Patriot League 2018…..Holy Cross

The Crusaders have become Lafayette’s nemesis for the past three years. In each of those years, the two have met in games that were significant in terms of who gets to go the league playoffs. Only the top four teams get to go, and head to head competition is considered in the tie braking procedures. Last year, a win was needed by Lafayette but Holy Cross arrived using their fast breaking style and got off to a 3-0 lead, never to give it up. The Crusaders prevailed in the two years before as well. Head Coach Lindsay Jackson has never lost to a Lafayette team.

This is Coach Lindsay Jackson’s fourth season as Holy Cross’ head coach. She is the fifth head coach for the program and came from division two Limestone College where she was the head coach for six seasons. Limestone had a winless program when she arrived and improved every year she was there and was named the Division two coach of the year. She began her career as a high school coach. She attended Mercyhurst College where she played field hockey and lacrosse

Lisa van der Geest defends against Holy Cross

Coach Jackson seems to find solutions where there seems to be none. Several years ago she needed a goal keeper and discovered one, Marcia LaPlante on the ice hockey team. She has had an outstanding career on the turf. LaPante has a 74 pct save percentage and is considered one of the best in league. Marcia returns this year for her junior season backed up by two goal keepers. Holy Cross’ challenge will be to replace their outstanding scorer Maurren Conolly. Conolly scored 19 of Holy Cross’ 40 goals last season. She scored the goals by hitting on 24 pct of her shots. If you think the goals were concentrated on corner opportunities, you would be wrong, as the Crusaders had only 67 corners all year.

Emily Loprete is a returning senior, who will be counted on to step up. She was the second leading scorer with a not too shabby nine goals in her junior season. Holy Cross makes their shots count as they took 192 shots while giving up 353 shots and 56 goals. LaPlante made 167 saves last year. Senior Suzanne Noone was the third leading scorer with 4 goals to her credit.

The Crusaders will take the field with 5 freshman, 7 sophs, 7 juniors and 4 seniors. This is still a very young squad coming off a 7-11 record with a 3-3 record in the league. However, it is a well motivated squad, that can make a lot of noise in the league standings. Their schedule will be a challenge, with out of conference games that include Maine, Northeastern, Harvard and Albany. But they are always ready for the Patriot League season. The first Patriot League game will be at home with American, followed later by Colgate, Lehigh, and then Lafayette, a stretch that will most likely decide a Patriot League berth. There is a week between the Oct 7th game with LaSalle and a Worcester meet with the Leopards on Oct 13th at 11:05. Lot’s of time to break down  film by each head coach.

That Worcester game is one I have circled.

Patriot League…Colgate 2018

April Cornell was appointed the fifth head field hockey coach in history for Colgate in December of 2016. Although this was her first head coaching assignment she is not a neophyte to the coaching ranks. She is a 14 year coaching veteran having spent 11 seasons at Hofstra. She was promoted to Associate Head Coach in 2010. Cornell also had a one year stint with New Hampshire.

Co Captain Lisa van der Geest finds her way through the Colgate defense this spring

Cornell played her field hockey at Connecticut. She was a four year letter winner and was a co-captain during her senior year. During her career at UConn, the Huskies were nationally ranked, and made four NCAA appearances and four Big East tournament appearances. She is a native of central New York.

Colgate was  4-13 in her initial season at the helm which includes a 2-3 overtime loss to Lafayette.  The Raiders only scored 17 goals to 47 against during the whole season. They took an average of 9.6 shots per game while giving up 18.6. They only had 71 penalty corners. Their shot percentage was slightly more than 10 pct.

Andriana Pero powers past the Colgate defender last year

Clearly they need stronger offensive production. They lost two of their top three scorer while Iona MacKillop, a Junior forward from Glasgow Scotland will return. Cornell has bolstered her ranks with 7 freshman, and returns 10 sophomores from a huge freshman class last year. There are five juniors back on the field and no seniors. This still a very young team.

Liza Welch fires a shot against Colgate

The Leopards will make the trek to Hamilton New York and will play a noon game on Oct 6. By then, Colgate will have their legs and Hamilton has always been a tough place to play. Cornell has scheduled 10 home games in her 18 game schedule. Three of those games will be part of an early season round robin on August 24,26, ad 27th with Central Michigan, LIU Brooklyn, and Saint Louis. Their toughest games remain to be Albany, Lock Haven, Vermont and Rider, and their Patriot League Schedule.

The week before Lafayette comes to town, Holy Cross will be in Hamilton, as these meetings are MUST win games for all 3 participants.


Leopards Travel To Monmouth For First Scrimmage.

I had a football coach in High School who used to tell us if everyone did what they were supposed to every play would be.a touchdown. As a fluid game, field hockey demands decisions on the run while executing difficult skills with an opponent intent on stopping you. While every play did not result in a goal there was a lot for the Leopard coaching staff to be pleased with. For most of the players, the timing was there, as last year’s freshmen now know where this year’s senior teammates will be on the field. The spring experience along with the additional trip to South Africa has already established connections not seen last year.

Liza Welch drives towards the goal in the second half

There was even some spark by first year players who saw action as well. Coaches never want to get too excited until the games count, but I am a fan and let’s say I am seeing some really good things out there. ( Not that my opinion counts all that much).

Sam DiMaio and Audrey Sawer line up against a Monmouth player

There were some minor injuries as a couple of players were held out of their ususal  minutes, but not a beat was lost. This year I will try to name “Difference Makers” in every game. Today my nod goes to Kristen Taylor who showed good aggressiveness when needed and offensive savy, setting up and scoring goals. Second Lisa Van der Geest showed leadership directing play on the field and standing out controlling the ball. Third Liza Welch who just gets the job done, and seems to be in right place at the right time. Fourth, Goalkeeper Sarah Park, who stood tall in the goal today and especially well in turning back shots in the 7 v 7 practice period. I saw many great plays and I probably could have named several more but there is space and time to consider!.

Kristen Taylor gets control of the ball

The Leopards opened scoring midway through the first half when Kristin Taylor delivered a perfect strike from the left side which was met by Grace Angelella for the tip in. Later in the period Audrey Sawers took the ball during a corner and found Ana Steps for the second goals. Monmouth, who had scored over 80 goals last years scored two goals, one of which in my opinion was hit from outside the circle and never touched a player. But this is preseason!!

Jenn Delongis marches up the field against Monmouth

In the second half the 2-2- tie was broken with nine minutes having run off the clock when Kristen  Taylor got a goal of her own off a pass by Jenn DeLongis. That was soon followed by the go ahead goal with Lisa Van der Geest delivering a tip in to Sam Di Maio. The regulation game ended in a 4-3 advantage by the Leopards. In the overtime 7 v 7 period the Leopards scored with no time left on a corner that went from  Angelella to Liza Welch.

There is a long way to go but this is not a bad way to start. Next up is a Drexel scrimmage  at home Saturday August 18 at 6 pm.

Patriot League Field Hockey Preview…Bucknell Bison

Bucknell ended their season on a high note in the Patriot League Tournament, defeating American University in the semi-final in a shoot out, only to lose in the championship game 2-1 to Boston. The Head Coach, Jeremey Cook has been a regular visitor to the PL championship during his 10 year career at Bucknell. In 10 seasons he has been there 10 times with his Bison Team. The 2014 team was undefeated and hosted the Patriot League championship.  Cook’s overall record is  95-95. That record qualifies him in 2018 as having the second most wins in program history. He has extensive playing and coaching experience internationally.


Stephanie Dressler graduated last year but the Bison return their top scorers

Last year Bucknell scored 41 goals against 44 scored by their opponents. Their shot percentage was 18.4%, They had 135 penalty corners agains 109 against them. They lost to graduation, Emilly Finn, who was their fine goal keeper who had a 70 percent save percentage.

What is remarkable about this team is that they return their 3 leading scorers Brittany Willwerth ( 20 pts 7 goals 30 pct shot percentage), Lexi Quick (18 points, 5 goals, 15 pct short percentage) and M.C. Evans (14 pts, 4 goals, 25 pct shot percentage). In the goal, will be Junior Oliva Harris. Harris was picked for the US Indoor Team and was one of three players picked for the Young Women’s National Championship at Spook Nook. The other two are sophomores Sarah Dimock and Kaelyn Long.

In addition, Bucknell will be playing on new turf which according to one Bison in the program, “will make practicing corners possible.”


Their out of conference schedule looks quite manageble but sprinkled with JMU, Syracuse, and Penn State. Aside from the Patriot League schedule, common opponents include Cornell, Richmond, and Monmouth. The showdown with Lafayette occurs at 2 pm Oct 27, as the last game of the season. In a conversation with Jeremy this summer in Spooky Nook, he remarked these Lafayette games are always important.

This is another game against a well coached team on the rise and will decide a Patrtiot League Tournament berth. Given Bucknell’s last season success in 2017, this could be a VERY dangerous game!!


Patriot League Continued ….Boston University

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Boston University’s hallmark has been consistency…consistently good. This will be Head Coach Sally Starr’s 38th season at the helm of the Terriers. She is following a year in which the Terriers were 14-8 and undefeated in the Patriot League. Starr ranks 11th all time in wins and currently is 5th among current coaches. A stable staff has also been a characteristic for Boston. Her two assistants have been with the program 19 and seven years respectively.

Last year they scored 62 goals against 35 for the opponents and they score on over 20 pct of their shots. What is more remarkable is that they had only 108 corners, but the defense has only allowed 69 corners. Boston won the Patriot League title last year for the third time in four years after a 6-0 run through the league. Bucknell was the only team to lose in the narrowest of margins 2-1 in the championship game and 1-0 in the regular season matchup. Lafayette fell to them 5-1 in Boston.

Preparation is their methodology as they learn even from their unsuccessful efforts. Before the Lafayette game Boston, lost to eventual national champion 8-1. In the NCAA second round game they lost 3-1.

This year they will field 4 freshman, 7 sophomores 1 Junior and 5 seniors. Returning are all league selections Seniors Kali Shumock, and Allie Doggett along with sophomore Ailsa Connolly. Conolly was their leading scorer with 22 points and eleven goals as she continues as part of the New Zealand pipeline that has been so important in their recruiting. They are deep at goal as two goalies shared time in the cage. Senior Kathleen Keeegan is back as is Millie Baker a sophomore. Baker had a league leading 83 pct save percentage.

Their out of conference schedule is daunting as usual, with UCONN, Penn State, Northwestern, Princeton, Harvard and Boston College on the schedule.

The Terriers will vist Lafayette at home on September 29th at noon. Lafayette will face Liberty at home 5 days earlier and Boston will face Colgate the previous week and Princeton the day after. The last meeting at Rappolt between the two team ended in a 1-0 shootout win for the Leopards. Probably the toughest league game on the schedule, who will be ready???? We need supporters in the stands for this one!!! Defense will be key!!

The Patriot League …..First Up American University

American University will be attacking the 2018 schedule with a chip on their shoulder. Motivation will not be in deficit for this well coached team as they came up short in the Patriot League Championships, losing to Bucknell in a shoot out in the semi-final game. Steve Jennings returns for his 20th season at the helm having guided the Eagles to 10 Patriot League Championships and 2 elite 8 appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

The Eagles will be playing on a brand new surface installed during the summer and Jennings has hired two new assistant coaches. Kristin Matula who comes via UMASS as a volunteer assistant and a USA Field Hockey site manager. She played her hockey at Michigan State earning all big ten honors. A second assistant Rachel McCarthy who was interim head coach at Ohio University arrives also playing Divison one hockey at Louisville.  Steve also has a 3 year volunteer assistant Serge de Motle Veigo from Belgium.

Sam Di Maio rushes up field against American

Last year the Eagles won 13 and lost 6 scoring 62 goals in the process while only giving up 32 for a 3.3 -1.5 average per game. They earned 153 penalty corners. They lose to graduation Haily Bowcutt who scored  a team leading 11 points along with returning senior Rafaela Rubas. Maura Jacobs the teams goalie is back for her final encore between the pipes. Jennings has reloaded with an incoming class of nine.

He must feel good about his team as his out of conference schedule is impressive with Harvard, Delaware,JMU, ODU,Rutgers, and national champion UCONN listed as opponents. Last year the Leopards lost 3-1 in Washington. This year it will be at Rappolt Field. Both team will have six days to prepare as American meets ODU before their trip north and Lafayette will meet Providence.

Oct 20th at noon at Rappolt. I like the Leopards in this one. Go Pards.

The Season Begins…..But First There Must Be Preparation

Players enjoy a great tailgate lunch prepared by Parents

Yesterday was the beginning of the fall season as all assembled for the preseason ritual of medical exams, pictures, room organization and best of all a tailgate arranged by the parents. The emotions were varied, hopefulness, happiness ( at seeing old friends), trepidation from the new players and parents, confusion at new procedures, and sadness for separation from new parents and as their daughter advances on to new adventures.

In the end it was all positive and I am thrilled as ever this day has come. This is competing for a championship. They have the assets of experience, skill and strong leadership to get them to that goal. The future, as always, is filled with obstacles to overcome, but all of us believe this could be the year! I wear the championship ring from 2012, instead of my class ring, this could be the year I get to replace it!!

The first test of course will be a scrimmage with the fiesty Monmouth team on the 14th of August  at 2 pm at Monmouth (according to the Monmouth web site), to be quickly followed by a scrimmage with Drexel August 18 at 6pm ( according to the Drexel website). The Leopards will be playing the Drexel Dragons later on in the season. For those of you that may not have been to the Drexel Field  the Drexel fans are numerous and enthusiastic, so a great turnout for both games is encouraged.


We are all together

Some notes about the team. There are two players who have twin siblings. One player has dual citizenship with the United States and Germany. One player lives in Ireland but is a US citizen, seven players participated in national championship competition this summer, several players had internships or research at the college this summer, and one was a tour guide for the admissions office.

I was delighted to see Sophie Carr walking without her knee brace as she continues her recovery from knee surgery. Everyone else looked fit and healthy, and ready to begin the arduous and what will seem endless preparation leading to that first scrimmages.

But that is how championships are built!!



Hannah Millen number12 receives the first proposal ever at Rappolt Field. She was a star defender for us several years ago. She  receives a proposal ( yes knee and all ). After a “are you sure??” Agreement all around. Congratulations Hannah!!