Leopards Get Gutsy Win Against Temple

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

Leopards Unleashed In 4-1 Win Against Holy Cross

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The Holy Cross Crusaders made the 4 1/2 hour bus trip Saturday morning to face a Leopard attack eager for its first Patriot League win!! But it wasn’t just the attack, it was combination of a relentless defense and transition than combined to create a perfect storm that was only halted by the final whistle.

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The Holy Cross goal tender responded with 15 saves in a gallant effort to stem the tide. It was a noble effort from a team that never laid down, and who managed to finally score a goal in the fourth quarter avoiding a shutout.

The Leopards launched 36 shots, the majority of which occurred in the second, third and fourth quarters after a three shot first half. Nineteen of the those shots were on goal and there were three shots that hit the post. Remarkably, the Leopards had only eight penalty corners, but the time spent in the in the offensive 25 was enough. Holy Cross managed only five shots on the afternoon and two penalty corners.

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Lafayette scored in every quarter with the first score coming late in the first 15 minutes by Filine Gerbrandij who was assisted by Simone Hefting. It was the first goal of the season and career for the freshman. The second goal from the Leopards diversified attack, came from senior Alix Talkow delivering her first of her career, with a helper from Audrey Sawers. One minute into the second half Alden Bocella got her first goal of season and career with an unassisted beauty into the lower right corner. In the fourth quarter Simone Hefting combined with Audrey Sawers to finish Lafayette’s scoring with a beautiful fake corner shot and execution that found left bottom of the cage.

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Aside from offensive fireworks the family day crowd was treated to a defense that was amazing. Sydney Woolston was part of a wall that stopped, and intercepted balls and led to offensive displays. Eighteen Leopards saw action on the afternoon as substitutions provided a seamless effort all day. The bench themselves provided nearly 1/3 of the shots on the afternoon with Ariel Shumacher contributing a team leading six with three on goal during her forty minutes. Lineke Spanns provided five shots in her time on the field with four on goal. GK Haile Abbot needed to make only one save during the afternoon.

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The Leopards will stay at home to entertain the Colgate Raiders next week who just lost to Lehigh. Bucknell also added to their Patriot League wins with an impressive overtime win in Boston against the Terriers. American has no PL games this week and will meet Maryland at American this afternoon.

Lafayette Drops A Tough One In DC 0-1 In Overtime

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Noor Coenan was clearly on the line at the moment she struck for the winning goal

Lafayette did everything but find the back of the cage today, losing a hard fought battle with American. American’s star midfielder Noor Coenan delivered on a corner in the first overtime period. As she described it after the game, she stopped the ball at the dotted line outside the circle then drove inside and delivering the goal with a shot right on the line reading what the defense was giving her. Pictures afterward did indeed show her inside circle at the moment she struck the ball. Previously American’s goal tender became co-hero of the match making 10 saves including perhaps on a winning penalty stroke in the second half. Lafayette won the battle of the stats, outshooting the Eagles 16-6 and out cornering them 9 to 7. In part due to Bryn Underwood’s career day ( it was the most saves by her in her career) the Leopards couldn’t seem to crack the American defensive wall.

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The corner offense on one of their 9 tries

The Leopards outshot the Eagles in every period but the overtime period. The second half was especially fruitful in shots as Lafayette outshot their opponent 8-2. This is the fifth consecutive loss for the Leopards against American and the third consecutive overtime loss. American now leads the PL at 1-0 along with Lehigh, and Bucknell. Four wins in the Patriot League probably would ice a spot in the playoffs. Despite the loss against the PL favorite American University, Lafayette has to be well considered going forward.

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Feliicitas Hannas rushes to get in position for the rebound

The game was a physical affair with both teams expending energy on both side of the midfield. At one point there was enough stick hacking to chop a cord of wood!! At the end of the third quarter the officials got both captains together to calm things down. At several points in the contest the officials were heard to admonish the players to calm down. There was one unusual call on a corner when the official called both sides for starting too soon????

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Molly McAndrew gets SOO close to be stopped by Underwood

Despite the outcome the Leopards will have to prepare for the next opponent who will be at Rappolt Field at 3:30 next Saturday. Their opponent, the Holy Cross Crusaders, lost to Bucknell 7-2 today. Beware, the Crusaders have a habit of surprising us when you least expect it. But this game now becomes crucial and one game the Leopards need in order to get one of those 4 or five wins to get into the tournament or a get a high seed.

We are not even halfway through the schedule and the Leopards will be showing us how good they really are!!! So one game is put to bed and we move on. GO PARDS

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!!

Next Up University Of Albany

The Great Danes of the University of Albany will travel down route 287 to eventually arrive at Rappolt Field on Sunday for a 2 pm exhibition game. As a very successful program, coach Phil Sykes usually carries a very lean roster and Sunday will be no exception. The roster has 19 on it consisting of 8 freshman, 3 sophomores, 4 juniors and 4 seniors. They have experience in the cage with the return of senior Sheriden Messier who had a 66.7 save percentage.

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It is apparent their scoring strategy is to collect penalty corners. They had 60 penalty corners last spring and gave up only 32.  They did manage an average 10.5 shots on goal vs 6.5 for their opponents. They turned their shots into 13 goals but did give up 16 on the way to a 5-5 record last spring and 4-4 in the American East Conference. 

Albany was picked to finish 3rd in the American East Conference behind Monmouth and Maine. They intend to open up with Colgate in several weeks.

The Leopards look forward to another good game on the way to their August 27 open with Hofstra. Should be an interesting Sunday!!

Ready….Set……

Collectively, the Lafayette Field Hockey team will have traveled over a distance half the circumference of the planet, to arrive in Easton, Pa. It is August the 9th, one day before the official report time, and already they have begun arriving for the 10th reporting date. It will be the first normal preseason in almost two years. There are new dorms, restaurants, school stores and classrooms ready to begin a semester which will greet the largest freshman class in Lafayette history.

Unlike the last two semesters it will have classrooms filled with young learners, and in person teachers. Vaccinations are mandatory, therefore College Hill will be a safe refuge from Covid. Fall teams are already at work. The football team has been hard at work since Saturday, and the women’s soccer team has already had its first scrimmage with Villanova ( a Lafayette 1-0 win).

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Since the team for all practical purposes are in the environs, tomorrow will lack many of the first day awkwardness. It will be a fun day of medical checks, instruction, and the first opportunity to wear their game uniforms as they pose for publicity pictures. The hard work begins the following day, if it follows previous practice.

There will be two a day practices as our young women greet two new coaches, who join Jennifer Stone’s brain trust. They bring to Rappolt Field skills accumulated over the last several years, but it all needs to be meshed together to make the whole better than the parts. They are intelligent ( or they wouldn’t have been enrolled), athletic and at this point hopefully fit.

There are 9 days until the first test as a team against the University of Delaware…no time to waste!!!

…..Go!!!!!!

Less Than Three Weeks Until Reporting Day

It’s less than three weeks until the Lafayette Field Hockey squad will report, to begin the rigorous preseason preparation for the fall 2021 season. I am sure the squad is doing all its pre season conditioning regimen, to be ready to assemble and play as a squad, pointing to a championship season.

The first test will occur on August 19, slightly less than a month from today, at one o’clock in Newark, Delaware, the home of the always competitive Delaware Blue Hens. Three days later it gets no easier when the University of Albany arrives at Rappolt Field at 2 pm to test the Leopards in a exhibition game. Five more days later the real fun begins at Rappolt, for a 4 pm game against an improving Hofstra team.

The period between August 10th and the 27th all the effort will be to mold a group of fine athletes and skilled hockey individuals into a team. The hope from the coaching staff is, that all will arrive in shape in order to spend the maximum time on learning to play with one another, and to allow a true evaluation of talent. It will be hot, and double sessions will tax the most earnest team member.

For we fans, it means we still have a little time to wait for some real competition. Meantime, as fans we look at schedules and rosters and try to handicap the season. There are still three Patriot League teams who need to post fall schedules and rosters. Colgate, American, Lehigh and Lafayette have done that, and it’s allowed this writer to start speculating on the coming season.

I still believe Lafayette has accumulated one the finest recruiting classes in the league, but they still need to be put to the test. The first Patriot League game is with American on September 18th at 11:00 am in Washington,DC. By then, American will have played VCU,Georgetown, Old Dominion, Delaware, William and Mary, Richmond and UMass. Lafayette’s schedule is no less daunting with Hofstra, Villanova, Ohio State, Indiana, Yale and Quinnipiac. Both teams will have had six competitive games under their belt to be prepared. Last spring the Leopards went to overtime in both games…..they have something they owe to American, for those two loses. A win in DC would be sweet!!!

The other two teams appear to have slightly easier schedules but no doubt both will be ready to play come their dates with Lafayette. Lehigh has been getting better and they seem to measure their success by their rival game. Oct 22 is another revenge date at 7pm in Bethlehem!!!

Meanwhile The NCAA Struggles

No one seems to like the NCAA these days, and they are making their lawyers rich in the process. They reported recently they spent nearly 68 million dollars on legal bills losing the Alston case in Supreme Court. Despite this the President, Mark Emmert continues on, having had his three million dollar contract renewed.

The large football playing schools seem to be ready to split off, on their own to be regulated by their individual conferences. NCAA seems all but conceded to a bifurcated structure where big time college football is its own animal. This will leave a regulatory structure overseeing basketball and the olympic sports at best. 

The NCAA has only itself to blame, as they left large regulatory problems behind, and contented themselves to be a harassing supervisor with an outdated 460 page rulebook.

Name, Image, And Likeness (NIL)…The Patriot League Gets Ready

What is NIL And What It Means To The Student Athlete

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NIL, ( the student athlete’s rights to their name, image and likeness) is working it’s way through the courts as colleges, the NCAA, and conferences are beginning to get a handle on its implications. Until this point colleges, but not student athletes could profit from selling the rights to NIL to third party vendors like gaming companies. However, the athletes themselves have been prevented through archaic rules promulgated by the NCAA from benefiting from the licensing of their NIL.

Athletes in particular are not permitted to benefit in anyway from outside sources. It could be as insignificant as a four dollar picture frame to thousands of dollars in endorsements. These rules were particularly discriminatory to the student athlete. Was Yo Yo Ma the famous cello player required to forgo compensation while attending Harvard, or even been required to be regulated by the administration at Harvard on his musical gigs?!

The NFL and MLB Players Associations receive approximately 120 million dollars from licensing deals from video game publishers. This equates to about $48000 dollars per player each year. Last year Electronic Arts agreed to pay 40 million dollars to more than 29,000 current and former collegiate student athletes for the rights to use their name or likeness. There is also revenue potential in apparel deals.

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By one estimate the UCLA women’s gymnastic team alone could be worth as much as $1,250,000 annually in endorsement revenue, Many current Gen Z high school athletes are bringing along a following in social media. even before they arrive on campus. I have personally seen, in the sport of Field Hockey, that USA field hockey as part of their “grow the game strategy,” has looked at early experiments in video gaming.

To meet this challenge the Patriot League in a pioneering move have entered into an innovating partnership with INFLCR to “empower conference-member student athletes to share content  and manage student-athlete NIL activities.”  The Patriot League is the first NCAA Division One conference to provide league wide support for its members. The league officials stated,” By providing each Patriot League institution with a department-wide INFLCR solution, the conference is leading from the front and empowering all Patriot League student-athletes to grow their brands and educate themselves on the new opportunities that are coming soon from NIL.”

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Lafayette fans feeling it !!!

By sharing photos, videos, and graphics produced by member institutions, delivered by INFLCR software enables each student athlete the opportunity to share their story and grow their brand. INFCR software will provide transaction monitoring for student athlete’s  commercial activity, that happens through INFLCR vetted companies. In addition, student athletes will have access to educational video resources, which will provide ongoing NIL and brand strategy content from a variety of athletes and industry experts, according to League officials.

Kudos to the League and its respective members to be ready for this development!!!