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Mead uses her speed in impressive freshman season

November 17, 2011

EASTON, PA. — Long before Kelsey Mead donned the distinct maroon and white colors of the Lafayette College field hockey

Kelsey Mead, Lors Photography

program, Leopards head coach Andrew Griffiths knew the 2011 Wall graduate was special.

“I have been coaching Kelsey at summer camp since she was 13 or 14 — she was really young,” said Griffiths. “Even then, she had really good speed and quickness for her age and really good stick skills. She understood the game really well, and it continued throughout high school.”

Although he knew he was getting a gifted player, Griffiths, who is in his fifth season as the head coach at Lafayette, could never have imagined the immediate success Mead would have in her first year as a member of the Leopards.

“I knew she would BE an impact player at some point,” said the coach. “It took her a couple of weeks to get comfortable, but when she did, she just took off.

“Actually,” he said, “I think she has even exceeded our expectations in terms of the speed dimension that she brings, and also her control of that speed.”

It is inarguable that Mead, using that quickness, was exceptional in year-one of collegiate field hockey. Playing in the highly-competitive Patriot League, the freshman compiled eight goals and three assists [19 points] during the regular season, as the Leopards finished conference play with a record of 5-1. With a 3-1 victory over Bucknell in the league championship game on Nov. 5, Lafayette earned the program’s first Patriot League title since 2002.

Mead, who in 2010 earned 24 goals and 14 assists in her final season at Wall, attributes her early success to a familiarity she felt with Griffiths and the Leopards program before she even stepped foot on campus prior to the fall season.

“I think a lot of it has to do with knowing the team before I got here,” said Mead. “I am very comfortable.”

Mead wasted no time in showing that level of comfort and the ability to make a major impact on the team, scoring a goal in Lafayette’s first scrimmage of the year. She felt the even though the goal would not show up in the statistics at the end of the year, it did wonders for her confidence prior to entering regular season play.

“Even though it didn’t count [for the regular season] it was a huge relief,” Mead said. “After getting the first one I wanted to keep scoring every game.”

Mead scored her first official collegiate goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to Harvard on Sept. 4 and only continued to get better throughout the season as the Leopards played to an overall record of 11-9. In back-to-back victories over Colgate and Quinnipiac at the beginning of October, the freshman earned a total of four goals while also notching an assist. For her effort in the two wins, Mead was recognized as the Patriot League Rookie of the Week.

Mead shared a humorous story when reflecting on the achievement, in which a teammate and good friend on the team had prophesied that she may receive the honor even before the game against Quinnipiac.

“I scored two goals the game before at Colgate and my teammate Deanna [DiCroce] said that if I scored two more goals in that [Quinnipiac] game that I would get Patriot League Rookie of the Week,” said Mead. “We were expecting it to be a real tough game and I thought it would be impossible to score two goals. I did it and I got [the honor] that week. It was really funny that’s how it happened.”

Mead has enjoyed not only her success, but also the challenge of facing a high-grade of competition in each game at the college level, acknowledging that team work has been crucial to her individual performance.

“It is definitely a lot of work and it is always a team effort,” she said. “It’s all about team, we always stress everyone doing their job and to work for the people behind you.”

The 2011 Leopards were a unique group, in that, many first year players shined for the team. Lafayette started four freshmen, including Mead, which Griffiths recognized as a rarity.

“Right now we have four freshmen starting which is pretty unusual,” he said.

The coach knows that the experience the group earned as freshman will be vital to the success of the Leopards’ program in the future.

“They are key players in important positions,” Griffiths said. “There is no doubt this class will have a big impact on the program.”

Mead is thrilled to be part of the young nucleus and has thus far savored every minute at the school which was always her number one choice.

“It is really good to have the freshman so involved this year because it provides a good foundation for upcoming seasons,” said the Wall graduate. “I absolutely love it here and would definitely make the same choice again. The coaches, the team…it is awesome.”

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