Bizarre Patriot League Field Hockey Schedule Begins On Sunday

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March 7 is opening day for Patriot League Field Hockey’s seven team league. There are no preseason games, no scrimmages just six games to determine who will be the four who will play in the Patriot League tournament, which will decide who gets the auto bid for the NCAA national tournament. The patriot league winner then will play a minimum of nine games, far less than a normal season.

The question is how do you handicap this season? Freshman had no preseason competition, sophomores did not have a spring season last year, so one might think the team with the most upper class players has an advantage. Conversely coaches might think of this season like a spring season except for the playoffs. There are several conferences that have already started and doubling up on games between conference foes. I should note also there a several schools like Old Dominion and Liberty who are letting a limited amount of spectators. Temple who plays in the city had spectators looking through the fence on the southern end street!!

Just to breakdown the schedules and rosters of all Patriot League Teams!!!

American University

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

March 7 @ Lehigh, March 14 with Bucknell, March 28 at Bucknell, April 4 @Lafayette, April 11 with Lehigh, April 18 with Lafayette.

American will dress 23 players which includes 3 seniors and 8 Juniors. The fabulous Noor Coenen is back for her senior season. Dani Acuna is the junior GK with a freshman Bryn Underwood who is the freshman who bring some competition to the position. They won the PL title last year beating Lafayette in their two games by one goal in each game. On paper, it looks tough to repeat and they have a tough schedule playing Bucknell and Lafayette twice.

 

Boston University

March 7@ Holy Cross, March 21 @ Lafayette, March 27, Colgate, March 28 Colgate, April 11 Holy Cross, April 18 Lehigh

Always a contender in the league, Boston had a disappointing season, not even making the Patriot League tournament. If someone were drawing a schedule for Boston to make it back they could not have make it better. They have more games at home then any other team in the League with Lafayette their toughest game away. They will only carry 20 players but with 6 seniors and 4 juniors. 

They did pick up a GK from New Zealand ( a regular supplier of BU talent) and there will be competition for sophomore Caroline Kennedy.

The team has been practicing all fall and it’s hard to believe Sally Starr won’t make progress this season.

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Bucknell University

Bucknell always fields a competitive team and no doubt Jeremy Cook will get his team ready. They will be playing American and Colgate twice, along with single games each with Lafayette and Lehigh. They open March 7 hosting Colgate, and travel March 14 and 21 at American and Lehigh repectively. American will come to play on March 28 then on April 4 will travel to Colgate for the rubber match and finish on April 11 hosting Lafayette.

Bucknell will dress a second highest amount players at 25 with 6 Seniors and 7 Juniors providing the experience. I see no reason why Bucknell can’t win at least 3 games and be in the hunt.

 

Colgate University

Colgate will play the least number of games at home and will play Boston, Holy Cross and Bucknell twice. They open @Bucknell on March 7, will host Holy Cross on the 21st, they then will travel to Boston for a March 27 and 28  7pm games. They finish hosting Bucknell on the 4th of April and travel to Holy Cross on the 18th. Of all the Patriot League teams, their schedule is hard to understand.

Dressing 9 senior and 5 juniors experience aplenty is their main asset for their 22 player roster. The first two games may tell the tale for the Raiders.

Holy Cross

Holy Cross will be one of the Patriot League teams that will play two Patriot League teams twice. Boston University will arrive in Worchester on March the 7th for a 7 pm  game, followed two weeks later at Colgate on March 21st, and will host Lafayette on the 28th at 11 am. The Crusaders will then travel to Lehigh on the 16th and Boston return match at 7pm on the 11th. They finish with a home game at Colgate on the 18th.

Holy Cross will dress a league leading 26 players with 7 seniors, 5 juniors, 6 sophomores, and 8 freshmen. They lost against American in the PL playoffs and would dearly like a second shot this year.

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Freshman Simone Hefting was a welcome returnee for the playoff season

Lafayette College

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Lafayette lost to the American Eagles in the championship game by one goal, and they would like a second shot. The schedule may be the most competitive in the league but that just the way Head Coach Jennifer Stone would like it. They have the first week off which will give them time to watch Lehigh take on American on the 7th. So the first week will be March 14 at home against Lehigh at 1 pm, followed by a home match against Boston on March 21 as Boston looks for revenge their overtime loss to the Leopards last year. On March 28 there is the trip to Holy Cross followed by a home game with American at 2  pm.  The Leopards hit the road on April 11 and 18 with Bucknell and American respectively. A successful run with this schedule could set up the Leopards well, for the post season.

Lafayette will field a balanced team with 22 players consisting of 5 seniors, and 6 juniors, five sophomores and 6 freshman. It will be difficult to replace Lisa Van der Geest but Simone Hefting could come up big. Seniors Grace Angelella, Anna Steps and Audrey Sawer should be a pain to opponents from the midfield. Eva Kaplan showed solid minutes last year and is destined to be an important contributor. Sophie Carr part of the leadership is ready to be an important force on the field!! Molly McAndrews is ready to explode on the attack.  The GK position will have three competitors for Goalie coach Jenny Rizzo to bring along.

I like the Leopards but there are no games to be taken for granted with this schedule, and Lehigh could be tougher than most people think.

Lehigh University

Lehigh has been improving every year and last year finished their season by beating Boston at home. They seem to have been working all fall as most Lehigh athletic teams did. Lehigh opens with American and they would dearly love to send a message to the league on March 7th. Then on March 14 they will travel to Lafayette for the “Rivalry.”  It will be Lafayette’s first game and Lafayette coaches will have had some time to get a “book” on the mountain hawks. They will host Bucknell at home on the 21st and then Holy Cross on April 4th. Their rubber match with American will be in DC on the 11th,  then finishing in Boston on the 18th.

They will feature a strong defense with a a senior GK, and there will be Lenke Havas at D/M, the question will be, where the goals will come from. 22 players will dress with 4 seniors, 4   Juniors, 9 sophs and 6 freshman. Will there be enough bench strength? That question will dominate their season??

 

The League

It really could a year with a  close race. Four wins gets you to the playoffs, there could be several teams at 3-3 with a difficult tie breaker in play. It’s hard to dismiss Lafayette and American to repeat, or Bucknell to be in the hunt. Lehigh may be a year away, and Boston needs improvement, but its hard to believe Sally Starr would not lead a team to the promised land with that schedule. Holy Cross is always filled with surprises, and Colgate with 9 seniors might be another surprise!!

 

Important Additions: Gov. Wolf Modifies Rules For Gatherings….Will Allow 20 PCT OF Capacity For Outdoor Stadiums!! Will PL Follow New Guidelines!!????

Patriot League Adopts Bizarre Spring Field Hockey Schedule

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Early on, I thought the schedule would look like the basketball schedule, playing multiple games against league opponents, but the logic of the schedule escapes me, since it saves little money, doesn’t really reduce travel, for everyone. and is not balanced.

The Lafayette schedule looks like this. March 14 Lehigh at Lafayette, March 21 BU at Lafayette, March 28 Lafayette at Holy Cross, April 4 American at Lafayette, April 11 Lafayette at Bucknell, April 18 Lafayette at American for the second time.

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That works out to three home games and three away games. There is no game with Colgate, but two games with American. I focused on Lafayette’s two games with American, until I saw the rest of the League. Boston will be playing 4 games at home, two games with Colgate back to back in Boston, two games with Holy Cross, a big game at Lafayette, and finishing with Lehigh in Boston.

American will be playing Bucknell twice and Lafayette twice. Colgate will not be playing Lafayette or American, but play Bucknell twice, Holy Cross twice and Boston twice and has only two home games!!.

The bottom line is that Boston has the easiest schedule including the addition of 4 home games.  How this saves significant money and travel for the League overall escapes me, but maybe I’m not smart enough to detect the logic. If that was the overall purpose, they should have pre-scheduled the Patriot League tournament at a centrally located site. Maybe that can be “arranged.”:)

The good news is WE ARE PLAYING, and overall I would rather have the tougher schedule than the easier schedule. With most games on Sunday, I am hopeful they will all be live streamed for us fans!! Additionally, I understand the NCAA will waive the minimum game requirements to allow for Covid and weather obstacles. It’s pretty clear…. all you have to do is win.

The entire team is returning to school, and conditioning will begin next week. The League has left open the posibility of fan attendance. I am recieving my first covid shot next week. ( I suppose the advantage of being ancient).  So I should be ready for the season.

ACC Title Games Play On

Proving that Field Hockey can be played this fall, the ACC played the first part of their championship tournament following an abbreviated season playing each other.

In a game that may prove to be a classic, UNC defeated Syracuse in overtime 4-3 at Karen Shelton Stadium on the campus of UNC. The semi-final game set up the Tar Heels for their 23rd ACC championship game and fourth consecutive championship. It also marked Karen Shelton’s 701st win surpassing UCONN’s Nancy Steven’s all time wins as a coach.

However, it was not to be easy, as Angie Bradley’s charges from Syracuse attempted to knock off the the Tar Heels. It was Bradley’s 14th season at the helm and gave UNC all they could handle.

Syracuse’s goalkeeper Syd Taylor was up to the task as she came through with 6 saves until the final heartbreaker when Erin Mastson entered the circle and Taylor came out to meet her. Although it appeared Taylor was going for the ball her follow through tripped Matson and set up a penalty stroke, which was executed at 4:52 into the first overtime by Bryn Boylan.

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UNC struck first at 3:08 with Boylan connecting on the penalty corner her first of two goals for the game. The lead was to stand up until early in the third quarter when Nieuwenhof from Syracuse  evened the score at 1-1. Erin Matson from UNC, 18 minutes later was to put the Tar Hells ahead 2-1 which was followed by a  Paitlyn Wirth shot and was to give the Tar Heels a 2 goal lead.

The Orange were not to be intimidated when, with less than nine minutes to go, Pleun Lemmers put Syracuse within one. Down by one goal and only 45 seconds left in regular time, Haile Bitter evened the score setting up overtime.

It was an entertaining game and season, disproving the assertion that Field Hockey could not be played this fall. The championship will be played between UNC and Louisville who broke UNC’s winning streak in October.The winner will get the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament this spring, and most certainly there will others from the ACC getting the available at large berths.

Although Lafayette has not played UNC for several years, last year Lafayette battled Syracuse, only to lose in overtime in New York.

The NCAA championship will consist of a smaller field, with the automatic berths to be filled with conference champions and two at large teams. The at large slots will probably be added to, with the Ivy League not playing spring sports.

The Patriot League and Lafayette should be playing this spring and I look forward to confirmation of that soon. Lafayette should not disappoint its student athletes, alumni and fans. I have to say the decision to play by the ACC make me envious. This week end would have been the Patriot League playoffs.

I look forward to a correct decision by Lafayette and Patriot League.

Sources Report To CBS Patriot League To Start Basketball Jan 1

Jon Rothstein is a basketball insider for CBS sports since 2010 and a correspondent for WFAN and CBS sports radio. He reports that the league will not play its out of conference games and begin a non conference schedule on Jan 1. His information, he states, is from multiple sources.

I expect the desire to start was overwhelming to the minority who were not prepared to start play. There was no official announcement from the Patriot League office or Lafayette College/

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NCAA Outlines Division One Basketball Return

Patriot League Needs To Act

In an announcement yesterday, the NCAA has announced the return of Division One basketball. Games will start on November 25, presumably when most students are completing their academic semester of classroom work. There will be maximum of 27 games, a minimum of 13, no scrimmages, and a recommendation for 4 out of conference games. Full team practices can begin Oct 14, although most schools in the Patriot League are already having conditioning and individual instruction.

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There are about 150 student athletes on campus, I do not know how many per individual sports, except for field hockey of which there are four. Football, I hear have about 35 on campus. Bucknell, Boston, and Colgate are having all classes returned, and I have seen social media pictures of athletes at practice on campus. In field hockey, I have seen pictures of BU, Bucknell, American and Lehigh on their practice fields.

In other news, the BIG TEN is returning to play football, and there is limited activity in the other sports.There are limited connections to play field hockey with other Big Ten schools in much the same way a spring season would be constructed. Many players have gone to Europe to play for the semester while doing their academic work online. I know of one Ivy school that got their whole freshman field hockey class to play in Europe. The ACC is playing inter-league.

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Ana Steps takes control against Temple

I have not yet heard of any Patriot League meetings to announce a return of basketball but I did get a head fake, as the move to ESPN plus was announced dramatically yesterday. I would hope the Patriot League would now more expeditiously move in light of the NCAA’s announcement.

Covid testing at Lafayette, Bucknell, Colgate,Lehigh, and Boston University has shown about a 2/10’s of one percent Covid infection rate among the returning and all students in residence.

It seems the time is now for the Patriot League to act.