Fourteen Seconds Adds To Lafayette Field Hockey Lore

DSC_9586
Alden Boccella lines up a pass

With fourteen seconds left on the clock in regulation I must admit it looked pretty bleak but THIS team was not finished. Short handed, due to a late card, the Leopards had pulled their goalkeeper but somehow managed to earn a corner and lined up what was perhaps the last play of the game. The first shot went to the top of cage bouncing off the crossbar….damn I said to myself. But Alden Boccella, sophomore midfielder, who had been sidelined with an injury since the Lehigh game stepped up and smacked the ball in to tie the score….overtime.

DSC_9578
Filine Gerbandij fights for possession

But this game was filled with additional heroics and character. Senior attacker, Molly McAndrew opened scoring with a rocket squeezed past the Bucknell goalie only 4:46 into the first quarter. Bucknell later answered with a goal at 9:38 and 32:54, which gave them a 2-1 advantage by the third quarter.

DSC_9531
McAndrews goes after the ball

The final heroics began in the fourth quarter, as rookie of the year freshman, Lineke Spaans took control at midfield, turning on her afterburners, and scoring an unassisted goal at 48:25. Spaans was clearly on Bucknell’s mind all game as she was marked closely, but her speed was evident on both defense and offense along with her ball control.

DSC_9558
Spaans outruns the Bucknell defense

Bucknell was to respond with about 7 minutes left in the game with their own freshman ace scoring on a corner, making it 3-2 Bucknell, setting up the last minute tying score by Boccella.

Overtime, with its 7 v 7 format, opened up space for the Leopards and they patiently waited for their opportunity. The Bucknell aggressive play was to backfire, as a Bison player was cited for a hard tackle near the circle causing not only a card but a corner!! Audrey Sawers took the game in her hands, delivering a hard shot to the right side of the goal in a small space left vacant by the Bison goal keeper as she went down.

DSC_9581
Offense Player of the Year Audrey Sawers shows some offense

As we left the field, I thought of the difference in this Lafayette team. It occurred to me it can be explained in the meanings of sport and athleticism. Good athletes exhibit skill which enable them to play their sport. How they apply their athletic ability allows them to be successful!

This 14-5 Leopard team, who will play for a championship this Saturday, understands character and the objective of their sport. Team sport in particular builds team memories and program “lore.” Everyone, fans, players and coaches had that added to their DNA on November 4th!!

Why I Love The Leopards This Post Season

DSC_9412
Hefting was there when needed

The Leopards have not a won a League Championship since 2012 and last participated in a Championship Game in 2019. Last year, in the spring season that substituted for a real season, each Patriot League team did not play every other team. The Leopards were hobbled with Covid misadventures last spring, that limited the number of squad members. Despite all that, they lost a number of games by one goal.

Despite the obstacles, Lafayette returned for a season to remember. They returned this fall with a deeper and effective bench, and a first year class that contributed right away. They have the best overall record in the League at 13-5 and didn’t back away from any challenge, completing a schedule that included two of the top five teams in the country. They suffered injuries before a key game with Lehigh that ended in a controversial call in overtime. They stood tall at the end of the season beating Bucknell and giving the number two team ( by some reckoning) in the nation, Rutgers, all they could handle.

DSC_9417
Spaans uses her moves

This is the strongest field for a Patriot League tournament in my memory but Lafayette brings perhaps their strongest team in their history. They are fast, and they are skilled, and may be beyond the injury bug that plagued them late in the season. In my estimation anyone could end up the winner on Saturday afternoon. No doubt I am a partisan but there is reason to think the Leopards are ready.

First, they are peaking at the right time which is so crucial this part of the year. Their last game was with a tough Rutgers team, American beat Colgate 3-0 on Friday, Bucknell lost to Drexel and Lehigh lost to Wagner on Sunday.

The Leopards captured every category in the weekly player of the week awards this past week. Audrey Sawers and Leneke Spaans earned season awards as the top offensive player and rookie of the year!! All league honors went to Sawers, Spaans, Hefting, Abbott, and McAndrews. But that is not the full story. The Leopards have scored 48 goals for a very good 2.67 goals a game but other side gets little press, they only allowed 1.22 goals per game. They take 15.8 shots a game and allowed only 9.9 goals per game. Abbott has a .767 save percentage and looks stronger every game.

DSC_9248
Filene Gerbandij know how to get around a Drexel defender

There will be challenges. Bucknell is a fine team and is always dangerous once inside the circle and they are the defending champion. First games are always intense and expect the two games will be worthy of the moniker of a championship playoff series.

Lafayette has that inner desire to win that makes for the intensity that is required in a championship series.

Make no mistake the first game between Lehigh and American will be no less intense as they try to cap off their most successful season in recent years. Anything can happen and a Lehigh/Lafayette championship would be this fan’s dream!!

But most of all I believe in the energy, skill, and experience of the Leopards…..Go Pards!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sawers Scores OT2 Goal With Spaans Assist

DSC_9431
Audrey Sawers shows her stuff to Bucknell

This game was billed as having no consequences for Bucknell. They would be part of the middle seeds, no matter what, but for Lafayette it was a 2 seed or a 4 seed playing the number 1 seed American. This was championship hockey for both teams with the skill and tempo of a late season rivalry game. With 1:49 into the second overtime Leneke Spanns started a 2 on 1 break towards the Bison goal. She spotted Audrey Sawers positioned perfectly and passed the ball allowing Sawers to bury the game winner and sending the Leopards to a repeat game on Thursday and a Lehigh meeting with number 1 American University.

DSC_9417
Spaans uses her moves

The game started out with a neat break and tip in from Alix Talkow off a pass from Spanns giving the Leopards an early lead. But Bucknell less than 9 minutes later, was to execute a corner with feeds from Kile to Mackenzie, to Kaur, to Noor and finally to Stefanowicz knotting the score at 1.

DSC_9407
Talkow intercepts ball

It was to remain 1-1 until Spaans sped into the circle for the Leopards pulling around and scoring a solo goal 8:39 into the second period. The score remained 2-1 at the halftime break.

With less than 3 minutes to go in the game Emily Doyle tied it for Bucknell with an assist from Reanne Burgess and the game went to OT.

The first overtime was to see Lafayette gain an upper hand with 3 shots for the Leopards and none for the Bison. The second overtime again saw Lafayette with 3 shots to none for Bucknell the final shot being the winner from Sawers.

DSC_9412
Hefting was there when needed

The tale of statistics had the Leopards with a 21- 13 shot advantage while Bucknell had 6-4 lead in penalty corners with 3 in the third period. Hailey Abbott had another great game with 8 saves many at critical times.

DSC_9433
Mackenzie Hall makes her self known to Bucknell

This was another character win as the Leopards needing the team as a whole to step up. Play by a returning Simone Hefting and Shea Balderson, whose 60 minutes were played with great skill and intensity. Lafayette used only 4 substitutes while Bucknell used 9 from their bench.

The PL tournament looks to be the most balanced and talent filed field in my memory. In the meantime, Lafayette will be playing the number three team in the nation in Rutgers tomorrow while Bucknell will be meeting Drexel.

Bucknell and Lafayette Will Battle For Seeds In The PL Tournament.

DSC_9248
Filene Gerbandij know how to get around a Drexel defender

Bucknell vs Lafayette games have always been competitive and Saturday’s game will be no exception. Even though Bucknell has an 8-7 record and Lafayette is 12-4, Bucknell’s in conference record is 4-1 and Lafayette is 3-2. Bucknell’s last game was a 4-2 win against Colgate while Lafayette beat Colgate 5-1 earlier in the season. Lafayette lost to Lehigh on a penalty stroke last Saturday and bounced back to beat Temple 1-0. Bucknell’s 6-1 victory against Lehigh was in a veritable monsoon!!

Other season stats are interesting Lafayette has 44 goals on 259 shots while Bucknell has 37 goals on 190 shots. Lafayette has 18 goals scored against them on 153 shots while Bucknell has 33 goals scored against them on 144 shots. Bucknell’s Clara McCormick has a 2.10 GAA average for a .648 save percentage. Lafayette’s Hailey Abbott has a 1.06 GAA average with a .77 save percentage. Lafayette has 100 corners on record and Bucknell has a 107 corners. To compensate for the lower number of shots Bucknell has a 19.5 shot pct compared to Lafayette’s 17 % shot percentage.

DSC_9143

Defense will obviously have a big role on Saturday stopping Bucknell while Buckenell’s task will be to stop Lafayette’s high powered offense. Lafayette will have the home field advantage, in what will be a light drizzle at game time!!

This game is not without significance, as a win for Lafayette will lock Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh in a three way tie….the loser having the probability of facing League leading American. This game will be the last appearance by the seniors at Rappolt Field so this may have an extra incentive to win!! Bucknell seems to score the majority of their goals in the second period while Lafayette seems to pretty much spread it out all game 11,10,9 and 12 in the respective periods. Lily Neilson is big threat with 13 goals to her credit, the next highest goal scorer is Mk Stanfanowicz with 6. For Lafayette goals can come from anywhere as Sawers, McAndrew, Hannes, Talkow and Spanns have scored 9,8,8,6 and 5 goals respectively.

DSC_9169

As usual this will be a hard fought game just as it should be late in the season. It’s tournament tempo!!!!

Breaking : Audrey Sawers Named To Canadian National Team

_big_a16LC_M7308

The Canadian National Team announced that Audrey Sawers is named to the Team. The team will train in Chula Vista in November and will play Team USA later for a series of test matches. The US Team captain is Lafayette alum Amanda Magadan. Congratulations to Audrey!!!

Leopards Get Gutsy Win Against Temple

DSC_9349
Hailey Abbott combines with teammate forming a wall by the goal

Still nursing wounds both psychic and physical, the Lafayette Field Hockey Team used their depth and skill to get an emotional win against a senior day opponent. Temple. TheBig East foe pulled out all the stops but Lafayette prevailed in a 1-0 defensive battle. The Leopards led in most categories, including penalty corners 6-3, shots 14-9 and Hailey Abbott again coming up big when it counted with 4 saves, 3 in the fourth quarter.

DSC_9363
Mary Gould and Felicitas Hannes get into position

Lafayette’s one goal came at 18:17 into the game after a Leneke Spanns shot which rebounded off the Temple goal keeper and alertly planted in the cage by forward Molly McAndrew. The game was a team win. Lafayette used their considerable depth to get the win . Audrey Sawers had 5 shots, Spanns, McAndrew,Ralph and Alex Darrah had 2, while Alex Talkow contributed 1.

DSC_9403
Lafayette greets ex teammate Grace Angelella

The senior day events were notable in that Grace Angelella, Lafayette alumna was using her covid year to play and acquire her masters degree at Temple. As such she was participating as a senior in an Owls uniform. As she was introduced both the Lafayette team and their fans gave her a rousing cheer as her name was announced. Grace had one shot on goal during the game. After, there were hugs and high fives. The game was competitive until the end with Temple getting off their last shot with ten seconds left.

The unsung heroes and gutsy performance awards go to Sydney Woolston and Shea Balderson who stepped up when needed, showing great courage and determination.

DSC_9393
Molly McAndrew gets ready to defend

The Leopards have three games left before the Patriot League playoffs and despite the late season injuries there was a great opportunity to improve on team depth and experience. The last league  game of the season will come this Saturday against Bucknell, a co-member of the field of four for the playoffs along with American and Lehigh. What is still left to be decided are the final seeds between Lafayette, Bucknell and Lehigh. A loss on Saturday will place the Leopards in the bottom seed and will meet American in the first game on November 4th. A win will throw the seeding into tie breakers, as all three would be 4-2.

DSC_9356
Filine Gerbrandij sees Felicitas Hannes

Here are the League tie breakers as written:

In the case of multiple ties ( more than two teams tied for the same sport), the following process will be used: Note, the entire process for multiple team ties must be completed. The Patriot League does not revert back to the two way tie formula once the multiple team tie has been resolved.

Records between the tied teams will be evaluated to determine if one team won more contests against the other tied institutions.

Asssuming a Lafayette win over Bucknell  , all teams remain tied with a 4-2 record with one win each between the three against another

IF a tie still exists a comparison of records will be conducted for each team starting with the highest seed not involved in the tie and continuing through the lowest seed if necessary.

I assume this means PL record, but if it includes the entire record, the Leopards by far prevail with the best record, Lehigh second and Bucknell last. The Leopard would play Lehigh. Bucknell would play American.

At that point the sport specific tiebreaker kicks in

Comparison of records versus out of League common opponents. 

Temple is a common opponent and all three teams beat Temple. Villanova is a common opponent. Lafayette was the only team of the three to beat Villanova. Lafayette would then be a 2 seed. Move on to other tie beakers at this point

Goal differential between the tied team ( capping at +/- 4)

Lehigh’s loss to Bucknell puts them at a disadvantage. Lehigh would then play American in the first round.

Goal differential in all League games.

Again Lehigh at a dissadvantage

NCAA RPI rating.

At that point only Bucknell and Lehigh left.. advantage to Bucknell with Lehigh’s weaker schedule a disadvantage. Lehigh plays American, Bucknell plays Lafayette.

So I let you figure it out…but the prevailing requirement is a win against Bucknell to avoid a game against American in the first game.

It’s “The Rivalry” On Friday Night

Both Lafayette and Lehigh will enter Friday night’s contest with a place in the Patriot League tournament. But there are still things to be settled. Lafayette still has an outside chance of hosting with a win over Lehigh and Bucknell and American losing to Boston and Colgate. Boston lost to a very good Harvard team on a penalty stroke Monday night….maybe with an end of season surprise with Colgate…I can dream can’t I.

On a more realistic plane there is still the seedings to be decided. If Lehigh were to lose they would most likely have to play American in the first round, while Bucknell would duke it out with Lafayette to play in the championship game. BUT THIS IS THE RIVALRY and Lehigh has been improving year by year. Lafayette has a 41-14-3 record against the Mountain Hawks but since 2015 each of these games have been one goal affairs with two of them settled in overtime. Since that date the games have gone back and forth with Lafayette having a 4-2 edge.

_big_a8LC_M7735

Tomorrow the two teams will have the two leading offenses in the Patriot League with Lafayette having a 2.93 average and Lehigh having a 2.80 average. Sarah Bothus and Lenke Havase are the leading goal makers with the former having 9 goals and the latter 10 goals. ( Lehigh has one more game on its books). Lafayette has a diversified attack with Audrey Sawers collecting 9 goals, Felicitas Hannes getting 7 goals, Molly McAndrew and Alix Talkow collecting 6 each, and Lineke Spanns getting 5.

_big_DSC00631

Lafayette has played 3 ranked teams and Lehigh has played only one ( American). Lehigh has 217 shots in 15 games and Lafayette has 234 shots in 14 games. The big difference to my mind is Lafayette’s defense which has allowed 125 shots and Lehigh has allowed 150 shots. Hailey Abbott Lafayette’s goalkeeper has a .767 save percentage while Maddie Kahn from Lehigh has a .719 save percentage.

This will be senior night for Lehigh which will just add to the intensity and they are giving out towels to the first 100 students who show. Lehigh is pulling out all the stops as will Jennifer Stone and her Lafayette Leopards. It should be a great game we need our fans to be there.

Go Pards!!!

Power And Finesse Describe Sawers And McAndrew

Lafayette’s offense has reached levels not seen in recent years. They are averaging nearly 3 goals a game and scoring seems to come from anywhere on the field. Audrey Sawers and Molly McAndrew represent a large part of that improvement. Any opponent would be committing field hockey malpractice ignoring these two seniors. They contribute even if they are not scoring, by attracting attention to allow Lafayette to create opportunities.

Molly McAndrew

The Cherry Hill native brings a lot to the team. She was freshman player of the year, has more that 55 points including 22 goals in her 59 games played. She made the all Patriot League team in 2018 and 2019 including numerous several PL weekly awards. Combine that with making the NFHCA National academic squad makes this economics major an all around person.

Opponents will never know where and when a shot will come from. Her highlights include game winning goals against Lehigh and a splendid shot winning overtime reverse stick shot again Drexel her freshman year. But she is also a team player helping her teammates and the team to be in a position to score.

One need only to talk to her for one minute to experience her intensity and commitment. She spends much of her summer training and I have seen her play in numerous USA field hockey events. In all respects she is a winner!! No doubt she will be an asset to anyone who decides to employ her. However, her accomplishments are not done yet and I predict there will a lot for her to add to her resume before the end of the season.

Audrey Sawers

Unknown-16

I suppose I could write this year was Sawers 2.0, given her extra year of eligibility brought on the NCAA making allowances for the Covid season

Audrey was always an important member of the team. She brings 75 games played 16 goals scored and even 3 defensive saves. She is an all Patriot League selection as well as selection on the all Mid East Region team. However, the North Vancouver native has also distinguished herself by being selected for the under 21 Canadian National Team.

Woe to the defender trying to guard her one on one. She is a combination of speed, finesse and power. I have seen her leave an opponent stunned by her moves and power. I was at a game sitting near a Big Ten Coach who remarked at the amazing abilities of number 16.

She picked up a second major which enables her to get two degrees when graduating. She wiil graduate with BA’s in economics and art.

Perhaps more than her play on the field she is a leader on the field, directing play and encouraging others. I have several times seen her hug and encourage her teammates after an extra effort or first goal. She is the captain’s captain.

She is as distinguished as she is skilled and no doubt in my mind the team would not have been as successful without Sawers 2.0.

Abbott, Gould And Talkow Take Advantage Of Their Opportunities To Exel

Hailey Abbott

Abbott_Hailey

Hailey Abbott came to Lafayette with some terrific credentials. She had finished her high school career with 49 shutouts, was team captain, U-17 national team and made the U-19 in 2016. Despite all her accolades she bided her time during her freshman and sophomore seasons, awaiting her time. The highlight of her first two years was an appearance in a Boston University game and she stopped a penalty stroke. In her junior year Covid struck and her opportunities seemed to diminish due the limited schedule offered in the spring ersatz season that the Patriot League offered. Starting in four of those games she took advantage of every opportunity gaining confidence.

As every game progressed this season her confidence progressed. She faced the very best including a stand out performance against then number 4 ranked Penn State. She has been named Goalkeeper of the week several times this year and her statistics, goals against and save percentage solidifies in my mind her claim as the leading goalie in the Patriot League. She is not finished yet!!

The mathematics and economics major from Malaga,N.J. has made the NFHCA D1 National Academic Squad, most importantly has gained the confidence and admiration of her teammates. The season may be in its ending sprint to the playoffs but I am sure Hailey will continue to excel and earn additional plaudits going forward.

Mary Gould

Gould_Mary

The pandemic may have been an obstacle for many but Mary, like her teammates made her opportunities work for her and her team. She became a regular fixture in the lineup during the covid spring season and became an  important feature of our defense. She is easy to pick out with her bright red hair but it isn’t her most distinguishing feature. She is intense and committed in everything she does. Aside from being a student of the game she has taken advantage of her educational opportunities. A neuroscience major in Lafayette’s acclaimed program she has immersed her self in the intricacies of the brain while excelling on the field.

She is fun to watch as she has become a dominant and enthusiastic defender. It makes no difference if her opponent is a lesser team or a nationally ranked team she puts the same effort into her performance. She was a member of the team Leadership council. She has played in 39 games and last Sunday scored her first goal of her career against Drexel using a reverse backhand expertly delivered to the back of the cage.

My impression is that there is no place she would rather be the on the field than with her teammates. Her enthusiasm, dedication and loyalty will take her far in her future endeavors.

Alix Talkow

Talkow_Alix

If there is a story of hard work, dedication and patience it is the story of Alix. She spent two years on the bench appearing very sparingly on the field. In one brief moment in her first two years she was excited to finally have “stats.”  She loves her teammates and demonstrates enthusiasm in whatever she attempts and has gained a reputation around the school as a bright and engaging spokesperson for the team and athletics in general. She is president of SAAC and earned the appreciation of the athletic admnistration as well. Covid may have been downer for most athletes but she took advantage by gaining playing time and confidence in the process.

When the fall arrived she was thankful for the playing time in the spring but assumed she would be helping her team from the sideline. But her speed, ability and intensity won out as she became and important contributor in this amazing run to the playoffs. Alix’s confidence arrived the same time she scored early in the season. She is a leading goal scorer with perhaps her highlight being the two goals scored this past Sunday. She has knack for being in the right place at the right time.

She is always ready to credit her teammates and coaches for their success but my vision of her diving to turf, defending against the best in country, and her encouragmet to her team is inspirational. She is a consistent member of the 2019 and 2020 NFHCA  D1 national academic Squad and PL honor roll. Rumor has it that Alix has already secured a job with a major financial institution in New York. Look out world Alix is on her way!!

Lafayette Explodes For A 7-0 Win Against Drexel

DSC_9261
Sawers gets ready to launch one her three goals

7-0….What do I write, “thinks me!” Seven goals….. senior day…I can’t quite remember anything quite like it. Is it a record….who cares!! It was such a perfect game and a metaphor for the season and this team. Sawers explodes for a hat trick, Talkow gets two and adds to her dream season, Spanns sends a rocket to the back of the cage, and the penultimate was Mary Gold getting the first of her career much to the delight of her teammates. Yes, penultimate..the best..the ultimate is before them!!!

DSC_9277
Talkow speeds down the field

But that wasn’t all, there were two assists by Ralph India, two from Filine Gerbrandij,and one from Molly McAndrew, and MacKenzie Hall. Lafayette used 8 substitutes including senior goal keeper Becca Herbert who put in 9 minutes in the cage. Starting goal keeper Hailey Abbot turned away three shots and now leads the Patriot League goalkeepers in save percentage.

DSC_9248
Filene Gerbandij know how to get around a Drexel defender

Could this team be. peaking at the right time? I hesitate to declare it so. Lehigh awaits for Friday night, and Bucknell is right behind them. Those are the two teams Lafayette most likely could meet in the Patriot League playoffs. There is no point in letting up now. This season is not done.

The seniors were treated to festivities after the game at a parent organized tailgate. There were lots of remembrances of their careers and life at Lafayette. Some of it was obviously inside recollections by the team, but Coach Stone reminded all, there is business yet to be done!! No doubt, but for Molly McAndrews, Alix Talkow, Audrey Sawers, Haily Abbott, Becca Herbert,Mary Gould and Kara Tiedtke it’s ok to reflect on how they got here and where they want to go with the rest of the season.

DSC_9296
Seniors get roasted by Juniors

Lafayette Gives Penn State All It Can Handle In 3-1 Lion Win

_big_aLC_M7387
Abbott making one of her 13 saves

Every goal in this game was scored on a corner as the play between the 25’s was as intense as it was skilled. Yes, the Nittany Lions outshot the Leopards 23-6 but many of the shots were not on mark, and were more of circle entries and shots taken with a hope of a deflection or redirection. The Leopard defense stood tall in the circle with Hailey Abbott turning in a career performance with 13 saves on evening.

_big_a8LC_M7735

But it was also the defense which came up big holding Penn State to zero goals for three quarters. In fact the Leopards held a 1-0 lead going into the fourth quarter with the goal coming from a shot off a corner by Simone Hefting assisted by India Ralph and Filine Gerbrandij.

The three fourth quarter PSU goals came in the 46th, 47th, and 53rd minute by Emma Spisak, Jemma Punch, Anna Simon…all the result of corners. PSU head coach Char Morrett said after the game. “I thought we played some of out best field hockey of the year in this game.” Head Coach Jennifer Stone was proud of the effort her team made. She noted in particular her defensive line and goal keeper Abbott.

Penn State opened with a high press hoping to trap the Leopards into making mistakes and turning the ball over. The Leopards handled it well, though Penn State did manage to keep the early action on Lafayette’s side of the field.

_big_a8LC_M7467

It was in the second half that it became obvious Lafayette was getting comfortable with the pace of the game, and they began to make threats of their own, ending in forays into the attacking circle. The Hefting goal was the highlight for the nearly 600 fans who were in attendance.

Penn State only used four subs for the entire game, while the Leopards used five. With five minutes left in the game Coach Stone pulled her goalkeeper hoping to close the gap. Abbott left the game until Audrey Sawers received a green card.with three minutes to go. The Leopards never conceded defeat, playing hard to the very end. Sawers again showed leadership. Finally Coach Morett-Curtis noted, “Lafayette came at us hard with their speed and quickness.”

The Leopards return to Rappolt Field on Sunday to meet Drexel and next Friday there will be a 7 pm Patriot League contest with arch rival Lehigh. Tonight’s performance will give both teams something to think about!!!