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.

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!

Felicitas Hannes Gets The Hat Trick And Talkow Adds Two To Give The Leopards A 5-1 Victory

Lafayette demonstrated a diverse attack, as two Leopards added goals in career high efforts against Colgate this afternoon. Junior Felicitas Hannes got the first “hat trick” of her career, and senior Alix Talkow added two goals to bring her career and senior goal total to three.

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Talkow opened the scoring in the first quarter at the 9:02 mark getting a feed from Audrey Sawers  and Lineke Spanns. She had located herself on the right side the goal as the Colgate GK moved to her right. This left her left side exposed and Talkow planted the ball right in the unoccupied space putting Leopards up 1-0.

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The 1-0 lead was to reamain until Colgate committed a foul in the circle that stopped a sure goal. This put Filicitas Hannes on the line. She deftly directed  the shot passed the goalkeeper which gave the Leopards a 2-0 lead going into the half.

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Felicitas was to prove she could score from the field as she was to use her tipping skills, delivering the third goal of the afternoon and her second score. She received help from Simone Hefting and  Ariel Schumacher. Colgate was not done though as they scored a goal at 40:25 following a breakaway. The score narrowed to 3-1.

The fourth quarter saw the Leopards put the game away as Hannes completed her “hat trick” with her second penalty stroke and Talkow getting her second goal of the day which was assisted by Audrey Sawers.

The Leopards were to make another statement  allowing only 5 shots all afternoon. The offense went into high gear by delivering 25 shots in the game. Aside from the 5 goals from Hannes and Talkow, McAndrew had three shots, Filene Gerbrandij had one, Spannes had two, Bocella had one, Hefting had three, and Alex Darrah had one.

Goal Keeper Hailey Abbot had only to make one save, and had one goal against her. Colgate had 9 saves on the afternoon.

One hundred and seventy two fans showed up, including 3 from president Hurd’s family who hasn’t missed a home game this season.Fir this game she was occupied with a BOT meeting, but her husband Bill brought her shoes to register her attendance in spirit. The magic continued!!!!

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The Leopards will take on Fairfield tomorrow at two o’clock in search of their 8th victory and to remain undefeated at home.

Colgate Arrives Saturday To Meet The Leopards

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There is no way to soft peddle it, Colgate is having a difficult season. They will arrive here at 0-6 to meet the 6-2 Leopards. They have played two less games than Lafayette due two games that were cancelled earlier in the season. Their most recent game was a 7-2 loss to Lehigh in a Patriot League game last Saturday.

This is the heart of the season where things start to come together and get serious about qualifying for post season play. Colgate will have a hard time reaching that goal without a Patriot League win this Saturday. Colgate’s ratings are disappointing. Bolster Power Rating has them ranked 74 as opposed to Lafayette’s 24. Field Hockey Corner’s ratings of ACR ( average computer rating), RPI ( relative power index ) and SOS ( strength of schedule) favor Lafayette except in the SOS where Colgate ranks 17 compared to Lafayette’s 38. Lafayette’s ACR is 25 vs the Raiders 74 and RPI for Lafayette is 21 vs 72 for Colgate.

Actual statistics tell much the same story. The Colgate offense scores 1.05 goals per game while Lafayette scores 2.57 goals per game. The Raiders give up 4 goals per game while the stingy Lafayette defense gives up only .98 per game. Lafayette has taken a league leading 17.5 shots per game, but Colgate takes 11.6 per game ranked fifth in the league. Colgate. has scored 0 goals on corners Lafayette has scored .75 per game, ranking second in the league.

In individual statistics, Colgate has no players ranked in average shots per game, and average points per game. Their goalkeeper save percentage in at the bottom of league at .558.

So what are we to make of all this. My reaction is beware the wounded Raiders. Winning on Saturday could be an elixir for an otherwise difficult fall for Colgate. Lafayette needs this game in the win column to make the playoffs.

My only disappointment this season has been in attendance. Lafayette normally has 200-300 people in the stands, and this year they are averaging about 120 during this outstanding season. At Colgate’s last game they had 283. This Saturday is homecoming and we are celebrating 50 years of women’s athletics. I am hoping we can get a great turnout to celebrate this terrific team. GO PARDS!!

At Some Point It’s All About The Little Things

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An athlete trains to become faster and stronger. They learn the elements of their sport, and when it finally comes to game time you may come up to an opponent who is equally as strong and fast. It’s at that point where the “little things” begin to matter. It may just be in the execution, a funny bounce of the ball, or even an officiating mistake. But often you hear an athlete explain their performance afterward as using their “instinct,”

Let me say upfront, I do not believe in instinct, but instead I see it as the ability to detect the intentions of your opponent through a “tell.” Maybe its the eyes of the opponent to give away intentions, or a repeated movement that gives away the next pass or shot. Often times you hear of defensive backs in football who are not only watching the person they are guarding but watching the quarterbacks eyes to see where he intends to pass. As a counter, the best quarterbacks learn to “look off” receivers to fool the defender.

In field hockey, the better goalkeepers look where the shooter means to place the ball. The shooter on the other hand will look to deceive the goaltender by looking one way and placing the ball somewhere else. One of the improvements in Lafayette’s play has been their ability to place passes where their teammate will be, rather than passing directly……….one of the little things. Deception is an important part of any game, and Field Hockey is no exception. Yes, you can overwhelm an opponent with speed and strength, but with two equally prepared teams sometimes the unexpected deception can be the difference. Consider the words of Noor Coenen as she described her winning goal last Saturday. She placed herself on the dashed line. The ball on the corner was delivered to her on the insertion. At that point the corner is officially over having reached the dashed line and the restrictions on the height of the ball on a subsequent shot is no longer operative. She is free to flick or lift using, as she said in her words, ” whatever the defense is giving me.” It’s an example of the little things.

Right now the Patriot League is bifurcated into two groups. Bucknell’s dominating win on Saturday certainly puts them in the upper group. Lehigh’s win should alert the Leopards that their game with Lehigh combined with the Rivalry emotions makes it competitive. The final emersion into the playoffs may well depend on doing the” little” things well.

Lafayette is refining their play. Half this team did not play in a college game before the season. They are a work in progress for this talented group. They will be better in the end than the beginning and I am sure their opponents will take notice.

I sincerely believe this Lafayette team may the best that has ever arrived on the Hill and is filled with excellent athletes and skillful players with the desire to win, but a championship in the end could be decided on who can deliver “little” things to the field of play. ( And maybe a win against ranked opponents like Rutgers and Penn State). The Leopards may well see American again before the end of the season, and for this fan I will look forward to it,

Lafayette Ends The Weekend Undefeated Behind An Offensive Show

McAndrew scores two, Hannes gets one and Spaans adds one to combine for 4 goals against Villanova.

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McAndrew breaks away for her second goal

It didn’t take Lafayette long to take charge, as Felicitas Hannes opened the scoring against the Villanova Wildcats at only 1:27 into the game, using a backhanded feed from Molly McAndrew, and tipping it past the GK. However, the resulting 1-0 lead would be built upon by McAndrew eight minutes later, making it a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter of play.

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Audrey gets ready to launch while Hannes is there for the tip in if neccesary

With only 7 minutes left in the half, freshman Lineke Spaans put the crowd on their feet as she flew the length of the field on a give go from Alex Talkow, scoring a goal that put the Leopards ahead 3-0. The half time stats showed Lafayette ahead in shots ( 10-3), and penalty corners (5-3).

The scrappy Wildcats were to tighten things up a bit in the second half, scoring a third quarter goal at 8:34 into the quarter from Caitlin Van Goverden, using a redirected shot off a rebound. The second half saw the shots even up ( 5-5) and penalty corners even up (5-5).

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Sawers delivers the ball after a Spanns stop on an offensive penalty corner

At this point as Villanova got more aggressive and the the Lafayette defense had to tighten up turning back shots, and attacking efforts at most every opportunity. Simone Hefting and Sidney Woolston, in the defense were like a stone wall, along with Hailey Abbott who had five saves on the afternoon. McAndrew sealed the win after Villanova pulled their goalie in a desperate attempt to get on the board.

At 58:39 McAndrew broke away and executed an unassisted reverse shot to get her second goal of the game. That, for all practical purposes put the game out of reach at 4-1.

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Hefting delivers the ball downfield

Some general impressions…..The Lafayette passing is deadly. Hefting’s accurate passes into traffic remind me of a “Tom Brady,” American football afternoon. This team is remarkable, in this short time they have been able to learn to work together. Passes arrive where the receiving player is going be rather where they are at the moment. The defense takes pride in their work, and keep the ball on the good side of the 40 meter mark most of the afternoon.

I can’t end this account without mentioning the leadership and strength of Audrey Sawers, who is an emotional and physical force on the field. She plays almost every minute and she plays with confidence.

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Woolston and Boccella charge stop a Villanova corner

It doesn’t matter if it’s a defensive opportunity or an offensive surge, this team is going 100 percent and results are there. Two games, six goals, 15 points, 27 shots, 22 percent scoring percentage, 70 percent shots on goals and an 86 % save percentage, demonstrate the results of their efforts.

But this is a longer season than just 2 games, and there is a magnificent challenge next week against two Big Ten teams Ohio State, and Indiana!

The Patriot League had mixed results today, Lehigh rebounded to beat Longwood 3 to 2, while the rest of league fell. American lost to ODU 2-3. Colgate dropped a close one to Rider 1-2 and BU lost to Providence 2-1.

Lafayette’s next two opponents had a successful weekend with Ohio State beating Ball State 1-0 and Indiana winning two, Central Michigan 3-2 and Davidson 4-0. Indiana will be playing Miami of Ohio before meeting Lafayette this coming Sunday and Ohio State will be playing Kent State on Tuesday afternoon!! The Ohio State game with Lafayette will be their home opener!!!

The Leopards will depart for Columbus early Thursday. The Friday game will be on BTN +.

Storm Locks In Albany, So It’s For Real Against Hofstra On Friday

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Albany was unable to make the trip to Pennsylvania so Sunday’s game with Albany had to be cancelled. Now the Leopards will be concentrating on starting the regular season against the Long Island based Hofstra Pride. They arrive 27 strong at Rappolt Field after a spring season of 4-8 and 1-3 in the CAA conference. The 4 pm game will be televised on ESPN +.

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Ironically, Hofstra did play Albany on August 17, but I have no report on the outcome. They are scheduled to meet Columbia on Monday for a final tune up before their opening game with Lafayette. So the Leopards are at a slight disadvantage having only the one exhibition game.Coach Courtney Veinotte is starting her 3rd year as head coach and has gone far afield to populate her team. In last year’s abbreviated season the 4-8 team managed 16 goals vs 25 for their opponents. That works out to a 1.33 GPG vs 2.08 GPG. Their Junior GK Merlene Van der Vegt from the Netherlands has a 61% save percentage with 119 saves. The 5’9″ GK will be challenged for playing time with Blue Bell, Pa. red shirt keeper Meagan Rielly who had a 85% save percentage her senior year in high school.

They will be led on the field by Jasmijn Verdoes who scored 5 goals last spring. She will be a sophomore and will try to better her 27 shot record with 15 points. The Pride got off 80 shots against 120 shots for the opposition which works out to 6.7 shots a game vs 10. They are picked tied for 6th with Towson in the CAA preseason polls. Lafayette is the only Patriot League team they will play this season

The Leopards will be working this week on defensing against the counterattack and polishing a very potent offense. Hopefully, the weather will be cooler and dry and a nice crowd will greet our players. Move in is the 27th to the 29th, I hope everyone finds time to see their first Leopards athletic contest!!Opening games are always intense, and after the faux season last spring, each team will be wanting to get off on the right foot.

We all have waited for this day and hope for a good leap into the 2021 campaign!!

The NCAA vs Power Five Football

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Mark Emmert president of the NCAA called off all NCAA fall championships, which left the FBS intact, the one the NCAA has made out of reach. Most of these schools are clinging with dogged determination to keep football playing this fall, along with other sports. Emmert climbed out of his bunker to declare the fall season over for most schools and set off a battle between the large power 5 schools and the rest of college athletics.

Emmert is clearly trying to pressure the remaining conferences to give in and play their championships in the spring. The remaining six football conferences are clearly up against the wall but it sets up a showdown between the NCAA who usually bows to the large conferences and all the rest of college athletics.

Sports Illustrated reports one Group of 5 AD said, ” Does the fall proceed with only six FBS conferences playing football and no one else doing anything.” The dynamic has changed this fall with many sports reaching less than 50% playing the many other sports and therefore triggering cancelling all fall championship tournaments. Is Karen Shelton at UNC going to be content to play 6 or 7 games and be ineligible to play for a national championship?

It was the Big Ten move and Pac 12 move that reduced the leverage of the remaining conferences. ” Among our frustrations with the NCAA is that they keep making announcements like this, without having first decided the myriad of associated issues involving eligibility, scholarship limits, competition season, roster size, etc ” said one Power 5 AD.  These are all legitimate issues and issues that have not been addressed by conferences like the Patriot League leaving many student athletes in limbo!!

The NCAA is not without fault neither is the Patriot League. These are important issues which ultimately go to credibility. IF THEY ARE SERIOUS ABOUT A SPRING SEASON ( THE LAST CHANCE FOR MANY ATHLETES TO PLAY THIS ACADEMIC YEAR ) THEY SHOULD BE SPENDING THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS SOLVING THESE PROBLEMS.

As many of you already know, I am not a great fan of the NCAA, for the main reason they have closed their eyes to the larger issues in college sports and chosen to encourage enforcement of a  plethora of ridiculous minor violations  ( like five dollar gift prohibitions to former athletes). The members schools of the NCAA have gone along with this and bear some responsibility for the current situation.

I do not believe the NCAA should go away, but be a better regulatory organization focusing on the “big stuff.” That takes engagement by the president’s of the colleges and universities. We should be returning to sport, not politics, power and egotism. We should be encouraging the lessons of athletics which are learned best on the playing field than in back room deals by interested combines. Sports has become entwined in other efforts recently, perhaps we all should take deep breath and decide how we get our student athletes back on the field! Full Stop!!

Icata Alea Est….The Die Is Cast

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It was reported that on January 10th 49 BCE Suetonis said to Julius Caesar, “Icata Alea Est,” as he led is forces across the Rubicon in northern Italy in defiance of the Senate. There is nothing that can stop the inevitable. Similarly, the Big Ten athletic conference deferred all fall sports to the spring, making  almost all Olympic Sports, in particular Field Hockey,  fall short of the 50% guideline for a NCAA championship season.

As I had opined last Friday, the action by the Mid American Conference moved Division one field hockey into failing to get the needed 39 to stage an NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The move by the Big Ten assures that Field Hockey will have enough competitions in the spring ( should they play) to stage that tournament.

The one remaining field hockey playing conference to go, is the ACC, which is being held hostage by Football,  along with several other power five conferences are  insisting on playing this fall. In the case of field hockey, who will the ACC be playing??  No doubt each other, and will that make them ineligible for a spring NCAA championship?? At the moment, they are being held prisoner by their football playing brethren.

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The NCAA has almost made their leadership ineffective, as they played no role in the Big Ten ( and Pac 12) action. Some Ivy League schools may still not have enough student athletes to field a team so the moves yesterday made it more likely the 39 team limit could be met this spring.

My hope is Lafayette has begun planning for the spring, to allow the next phase to happen. As it stands now, there will be about 700 students on campus this fall. There are 4-5 months now to plan and insure that the spring population is sufficient to resume all activities. GO PARDS!!

Mid American Cancels Fall Sports

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The mid American Conference of which the field hockey playing schools are Appalachian  State, Ball State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, Central Michigan, and Longwood, announced the canceling of all fall sports!! These seven schools will bring the number of schools not playing this fall to 40 assuming Louisville will return after their quarantine. Since there are 78 Division one schools and the NCAA has stated if more that 50% if the eligible schools don’t play, there will be no NCAA championship this fall.

In my opinion, all the remaining schools should bag the fall season and play a full series of games this spring. It solves a lot of eligibility issues and gives time to reschedule 16 or 18 games, in other words a full season!!!

In this crazy season that might be too logical to happen….but maybe!!!