Aug 30, 2013
EASTON, Pa.- The Lafayette field hockey team will begin its campaign in a familiar position, defending a Patriot League title. The Leopards are looking to three-peat as League champions in 2013.
Head coach Jennifer Stone enters her first season in charge after spending six seasons on the sideline as an assistant. Last year, the Leopards finished 17-3, including 5-0 in the Patriot League, on their way to their second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
As expected, the returning players have stepped up not just with their play but as leaders on the team this preseason and Stone is hoping that transitions into the regular season.
The Leopards begin the season on Sunday at noon with an Iowa team that is ranked No. 13 in the NFHCA Preseason Poll. Lafayette will faceoff against two top opponents when it travels to No. 4 Connecticut on Sept. 15 and host No. 6 Penn State on Sept. 22.
“It’s good for our program to schedule tough out of conference opponents, especially teams like Iowa, UConn and Penn State,” Stone said, “Playing some of the top teams in the nation will help prepare us for a strong and competitive Patriot League later in the season.”
Lafayette will take on two more ranked teams later in the season when they visit No. 17 Drexel and new Patriot League foe, Boston University, which is ranked 16th in the NFHCA Preseason Poll.
The Maroon and White square off against two new out of conference opponents early in the season, playing Central Michigan and Delaware on Sept. 7 and 8.
Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the Leopards, who were picked third in the Patriot League Preseason Poll.
Patriot League Goalie of the Year a season ago, Jessica Deutsch, will guard the cage again this season. The junior started every game last season and finished with a Patriot League leading three shutouts and a 1.34 goals against average.
Freshman Katelyn Arnold will also work to see time in net.
Junior Brittany Blass, Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, anchors a defensive unit that led the League in shutouts (6) and goals against (26) last season. Blass tallied seven goals and 15 points for the Leopards.
Junior Jenna Seybert, an All-Patriot League Second-Team selection last season, started every game and tallied 10 goals and nine assists will also be a key piece to the Lafayette defense. Sophomore Hannah Millen has stepped up this preseason and will help anchor the Leopard defense.
Seniors Carly O’Loughlin and Dana Thomas and freshmen Casey White and Aliza Furneaux provide depth in the defensive third.
Senior Aimee Smith, junior Kelsey Mead and sophomore Kirby Szalkowski will patrol the middle of the field for the Maroon and White.
Smith and Mead started all 20 games last season and look to be major contributors again this season. Smith tallied three goals, while Mead chipped in with two goals and two assists. Szalkowski appeared in 14 games during her freshman campaign.
A pair of rookies, Ami Turner and Amanda Magadan, and senior Dana Thomas will be part of the rotation in the midfield.
Sophomore Abbey Stefanides and freshmen Aliza Furneaux and Casey White round out Coach Stone’s options in the midfield.
A trio of seniors will lead the Leopard attack this season. Kristin Heaney, Kelsey Gula and Haley Keenan will look to continue where they left off last season.
Heaney and Keenan started all 20 games last campaign and Gula appeared in every game, drawing one start. Keenan scored 10 goals, while Heaney and Gula each tallied a pair of goals.
Senior Hanna Sotiropoulos and sophomore Kendall Weedling will also see significant time and contribute in the offensive third.
Junior Brianna Barry, sophomore Katie Birle and freshman Hayley Mills will fight for time in the attack.