CENTER VALLEY, Pa.- The Patriot League field hockey race begins on Saturday, and the schedule-maker has served up the main course to start the season.
No. 14 Lafayette, the defending Patriot League champion, will pay a visit to American, the preseason favorite and eight-time champion from 2003-10, at Noon on Saturday. The Leopards come into the game hot with two wins over ranked opponents in the past two weeks, while the Eagles also own a victory over a ranked foe this season. The game pits Lafayette's Deanna DiCroce, the Preseason Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, against American's Gina Hofmann, the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The other League openers on Saturday are each at 11 a.m., with Colgate visiting Bucknell while Holy Cross heads to Lehigh. The Bison and Mountain Hawks both made the Patriot League Tournament last season, with Bucknell advancing to the championship game against Lafayette. Colgate and Holy Cross are hoping for a good start in their quest for the postseason.
It's a small slate of non-League action in addition to the Patriot League season beginning. On Tuesday, Lafayette hosts Rider in a continuation of a suspended game with the Leopards up 2-0. A win would be the fifth straight for Lafayette. Three teams play on Sunday, with American hosting Monmouth, Lehigh at Rider and Bucknell at Rutgers.
Patriot League Notebook THE TOP FIVE @PATRIOTLEAGUE NOTES *Lafayette and American meet on Saturday to highlight the opening of the Patriot League season. *The Leopards are last year's defending champions, while the Eagles are preseason favorites. *Colgate is at Bucknell and Holy Cross goes to Lehigh to complete the slate. *Lafayette moved up to No. 14 in the NFHCA Coaches Poll on Tuesday after defeating No. 21 Albany 2-1 in double overtime on Saturday. *Patriot League teams have three wins over ranked opponents this year.
Lafayette Moves Up Four Spots in NFHCA Coaches Poll Just two weeks ago, the Lafayette Leopards sat outside the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll. But a pair of wins over ranked opponents and a four-game winning streak overall had Lafayette all the way to No. 14 when the latest rankings came out on Tuesday. The Leopards were the only team outside the top five with just one loss on the season.
Checking the Patriot League Statistics Lafayette has an edge in each of the key team statistics in the Patriot League, leading all teams in both scoring average (2.76) and goals against average (1.24) through the weekend. The individual statistics are closer, with Lehigh's Kim Eng just ahead of Bucknell's Tayler Siegrist in points (17-16) and goals (7-6), with Lindsay Metzger of Lehigh also registering six goals. Lafayette's Emily Valeo has a League-high six assists, one ahead of classmate Deanna DiCroce and Bucknell's Kelsey Mucelli. Lafayette's Jessica Deutsch leads the goalkeepers in both save percentage (.757) and goals against average (1.24).
This and That Bucknell's Vickie Resh has finished competing at the Junior Women's Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico...She helped the United States team qualify for the 7th Women's Junior World Cup along with Canada and Argentina...Lafayette's Emily Valeo ranks fifth on the NCAA leaderboard with 0.86 assists per game, while Leopard goalkeeper Jessica Deutsch is 10th with a 1.24 goals against average...Lehigh's Sydney Maltinsky-Wilson stands fifth in the nation with 9.14 saves per game, while Colgate's Amanda DiDomizio is just one spot behind with 9.11 save per game...Lafayette ranks eighth in the nation with a 1.24 goals against average.
PATRIOT LEAGUE FIELD HOCKEY WEEKLY AWARDS
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK EMILY VALEO, LAFAYETTESr., M/D, Norristown, Pa. Lafayette beat a top 25 opponent for the second straight week, and once again Valeo played a key role. After assisting on the game-tying goal in the second half, Valeo weaved through the defense and tallied the game-winner in double overtime to lift the No. 18 Leopards to a 2-1 win at No. 21 Albany on Saturday. Valeo leads the Patriot League in points and assists per game while helping the Leopards to a 6-1 record. She is named Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK BRITTANY BLASS, LAFAYETTE So., M/D, Mountain Top, Pa. Blass continues to direct an outstanding Lafayette defense, and earns the Defensive Player of the Week award from the Patriot League for the second straight time and third this season. The Leopards held No. 21 Albany to 10 shots overall and only six on goal in a 2-1 double overtime win on the road Saturday. Bliss made key tackles throughout the match and helped the Leopards stop four Albany corners in overtime.
GOALKEEPER OF THE WEEK JESSICA DEUTSCH, LAFAYETTE So., GK, Fairfield, Conn. Deutsch earns her second Goalkeeper of the Week award of the year, and it comes after she held a ranked opponent to just one goal in a Lafayette victory for the second time this season. After helping the Leopards to a 2-1 win over No. 15 Drexel last Friday, Deutsch made five saves and came up big in key moments in No. 18 Lafayette's 2-1 double overtime win at No. 21 Albany on Saturday. She made three saves in the overtime period alone, and helped the Leopards stop four penalty corner attempts. Deutsch leads the Patriot League with a 1.24 goals against average and .757 save percentage for the season.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK SOPHIE FITZPATRICK, LEHIGH Fr., GK, Duxbury, Mass. Fitzpatrick made six saves to lead Lehigh to a 2-1 win over Monmouth on Sunday, the first victory over the Hawks since 2005. She made three saves in each half, including three in a 9:31 span late in the second half to preserve the victory. Fitzpatrick also allowed just one goal while making two saves in the final 39:50 of Lehigh's 4-0 loss to Sacred Heart on Friday. Fitzpatrick is named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for the first time.
HONORABLE MENTION TAYLER SIEGRIST, BUCKNELL Sr., D, Madison, N.J. Siegrist had two goals in a 5-4 loss to Temple on Sunday and was part of a Bucknell defense that kept the score tight in a 2-0 loss to No. 17 Michigan on Saturday.
KIM ENG, LEHIGH Sr., F, Morristown, N.J. Eng tallied both of Lehigh's goals in a 2-1 win over Monmouth on Sunday. She opened the scoring in the early minutes, then broke a 1-1 tie later in the first half.