Field hockey kicks off 2021 season with wins over Hofstra and Villanova

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Women’s field hockey player in action during the 2021-2022 season. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Charlie Berman

The Lafayette Leopards field hockey team opened their season last Friday with a shutout win against Hofstra University in front of their home fans at Rappolt field. The Maroon and White waited upwards of four months for this result against the Hofstra Pride; however, for the Leopards on both sides of the ball, there was no rust to shake off.

After losing five seniors last year, the team handed over the reins to senior leaders, midfielder Audrey Sawers and goalkeeper Hailey Abbott. However, it was the juniors who supported the team to a first quarter lead as defensive player Simone Hefting assisted forward Felicitas Hannes on a goal to put the Leopards in front 1-0. 

“It was just awesome because it was such a great goal,” senior captain Molly McAndrew said. “It smashed against the backboard and was just an amazing way to set the tone for our season.” 

The team’s defense held on, allowing only two shots on goal, which Abbott handled without a problem. The Leopards then got an insurance goal from Sawers in the third quarter to advance their score to 2-0. 

Over the course of the game, Lafayette put constant pressure on the Hofstra goalie as they landed 12 shots on goal throughout the night.

Our team worked together as a cohesive unit,” head coach Jennifer Stone said to GoLeopards.com. “Our veterans displayed a standard that helped guide the play of our younger players tonight.” 

Lafayette hoped to ride their momentum this past Sunday going into their next home game against Villanova. Just a minute and 27 seconds into that game, the Leopards struck first. The goal came from a backwards assist from McAndrew, as Hannes put her second goal of the year in the back of the net. 

It did not take long for McAndrew to notch her second point of the day. She scored her first goal of the season on a scorcher giving the Leopards a 2-0 lead after the first five minutes. 

“Everybody was super fired up and hungry after that win vs. Hofstra and it was great to see that carried through to the game against Villanova,” McAndrew said.

The Leopards stayed on the hunt throughout the second quarter, putting through a third goal as Alix Talkow scored off the pass from freshman Lienke Spaans. This give-and-go play worked for Lafayette, giving themselves a third and extra insurance goal at the end of the second quarter.

Abbott surrendered only one goal to Villanova in the third period. 

Lafayette answered in the final period for the Leopards’ fourth goal of the game with McAndrew’s reverse shot goal. 

The score stood 4-0 as the final whistle blew to signify Lafayette’s dominant opening weekend, going 2-0 with a goal differential of 6-1. 

“It really feels like everyone is fulfilling their role and doing their part and we can only hope that carries through for the rest of the season,” sophomore Alexandra Conway said. “I think that as a team we’re playing with a lot of confidence.” 

The 2021 Leopards Field Hockey team have already surpassed their win total from a season ago and are looking strong as they go on the road for the first time to challenge the Buckeyes of Ohio State in Columbus on Friday. 

It gave us experience to smooth things out against two strong teams,” Stone said to GoLeopards.com. “Heading out to Ohio State to play two Big-Ten opponents will be an exciting challenge after being able to continue working in practice.”