An underwhelming spring season leaves the Lafayette field hockey season with several unknowns for the coming fall.
Chief among the question marks are the changing faces on the roster. Will any of the team’s seniors use their extra year of NCAA eligibility? And, if not, who will replace the scoring punch that senior midfielder Audrey Sawers brought this spring?
Field hockey head coach Jennifer Stone announced last Wednesday the addition of six new Leopards with impressive statistics and diverse backgrounds to the program’s class of 2025. The incoming freshmen group is commensurate with typical recruiting classes for the team, both in size and scope. This suggests that most if not all of the current seniors will graduate without using their extra year.
Stone was noncommital when asked if any of the current seniors would use their eligibility to play in the fall.
“You just never know what can happen,” she said in late April.
The newcomers are representing four different countries, two from the U.S. in Connecticut and California, one from New Zealand, another from British Columbia and a pair from the Netherlands.
Incoming defender/midfielder Alex Darrah hails from Norwalk, Conn. She started all four years on her high school team while also playing three years of lacrosse and two years of squash. She earned MVP honors and served as captain for each of her final two years, and was also named a NEPSAC Class A All-Star two years in a row with a First-Team Honorable Mention in 2019.
Darrah’s academics were just as impressive, as she made high honors all four years, was selected to the NFHCA All-Academic Team with scholarly distinction, was her class’s Vice President, a Dorm Prefect, a campus tour guide and an Orientation Leader. Unsurprisingly, Darrah chose Lafayette for academics and athletics, as well as the welcoming sense of community and school spirit on campus, according to GoLeopards.com.
Mackenzie Hall is coming from Oceanside, Calif., with four years in midfield and a league championship under her belt. Hall was a team captain for her final two seasons, won All-Avocado East League First-Team honors, Offensive MVP laurels and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the Sierra Hockey Tournament.
Hall earned a spot on the Principal’s Academic Honor roll, was a part of the Associated Student Body, Class Council and the California Scholarship Foundation. She also ranked ninth nationally on her club circuit team. Hall said she appreciates the balance between academics and athletics at Lafayette as well as the campus and the friendly team culture.
India Ralph is coming all the way from Auckland, New Zealand, after playing four years at Sacred Heart Girls Catholic College and serving as team captain in her final year. She was also Vice Captain in 2020 on the Saint Kentigern College team and was named the Most Prestigious Player.
Ralph additionally earned the National Certificate of Educational Achievement for three different levels and won back-to-back national championships with her club circuit team. Lafayette’s welcoming atmosphere is what brought Ralph to campus.
Laine Delmonte is from North Vancouver, British Columbia and played five years of field hockey, soccer and basketball at her high school. She was named the Carson Graham Athlete of the Year three years in a row, won a U15 national championship with her club team, and also played for the Field Hockey Canada NextGen organization. Delmonte chose Lafayette for the academic demands and the ability to still play competitive field hockey within a smaller community.
Lineke Spaans is from Bussum, the Netherlands, and played both field hockey and tennis in high school. She won a Dutch Championship in 2016 and served as team captain for three seasons. Spaans earned honors throughout her academic career, played with a club circuit program and trained with the Pre-National B team. Lafayette stood out to Spaans because she felt it was the perfect fit for her, and she is excited to further discover herself in her college career.
Filine Gerbrandij comes to College Hill from Den Haag, the Netherlands, after competing in the Super B National League from 2017-2019, and serving as a full member of the Craeyenhout first senior team while still being a youth player.
“I really like Lafayette because of the combination of high quality of education and field hockey,” Gerbrandij said. “The team gives me a very positive feeling and is competitive, which I really enjoy.”
Gerbrandij is the fourth international player coming to the team and is already excited about the transition.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting the team and learning more about Lafayette,” she said. “I am also really excited about moving to the U.S., coming from Europe.”
Gerbrandij was also a tutor, a member of the yearbook commission and a Junior Mentor for First-Year Students at Leiden University.
“I hope to further develop my hockey skills,” she added. “Moving to the U.S. by myself will certainly make me more independent. Academically, I want to explore my interests. I think Lafayette is a great college to help me with that.”
Keep your eye out for these six soon-to-be Leopards as they debut in their rookie season this fall.