Field hockey falls to No. 5 Penn State before routing Drexel on Senior Night

Marking one win and one loss, the weekend was highlighted by senior goalkeeper Hailey Abbott, who made countless crucial saves. (Photo courtesy of

By Caroline McParland, Section Editor

The Lafayette field hockey team (11-3 overall, 3-1 Patriot League) fell to fifth in the nation Penn State on Friday night on the Leopard’s home turf with a final score of 3-1. The team then came back with a force for their Senior Night against Drexel on Sunday afternoon, dominating the Dragons 7-0.

The Leopards maintained determination on the field as they held Penn State scoreless for most of the game and made promising connections between the midfield and defensive lines.

“It was really exciting going into the game playing such a highly ranked team,” senior midfielder Audrey Sawers said. “It was kind of a good test for us, we obviously didn’t get the result we wanted. But we thought that we played a really good game and can use the way we played and moving forward and the speed of the game to go into other games.”

Senior goalkeeper Hailey Abbott was a standout performer, making 13 saves during crucial moments and shutting down Penn State’s offense.

The full house was enthusiastic as junior defender Simone Hefting struck first, giving Lafayette the lead at 42:09. The shot came on a corner assisted by freshmen midfielders India Ralph and Filine Gerbrandij.

“Friday’s game against Penn State was a really fun game to play in,” senior striker Alix Talkow said. “Going into the game, we knew it was a really big opportunity to take down a top-five team in the nation. I am proud of our performance and feel there was a lot of good in the game that we can implement in our next games. It was really exciting to have over five hundred fellow student-athletes, faculty, and fans supporting us at the game. The crowd was absolutely electric and we loved having the support.”

The Nittany Lions answered with three goals at 46:39, 47:24, and 53:42 in the fourth quarter.

Despite the high intensity of the game, it came down to Penn State holding the advantage in both corners (21-4) and shots (23-6).

“There’s definitely a difference in the speed of the game,” Sawers said. “I think a lot of times when you play any less strong team to kind of go down to their level. So it was nice to play such a strong team to kind of show where our strengths are, and then also the areas that we need to work on. But it definitely made us all play at a higher level than we’ve seen this whole season.”

For Sunday’s Senior Night, forward Molly McAndrew, midfield/defender Kara Tiedtke, striker Alix Talkow, midfielder/defender Mary Gould, midfielder Audrey Sawers, and goalkeepers Abbott and Becca Harbert were commemorated for their career achievements.

The student-athletes were walked onto the field by their families to receive flowers and cheers from their teammates and the crowd.

“This is a really special program that I have absolutely loved being a part of the past four years,” Talkow said. “I will miss the team environment the most once I am done but am confident that these people will be lifelong friends of mine. One of my favorite memories was spending time in Washington, D.C. for the PLT [Patriot League Tournament] my Sophomore year. Though we lost in the final, it was a really cool experience to be a part of. Hopefully, this year we will have the opportunity to compete in the final.”

Talkow started the Leopards’ scoring streak at 10:06 in the first quarter, taking the ball all the way to the net by herself from the 25-yard line and around Drexel’s goalkeeper.

“Drexel is always a tough opponent but our team worked together to create scoring plays and earn outcomes in the game,” Talkow said. “I am proud of how I played and have been working in training on making leads to connect with our midfield. It was a really great team win.”

Sawers was the next to score off a penalty corner at 20:52, assisted by Ralph and Gerbrandij.

Freshman midfielder Lineke Spaans sent a rocker from the right side of the circle at 32:58 to score the Leopard’s third goal.

Sawers then added two more goals on the day to complete the hat trick, with her final goal being assisted by MacAndrew.

Gould got in on the scoring action with a reverse shot off a rebound that went right under the goalkeeper.

Talkow then added her second goal off a rebounded shot from freshman Mackenzie Hall.

Lafayette held the advantage in corners (8-1) and took 30 shots compared to Drexel’s six. Abbott made three saves and Herbert faced zero shots.

With the win over Drexel, the Leopards have officially clinched a spot in the Patriot League tournament with four games remaining in the season.

“We are so excited to have officially clinched our spot,” Talkow said. “Winning the PLT has been a goal of ours from day one of preseason and clinching a spot in the playoffs is the first step to do so. We still have challenging games coming up specifically against Lehigh and Bucknell, but are looking forward to continuing to train hard and work as a team to have the opportunity to compete in the championship.”

“Every season we always work towards the tournament so to get there with four games left is a huge accomplishment,” Sawers added. “We just want to keep growing and continuing to work on things that we have an all-season to kind of get there to the championship and then hopefully win. So it was just building off each game and kind of taking it day by day.”

The Leopards will face rival Lehigh tonight at 7 p.m., and then will be traveling to Philadelphia to battle Temple at 1 p.m on Sunday, Oct. 22.

“The game against Lehigh is always one highlighted on the calendar for us for sure,” Sawers said. “It’s exciting that it’s on a Friday which will create a kind of ‘Friday night lights’ atmosphere. Again, we just take it day by day, and we have to work on things this week to be as successful as possible, but we’re all really excited.”