The St. Francis University field hockey program is on the rise with the help of a strong connection to Lake-Lehman.
In a unique situation for NCAA Division I sports, more than one-third of the Red Flash roster – and even one of the team’s three coaches – are Lake-Lehman graduates.
With that strong influence from the Black Knights, the Loretto, Pa. school has made a significant climb from what was once its position at the bottom of Division I teams around the country.
Jaime Lipski is an assistant coach, Lottie Chipego and Erica Johnson recently completed their senior seasons and Nikki Snyder, Selena Adamshick, Michelle Lipski, Tori Frederick and Carly Gromel are underclassmen on the team.
St. Francis lost 55 straight games from 2001 through 2004 and was a combined 22-164 through 2011.
The 2012 team – featuring Chipego, Johnson, Snyder, Michelle Lipski and conference Rookie of the Year Adamshick – was the first winning team in school history and also captured a Northeast Athletic Conference co-championship in the regular season while going 12-6.
With even more former Black Knights in the mix this season, the Red Flash moved up in competition to the Atlantic 10 and still managed their second-best record ever at 8-8.
St. Francis coach Stacey Bean has developed a strong connection with Lake-Lehman coach Jean Lipski through years of recruiting and has built a large part of her team around Lake-Lehman graduates. Jaime Lipski, a former two-time, second-team Big East all-star at Providence College, is Jean’s daughter. Michelle Lipski is Jean’s niece.
“We have our own little support group,” Michelle Lipski said after returning home for the holidays along with the rest of her college/former high school teammates.
Having other Lake-Lehman graduates already there, combined with an early commitment from Frederick, her close friend and roommate, helped Michelle make her decision.
So many players sticking together from the same high school has made the 175-mile trips to and from the St. Francis campus easier for the student-athletes and their fan base.
“Depending on where it is, all of our parents follow wherever we go,” Michelle said. “Sometimes, if it’s close, our high school brings the younger girls to our game.”
Chipego, Snyder and Gromel started all 16 games this season.
A defender, Chipego had two assists. Snyder, a junior midfielder, led the team with 10 assists and also scored a goal. Gromel, a freshman defender, made the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team and had one assist.
Adamshick played and started in all but one game, while ranking second on the team in goals (12), assists (8) and points (32).
Michelle Lipski, a sophomore forward/midfielder, made two starts and appeared in 13 games total.
Johnson and Frederick, a redshirt freshman, each appeared in five games as forwards.