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.

Less Than Three Weeks Until Reporting Day

It’s less than three weeks until the Lafayette Field Hockey squad will report, to begin the rigorous preseason preparation for the fall 2021 season. I am sure the squad is doing all its pre season conditioning regimen, to be ready to assemble and play as a squad, pointing to a championship season.

The first test will occur on August 19, slightly less than a month from today, at one o’clock in Newark, Delaware, the home of the always competitive Delaware Blue Hens. Three days later it gets no easier when the University of Albany arrives at Rappolt Field at 2 pm to test the Leopards in a exhibition game. Five more days later the real fun begins at Rappolt, for a 4 pm game against an improving Hofstra team.

The period between August 10th and the 27th all the effort will be to mold a group of fine athletes and skilled hockey individuals into a team. The hope from the coaching staff is, that all will arrive in shape in order to spend the maximum time on learning to play with one another, and to allow a true evaluation of talent. It will be hot, and double sessions will tax the most earnest team member.

For we fans, it means we still have a little time to wait for some real competition. Meantime, as fans we look at schedules and rosters and try to handicap the season. There are still three Patriot League teams who need to post fall schedules and rosters. Colgate, American, Lehigh and Lafayette have done that, and it’s allowed this writer to start speculating on the coming season.

I still believe Lafayette has accumulated one the finest recruiting classes in the league, but they still need to be put to the test. The first Patriot League game is with American on September 18th at 11:00 am in Washington,DC. By then, American will have played VCU,Georgetown, Old Dominion, Delaware, William and Mary, Richmond and UMass. Lafayette’s schedule is no less daunting with Hofstra, Villanova, Ohio State, Indiana, Yale and Quinnipiac. Both teams will have had six competitive games under their belt to be prepared. Last spring the Leopards went to overtime in both games…..they have something they owe to American, for those two loses. A win in DC would be sweet!!!

The other two teams appear to have slightly easier schedules but no doubt both will be ready to play come their dates with Lafayette. Lehigh has been getting better and they seem to measure their success by their rival game. Oct 22 is another revenge date at 7pm in Bethlehem!!!

Meanwhile The NCAA Struggles

No one seems to like the NCAA these days, and they are making their lawyers rich in the process. They reported recently they spent nearly 68 million dollars on legal bills losing the Alston case in Supreme Court. Despite this the President, Mark Emmert continues on, having had his three million dollar contract renewed.

The large football playing schools seem to be ready to split off, on their own to be regulated by their individual conferences. NCAA seems all but conceded to a bifurcated structure where big time college football is its own animal. This will leave a regulatory structure overseeing basketball and the olympic sports at best. 

The NCAA has only itself to blame, as they left large regulatory problems behind, and contented themselves to be a harassing supervisor with an outdated 460 page rulebook.

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!!

Leopards Make Heroic Effort, But Fall In Double Overtime

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Audrey Sawers gets ready to launch one against American

It was a game that deserved to be in the Leopard column, given the extraordinary effort by the team and especially the senior class. Yes, shots were 6 to 7 in Lafayette favor, saves by freshman goalkeeper were the same at two ( Garvey, the Leopard goalkeeper had a great outing as her debut in division one), but penalty corners were 12-4 in favor of the Eagles. However, many of those corners came in bunches as they were called one after each corner in succession.

In fact, the first goal by American came on the fourth attempt at a corner by Merel Dupont after an assist by Noon Coenen at 7:43 into the game. That gave the lead to American until Audrey Sawers found the back of the cage at 46:42 nearly bending back the glove of Bryn Underwood, American’s freshman GK. The score remained at 1-1 until regulation time ended.

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Sophie Carr sprints to get in position

There were several calls for corners by the umpire outside of the shooting circle which was noticed by the partisan crowd at the side lines. In many cases the. Eagles were to draw multiple penalties on several occasions in regular time and the two overtimes. Finally at 75:32 Gaby de Kock received a hard crossing pass from Coenan which was delivered to the right side of the cage.

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Eva Kaplan sends a pass downfield

Coach Stone highlighted all five seniors Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps. Coach Stone cited the five seniors for their leadership during the game. Sawers especially was to make several length of the field runs that nearly set up scoring chances inside the circle. The whole team showed remarkable heart even though the score ended up in favor of American in the end.

They all left it on the field with their heads up, because there was nothing to be down about. It was an outstanding effort. There will be a second chance in DC in the last regular season game at the end of the season. Next week it will be Bucknell at Bucknell!!!

Seniors Prepare For Last Regular Season Game At Home

In the bizarre background of a Covid season, the 5 seniors on the Lafayette squad compete during an abbreviated season with the goal to return to the Patriot League Championships for the third consecutive year. This has been an especially character revealing year. The season began without a spring season last year, no preseason, and no out of conference games. They have had to put it all together without a large bench, leaving it to the seniors to provide leadership on and off the field.

I don’t know if this will be the last chance to see these remarkable young women compete at Rappolt Field this year but I know it will be their best effort yet of their four year careers. Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Ana Steps, will be announced as seniors at this weekend’s match with American University. The NCAA allows for an extra year of eligibility and this fan can only hope we shall see at least some of them next year, but whatever happens, I know they have set the foundation for great things in the future. So this Sunday I salute Eva Kaplan, Audrey Sawers, Sophie Carr, Grace Angelella, and Anna Steps!!

Eva Kaplan

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Eva Kaplan Sweeps the Ball away

Eva comes from Montclair, N.J. with outstanding credentials. The Economics and International Affairs major was a four year letter winner at Montclair, selected as an all- conference and all state player. In addition she was an outstanding Lacrosse player demonstrating her all around athletic ability. As a four year honor roll student, she showed she was well prepared for Lafayette.

She has demonstrated her dedication, team attitude and patience having to wait two years before getting on the game field. As a fan I could not be more struck by her intensity and situational awareness. Her strength, speed and athletic ability were evident in every situation she was placed in. I was especially impressed with her performance during big games fearlessly defending against the best of the Patriot League and division one.

She waited patiently for her chance during her freshman and sophomore year and by her junior year became an important contributor. I was especially impressed with her performance in the championship game last year!  But her best could be her last, as she spent over 50 minutes on the field in each of the last two games gaining confidence and displaying leadership. We still have half the regular season left and I am anxious to see what memories she will leave us with as we move forward!!

Audrey Sawers

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Audrey Sawers moves upfield

The moment Audrey stepped on a Lafayette athletic field her appearance just screamed elite athlete. Coming from Handsworth school in North Vancouver, BC she was part of long string of western Canadian athletes to head to the Lafayette Field Hockey program. While at Handsworth, she was a five year starter on the Field Hockey team, and achieved MVP and first team all star in provincials. Not surprisingly she was female athlete of the year for two years participating in soccer, volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

More recently she made the national under 21 team traveling to Ireland two years ago. Her strength, reach, and speed made her a natural at midfield and a feared opponent. As a fan it was exciting to see her develop a skill set to go along with her natural athletic assets. It was evident in the semi final league championship game with Bucknell as she weaved through defenders to score the winning goal. We saw more of that this year against Holy Cross as she was involved in both scores. Spotting space inside the circle she delivered a beautiful shot to put the Leopards up early. She used much of the same skills to find her teammate Simone Hefting as she assisted in the overtime winner.

There is no team member this year who has more minutes than Audrey as her presence on the field is important both offensively and defensively. Her leadership abilities strike me as leadership by example, and her strong competitive spirit get more evident as the game progresses. She is a team co-captain.

I would hope she considers an additional year but I see nothing but success, and maybe even an Olympics in her future!!!

Sophie Carr

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Senior Sophie Carr shows her defensive form

Sophie is just one of those people that light up room when she enters. Always, with a smile, she faces competition and adversity with determination and courage. Looking at her resume one would assume she is a native Irishman. In fact, her mother comes from Pennsylvania and as result she is a US citizen. Her entire secondary school experience is in Ireland. Her brother plays on the Irish national team.

Sophie, like most good athletes succeed in a variety of sports. She is an excellent golfer, and played on a winning cricket team. On the academic side she represented the US at a model UN conference at The Hague.

Coming to Lafayette, she had an excellent freshman year delivering impressive goals. Her performances against Fairfield demonstrated her readiness to play at the division one level. But she was to face an unexpected challenge the spring of her freshman year when she injured her knee. She promptly accepted the challenge of rehabilitation with aplomb and courage. Her sophomore year had her on the sidelines, cheering at games and encouraging to her teammates at practice.

She returned to the playing field, knee brace and all, her junior season, and resumed her impact as a team leader and an important part the program. As an elected leader of the team, she helped to maintain morale, while being a contributor on the field. She has 103 minutes in three games this year and can often be seen sprinting down the field making an important tackle or moving the ball into the opponents area!!

As in the case of most great athletes, she has great character and is an inspiration to her teammates. I would have wished a full season for her, but it’s a privilege to watch her in person perform!!

Grace Angelella

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Grace Angelella moves the ball into Lafayette territory

You had to know Grace was a very special athlete as she endured several orthopedic surgeries in high school just to be in a position to play. She came highly recommended from former Lafayette players from the Harding, Pa area and Wyoming Area High School. She didn’t disappoint Coach Stone because in the first three years she was on the field for virtually every game. In her freshman year she tied for the lead in goal scoring and had several multi goals games. She was rookie of the week several times.

In her sophomore season she just rolled on with goals against Temple, Lehigh, Villanova and Bucknell. She accomplished all this while succeeding in the classroom as a Biology major. She was named to the D-1 academic squad and the Patriot League  academic squad as well.

Like her classmates there is a determination in her play that makes her a dangerous foe on the field. Extraordinarily humble, her engaging manner hides the competitive spirit of a winner. She finds a way to be in a position to score and her ability to deliver a strike as something fearsome.

This year, she already put in 138 minutes and its disappointing we won’t see more of her because of this shortened season. However, we have the meat of the season coming up and I am sure she will contribute to the diversity of  our attacking options.

Anna Steps

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Anna Steps leads the midfield again this year

Anna has an outstanding career to date. Her most individual memorable year was in 2018, scoring six goals. But getting to the Patriot championship game must have been one of her biggest thrills. For three years she was found in the back line directing play and initiating an offense that had one of its best years. She named preseason defensive player of the year.

She comes from Hamburg Germany where she went to the Children’s International Summer Village program. It is program that begins for 11 year olds which promotes good international relations starting with children. It is there she got the bug to study in the United States. She is still in contact with people who went through the program with her.

A leader on the team Anna was elected co-captain and was crucial to keeping the team connected during the covid pandemic. To date she has played 1054 minutes for the Leopards and I remember her role in beating Temple last year scoring a crucial goal. She is now in the midfield, a position more familiar to her and her hustle and determination as well as her obvious skills are put to good use.

Her affect is pleasant and is obviously very smart excelling in her major of Neuroscience at Lafayette. She is always there to help a friend, and has volunteered to help those studying German and enjoys philosophical writings.

She is an exceptional young woman and no doubt is in line to accomplish great things in the future.

Spring Field Hockey Spurs The Unexpected

Today the Patriot League opened its season and the rest of division one continued its play with it own series of surprises. The Patriot League was to have three games, but the game between Lehigh and American was postponed. So both teams will play their first games next week. Lehigh will be at Lafayette and American will be playing Bucknell who lost their opener today 2-1 against Colgate.

I suppose BU was expected to beat the Crusader of Holy Cross but it wasn’t easy, as Holy Cross did fall 2-1 after a fourth quarter goal Goalkeeping was a huge question mark for both teams. Holy Cross needed to find a successor to Marcia LaPlante who was a four year starter but graduated last year. Head Coach Lindsay Jackson’s choice was senior Emma Skumurski, who performed well in her first action. Meanwhile, BU had its own battle for GK as Sally Starr went with sophomore Caroline Kelly against first year recruit from New Zealand Kate Thompson.

It was a competitive game with with Kelly coming up with 4 saves and Skurmurski turning away 6 saves. Holy Cross faced shots 13 shots while Boston faced 11 shots. Eight of Boston’s shots were on goal while Holy Cross had 5. Boston had 7 corners and Holy Cross had 3.

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The final score was to be 2-1 in BU’s favor. Boston’s two goals bookended the game, the first coming with less than two minutes into the game and the last with less than three minutes left. The first goal came from Boston’s Kathryn Scheerer off a penalty corner. The Crusaders tied it up late in the first quarter off a Kristen Weber goal delivered close in off a rebound. Late in the fourth quarter BU’s Rebecca James found the back of the net for the game winner through a flurry of defenders.

In between, the game went back and forth and seemed destined for overtime. Holy Cross has a bye next week and will meet Colgate on the 21st in Hamilton. Boston will also have bye and meet Lafayette @ Rappolt Field on the 21st.

Meanwhile, Colgate was to emerge victorious in a 2-1 game at Lewisburg which saw Bucknell do everything but find the back of the net. Gate opened up scoring in the first period with a Meghan Minturn goal off a redirection. It wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that Bucknell finally found the back of cage off a Kari Melberger goal to the right post. One minute later Colgate answered with a Mari Kniezewski game winning goal to end the scoring for both teams. Gate had three shots ( all on goal) while Bucknell had 15 shots (12 on goal). The Colgate goal keeper, Anna Unger, had 11 saves and Claire McCormack and Peyton Fischer split goaltending duties for Buckell with McCormack posting 0 saves and Fischer having 1 save.

An angry Bucknell team will travel to DC to meet American and Colgate will have a bye and greet Holy Cross on the 21st.

Bizarre Patriot League Field Hockey Schedule Begins On Sunday

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March 7 is opening day for Patriot League Field Hockey’s seven team league. There are no preseason games, no scrimmages just six games to determine who will be the four who will play in the Patriot League tournament, which will decide who gets the auto bid for the NCAA national tournament. The patriot league winner then will play a minimum of nine games, far less than a normal season.

The question is how do you handicap this season? Freshman had no preseason competition, sophomores did not have a spring season last year, so one might think the team with the most upper class players has an advantage. Conversely coaches might think of this season like a spring season except for the playoffs. There are several conferences that have already started and doubling up on games between conference foes. I should note also there a several schools like Old Dominion and Liberty who are letting a limited amount of spectators. Temple who plays in the city had spectators looking through the fence on the southern end street!!

Just to breakdown the schedules and rosters of all Patriot League Teams!!!

American University

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

March 7 @ Lehigh, March 14 with Bucknell, March 28 at Bucknell, April 4 @Lafayette, April 11 with Lehigh, April 18 with Lafayette.

American will dress 23 players which includes 3 seniors and 8 Juniors. The fabulous Noor Coenen is back for her senior season. Dani Acuna is the junior GK with a freshman Bryn Underwood who is the freshman who bring some competition to the position. They won the PL title last year beating Lafayette in their two games by one goal in each game. On paper, it looks tough to repeat and they have a tough schedule playing Bucknell and Lafayette twice.

 

Boston University

March 7@ Holy Cross, March 21 @ Lafayette, March 27, Colgate, March 28 Colgate, April 11 Holy Cross, April 18 Lehigh

Always a contender in the league, Boston had a disappointing season, not even making the Patriot League tournament. If someone were drawing a schedule for Boston to make it back they could not have make it better. They have more games at home then any other team in the League with Lafayette their toughest game away. They will only carry 20 players but with 6 seniors and 4 juniors. 

They did pick up a GK from New Zealand ( a regular supplier of BU talent) and there will be competition for sophomore Caroline Kennedy.

The team has been practicing all fall and it’s hard to believe Sally Starr won’t make progress this season.

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Bucknell University

Bucknell always fields a competitive team and no doubt Jeremy Cook will get his team ready. They will be playing American and Colgate twice, along with single games each with Lafayette and Lehigh. They open March 7 hosting Colgate, and travel March 14 and 21 at American and Lehigh repectively. American will come to play on March 28 then on April 4 will travel to Colgate for the rubber match and finish on April 11 hosting Lafayette.

Bucknell will dress a second highest amount players at 25 with 6 Seniors and 7 Juniors providing the experience. I see no reason why Bucknell can’t win at least 3 games and be in the hunt.

 

Colgate University

Colgate will play the least number of games at home and will play Boston, Holy Cross and Bucknell twice. They open @Bucknell on March 7, will host Holy Cross on the 21st, they then will travel to Boston for a March 27 and 28  7pm games. They finish hosting Bucknell on the 4th of April and travel to Holy Cross on the 18th. Of all the Patriot League teams, their schedule is hard to understand.

Dressing 9 senior and 5 juniors experience aplenty is their main asset for their 22 player roster. The first two games may tell the tale for the Raiders.

Holy Cross

Holy Cross will be one of the Patriot League teams that will play two Patriot League teams twice. Boston University will arrive in Worchester on March the 7th for a 7 pm  game, followed two weeks later at Colgate on March 21st, and will host Lafayette on the 28th at 11 am. The Crusaders will then travel to Lehigh on the 16th and Boston return match at 7pm on the 11th. They finish with a home game at Colgate on the 18th.

Holy Cross will dress a league leading 26 players with 7 seniors, 5 juniors, 6 sophomores, and 8 freshmen. They lost against American in the PL playoffs and would dearly like a second shot this year.

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Freshman Simone Hefting was a welcome returnee for the playoff season

Lafayette College

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Lafayette lost to the American Eagles in the championship game by one goal, and they would like a second shot. The schedule may be the most competitive in the league but that just the way Head Coach Jennifer Stone would like it. They have the first week off which will give them time to watch Lehigh take on American on the 7th. So the first week will be March 14 at home against Lehigh at 1 pm, followed by a home match against Boston on March 21 as Boston looks for revenge their overtime loss to the Leopards last year. On March 28 there is the trip to Holy Cross followed by a home game with American at 2  pm.  The Leopards hit the road on April 11 and 18 with Bucknell and American respectively. A successful run with this schedule could set up the Leopards well, for the post season.

Lafayette will field a balanced team with 22 players consisting of 5 seniors, and 6 juniors, five sophomores and 6 freshman. It will be difficult to replace Lisa Van der Geest but Simone Hefting could come up big. Seniors Grace Angelella, Anna Steps and Audrey Sawer should be a pain to opponents from the midfield. Eva Kaplan showed solid minutes last year and is destined to be an important contributor. Sophie Carr part of the leadership is ready to be an important force on the field!! Molly McAndrews is ready to explode on the attack.  The GK position will have three competitors for Goalie coach Jenny Rizzo to bring along.

I like the Leopards but there are no games to be taken for granted with this schedule, and Lehigh could be tougher than most people think.

Lehigh University

Lehigh has been improving every year and last year finished their season by beating Boston at home. They seem to have been working all fall as most Lehigh athletic teams did. Lehigh opens with American and they would dearly love to send a message to the league on March 7th. Then on March 14 they will travel to Lafayette for the “Rivalry.”  It will be Lafayette’s first game and Lafayette coaches will have had some time to get a “book” on the mountain hawks. They will host Bucknell at home on the 21st and then Holy Cross on April 4th. Their rubber match with American will be in DC on the 11th,  then finishing in Boston on the 18th.

They will feature a strong defense with a a senior GK, and there will be Lenke Havas at D/M, the question will be, where the goals will come from. 22 players will dress with 4 seniors, 4   Juniors, 9 sophs and 6 freshman. Will there be enough bench strength? That question will dominate their season??

 

The League

It really could a year with a  close race. Four wins gets you to the playoffs, there could be several teams at 3-3 with a difficult tie breaker in play. It’s hard to dismiss Lafayette and American to repeat, or Bucknell to be in the hunt. Lehigh may be a year away, and Boston needs improvement, but its hard to believe Sally Starr would not lead a team to the promised land with that schedule. Holy Cross is always filled with surprises, and Colgate with 9 seniors might be another surprise!!

 

Important Additions: Gov. Wolf Modifies Rules For Gatherings….Will Allow 20 PCT OF Capacity For Outdoor Stadiums!! Will PL Follow New Guidelines!!????

Patriot League Adopts Bizarre Spring Field Hockey Schedule

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Early on, I thought the schedule would look like the basketball schedule, playing multiple games against league opponents, but the logic of the schedule escapes me, since it saves little money, doesn’t really reduce travel, for everyone. and is not balanced.

The Lafayette schedule looks like this. March 14 Lehigh at Lafayette, March 21 BU at Lafayette, March 28 Lafayette at Holy Cross, April 4 American at Lafayette, April 11 Lafayette at Bucknell, April 18 Lafayette at American for the second time.

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That works out to three home games and three away games. There is no game with Colgate, but two games with American. I focused on Lafayette’s two games with American, until I saw the rest of the League. Boston will be playing 4 games at home, two games with Colgate back to back in Boston, two games with Holy Cross, a big game at Lafayette, and finishing with Lehigh in Boston.

American will be playing Bucknell twice and Lafayette twice. Colgate will not be playing Lafayette or American, but play Bucknell twice, Holy Cross twice and Boston twice and has only two home games!!.

The bottom line is that Boston has the easiest schedule including the addition of 4 home games.  How this saves significant money and travel for the League overall escapes me, but maybe I’m not smart enough to detect the logic. If that was the overall purpose, they should have pre-scheduled the Patriot League tournament at a centrally located site. Maybe that can be “arranged.”:)

The good news is WE ARE PLAYING, and overall I would rather have the tougher schedule than the easier schedule. With most games on Sunday, I am hopeful they will all be live streamed for us fans!! Additionally, I understand the NCAA will waive the minimum game requirements to allow for Covid and weather obstacles. It’s pretty clear…. all you have to do is win.

The entire team is returning to school, and conditioning will begin next week. The League has left open the posibility of fan attendance. I am recieving my first covid shot next week. ( I suppose the advantage of being ancient).  So I should be ready for the season.

What The Spring Field Hockey Schedule Is Morphing Into

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Most conferences sponsoring Field Hockey have now committed to play a spring version of a championship schedule. The NCAA has set a 12 team championship with 10 automatic qualifiers and 2 at large teams. However, we know that the Ivy League will not be playing and American West with Stanford who is dropping the sport after this season is in disarray. Aside from the fact there are only three teams from the West Coast where the virus is still raging, makes them doubtful participants. So there are 9 conferences playing, American East (6 teams), Atlantic 10 (8 teams), Big East (8 teams), Big Ten (9 teams), CAA (7 teams), Mid America ( 7), NEC ( 8 teams),and the Patriot League (7 teams). The ACC had a fall season with UNC taking the championship. It’s hard to believe that they will not play this season!! So that leaves 9 auto qualifiers and 3 at large teams according to my calculations. The NCAA championship semi- final and final games will be May 7th and 9th.

We know the Patriot League will be playing an in conference schedule using a round robin format with the top four going to the championship on April 22 and 24th. The first “regular” season game will be March 7th and the last game April 18th. The conferences for the most part are using a similar in conference round robin formats.

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The Big East is playing 12 games. They split the conference geographically, UConn and Providence, Quinnipiac and Providence, Liberty and ODU, and Temple and Villanova are playing against each other 4 times. Their first game is Feb 20th. The championship is at Villanova on April 22-24.

The rest seem to be going for the single round robin format with the CAA perhaps adding an out of conference game. It looks as though they will start on March the 19th. James Madison is reporting a first game on March the 19th with an out of conference game with Virginia on the 21st.

If that weren’t confusing enough, the NCAA is allowing players an extra year. That is fine for universities but does not fit an Ivy League or Patriot League pattern.

In any case, there will be a season….League Championships and a National Tournament.

How we look inside our league will be published soon!!! Students begin returning this week!! Go Pards!!!