Season Preview: Mountain Hawks Aim to Win the Moment
It’s been more than 16 months since the Lehigh field hockey team closed the 2019 season with one of their biggest wins … ever. Although the last game is a fun memory to remember, the Mountain Hawks are eager to move on to the next chapter.
“This win in extra time was one of the greatest games in the history of our program,” said Lehigh’s head coach Caitlin Dallmeyer. “Sitting on that win for so long before we have a chance to race again has created a lot of excitement and an eagerness to see what we can further build on as a program.”
This unique victory was important because of what it represented. Since Dallmeyer was appointed Lehigh head coach in 2016, the Mountain Hawks have focused on the improvement process. So if there is an outcome like the program’s first win over Boston University, that is confirmation that the process is working.
“This will be my fifth season of competition and from the beginning we have tried to make sure that we get student-athletes who really buy into our system and our culture,” said Dallmeyer. “Given that, I’m very confident that we have the group here that wants this, ready to work for it and connect in ways that will help make the program better.”
The Mountain Hawks program is growing in many ways. One is talent, as there are two members of the preseason All-Patriot League on the roster in Lenke Havas and Maddie Kahn. The two award winners were tied for most in the league. And that doesn’t even include senior Drew Pecora, who scored a program record of 14 goals in 2019 who was second in the Patriot League. She was named the first All League team after the season.
In addition to talent, Lehigh offers many intangibles, led by the senior class of Havas, Pecora and Stephanie Brabender.
“The three are so different in their leadership styles, but they complement each other so well,” said Dallmeyer. “When talented players go through our program and contribute from year one, they can better understand our game structure and mentor our younger athletes. They have built a strong bond with their teammates on the field and assist the coaches in building trust among the players younger athletes. “
Nor is it just the seniors who lead.
“We have formulated a culture in which everyone has a place to lead,” said Dallmeyer. “Our underclassmen have really gotten into it and have their part in being able to speak, contribute, and lead in ways that are most genuine to them.”
Leadership is of the utmost importance, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought so many different and unique challenges in all walks of life.
“Everyone came back fit, ready and very anxious to be together because we only had minimal opportunities to be together as a team in autumn,” said Dallmeyer. “We had a lot of team members staying home because of COVID, having lots of starts and stops – unable to be together as a full team due to our logs, returning to the game and rehabilitation plan.”
They say absence makes the heart beat faster and while the Mountain Hawks have always loved playing field hockey together, that feeling has only grown stronger over the past year.
“We know that it is not a matter of course to only be on the field together,” said Dallmeyer. “The energy and excitement was fantastic and created a real sense of gratitude.
“Our team went to great lengths to follow the protocols and make sure we understand the rules and procedures for safety,” she continued. “With that there was a tremendous amount of sacrifice and our team went to great lengths to make that happen for each other.”
Besides the victim, Dallmeyer is demanding something else from their athletes – flexibility – especially given the unpredictable nature of each day (and the possibility of one or more players being absent due to COVID-19 protocols).
“We have to be open-minded and prepared to take on some very challenging positions,” she said. “That means on and off the field. If I’m used to being a left-back, I could be in a situation where I have to be our right-forward. I’ll know that position, I’ll own that.” Position and I will thrive in that position.
“Our team has done a great job understanding exactly what we want to do from top to bottom – attacking to defending to goalkeeping – and they have blended fluently into different lineups and positions so they could have confidence in who they are . ” do and what they can contribute. “
The spring 2021 season is unique in its make-up, but the goals of Lehigh field hockey are the same – continue the upward trend of the program. Certain factors are beyond their control, but they know that if they continue to focus on the process, the results will come.
“As coaches we want to make sure that we are grateful to be on the field every day because we know what it’s like when you take it away,” said Dallmeyer. “I don’t know that anyone has ever expected that as a coach you would not have the opportunity to train because of a pandemic. To be torn off the sidelines and not have the opportunity to do what we have been over for love most a year. ” was really a challenge. “
On the other hand, Dallmeyer, deputy head coach Taylor Dyer and all student athletes are extremely grateful.
“It was very important to be able to look at all faces every day, to give them personal feedback and to watch how they develop, grow and thrive in a social environment – when we have limited ourselves to zoom for so long, fulfilling and stimulating”, said Dallmeyer. “We want our athletes to realize that this is unique and there are still a lot of teams that don’t have the opportunity to play right now.
“We’ll take advantage of every day we have.”
The Mountain Hawks focus on winning not only every day, but every moment within each day.
“We will seize every moment, appreciate being together and concentrate on growing in this moment,” said Dallmeyer. “We also focus on realizing our potential as a group because we know we have a high cap and we know we have people willing to work to get us there.”
It all starts Sunday in Lafayette, 12 noon on ESPN +.
Gallery: (3-12-2021) Spring, 2021 Field Hockey Preseason Practice