What Makes A Winner!!

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Doctor Jarrod Spencer is a sports psychologist located in Bethlehem Pa. Aside from being a friend, Jarrod is a graduate of Lafayette College and a former athlete. ( football and high school wrestler). He is the celebrated author of “Mind of the Athlete,” where he explores the psychology that impair or enhance the performance of athletes. His findings can also support coaches, parents and almost everyone who needs to compete or support someone who needs to perform on the field of their choice.

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Recently in his blog he published a piece entitled ” 10 Reasons Why Winners Win.” In the article he enumerates the characteristic of the classic winner and answers the question of how winners continue to win. Yes, ability has a lot to do with winning and losing, but I have seen plenty of talented athletic team not reach their full potential. Here are his ten reasons for all to consider.

1. Driven by a love of winning not by a fear of losing

Many times I have seen teams strategically and tactically try not to lose. In football, most of you will be familiar with the “prevent defense.” In reality in many cases it just prevents winning in close games. Every sport has its prevent attitude and strategy. This doesn’t mean you are not “smart” strategically” but trying not to lose more often than not prevents you from winning.

2. Remain relentlessly optimistic at all time

Pessimism especially on the field is a killer. It prevents attacking your opponent for fear of losing

3. Focus on solutions when things go bad

Retreating to the sidelines emotionally, or. physically does no one any good. It is said in field hockey in particular that 2-0 is the most dangerous score for the leader. One goal gets you close  to a tie and maybe a win. There are always solutions if not for this game, but the next.

4. Fueled by feelings of excitement more than nervousness

Sports is all about emotions. There is nothing wrong with being nervous unless it is overwhelming and stops you from doing that you have been training to do!!

5. Confidence comes from excessive preparation

Knowing what to expect on the field makes you ready to succeed. Prepare so that actions become proactive rather than excitedly reactive. Practice until you have that muscle memory down, know where your teammates are on the field and have situational awareness.

6. Surround yourself with like minded positive people

This is a team sport, you don’t need downers. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn from critical encouragement.

7. Expect to win each time you play

There is no team that can’t be beaten on any given day and today is YOUR day.

8. Slow down the game in your mind and think clearly

That does not mean literally slowing down on the field or decreasing the tempo but use your preparation to break the game into its component parts mentallly

9. As the games gets bigger, your focus gets. more precise

Your good opponents believe they can win as much as you so, you must do the small things great to get better advantge

10. Losing is not a an option….you either win or learn

It’s the sum of all the other points with the admonition to learn from your mistakes and even a loss won’t be a failure.

 

I would add a last point, never, never, never lose your poise. You will not learn, by losing control on the field. You will want your next effort to be better.

The 10 points are Jarrod’s, the comments after are mine. Dr Spencer’s web site is http://www.mindoftheathlete.com

Albany Pushes The Leopards

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Grace Angelella closes in on an Albany Dane

It was a good scrimmage….not the one that I am sure the players or coaches had wished for its outcome, but it will be an exercise that will make them ready for the season to come in 9 days. Albany is a good team, and the Leopards held them at bay until 5:52 left in third quarter when they struck  using a crossing pass to an awaiting Dane in front of the cage who tapped it in . They followed at 8:50 on a corner the fourth and at 6:17 for the final goal in regulation time. Coach Stone, in those quarters, began to substitute liberally. On the other hand, Albany had only 6 players on the bench to sub in.

In the next 9 days the outcome of the scrimmage impressed on me, the need for the two “Ts”  tempo and teamwork. The game as played in division one requires those  T’s to be successful but it takes time for that to jell. I believe this team has amazing talent, but will take awhile for its true potential to blossom.  After all, they have only been together for little more than week.

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Sophie Carr makes her presence known to an Albany midfielder

I was again impressed with Grace Angelella and Sydney Woolston. Today, Mary Gould also showed grittiness and desire on the field. The team as whole, though was stymied by the skillful Albany Danes, and Lafayette let them set their defense as the game went on. There were moments when Lafayette got a jump on Albany but their goalies came up strong to thwart a score.

I thought Lafayette’s goalie’s were also strong in the cage and came up with several key saves.

The game was played during a break in some torrential rains which made the trip home the “journey through hell.” Pam and I were alone in the stands which inhibited us from executed a wave. The next game will be for real on Aug 30th and I know we will be at our best. We will need the stands full and hearty voices at the ready!!

Meanwhile…….

Lafayette Has Added an Additional Game

On Monday Sept 2 @ 6pm the Leopards will play ACC opponent Syracuse @ Syracuse. This is a terrific opportunity our Leopards and raises the number of regular season games to 18.

Lafayette To Face Tough Opponent In Albany Tomorrow

The Leopards will board their vehicles on Wednesday to make the long trek to the University of Albany, to play one of their toughest opponents they will see this year. Albany has 13 straight winning seasons under head Coach Phil Sykes, including a final four appearance in 2014. Last year they amassed a 16-5 record including a 4-0 win against Lafayette in Easton. They are again picked to win the American East title this year. So the Leopards are again facing another preseason favorite to win their conference title.

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In last year’s game the Danes built on a three goal first period lead, to win 4-0. Three of those who scored, # 5 McCrudden, #16 Rocktaeschel and # 12 Burchell will return this season. Sykes welcomed 7 new players, 6 freshman, and 1 transfer from Indiana, giving him a typical Albany squad of 18. There are 2 seniors listed on the squad. One will be # 3 Dana Bozek, their second leading scorer  who had 11 goals and 4 assists.

Sykes has mentioned in interviews that integrating his new players is his biggest challenge and given that almost 40 percent of his squad is newcomers, he probably is telling the truth. But Albany has found ways to succeed, and I expect this team to be no exception. Aside from their league schedule they will play Harvard, Princeton, North Carolina and Delaware who look to be their toughest opponents.

This will be Albany’s first scrimmage, so I expect the opportunity to play against people with different colored jerseys on a full field is welcome. The Leopards of course will be playing  their second scrimmage in three days but it will be their last chance before the real games begin on August 30 against VCU.

The weather looks a little iffy with thunderstorms predicted sometime during the day!  Go Pards!!

Leopards Start Off On The Right Foot ( or maybe paw in this case)!!

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The scrimmage was played under game conditions at Fairfield and for 3 quarters it was pretty much a stand off. But the in fourth quarter, Lafayette found it’s pace and timing.  The athleticism that was evident in the previous three quarters began to pay off. It all started with a strong strike by Grace Angelella from the top of the circle, that found Felicitas Hannes  in front of the cage for the deflection. The other goal during regulation time came later in the fourth quarter from a now familiar rocket by Lisa Van der Geest past the Fairfield goalkeeper.

The third goal was from Ana Steps receiving a pass on a give and go during the 7 v7 practice round. Now, the score doesn’t matter all that much in a scrimmage, but I was impressed with the athleticism and the improvement from everyone on the team. Secondly, the newer players were making their presence felt.

If people know me, I never pander, but this was an impressive afternoon. lf I detailed every contribution, it would have to be an alphabetical list from the entire Lafayette side. This will give Coach Stone an enviable problem. There are A LOT of good hockey players on this team. The Leopards will be deep, and she could put almost anyone on the field without a concern. The question will be, who will be the best under particular circumstances during the season. A great problem to have!!! It also means practices will be challenging and competitive.

I am loathe to acknowledge specific players for fear of leaving someone out, but there were several that deserve mention because they either surprised how quickly they became adapted to the college game, or a veteran who has made strides from last year. Firs,t I was pleased to see Sophie Carr back on the turf. Anyone who has experienced a serious knee injury must know the courage it take to get back to the same level without some trepidation. She showed me her character, and played well, even mixing it up in front of the circle. Well done Sophie!! It shows the great courage and character that we all know you have.

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Simone Hefting, is as advertised and is a terrific athlete. She showed her skill will be of great benefit to the team as the season progresses. I feel compelled to mention Sydney Woolston, who showed her strength and competitiveness, and was noticed not only by me, but several of the Maroon fans on the sideline. Both of our goal keepers, Sarah Park and Haile Abbott, looked more than ready, After all what is better than 0 goals against!

As a playmaker Grace Angelella showed great visibility of the field and leadership from her midfield position. Audrey Sawers will intimidate defenses, and Caroline Turnbull and Cam Costello are the gears that make it all work together. Ana Steps seems inspired and Lisa, well, she is Lisa. Mary Gould showed the work she has put in being prepared for the season. Hanna Lewis was a terrific surprise. Forgive me, I have not seen a tape on you before, but I am looking to see more of what you displayed today.

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This team is good maybe even very good. The next test is Albany on Wednesday and that will be a step up. It’s only the beginning and no doubt in order to beat our Patriot League foes we will have to be even better, but today was a good start!!

The 2019 Leopard Field Hockey Team Hits The Road For The First Time

It’s been hours of practice, drills, and other preparation but come tomorrow, the 2019 edition of Lafayette Field Hockey gets to apply all that training against a real opponent in a controlled scrimmage against the Fairfield Stags in Fairfield Connecticut. Fairfield used to be a member of the Patriot League about 15 years ago, until the league decided that all schools must be all sports members of the League. Two years ago the rivalry was renewed with a home and home series. In the first game Lafayette won with several outstanding performances by our younger players. Last year Fairfield traveled to Easton for the first game of the season and came back with a 3-1 victory.

Lafayette opened the game with an unassisted goal from Caroline Turnbull but Fairfield was to answer with a goal less than a minute later, from Kaley McMullen. That was followed by a late period goal by Iona Armour, and a second period goal by Danielle Profita. Lafayette was to outshoot Fairfield 13-10 and out corner them 6-4 but couldn’t seem to find their way past goalkeeper Zoe Rosen. Rosen and Profita are back as is Turnbull from Lafayette.

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Fairfield is the preseason favorite to win the NEC this year as the Stags went to the MAAC championship game finishing with a 12-9 record. Rosen, by the end of the season sported a gaudy 1.05 goals against average during the year, seventh best in the nation. The Fairfield coach Jackie Kane like the Lafayette Coach Jennifer Stone is a Pennsylvania native and both are returning alumna coaches  of their respective schools. The Leopards were 4-2 in the Patriot League and made it to the PL playoffs last year.

 

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Grace Angelella enters the circle in the first half against Fairfield

So, even though this is “just” a scrimmage, the meeting poses some interesting challenges and good competition to prepare for the regular season. The score may not be that important, but Lafayette coaches will be looking at the effectiveness of new personnel combinations and how quickly the first year players are adjusting to the college division one game.

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I expect virtually everyone will get to see action tomorrow which makes it all that much more interesting for fans. The Coaches will use the opportunity to answer questions of their own.  It will be 12 days when the action will be for the record books, tomorrow will be an important step in being prepared for that day.

League SIDs And Coaches Make Preseason Picks

As predicted here several days ago, the Leopards have been picked in the top four by the League SIDs and Coaches, released today by the Patriot League.  Coaches and SID’s cannot vote for their own team.  Senior Lisa Van der Geest and Sophomore Molly McAndrews were elected to the preseason all league team. Lisa was also named preseason defensive player of the year. She averaged 3.26 shots per game and had 6 assists.  She scored six goals and 18 points. Lisa was a third team all American last year. McAndrews was first team all league last year, and rookie of the year.

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Patriot League rookie of the year weaves her  way  to the goal in 2018

In addition, as predicted the Leopards were picked in the top four at third this year. Last year Lafayette was fourth in the League, but could have finished second had they beaten Bucknell in the last game. Having won against American last year 3-1, the Leopards would have, based on tiebreakers,  slipped into the second spot.

Boston University is picked for first with 70 points and 10 first place votes, American is second with 64 points and 4 first place votes, Lafayette is third with 50 votes, Bucknell is fourth with 44 points Lehigh is fifth with 30 points, Holy Cross is sixth with 22 points and Colgate is seventh with 14 points. In my experience Lafayette has NEVER been picked first in a preseason poll even when they had back to back championships several years ago.

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Audrey Sawers makes her way upfield last spring

Junior Noor Coenen from American was named offensive player of the year. Other notable  observations is that Patriot League teams  will need to face Marcia LaPlante for one more year at Holy Cross. who is named to the PL all league team.  I can’t argue these picks. Even though Boston only has two preseason all league picks, Kiley Gallagher and Ailsa Connolly on the all league team,  they are picked for first, American has three, Coenen ,Jette Dieckmann, and Georgia Davies a Junior, Senior and Sophomore respectively. Davies and Dieckmann were not members of the all league team last year.

Oliva Harris from Bucknell was an all league selection last year and is now in the preseason all league team as GK. Taylor Cassamassa, a Junior, appears on the list for Colgate and Lenke Havas the junior defender from Lehigh reappears after her all league selection last year.

The predicted order of finish according to this poll with 1) Boston 2) American) 3) Lafayette 4) Bucknell 5) Lehigh 6) Holy Cross 7) Colgate is close to where I would have predicted.  My changes would have been Lafayette at least second, and my surprise would be Colgate at 5) therefore making Bucknell and American at 3 and 4.

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Anna Steps breaks the American press

Of those not named at Lafayette, I expect a big year from Audrey Sawers, and I predict Rookie Simone Hefting  will have a major impact as the season progresses. Anna Steps has already demonstrated her skill, and a full season, injury free, will help the Leopards a lot.  Also unmentioned was second team all leaguer, Caroline Turnbull who will not lose a step her senior year.  I also expect to see Grace Angelella as an important contributor this year, The Leopards will be deep, with help from some returning players who were sidelined with injuries last year, as well as some of the new players. They have a plethora of returning talent who I expect will enhance Lafayette’s chances to reach the post season

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We will get a chance to see in five days, at the first intercollegiate scrimmage, how good Lafayette could be!! Go Pards,,, BE THERE!!!

 

The Field Hockey 2019 Season Starts

Wading through the NCAA gobbledygook, pre-season practice for division one field hockey may start about 21 days before the first game. So counting backwards from the Leopards August 30 game with VCU, our Leopards and the rest of the college hockey world should be on their turf with two a days as I write this. I have heard some of our more disparate team members started arriving last Thursday. For the players it may seem like a long time to prepare for the season, but move in and orientation for new students is Aug 23 with classes starting Aug 26. So, for our seven new first year players, it will be a short time to get used to new teammates and the rigors and demands of a division one sport.

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During that time, there will be two scrimmages as well. It’s a challenge for coaches as well as players. The coaches must decide where everyone fits, and to see where players best complement one other. Likewise, players need time to adjust. Field Hockey is fluid game and so much depends on the mesh of the players on the field. For our first year players the speed of the ball and the movement of teammates will be a challenge.

Fitness is important, but the time is past to worry about that. If, as a player, you haven’t prepared yourself, it is unlikely you will be able to keep up with the other mental demands of preseason. Psychologically, for new players, the adjustment will be harder not having the benefit of a spring season. But I have seen many of them play at Spooky Nook, camps and national competitions in their home country. Coach Stone will be pleased with her addition of 7 solid players.

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Molly McAndrews closes in on the ball

If past is prologue, families have dropped off their offspring, amid tears and cheers. The fun part of pictures and first team meals are already in the books and first beep tests, mile runs and other fitness tests are already endured. It is only 6 days before they will see their first college competition of the year at Fairfield, and we will get our first legitimate glimpse of 2019 Leopards in action.

This could be an EXCELLENT team, but that may well depend on the next two weeks….. “effort in.. equals results out.” In the coming days, there will be meaningless preseason picks ( I will save my comments until after that release), but I fully expect Lafayette to be picked in the top four and eligible for post season patriot league play, anything less would be a step backwards. The league will be interesting with two teams ( American and Lehigh) bringing in 10 or more new players. Colgate will be playing a largely veteran team and the always tough Boston team looks at least as good as last year. Holy Cross has always been a thorn in our side and Bucknell is always ready. To my cursory observation  though, there is no team on this schedule that Lafayette is beyond being successful against. More about that for later articles!!