Sawers named to the 2021 Canadian Women’s National Team, field hockey beats Bucknell before losing to Big-10 opponent

The+Lafayette+field+hockey+team+is+now+sitting+at+the+No.2+seed+going+into+the+Patriot+League+Tournament+after+a+double-header+weekend+which+included+a+win+against+Bucknell+and+a+loss+against+Rutgers.+The+weekend+was+highlighted+by+multiple+Patriot+League+honors+for+the+players%2C+as+well+as+Audrey+Sawers+being+named+to+the+Canadian+National+Team.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29

The Lafayette field hockey team is now sitting at the No.2 seed going into the Patriot League Tournament after a double-header weekend which included a win against Bucknell and a loss against Rutgers. The weekend was highlighted by multiple Patriot League honors for the players, as well as Audrey Sawers being named to the Canadian National Team. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Colleen McNamara, Staff Writer

Lafayette field hockey senior captain Audrey Sawers will continue her athletic career after graduation. She was recently named to the 2021 Canadian Women’s National Team roster. Sawers’ play was crucial in the team’s double-header this past Saturday, as her goal helped clinch its 3-2 win against Bucknell in double overtime.

The following day, the Leopards fell to the nationally-ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights in another close outing. The two games finalized the Leopard’s regular-season record at 13-5 and 4-2 for league play and placed them at the No. 2 seed at the start of the Patriot League Tournament behind No. 1 American.

Given her efforts throughout the season, this week it was announced that Sawers was awarded recognition for Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year and was also named to the Canadian National Team.

“It’s super exciting. I was on the [under 21] team for a bit, but I’ve always focused on Lafayette field hockey before going back to Canada. This opportunity is something I couldn’t pass by,” Sawers said.

Due to the small Canadian field hockey community, Sawers has played with, against and been coached by a lot of Canadian team participants. Sawers is from North Vancouver, B.C. where she went to Handsworth High School.

“I know a lot of the girls, but I’m excited to get to know them better and play at such a high level with them,” Sawers said.

Sawers started in all six games last spring, leading the Patriot League in goals with four and tying for the conference lead in points with 10. Additionally, Sawers was named to the 2020 NFHCA Division I All-Mideast Region Second Team.

Sawers will head down to California later this month for a series against the United States. Based on her performance there, she may be invited to Vancouver to continue to train for the World Cup in January.

“This is a new challenge for me, but I’m excited to see where it goes. I’m not ready to hang up my field hockey stick yet,”  Sawers said.

Sawers played a strong game last week against Bucknell, as her goal was essential for Lafayette to claim victory at the last second.

The Leopards gained a lead early on Saturday with senior forward Alix Talkow scoring in the first two minutes of the game off a backhand pass from freshman midfielder Lineke Spaans.

Bucknell answered back eight minutes later with an equalizer off a corner, and the score remained at a stalemate for the rest of the first quarter.

Spaans broke the tie with a goal of her own in the second quarter, giving Lafayette the advantage.

With over twenty minutes left in regulation play, the Bison had ample opportunities to answer back, and the Leopards had time to capitalize on their lead. Bucknell was able to score next with just three minutes left in regulation.

Entering overtime the scoreboard read 2-2. Either team scoring would mean an automatic end to the game and would grant them a Patriot League point. 

Both team’s goalkeepers, Lafayette senior Hailey Abbot and Bucknell’s junior Clara McCormick contributed a handful of saves each throughout the match. Given the high pressures of overtime, they stepped up, neither allowing shots to get past them. Consequently, the game entered the 70th minute of play for a second overtime. If neither team scored, the game would end in a draw. 

Sawers did not let that happen. Lineke mimicked her play from the previous goal in the second half, intercepting a Bison pass to run the ball down, this time to pass to Sawers instead of taking the game-winning shot herself. Sawers wound up and slammed one to the back of the cage at 71:49. 

Lafayette’s dominating shooting percentage (21-13) helped them overpower Bucknell’s strong defense and corner opportunities.

If Saturday’s competition wasn’t exciting enough, four player-of-the-week awards followed.

Sawers earned Patriot League Offensive Player of the week and junior defender Simone Hefting was honored Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week.

Additionally, Abbott was awarded Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week and Spaans with Patriot League Rookie of the Week. 

To close out regular season play, the Leopards traveled to New Jersey to compete with Rutgers, the second-ranked team in the nation with a 15-2 record. Lafayette sits at the 29th spot with their 13-5 record. Despite the intimidating rankings, Lafayette held the Scarlet Knights in the first half to a 0-0 scoreline.

Rutgers finally put the first ball in the net in the third quarter, which they followed with another goal just three minutes later.

Talkow netted Lafayette’s only goal on the day at 49:20 in the final quarter to finalize the game at 2-1.

The final whistle blew at Sunday’s competition, marking the end to regular season play for the Leopards. It has been a season with a winning record, many overtime competitions, and dozens of Patriot League weekly honors.