Field hockey opens season with 1-1 record, earns several preseason honors

Field+hockey+opens+2022+season+with+a+win+and+a+loss+after+being+ranked+second+overall+in+the+preseason+poll.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+GoLeopards%29

Field hockey opens 2022 season with a win and a loss after being ranked second overall in the preseason poll. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

The Lafayette field hockey team concluded their opening weekend with a 1-1 record after contests against Temple University and Bryant University. 

Opening day didn’t go as planned at Rappolt field, as the Leopards fell 1-0 to the visiting Temple Owls. Temple led the game in total shots (14-5) and penalty corners (9-2).

“Temple was aggressive, and they attacked with a lot of speed. Unfortunately, we had a few unforced turnovers as well,” sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Hall said.

Sophomore defender India Ralph described Temple as “quick with their free hits,” and said that they “constantly looked to play dangerous vertical passes down the center of the field.”

However, with the next game only two days away, there was no time to dwell on the loss. Instead, the team pivoted their focus to the film room and the practice field. 

“After watching the video, we knew exactly what we needed to work on. Most importantly, we knew that the issues could be fixed,” Ralph said. “We pride ourselves in holding each other accountable and working hard to improve.”

It payed off, as the team bounced back and defeated the Bryant University Bulldogs 3-1. 

In terms of a game plan for Bryant, Ralph detailed how they tried to “aggressively press when the ball traveled out wide.” 

“[Hall] did a fantastic job of limiting their passing options once the outside defenders received the ball,” Ralph continued. 

Senior forward Felicitas Hannes, who hails from Germany, scored the first goal of the team’s 2022 campaign as she converted a penalty in the first quarter. This was her fifteenth collegiate goal. 

“I thought [Hannes] played really well,” Hall said. “Scoring the penalty stroke really set the tone early.” 

It was Ralph who then added to the Leopards’ lead at 18:13, when the Maroon and White capitalized on being one woman up. She ended the game with two shots on target and a solid defensive performance. 

“As a defender, I don’t often score,” Ralph said. “It’s a great feeling.” 

Lafayette’s third goal came when sophomore midfielder Lineke Spaans passed the ball to Hall, who deftly found the back of the net. 

“It felt really good to score against Bryant, and it was even better since my dad and sister were there to see my first collegiate goal in person,” Hall said.

Spaans described dishing an assist as “always fun.” The Dutch midfielder recorded four assists along with seven goals last season, on her way to being named the 2021 Patriot League Rookie of the Year.

The team reacted exceptionally well to the result of the opening game.

“Against Bryant, we played simple and were able to string together many stick-to-stick passes,” Hall said. “We had a lot of good connections and applied strong pressure on the ball.”

Spaans agreed. “We learned a lot from the loss to Temple, and I think that showed on Sunday,” she said.

Last year, the Leopards started with a strong opening campaign that saw them reach the Patriot League final. However, there is every reason to believe that this season will be just as special. The squad was ranked second overall in the preseason poll, garnering five first-place votes. Only American University – the reigning champion – was placed higher.

In addition, senior defender Simone Hefting was named the 2022 Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. She was joined by fellow captain and classmate Molly McAndrew along with Spaans on the 2022 Preseason All-Patriot League Team. Furthermore, Hefting received the honor of Patriot League Defender of the Week after competing in every single minute of the team’s opening two games. 

“We can’t put too much focus on previous years and achievements,” Spaans said. “This is a new team with new talent, so we have to build from the ground up. I think the group is still building chemistry, and that’s exciting. We are nowhere near our full potential yet.” 

The Leopards will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. to face Wake Forest University tonight. The Demon Deacons hold an 0-2 record after consecutive losses to Iowa and Michigan.