a match.” However, the rules and recommendations seem to imply only to post season tournaments. The rules seem to imply there will be a separate video umpire. ” The video umpire will be an umpire who is NOT in the match in any other way.”
Each team is allowed one team referral during regulation time. There is one team referral during a shoot out. A successful challenge would allow the challenging team to keep their referral and unsuccessful challenge would result in no further referral will to be allowed.
The ask is to be immediate ( implying consultation with the coach is not allowed). Listed are the permitted challenges and outcomes. No substitutions can occur during a referral.
The referral process in my opinion is best handled by an independent third official. Like in FIH games the process is more efficient and allows for and independent opinion. Decisions are communicated to the on field official after the review.
For regular season games the use of a third official seems to have been left to the individual conferences. The Big Ten stipulates only two umpires for regular season games while the ACC allows for three officials. The Ivy League is silent on the issue as is the Patriot League. Since there are about 8 home games the extra expense amounts to only about 3200 dollars, an amount easily fund raised from interested fans.
I would urge the adoption of a separate video referral umpire in the Patriot League!!!
In other news the Ivy League has finally joined the rest of Division One and made Field Hockey equal to other Ivy League Sports by instituting a League Tournament beginning in 2023.
Lynn Farquar resigns as St Joe’s coach citing family reasons!!
The biggest number to me during the last two games was the average number of caps….US 35 vs 110 for India.
After winning a hard fought game against China on Sunday, hopes were high about FIH games Tuesday and Wednesday against India. It was the India match last year that knocked out the US Team from contention for the World Cup. The high scoring two day affair, last fall, saw the US fail to qualify by one goal. Ironically, Janneke Schopmann the then US Coach is now the Indian coach.
This week’s contests saw a reconstituted US Squad depleted by retirements and in a rebuilding mode. The Indian squad will move on to the World Cup and the US will return home after a weekend match with Belgium to continue reworking and improving the squad.
Experience is a key factor in international hockey and as of last week Captain Amanda Magadan was the only player with over 100 caps. That is to say this team is not without spirit and talent. But after 3 years of pandemic and an NCAA structure that inhibited new, talented players to make a commitment to the National team, the opportunities for young women are finally becoming available.
The NCAA made it possible for college players to extend their careers an extra year and delayed a normal transition the national team. Many players decided decided to retire as well, adding to the task of rebuilding. USA Field Hockey has realized the need for retention and recently moved to increase incentives to stay.
Patriot League now has three players on the team…Amanda. Ally Hammel from BU, and Natalie Konerth from American.
Soon the cycle will begin again, after the World Cup games, competition begins for the Paris Olympics. For Lafayette fans Audrey Sawers is a member of the Canadian National Team who will play in the World Cup next week.
Meanwhile at Lafayette, camp and clinics will be in full swing in July getting ready for August preseason. The first preseason game is August 17 against Monmouth!!
On Saturday June the 18th the field hockey world descended on the Union League of Philadelphia to celebrate 100 years of activity. It may have been 4000 years ago that the Egyptians played the game as documented on hieroglyphs. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that Constance Mary Katherine Applebee introduced the game to the United States. She was the co-founder of the American Field Hockey Association, founder of Sportswoman magazine and was the athletic director at Bryn Mawr for 24 years.
She lived to be 107 years old. In the summer of 1901 she took a tour of women’s colleges introducing the sport. In 1922 she established an annual 3 week camp for intensive field hockey instruction at Mt. Pocono,Pa.
She introduced the sport at a time when women were considered too fragile to play an intensive sport. She served many roles for US Field Hockey and was active for many years. Remarkably, there are still “Golden Girls,” who still remember “the Apple”, and many were in attendance Saturday.
Especially poignant was a gift in honor of Shelly Shellenberer by the estate of Grace Reynolds which I had the honor of being her executor. She left a legacy by, donating her entire estate of 2.5 million dollars to the US women’s national team.
The room was filled with US Field Hockey elite and all were attentive during which Steve Jennings ( Head Coach of American University) and “Char” Morrett- Curtis ( Head Coach of Penn State) spoke about the game.
Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Executive Director presented annual awards to Stanford Field Team and Alumni and Friends for “Grow the Game”, as their efforts prevented the demise of the sport at Stanford.
The national coach award went to High School coach Jill Cosse who has over 500 wins in her career.
The National Umpire award went to Mallory Federoff
The Club of the year went to Gateway Field Hockey Club and Kate Yates
The humanitarian award went to Jeanne O’Brian who helped establish programs for those with phsyical challenges.
In addition, the Hall of Fame added five names to its roles, Barbara Longstreth, Aaron Sher, Larry Amar ( accepted by Abbey his wife), Rachel Dawson and Lauren Crandall Liska.
Pam Stuper, the Executive Director of the US Field Hockey Foundation not only organized the evening along with Amy Crandall, but MC’d the event.
The event was live streamed and demonstrated the strength of the organizations supporting Field Hockey, but charging everyone to help grow the game!!!
The US Team responded on Sunday with a 2-1 win against China, but more about that later!!
Yesterday I covered the beginning of the announcement of the incoming class for Lafayette Field Hockey with Josephine van Wijk. This morning the rest of this group of 8 outstanding athletes have been revealed.
Mackensie will add her 5’9″ frame to the roster. She has great defensive skills that were noted in the state championship tournament. She was mentioned in the Max Field Hockey watch list which list the top players in the country. She is celebrated as a first team all state player and just for emphasis, is a black belt in Karate and plays the guitar!!
Catalina comes to Lafayette by way of Atlanta,Ga but her roots are in Buenos Aries, Argentina. She attended the Washington School and played for the Atlanta FHC. She is advertised as a striker/midfielder and has exhibited strong stick and scoring skills. The 5’6″ athlete played for Gimnasia y Eqima de Buenos Aries where she no doubt picked up her strong reverse stick shot.
Amiee hails from Rotterdam and comes as a midfielder, but has demonstrated her versatility as a five sport athlete, Field Hockey, Tennis, Gymnastics, Alpine Skiing and Sailing. She was selected to train with the Dutch National U 18 team.
Peyton attended Archbishop Spalding and played her club hockey at Freedom. At 5’7 she was a !st team all conference nominee, while cited as the 4th highest scorer in the state. Her coaches describe her as a driven team player, and will add to the strength of the Leopards this fall!!
Raffi will travel all the way from Mountain Lakes. N.J. to attend Lafayette this fall to be Goal Keeper in this first year class. She holds the county record for career saves at 393. This past fall she had a game in which she had 32 saves against Randolph, only to lose 1-0. She was an all state Group one selection and named a Max 100 selection.
We look forward to welcoming her this fall as she starts a career that will no doubt add to Leopard successes.
Hannah Findlay will have the longest trip of this class. Hannah will come all the way from New Zealand and bring with her a host of on the field skills. She was selected for the New Zealand U 18 development squad as well as the best all around female athlete in senior High School.
Her stick skills were evident in her club play. I think she will find her place early this August as the Leopards prepare for the season!!!
Coming to Easton from Concord Massachusetts, Ellie shows a profile that is similar to her classmates. She is a multisport athlete also playing ice hockey and lacrosse. She loves the Bruins, and her Middlesex and club coaches describe as coachable and intense.
Viewing her videos certainly shows her intensity, intercepting passes, and taking shots. She is also disciplined, as she finds a way to get open or to pass to her teammates. No doubt she will enjoy the Leopards New England swing to Yale and Holy Cross as well as home games with Quinnipiac and Boston U.
Along with yesterday’s article on Josephine van Wijk, that is Lafayette’s class of 2026. They will all be traveling beginning in August…… a short 60 days away. The team has no doubt received a training schedule and along with the intense preparation in August, will be ready for the first pre season game at Lafayette against Monmouth at 1 pm on August 17. Start running everyone!!!!
The first player announced is Josephine van Wijk from The Hague Netherlands. Her team won the Dutch National Championship recently. She is described by observers as quick, with very good passings skills. She also has a deadly, powerful drag flick which has developed over the years. A quick look at her videos confirms all that.
She is touted as a midfielder/ attacker which always fits into Lafayette’s needs, as they challenge for a Patriot League Championship. Her speed is an obvious asset which will drive opponents crazy along with teammate Leneke Spanns.
She plays the drums and this writer hopes beats the back of the cage with the same skill. Welcome Josephine!!
It’s been 100 years since field hockey was first played in this country, and USA Field Hockey is not letting the year pass without a celebration. On June the 18th at the Union League, beginning with a 5 pm cocktail hour, fans, players, coaches, and USA officialdom, will gather for a celebratory banquet. There will be US team members, and as a special treat new members of the the US Hall of Fame will be honored.
A limited amount of tickets are still available on the US Field Hockey site. However, for my readers I have 16 free seats available for Lafayette current players, alumni, fans, and parents of alumni. Significant others are included. It promises to be a fun evening with all of those who love the game. Please PM or otherwise email me if you would like to go and claim a seat for free which I will arrange.
First preseason game is less than 100 days away.
The Leopards will be meeting Monmouth on Aug 17th at home in a preseason meet-up. They will be changing their conference to the CAA next year, and they have seen a steady improvement in recent years. It should be the kind of game the Leopards will need, with a very challenging season approaching. The Leopards will actually arrive days before in Easton, for conditioning and practice, with some bright new shinny recruits donning the Maroon and White for the first time. ( Tip..it’s not too early to start your preseason conditioning).
In the meantime our US players will be high performing.
Several of our players will most likely apply to play in some of USA Field Hockey’s high performance events in June at Virginia Beach. Keep an eye out for their appearance on the turf as they take their shot at national teams. Lafayette’s Amanda Magadan is the current captain of the US national team and Audrey Sawers is on the Canadian national team who will be in the World Cup this year!!
Coaches will not be idle either
The Lafayette coaches, will soon announce the incoming class in the coming days, but will also be active looking at players that will arrive in 2023. In addition, they will also be announcing the schedule as the season approaches.
Recently, I was present as the last details were tested for the installation of video referral. There could be as many as 9 views available to assist officials. The system could also be used at practice as a coaching tool. Everyone, all during practice can be watched for progress!! Stay tuned for more information. Lafayette will be the first to use video referral in the Patriot League.
Although we will be missing some key players from last year’s 14-5 season, this is a veteran team that will certainly be capable of challenging for a title!! Go Pards!!