Oct. 11, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Last week Lafayette ended an 0-24-4 stretch against Patriot League opponents. Suddenly the Leopards have another streak going, as they’ve won three in a row to jump to the top of the standings with nine points with four League contests to go.
Patriot League Women's Soccer Release - 10.11.11
Lafayette roll continued with a pair of one-goal victories last weekend at home in Easton, Pa. The Leopards blanked Navy 1-0 for junior goalkeeper Lauren Smedley’s 18th career clean sheet before scoring a come-from-behind 2-1 overtime triumph against American Sunday. Senior Janelle Pierson accounted for both game-winners for the Leopards en route to earning BRINE Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week accolades. Her first-half tally against the Mids, who were ninth in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Mid-Atlantic Rankings last week, held up in the 1-0 victory while Smedley four stops in the win. Pierson struck again in the first minute of overtime in Sunday’s win against the Eagles.
Lafayette is now enjoying its best start ever in Patriot League play and eyes its first bid to the League Tournament in November since 2001. That season was also the last one to finish over .500 for the Leopards, both overall and against League foes.
While the Leopards are all alone in first place, there are three very good teams sitting prominently in their rearview mirror. Army and Colgate both went 1-0-1 over the weekend, which includes Friday’s 1-1 draw between the two teams at West Point. The Black Knights’ defense was stout as always, holding the League’s highest-powered offense to just a single goal on a penalty kick.
After stumbling through a three-game skid and dropping its first League match of the season, Lehigh bounced back with a 3-0 week with each contest ending by a 1-0 count. The Mountain Hawks handed Columbia an overtime loss in non-League play Monday before defeating American and Navy by that same tally over the weekend. The defending champion Mountain Hawks are bidding for back-to-back appearances in the League Tournament since going to the postseason three straight years from 2004-06.
Navy and Bucknell sit tied for fifth with three points apiece. The Bison earned their first League win of the season, 2-0, over Holy Cross on Friday, while the Mids dropped both last weekend after rallying to defeat American in their League opener.
Lehigh will put its three-match win streak on the line Wednesday when it plays host to Princeton at 7 p.m. The Patriot League is a combined 4-0-1 against Ivy opponents in 2011.
League play resumes Saturday with three matches spread out during the day. Colgate returns to the road to visit Navy at 12 p.m., while Lafayette looks to stay hot when it hosts Holy Cross at 3 p.m. Army travels to Lehigh for a 7 p.m. kick off to close the day.
Sunday’s lone contest features Bucknell visiting American at 12 p.m.
Patriot League Weekly Awards
BRINE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JANELLE PIERSON, LAFAYETTE Sr., M, Coral Springs, Fla.
From an offensive standpoint, Pierson single-handedly lifted Lafayette to a pair of important League victories last weekend. She tallied the only goal in the Leopards’ 1-0 victory over Navy Friday night before heading in the game-winner 59 seconds into overtime in Sunday’s come-from-behind 2-1 triumph against American. Pierson’s timely goals lifted Lafayette to its best start ever in Patriot League play at 3-0-0.
BRINE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MOLLY MCGUIGAN, ARMY So., D, Boulder, Colo.
McGuigan was charged with defending one of the League’s breakout players in Colgate freshman Jenna Raepple Friday night, and the sophomore from Boulder, Colo. did not disappoint. McGuigan held the Colgate rookie without a shot in a match that ended in a 1-1 draw, with Colgate’s tally coming on a penalty kick. Raepple entered Friday’s contest leading the League in shots and tied for the League lead in points. McGuigan came up with a critical play late in the second half during a Raider flurry, in which she cleared a ball out of the box after it had bounced off the post. She was part of Army’s defense that held Bucknell scoreless in Sunday’s 1-0 victory against the Bison.
BRINE GOALKEEPER OF THE WEEK
ASHLEY BLANKS, LEHIGH Fr., GK, North Andover, Mass.
Blanks enjoyed the best week of her career, posting three shutouts in as many games, including a pair against Patriot League opponents. After making two saves in a 1-0 overtime win over Columbia, she logged six and seven stops against American and Navy, respectively, in two more 1-0 shutouts over the weekend. Blanks’ efforts dropped her goals-against average from 1.63 to 1.18 while her save percentage improved to .787 on the season (up from .717).
BRINE ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
ALEX REISINGER, LAFAYETTE Fr., D, San Clemente, Calif.
Reisinger tallied her second and third assists of the season in dramatic fashion, collecting the helpers on both of Janelle Pierson’s goals during Lafayette’s 2-0 weekend against League opponents. In Sunday’s 2-1 victory against American, Reisinger sent a cross into the penalty area in the first minute of extra time that Pierson headed in for the golden goal. Reisinger also recorded an assist on Pierson’s marker in Friday’s 1-0 win over Navy. The Leopards are alone atop the League standings at 3-0-0 and nine points.
TARYN BOUCHER, BUCKNELL Jr., M, Cutchogue, N.Y.
Boucher accounted for all of the Bison offense in Friday’s 2-0 win at Holy Cross. It was the first goals of her collegiate career. She scored in the 53rd minute and added an insurance marker in the 72nd.
LAUREN SMEDLEY, LAFAYETTE Jr., GK, Hamilton, N.J.
Smedley collected both of Lafayette’s wins in net over the weekend, including an eight-save performance as the Leopards rallied for Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win against American. Friday’s shutout versus Navy was her sixth of the year and the 18th of her career.
LEAH KULP, LEHIGH Sr., M, Titusville, N.J.
Kulp logged the eventual game-winner to spark Lehigh to a 1-0 victory over American Friday night before adding an assist on Murphee Greeley’s marker in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Navy.
CAROLINE BRAWNER, COLGATE Fr., M/F, Mill Creek, Wash.
Brawner collected the game-winner as Colgate took a 2-1 win over a scrappy Holy Cross team Sunday in Worcester, Mass. The Raiders kept pace with Army, who defeated Bucknell Sunday afternoon. Colgate and the Black Knights wrestled to a 1-1 draw Friday at West Point.
Patriot League Notebook
NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE
When you’re in your 22nd season, there aren’t a lot of firsts left to accomplish, but Lafayette hit one last weekend when it began Patriot League play 3-0-0 for the first time ever with victories at home against Navy and American. The Leopards, who snapped an 0-24-4 stretch in League play with its 2-1 victory over Lehigh, added wins of 1-0 over Navy and 2-1 in overtime against American to take over sole possession of first place. Lafayette is hoping the fast start translates into its first Patriot League Tournament berth since 2001.
In another piece of good news for Lafayette, the Leopards debuted in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Mid-Atlantic Regional rankings Monday in the No. 9 spot, taking over for Navy, which had spent six straight weeks on the list. Though sitting just outside the top 10 in the region, Colgate also received votes last week after collecting a win at Holy Cross and fighting for a 1-1 draw at Army.
Army and Colgate played their third consecutive overtime match against one another Friday and it was the second straight regular-season tilt to end in a draw. The two teams were picked to finish 1-2 in the preseason poll and the match did not disappoint. The teams combined for 35 total shots with 17 on goal, and both keepers were up to the challenge. Army senior Monica Lee totaled eight stops in the contest, while Colgate junior Ashley Walsh made seven saves. Errin Helbling put the Black Knights on the board in the 34th minute before Maddie Malone’s penalty kick nearly 10 minutes later evened the bout. It’s the third time the two have played three consecutive overtime matches in the all-time series, with last season’s League Tournament quarterfinal also going beyond 90 minutes. Colgate owns a 9-22-5 edge all-time.
BIG WIN FOR BUCKNELL
It’s been a daunting stretch for Bucknell, which started League play with three straight road matches at Colgate, Holy Cross and Army. The Bison were able to salvage one of contests, securing a 2-0 win over the Crusaders Friday in Worcester, Mass., to collect their first three points of League play. Bucknell closes out its regular-season road slate with Sunday’s contest against American, then has three straight League games at home taking on Lehigh, Lafayette and Navy.
UP AND DOWN, BACK UP AGAIN
It’s been an up-and-down season thus far for Lehigh, but the Mountain Hawks are on an up swing with three straight wins, including a pair against League opponents. After losing three in a row, including its first League contest against rival Lafayette, Lehigh rattled off two one-goal victories at home against American and Navy. Add in a non-League victory against Columbia, the program’s first against the Lions since 1993 and second ever, and the Mountain Hawks are riding a three-match win streak entering Wednesday’s non-League tilt with Princeton. Lehigh also hopes to ride the wave into Saturday’s League showdown with visiting Army.
HEADING FOR THE TOP 10
Army senior goalkeeper Monica Lee and Lafayette junior Lauren Smedley are quickly heading for the Patriot League’s all-time top 10 in career shutouts. Smedley earned her 18th career clean sheet in Friday’s 1-0 victory against visiting Navy, while Lee posted her 10th of the season and career 17th in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Bucknell. Smedley needs one more blanking and Lee two to tie for 10th place on the League list.
THE RACE TO HOST
Patriot League play is finally here and the road to the League Tournament begins in earnest. The top four finishers in the standings will qualify for the League Tournament, which will be hosted by the regular-season champion and No. 1 seed. While each team sets out to win the regular season and host the four-team playoff, the tournament results have not been kind in recent years to the top seed. Third-seeded Lehigh’s 1-0 blanking of No. 1 Army in last year’s tournament was the third time in the last four seasons in which the top seed has fallen in the title match.
ARMY VOTED THE FAVORITE
Fresh off a 14-4-3 season with a 4-0-3 mark in Patriot League play and an appearance in the League championship match, Army was voted the favorite to capture the title in 2011 after finishing atop the preseason poll. Head coaches and sports information directors, who could not vote for their own teams, combined to give the Black Knights 93 points and 10 first-place votes, followed by Colgate’s 79 points and four first-place votes. Defending champion Lehigh took third with 75 points and the final two first-place votes. Navy garnered 55 points for fourth and Bucknell received 52 points for fifth. The poll was rounded out by American (46 points) in sixth, Lafayette (25) in seventh and Holy Cross (23) in eighth. Army topped the preseason poll for the first time since sharing the No. 1 position with Colgate in 1993 and again in ‘94.