100 Years And Counting

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!!

2022 Class Announced For Lafayette

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 Switzer

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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 Robel

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.

Aimee Hoefnagel

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 Guinter

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!!

Raphaela Fragomeni

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

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!!!

Ellie Barton

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!!!!

Lafayette and Coach Stone Begins To Reveal New Recruits

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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!!

Leopards Finish Tough, Challenging Spring

Lafayette finished their last competition of the spring defending a series of shots on goal as Penn desperately tried to find the back of the net. Becca Harbert turned away three in a row putting an exclamation point on a spring where Stone’s warriors challenged some of the best in Division one. They improved their tempo and pace as the spring marched on while dealing with adversity and very little bench to give them a break on the field.

There were some teams in the league that were content to play some divsion 2 and 3 teams, but our Leopards steeled themselves for a challenging season this fall.

Lafayette started out with Delaware and gave up 2 goals on corners, but in the second quarter they answered with a goal from Lineke Spanns who was busy all afternoon. Felicitas Hannes found her range later on against Penn and was threat to be reckoned with as she wound up towards the goal.

Fans got a glimpse of the future as Spanns and McAndrew teamed up moving the ball up the field. We also saw progress from Alex Conway and Shea Balderson and they were able to turn the direction of their opponents consistently.

Simone Hefting and Sydney Woolston were a wall in the back line often time starting the offensive attack. Despite shortages of personnel, this team shows promise for the fall. There will be 6 or 7 new recruits to bolster the lineup, and springtime injuries will have healed in the coming 100 days.

In any case, our Leopards showed their toughness and skill and will be a considerable threat. Goals missed during the spring will be made this fall, as this could be a fun season for all!!!

Leopards Finish Strong In Spring Contest

It was a tale of two teams as Lafayette started out as cold as the north wind that was blowing across the field at St. Joseph’s. It was a three way series of contests between Lafayette, St. Joseph and Penn State. By the the end of the day the light went on for Lafayette and they demonstrated why their Patriot League opponents will have a lot to think about this fall.

The first two contests between Lafayette and Penn State and later St. Joe’s had the Hawks and Nittany Lions setting the speed and pace of the game. However, by the end of the day the Leopards went into high gear scoring and winning one game with Penn State and getting numerous shots against the Hawks of St. Joes.

Lafayette was finally getting fast breaks and beating the high press their opponents continued to throw at them. It gave this fan a peek of the Leopard team potential.

Everyone was to contribute and our forwards took their legs into high gear until mid afternoon. The Leopards sprint on the field seemed to coincide with the sun which finally came out, as the Leopards were to show their ability.

The day ended with a sudden death overtime 7×7 followed by a shootout with St Joes which the Leopards took.

The next game is with Big Ten opponent Rutgers at 7 pm on Friday.

What Is Required At The “Next” Level

As our young players move from high school to college, the level of hockey continues to improve as many high schools and now universally, clubs, play on turf. At the club level in particular, skills are acquired that can be used in college, as the short water based turf at clubs is more akin to the turf that is used at all division one schools.

Like most sports at the Division one level and beyond, the defining skill for success on the field is speed and the acquisition of receiving skills. The players are faster, the ball is faster, reaction time is faster and increasingly, awareness on the field includes anticipation of not only where your teammate or opponent are on the field, but most importantly where they will be.

Passes are made to give your teammate a lead in full stride much like a football quarterback will lead his wide receiver. On defense the anticipation of movement will lead to opportunities for fast breaks and turning a defensive effort into an offensive scoring threat. It’s a beautiful thing to see when executed in any sport, and often time defines success at each level. Stand still and get beaten at any level. Coach Stone’s emphasis on fitness is the foundation for being able to play the game at a high level. Without fitness, movement will not be possible. She is trying to give all her players experience with top teams who play at a championship level. Spring gives everyone a chance to reach the “next” level and test themselves.

This spring Lafayette will meet St Josephs, Penn State, Rutgers, Penn and, Delaware. All will play at an increasing pace and Lafayette will be learning to play at the pace that defines the “next level.”

This Saturday the Leopards will traveling to St. Josephs and will also play Penn State. Both teams were NCAA tournament participants. Each “game” will be 2 full quarters with 2 minutes between quarters. So 30 minutes of playing. It will be a total of 42 minutes between game start times. The day starts at 11 with St Joes and Penn State. Lafayette plays Penn State at 11:42 and St. Joes at 12:24. Lafayette will next play at 1:48 against Penn State and follow with St. Joes at 2:30.

There is a final game with St Joe’s starting at 3:12. It’s an interesting day for Lafayette and an opportunity for Lafayette to improve their pace and speed.

Spring Is A Time For Learning

The Leopards are still in the construction phase of organizing their team for the fall. Coach Stone has presented the team with strong challenging opponents, which should in the end expose weaknesses as well as, strength while providing learning opportunities. This afternoon, the Leopards faced two good teams. The Hawks of Monmouth, newly a member of the CAA, and the ACC’s Syracuse Orange who showed why they are highly regarded.

The afternoon started out with great promise as Lafayette scored the first goal of the afternoon in an intense scrum in front of the cage. Molly McAndrew found the handle finally to score with only 1 minute having run off the clock.

For the next two periods Monmouth displayed their fast breaking slashing style. The Lafayette’s defense held up well, but the Hawks managed two more goals ( one on a corner). During the three quarters, Monmouth managed as many corners as goals.

Syracuse, who was an NCAA tournament team, also scored 3 goals against another goal by McAndrew. Syracuse also had four penalty corners and five shots on the afternoon.

The weather was threatening all afternoon, and I have to say the Leopards played their best quarter against Syracuse on their third try. The Lafayette offense has yet to get in mid season form, managing few shots and circle penetrations. Most concerning was the lack of any penalty corners all afternoon after six quarters of hockey.

But this is why we have spring “games.” It is not only an opportunity for young players to find their place, but for coaches to evaluate and groom their current talent before the new recruits arrive. The fall will have fewer opportunities before the beginning of the championship season.

For many of the players this is their first spring training where they are having the opportunity to improve their skills and for their teammates to know where they are on the field. Meeting teams like Syracuse, Penn State, Temple and Monmouth is an opportunity, as they may see them again this fall!!

Next week gets no easier, with games at St. Joseph’s with Penn State joining in the fun. I expect our passes to be crisper and energy to be more obvious.

Leopards And Owls Tangle In Spring Game

It’s been about five months since Temple and Lafayette last met when the Leopards prevailed 1-0. Today Temple prevailed 2-1 in a spring game that tested both teams. Lafayette at first had trouble adjusting to Temple’s aggressive zone defense but gradually were to get opportunities one of which was a reverse stick shot by Lineke Spanns that found the back of the cage.

Temple was to later connect on a direct shot that made it two to one….an advantage that Lafayette was not able to counter. Lafayette was able to use both their goal tenders Becca Herbert, and Emma Garvey, both having their moments as the game progressed. The Lafayette defense benefits from a veteran backfield of Simone Hefting, and Sydney Woolston. Last year India Ralph saw significant minutes and acquitted herself well today.

The midfield features Lineke Spanns who scored the only Lafayette goal during the regular game. Filene Gerbrandij also showed some of her regular season skills as the game progressed.

The forward line was solid with Molly McAndew getting a few looks on goal as the Leopards out cornered Temple. Laine Delmonte also saw significant action and was in the center of the action often. Ariel Schumacher was visible for her aggressiveness as well.

Coach Stone should be satisfied with the effort today but clearly there is room for improvement. But that is why we have spring hockey. It’s hard to come to any hard and fast conclusion, and I am sure we will see continued progress as the spring moves on. ( Hopefully with warmer days)

The afternoon ended with some practice shootouts that ended in a 4-4 tie.

Next week Syracuse and Monmouth arrive at Rappolt Field and should be a strong test of the Leopards progress!!!

Time To Look Forward

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Spaans uses her moves

To Say The Least It’s Been An Unusual Year

It’s been a year, first of all with two championship seasons. 2020 was cancelled due to covid, and a season was put together haphazardly in the spring. It was short, random and unfair. All teams did not play each other, although Lafayette was to play a full six games unlike some others in the Patriot League. There was an ill advised policy at Lafayette that sent some 4 players home for the spring which basically left the Leopards with one substitute. However, we can now call this the time of development. It resulted in the development of depth for the fall and the discovery of talent that might not have risen to visibility!!

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McAndrews goes after the ball

The fall season reaped the rewards of that spring opportunity. It was a winning season with some close losses to very good teams. It ended in a championship tournament that was the closest in years. There was a thrilling series of one goal games that demonstrated the competitiveness of the Patriot League. The Covid year allowed Audrey Sawers to compete for an all American season. She eventually was asked to be on the Canadian national squad and she has already earned several caps this past month.

An additional unusual factor going forward is the use of the transfer portal. It did not effect PL field hockey, but we did see some very good players move, not only for their fifth year, but laterally as well in other conferences. The Ivy League in particular was ineffective in retaining talent for an additional season and they did not play in the spring.

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Alden Boccella lines up a pass

Looking Forward

Lafayette to my knowledge has signed at least five new recruits with more to come this spring, This should renew and invigorate the already deep roster. It will be enhanced with one fifth year holdover adding to an already solid veteran team. To me, this makes Lafayette one of the favorites to end up in the championship tournament in November. I look forward to a productive spring.

Moreover, the conference looks stronger which should help in the final seeding in the NCAA tournament. Lafayette played a stronger out of conference schedule, and all indications are that next fall will see a repeat of that schedule’s strength.

Hopes For The 2022 Season

I am hoping all Patriot League teams would strengthen their schedule, especially Lehigh. Lehigh has indeed improved, and their athletes and the League deserve to have their players tested and ranked better, rather than by playing the bottom half of the Division one pool.

Almost every Patriot League game will be played like a post season tournament game. Lehigh has now won two games in row against us and the next game will be at Lafayette. That streak must end. Hopefully Lafayette will be playing with a full squad, unlike the last two times when injuries and an unwise covid policy shortened the Lafayette bench. I really am getting tired those posts in their social media, touting their wins in the last two seasons.

I would hope late season injuries leave us alone next year. They were indeed a factor. I would hope that Lafayette’s one goal losses can be turned into wins which could give us a least a top 20 ranking!!

The spring season will give answers in the filling of holes such as in goal and replacing Audrey Sawers.

I would hope that the influence of Covid is behind us. Clearly, the college seems to have things under control and the latest iteration seems less threatening to those vaccinated. Hopefully, the League as whole will show some common sense.

Finally, I would hope that instant reply will be acquired, as the funding for that is already secured at Lafayette. It is time to move and its establishment should improve disputes on controversial calls. The time is now!!!!

Finally

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I am excited for the spring season which is only 8-10 weeks away. After that, things should be clearer. The team clearly will be one of our best ever. American, Lehigh and Boston will be at Rappolt Field and success in those games will no doubt be a factor in the final seeding and determination of who will host. I am tired of trekking to DC…. hopefully not next year!! You know who I am rooting for. The League rarely chooses to favor Lafayette in the preseason, but that’s ok. I am confident where we will be in the end.

POST SCRIPT: To the patriot league….please include the article written by go leopards regarding Audrey being a second team all American on Dec 14. I noticed the two other articles about the other two but not for Audrey.

A Post Script

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I decided to wait several hours rather than write as I came in the door. I wanted the emotion of the moment to pass, so I had time to reflect on this season. This 2021 game was a game of champions. As I had written, this Patriot League Championship had the best field in my memory. Lafayette, Lehigh, Bucknell and American played three games, worthy of the name, championship series. Each game was decided by one goal, demonstrating an intensity and preparation that spotlights the best of the sport, and represented these athletes well.

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American will be a good adversary in the NCAA tournament, and it is a shame there will be only one representative from the Patriot League in the tournament. Bryn Underwood was named most valuable player, and given the one goal margins, the sophomore deserved the honor.

As to the Leopards, Coach Stone and her staff deserves kudos for their run in these 20 games. They had to overcome many obstacles ( some artificially imposed and some just fate) but they showed championship mettle all during the season. To the seniors, thank you for your individual courage and devotion to the program and your teammates, Molly McAndrew, Alix Talkow, Audrey Sawers, Hailey Abbott, Mary Gould, Kara Tiedtke and Becca Herbert. Hopefully, we shall see several return for their Covid season.

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You can go to Goleopards.com for an account of the game but I have other points I need to make. There is no other way to say it, but officiating of Field Hockey in the US is sub par, and yesterday’s match was a clear example. Officials and players did not have the benefit of video referral. The second American goal could and should have been reviewed. One official in particular refused to state the nature of multiple penalties that caused corners, when asked by a responsible player, and in one case cited a non existent rule.

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Building A Worthy Infrastructure To Match The Effort On The Field

For some of us, we are charged to improve the game and the infrastructure that these young talented athletes compete in. As many of you know, both my wife and I are on the Board of Trustees of USA Field Hockey, as such, we will continue to use our influence to improve the game in the United States. We believe there are several important efforts that could do that. There are initiatives that could improve officiating and the overall game day experience.

First, encourage and even mandate the use of video referral at least at the division one level.

Second, once video referral is established, encourage the use of a third official to interpret those referrals.

Three, mandate a requirement that calls ( especially on referred calls and always on corners) are recognized and transmitted via loudspeaker to the crowd to have them understand the reason for the call. This is done in American football, and since corners now have the clock stopped it should not be a burden. It is done in FIH games, it should be done at the intercollegiate level.

Fourth, officials should be fairly compensated. Patriot League official are compensated less than other leagues.

Finally, I urge Lafayette to be true to their plan to create and encourage championships, which includes the installation of video referral. I have been on a mission for two years to get that done. It’s time to step up and be a leader in the League. My sense in conversations with other PL coaches is if we were to do it, others would follow!!

I also urge the college to reward coaches who have done well and encourage others by example to follow. Again, the college should be an encourager rather than an obstacle to success. Covid was a serious concern but unwise and overzealous administration of protocols was and is more of an obstacle than an assistance.

The college should be helpful for those who choose to exercise their Covid season.

The college should be mindful of the fan and not ignore needs like adequate bathrooms and press and video facilities to have parents, alumni, and ordinary fans participate in the experience. This will enhance the fund raising capabilities and pay for itself!

With these modest improvements the “program” can continue to prosper and earn the championships these athletes deserve. Doing less is not acceptable!!!

I was so proud of our team in yesterday’s game. They gave everything they had……we should be doing no less!!!