And so it begins… Field hockey aims for third straight league title

For the third straight season, Lafayette has clinched a spot in the Patriot League Tournament. The only difference is that this season, the Leopards are ranked 37th nationally, dropping almost 20 spots from last season’s ranking. Lafayette ended last year’s regular season on a 15-0 win streak, leading the Patriot League standings in 2012 and 2011, with records of 5-0, and 4-1 respectively.

After clinching their spot in Patriot League Tournament, the Leopards played Boston University in their final regular season game last Saturday to determine whom they would be facing in the first round.

BU (12-6) struck first in 26 minutes of play, netting a goal off a rebound. The Terriers tallied another in the 59th minute on a reverse hit past goalie Jessica Deutsch ‘15. Despite holding a 12-9 advantage in shots and leading penalty corners 8-2, Lafayette was unable to score against BU.

“We made their goalie look good,” senior defenseman Carly O’Loughlin said. “She had some great saves but we also missed a lot of opportunities on the far post. Despite our record, we’ve continually outshot our opponents and had more corners. We’re just not finishing.”

The 0-2 loss to BU landed Lafayette in the fourth seed position for PLTs, forcing them to face 22nd nationally ranked American in the first round. The first time the Leopards faced American, it resulted in a 0-4 loss.

“We are all excited to play American in the first round,” forward/midfield Aimee Smith ‘14 said. “We want revenge for the last time we played them. We really didn’t play our best against them the first time, so they have no idea what’s coming.”

The winner of the American game will go on to face the winner of the Bucknell-BU game the next day for the Patriot League Championship.

“We really think we can take American,” forward Hanna Sotiropoulos ‘14 said. “We’re in a good place going into the tournament even though we lost to BU. We played great and we’re carrying that high energy into this weekend.”

The Leopards will be heading into the tournament with two recently named All-Patriot League First Team Players, Brittany Blass ‘15 and Jenna Seybert ‘15. Junior Kelsey Mead and senior captain Haley Keenan were both named All-Patriot League Second Team. Keenan has been responsible for four goals this season, including two game winners. Mead, named Patriot League player of the week, has also earned four goals for the Leopards this season. Blass and Seybert control Lafayette’s defense, but are also responsible for offensive corners with Mead.

“They really play huge roles on our team,” senior captain Kristin Heaney said. “Being able to lead the team from the defense, and still being such strong offensive players really is a testament to how competitive Jenna and Brittany are. Haley and Kelsey are constantly working with each other to finish in the circle.”

The pressure is on for these four to step up this weekend and score the goals necessary to fulfill the season long goal of winning the Patriot League Tournament.

“We’ve faced these teams before,” Sotiropoulos said. “They might overlook us because of our record this season, but that just makes us even more dangerous.

Lafayette faces top-seeded American today at 11 a.m. in Washington D.C. Championship play is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m.