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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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Seniors get roasted by Juniors

The Patriot League Tournament Field Is Set

The Patriot League field for the post season tournament is set as result of yesterday’s games. American beat Holy Cross giving the Crusaders 4 losses, Colgate lost to Boston giving them four losses. The best Boston can do is 3-3 and the worst Lafayette, Lehigh and Bucknell can do is 3-3 but all have beaten Boston breaking any tie breaker. As a result the field is American, Lafayette, Bucknell and Lehigh.

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But the final seeds must still be decided. American must still play Boston and Colgate. Should they lose both and Lafayette wins their last two with Bucknell and Lehigh, Lafayette would host. If Lafayette were to lose the last two  and American wins one of their two games, Lafayette would meet American in the first round. One win for Lafayette would give them a 2 or three seed and they would play Bucknell or Lehigh.

There are a number of scenarios that can be played with but one thing is for certain the four teams are set. The remainder of the regular season is still to be played with Drexel arriving today followed by an arch rival game with Lehigh at Lehigh on Friday night. Temple at Lafayette follows with Bucknell at home on Saturday and then a game in New Jersey against the number 3 team in the nation Rutgers.  The tournament follows the following week end!!

Today is senior day. Usually, I highlight the seniors during the week previous but this year I will do that next week with Lehigh on the way!!

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

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

Nittney Lions Of Penn State Are Hosted By Lafayette On Friday

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Sophia Gladieux is the leading Lion scorer

The Leopards will entertain Penn State this Friday in a renewal of the Pennsylvania series that goes back decades. Lafayette is the only Pennsylvania school to have beaten the Penn State Nittney Lions where State holds a large edge. It has been about 8 years since the two schools have met with Penn State having won the last outing 4-1 in 2014. This year they come to challenge Lafayette. who has a 10-2 record against Penn State’s 9-3 record. The Lions are ranked at least 5th in the nation while the Leopards best rating is 18th by Bolster.

By most readings Penn State has had the more difficult schedule losing to number one ranked Iowa twice and number 4 ranked Rutgers once. ( The Leopards will be playing Rutgers later this season). This being an out of conference game for both, certainly respect and pride is on the line. But it does have practical consequences. Seeding which is basically done based on RPI in the NCAA tournament can be effected and selection as an at large participant can be influenced by the outcome. The Leopards were an at large selection in 2012.

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The only common opponent to date is Indiana who the Leopards beat 4-0 and and Penn State beat 4-1. The last Patriot League opponent for Penn State was Bucknell which they beat 4-1. ( Bucknell initially was winning 1-0 before an onslaught of goals and shots). Other than that, statistics for each look familiar. The Leopards have scored 33 goals on 198 shots while Penn State has scored 32 goals on 169 shots. Lafayette opponents have managed only 12 goals on 96 shots while Penn State’s opponent have 18 goals on 134 shots. Lafayette has had 77 penalty corners while giving up 55. Penn State has 88 penalty corners while giving up 61.

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Alix Talkow has 4 goals to her credit so far

Hailey Abbott, Lafayette goal keeper sports a .714 save percentage while Brie Barraco has a .739 save percentage although the Lafayette defense has allowed far less shots.

Both teams have exciting young players with sophomore Sophia Gladieux (number 3) the leading goal scorer with 13 to date for the Lions. Lafayette scorers are more spread around with 10 players contributing goals. Felicitas Hannes ( number 5) leads the Leopards with 7. She is closely followed by Audrey Sawers, and Molly McAndrew with 6 each. To my mind this may come down to the veteran defensive backfield of Lafayette vs the young offense of Penn State! I had this game circled all season and am excited to finally see it.

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Sophomore Alden Bocello takes off in Boston

As to the rest of the Patriot League, at least one team will be eliminated from the PL tournament as BU will play Colgate both with 3 losses each. The top four, American, Lafayette, Bucknell and Lehigh can do no worse than 3 loses going forward. In the coming week Lafayette will play Lehigh as the seeding gets sorted out. The second definite elimination will be decided in two weeks in the Boston/ Holy Cross game, leaving only one with a chance for the final seed.

Lineke Spanns Receives Long Pass From Sawers And Gets Game Winner In Overtime Against Brown

For most Lafayette Fans Brown means Lehigh but the Leopard’s Field Hockey team played their first game ever against Brown University on Sunday. The Leopards brought home a 2-1 victory in overtime with a Lineke Spanns’ strike at the 67:36 mark. It was a back and fourth struggle as the Leopards had just completed an important game with Boston University on Saturday. But this group just sucked it up and played a tough game against an Ivy League Team who themselves were riding a 3 game win streak, plus an equally long shutout record.

The Brown captain and ace player Dani van Rootselaar was the main antagonist as she dominated play. for the Browns taking a leading 7 shots during the contest. Countering that was Leineke Spann’s three shots, one of course being the game winner in overtime.

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Spanns speeds away from a Brown player

Lafayette opened scoring with Alix Talkow being at the right place at the right time at 3:29, knocking a loose ball into the net to give the Leopards the early lead. The rest of quarter found the Brown Bears getting off 4 shots of their own, but the Lafayette’s outstanding goal keeper Hailey Abbott stood tall turning away all four. It wasn’t until 45: 53 that Brown finally broke onto the scoreboard with tipped shot off a corner by Stacy Lukasheva assisted by van Rootselar. The corner occurred as the Leopards were short handed due to a yellow card against Lineke Spanns.

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Abbott makes another save

The Leopards had 3 cards, two against Spanns and the Bears had one green. Lafayette had 34 calls against them as opposed to Brown’s 21. The grey, wet, and cold day just enhanced the contentiousnes felt on the field and in the stands.

Leopards will take their 10-2 record and put it against Penn State this Friday at 7pm.

Lafayette Prevails In Intense Patriot League Clash

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In the course of a winning season successful teams must adjust and compensate for many adverse circumstances. The Leopards did all of that on this Saturday afternoon. Sometimes its more than overcoming the other team.  Obstacles can be a long bus ride, windy weather, a bouncy turf, or officials and their style of calling a game. All those were in play as the Leopards beat the Boston Terriers in Boston 3-1.

In the case of the Terriers, it was pride in defending a successful program and digging a hole in front of Patriot League post season play, and for the Leopards it was the construction of a path  for securing that berth in the post season schedule.

It was up to freshman Lineke Spanns to set the tone early, as she delivered on a early reverse stick shot 4:04 into the game and established an early lead for the Leopards. She was to be involved all game long as the Terriers struggled with her speed and aggressive play. When it seemed like the Terriers were about to tip the balance in their favor, it was Spanns who was make life difficult for them in a break out with red shirted opponents trying to keep up with her.

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It was also the leadership of Audrey Sawers and attention given to her, that settled the often intense battle as the Leopards had to contend with a bouncy turf. After 43 minutes following the Spanns goal there was a defensive battle led by Simone Hefting and a strong performance by civil engineering defender Sydney  Woolston, who dug in constructing a wall in front of the goal for the Leopards.

Boston’s Thalia Steessens  at 47: 23, was able to find an opening, gathering a rebound locking the score at 1-1. But  Sawers was to answer right back off a corner, assisted by  Spanns and inserter India Ralph, giving the Leopards the 2-1 lead. The Leopards, over the course of game, collected 3 green cards. So for 10 percent of the game  were they were playing a player short.

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In a desperate attempt to tie the game with 3 minutes to go, the Terriers pulled their goalie. At one point with nearly a minute left, the Leopards were to be called for not putting the ball in play quickly enough ( a call I have never seen in 30 years of watching division one hockey). In addition, the Leopards were called awarding a corner to Boston. Again the defense stood tall allowing Molly McAndews to deliver the “coup de grace” on an open goal at 59:26.!!!

Leopards now have a firm grasp on the post season tournament with only one more in conference win to assure them of a place. The Leopards will meet Ivy League foe Brown University tomorrow in Providence RI!

Beantown Awaits the Leopards

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The Leopards most likely will board a team bus on Friday and make the four or five hour trip to Boston to be ready to play the Terriers from Boston University on Saturday @12. Although only sporting a 2-9 record, Boston University has played a difficult schedule with the likes of Iowa,Boston College, Princeton and Maine meeting the Terriers. They have now lost 8 straight games including 2 to league rivals Lehigh and Bucknel, both by 1 goal.

Boston has alway been known for their strong defense, ability to counter attack, and corner efficiency. To date after 11 games they have scored 13 goals on 87 attempts and their opponents have scored 31 goals on 155 attempts. This will compare with Lafayette’s 28 goals on 180 attempts and 10 goals on 71 attempts by opponents in their 10 games. Those statistics include the 7-0 loss to Princeton that Boston had on Sept 19th. Since then, they have had three one goal losses, to Bucknell, Northeastern and Maine.

The shot percentage is close with the Leopards scoring on 15.6 % and Boston scoring on 14.9 % of their shots. Boston has had 47 penalty corners while Lafayette has had 71 corners with one less game. In goal, Abbott has a 70 pct save pct with a .9 goals against average. While Caroline Kelley has a 72.6 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average.

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However, most importantly this game comes at an inflection point in the season. For Lafayette, a win gives the Leopards a three win record in the league and a leg up on a post season spot. On the other hand a loss for the Terriers put them in a hole to make the playoffs with three league losses.

The Terrier’s bench is short, as Sally Star, the Boston Coach seems to only to use 16 players per game with her starters getting the greater share of the minutes. Coach Jennifer Stone has been using 18 or 19 players with her bench getting significant minutes. Lafayette’s 2 losses to American and Ohio State were one goal overtime affairs. The third period is the Terrier’s biggest scoring period with 5, while their opponents have scored nine goals in the first and fourth periods. The largest Leopards scoring comes in the first period while the second and fourth periods see the second most scoring. Opponents score the most in third period.

The weather looks good for Saturday!! As a Leopard fan, I would hope for a big first period to get things going with a strong defense keeping Boston on their side of the field. On corners Maine used a lot of deception rather than trying power their way past goalkeeper Caroline Kelley. All that’s left is to play the game…..Go Pards!!!!

Lafayette Grinds Out 2-1 Victory Over Fairfield

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Ariel Schumacher shows her defensive skills

Captain Audrey Sawers scored the game winner in the fourth quarter as Lafayette’s 18th in the country offense was stymied by Fairfield for two quarters. The game evolved into a defensive struggle after Ariel Schumacher connected with Simone Hefting during a corner 8:25 into the game. However the lead was to last a mere three minutes, when Fairfield’s Malen Iglesias connected on a breakaway to score a one on one goal. But it was to be the only time Fairfield would see a ball cross the goal for them.

The game then moved to 38 minutes of character building defense. Every player was to be tested as the Lafayette defense was  turning back a determined Fairfield offense. Fairfield had 9 seniors on their squad as they dug in, stopping the leopards several times where many thought a goal would be coming. The statistical battle was a mixed bag beginning with Lafayette’s  15 shots to the Stags 7. Fairfield out cornered Lafayette 6-5. However, the Leopards were able to make their corner opportunities count as both the goals by Schumacher and Sawers were on corners, with Hefting delivering an assist on both. Filene Gerbrandij contributed to Sawers last go ahead goal.

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Lineke Spanns get ready to turn on the afterburners

The officials could have composed a symphony with the number of whistles and cards. There were five cards issued 2 greens and 3 yellows during  the game. Lineke Spanns stopped the Stags offense. several times during the game. Her speed allowed her to intercept balls and turn the play around into an offense thrust for the Leopards. She had 5 shots, 3 on goal. Shots were spread around to McAndrew, Spanns, Hannes, Sawers,Gerbrandij, Schumacher, and Alex Darrah.

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Alex Darrah works her way out of a Stag triple team

The Leopards demonstrated fitness and character not only playing their second game in as many days, but stopping a determined and skilled opponent. This was exactly the opponent the Leopards needed to prepare for Boston University who no doubt are equally determined to help their league and season fortunes. Make no mistake. Boston is well coached and will defend their home turf with determnation.

I have confidence the Leopards will be ready and up to the challenge.