Season Preview: Experienced Mountain Hawks Poised and Ready
Since the day head coach Caitlin Dallmeyer and assistant coach Taylor Dyer started at Lehigh in 2016, they have laid a foundation for success.
It takes time and patience to lay the framework for sustainable success, but it has already paid off.
In the Mountain Hawks’ last seven games, which date back to fall 2019, they are 4-3, with Patriot League wins against Boston University, Lafayette and Bucknell – traditionally three of the top contenders in the league. Lehigh field hockey is proving that it can compete with anyone, and it is hoped that recent wins this fall will lead to even greater successes.
The Mountain Hawks will be battling for their first place in the Patriot League tournament since 2012, where they hope to compete for a championship. And while it would be easy to focus on specific goals with a highly talented – and experienced – core of returnees, Lehigh knows that if they focus on the process, the results will come.
“My attitude as a trainer has shifted more towards process goals in recent years,” said Lehigh boss Caitlin Dallmeyer. “We are mutually committed as a team and we have set standards of conduct and performance targets for the season that we trust will lead us to success.”
It is easy to implement these standards with such an experienced group of returnees; the Mountain Hawks graduated only to senior goalkeeper Steph Brabender.
“This is the most experienced squad we’ve had in my time at Lehigh,” said Dallmeyer. “Every athlete, with the exception of our four first graders, has exceptional experience on multiple lines in our structure. They bring confidence, poise and a high hockey IQ to the field, which helps us compete against strong teams.”
Lenke Havas and Drew Pecora were also seniors last year but have returned due to the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortened spring season. Both Havas and Pecora look forward to being back in the field and continuing their education at a prestigious institution.
“It’s hard to say how important it is to our program to have Lenke and Drew back,” said Dallmeyer. “In their first year it was very clear that they brought something special to the program. They gave so much to the program, their teammates and the game and we are so happy that they decided to stay and do one more Directly influencing class of LUFHers. ” (the first graders) before they move on and off. “
Havas and Pecora are literally two of the best players the Lehigh field hockey program has ever seen. Havas is Lehigh’s first-ever four-time All-Patriot League winner, while Pecora is the program’s all-season top scorer (14 in 2019). Both are also All-Region Honors.
“After watching Lenke and Drew develop in our program, we see the kind of student-athletes who will grow best in the LUFH environment,” said Caitlin. “We strive to incorporate their properties into our future LUFH prospects.”
The future looks bright in Bethlehem, but the Mountain Hawks are focused on the present. First of all, they look forward to a full fall schedule – everything from practice to games and everything in between.
They enjoy most of all just hanging out with each other.
“We are so grateful that we can return to a full schedule and start a new season with a very talented team,” said Dallmeyer. “This group has worked hard to create a strong foundation of values that has resulted in a strong identity that we hope will carry us through a successful season.”
Yes, the squad is talented – including reigning Patriot League goalkeeper of the year Maddie Kahn – but the intangibles arguably are more important to this group. The Mountain Hawks have made a concerted effort during Dallmeyer’s time to build a winning culture that they will hopefully show off this fall.
“I would expect that this year you can see an extremely competitive LUFH team that tirelessly strives for victories, challenges itself and others and of course a team that is selflessly looking for team goals,” said Dallmeyer.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought even greater appreciation for one another.
“The best thing about this season so far is the renewed gratitude that we can connect with our teammates in a meaningful way, communicate personally and ‘show up’ in a way that shows our care for one another,” said Dallmeyer. “We now know how important it is not to take time for granted, especially time with others, with teammates and friends. Every bus trip, every team meal, every opportunity to be together as a team is an opportunity that we haven’t had for a long time.
“We have some catching up to do this season and we will certainly use every moment we have to connect and celebrate with each other.”