Abbott’s dominant play continues, claiming 4th Patriot League Weekly Award of season

Abbott+has+been+a+major+contributor+to+the+Lafayette+field+hockey+teams+successful+season.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29

Abbott has been a major contributor to the Lafayette field hockey team’s successful season. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Craig Barbaro, Sports Editor

The Lafayette field hockey team is in the midst of their strongest season since 2012 and their goalkeeper, senior Hailey Abbott, is a major reason why. The Leopards currently sit at 12-4 with a 3-2 Patriot League record. Abbott won her fourth Patriot League award of the season last Monday, with strong performances against Penn State and Drexel on Oct. 17.

In the game against Penn State, Abbott made 13 saves in the team’s 3-1 loss. Penn State is currently ranked as the fourth-best field hockey team in the NCAA and Abbott kept the game close with her strong play.

“Whenever I play in a game, I just focus on playing my best,” Abbott wrote in an email. “The Penn State game was the most exhilarating game we have played yet. After every play I reset myself making sure to focus on the next play instead of dwelling in the past. With facing so many shots I was able to gain confidence and bring an energy onto the field. I could hear my teammates on the sideline cheering every time someone made a good play. We always say to follow good with good and that’s exactly what we did.”

Prior to the loss, the Leopards claimed a spot in the Patriot League tournament following their 7-0 win over Drexel. The team’s primary goal all season has been securing a place in the tournament which they had not done since 2019.

“We were able to play a shortened season in the spring because of covid, but we did not perform how we wanted to due to a few setbacks,” Abbott wrote. “This drove us throughout the summer and into preseason to better prepare ourselves for the season ahead.”

The Leopards finished a rough 1-5 in the spring season and were quick to put the season behind them with stronger play this semester. The team put in many hours of training and studying film in order to rebound and prepare themselves for this season.

“Over the summer, we are given a fitness packet from the coaches and we work in small groups to encourage each other and keep each other accountable,” Abbott wrote. “We were also encouraged to get on the field and play field hockey because the only thing that can improve skills is repetition. Finally, we were encouraged to watch and discuss selected field hockey games because that improves tactical skills and hockey IQ.”

The team’s offseason work prepared them for this season as they are currently on pace for their best record since 2019. Even with their success, Abbott and her team are not satisfied with what they have accomplished, looking to close out the season by winning the Patriot League tournament and competing in the NCAA tournament.

“We have already achieved our goal of making the Patriot League tournament and several smaller goals so far this season,” Abbott wrote. “I would like to continue to improve and play to my fullest potential. I would like my team to continue learning and growing. I would love to add a few more shutouts to the ones the defense currently has, as well as win the Patriot League tournament. After the tournament, I would like our team to go as far as possible in the NCAA tournament.”

While the Leopards have had a strong showing this season it was not easy right off the bat for the Leopards. The team has six freshmen, all of who have seen in-game action this year.

“The biggest challenge coming into this season was that only half our team had played together,” Abbott wrote. “We did our best to connect online but nothing can match the feeling of playing together. We overcame this by first connecting with each other off the field and then translated that onto the field.”

Abbott’s strong and consistent play has been a big reason for the Leopard’s success. Abbott has started all 16 games this season for the Leopards and currently holds a remarkable 1.06 goal against average, 57 saves on the season and a save percentage of 77%. Abbott’s domination has been consistent throughout the season as she won Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week honors in August, September and twice in October.

Abbott’s progression as a player has also been unique as she was not the team’s primary goalkeeper when she first arrived.

Abbott was not the team’s primary goalkeeper when she first joined the team and has progressed

Abbott saw limited minutes as a freshman and did not see any time during the 2019 season. Abbott picked up her first win as a goalie in the shortened spring season in 2020 and has been unstoppable ever since.

“Playing small parts of games is difficult because you have to quickly change your mindset from a supporter to making saves or doing the skills you need to,” Abbott wrote. “The best way to prepare to start is to play in games which is why we have scrimmages before the season and when we are out of season. I also played in several games over the summer. It is also very important to practice as game-like as possible, this will prepare your body and mind for a game.”

Abbott will look to continue her strong season tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 30 at home against Bucknell at 12:00 p.m. The Leopards final regular season contest is the following day, Sunday, Oct. 31, at Rutgers at 2:00 p.m.