The Lehigh Field Hockey team poses on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Ulrich Sports Complex. The team started 2-0 for the first time since 2002. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Field hockey records strongest start since 2002

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The Lehigh field hockey team secured victories in its first two games of the season, marking its first 2-0 start since 2002.

The Mountain Hawks began its season with a 1-0 win over Ryder, followed by a 4-1 victory over Towson, allowing the fewest goals through two games since the 2000 season. Lehigh suffered its first loss on Friday against Richmond, falling 2-4.

Though its winning streak was interrupted, the team is hopeful the momentum from summer training and in its first two victories will carry throughout the rest of the season. 

Coach Caitlin Dallmeyer said the recognizable shift in performance level is a product of the team’s commitment to making a change heading into the season. 

“The team wanted to make a change, and they were going to have to be accountable for themselves [in order]to make that happen,” Dallmeyer said. 

After reflecting on past seasons, Dallmeyer said the team is looking to finish above .500 this season, a feat that has not been accomplished in 30 years.

Lehigh welcomed ten freshmen to the roster this year with hopes the added talent will contribute to the team’s long-term goals. 

In the past two weeks alone, three freshmen received Patriot League honors. Freshman goalkeeper Maddie Kahn received Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week honors on Sept. 2. Kahn currently leads NCAA DI in save percentage (.917) and is fourth in goals-against average (0.50) — only half of the goals shot against her have found the back of the net.

Forward Sarah Bonthuis was named Rookie of the Week on Sept. 9, scoring two goals against Towson, while Sydney White received Defensive Player of the Week. White played a key role on the defensive end, which allowed just 16 shots with just three on goal.

Veteran players emphasized the importance of integrating the group of newcomers into the team’s dynamic before the season even began. 

“We go through the same experiences together, and it helps us build strong relationships,” Bonthuis said.

Dallmeyer said the biggest difference between this 2019 roster and teams in past years is not the level of talent. Dallmeyer said the success the players share is a result of their relationships with each another. They trust and respect each other off the field, which translates to their performances on game day. 

Dallmeyer said junior defender Lenke Havas makes a significant impact by setting a great example for the new freshmen. Her leadership has fueled improvements.

“Havas has raised the level of talent in the program,” Dallmeyer said. “People respect (Lenke) because she is so humble, and people want to meet her expectations. We are fortunate that Lenke is in a great leadership role to mentor the freshmen.”

Senior midfielder Amanda Boyer said Havas is a strong defender who spreads leadership, rather than containing it. 

Because team culture is a priority for Lehigh, the team decided it was critical to maintain continuity and fluidity between all of the class ranges. To achieve this, the Mountain Hawks implemented a leadership council at the start of the season.

A representative for each class is determined by votes from teammates, who serve as a bridge between the coaching staff and the players. These leaders are responsible for fostering communication and development within the team.

Boyer, Havas and sophomore midfielder Sam Nason were voted the class representatives for the 2019 season. 

“The three people voted into that role are our three most humble and understanding players,” Dallmeyer said. “They don’t look to carry power, and if they were not voted into that role, they wouldn’t have put themselves in that position.”

Lehigh’s approach negates any hierarchies that might exist between class years and allows everyone to be competitive with each other. At the same time, players are constantly able to help and support one another. 

“We worked hard the past three years to have a ‘LUFH’ culture and game,” Boyer said. “My goal is to be a part of a changing program.”

Havas said Lehigh’s past is the team’s biggest motivator for making it to the Patriot League Tournament in November. But for now, the Mountain Hawks are focusing on one game at a time.

Lehigh defeated Georgetown 3-0 on Sept. 15, adding a fourth win to its record. The Mountain Hawks will look to continue its success on the road at Colgate on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Andy Kerr Stadium.

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