Back to back to back?

Lafayette field hockey will have to replace the void left by graduted Emily Valeo ‘13.

Lafayette field hockey will have to replace the void left by graduted Emily Valeo ‘13.

Peter Levine

Photo by Ally Hil ‘15 | Photo Editor

With a new head coach and set of team leaders, the Lafayette field hockey team is seeking its third consecutive Patriot League title. That quest begins this Sunday at home against Iowa.

Following the departure of coach Andrew Griffiths in December, Lafayette promoted Jennifer Stone, who served as an assistant under Griffiths for the past six seasons, to the head coaching position.

Stone started all four years in her playing career at Lafayette and ranks third all-time for Lafayette in total points (135) and goals scored (51). Stone also starred in lacrosse at Lafayette, earning All-American honors during her senior year.

Co-captain Haley Keenan has been pleased with her new coach thus far.

“We had a very productive preseason with Coach Stone and [Assistant Coach] Beans,” Keenan said. “We worked hard to really hone our fundamentals and combine different tactical elements each practice. Coach Stone demands a competitive and high tempo at each practice so that we make the most of each session we are on the field.”

“Ultimately, I think that our preseason and all that we have accomplished has prepared us for our challenging schedule this fall,” Keenan continued.

Six starters return from last year’s top-25 ranked team. Kelsey Gula ‘14, Kristin Heaney ‘14, Keenan ‘14 and Brittany Blass ‘15 have been named captains for the 2013 season. Blass, a preseason All-League team selection, is a defensive standout and won six Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week awards last season.

Goalie Jess Deutsch ‘15 enters the season as the reigning Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year.
Stone has emphasized focusing on one thing at a time throughout practices and drills, prioritizing fitness, conditioning and technical skills before later honing in on the tactical aspects.

“As a group, they continue to develop and morph, progressing into the fall season,” Stone said.

The players mirror Stone’s mentality.

“[The team] has made it a goal to take things one practice and game at a time so we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Coach Beans likes to remind us that the most important game is the next one. I think with that attitude, we will most definitely find success.”

The league preseason poll has predicted Lafayette to finish third behind Patriot League newcomer Boston University and American University.

Lafayette will face both opponents on the road this season.

Top home games include the opener against Big Ten powerhouse Iowa, Penn State on September 22 and Bucknell on October 5. Lafayette’s toughest test may come on an early road trip against the No. 4 ranked UConn Huskies.