Field Hockey's Settipane Rises to the Occasion
Oct. 28, 2013
Written by senior Kristen Scott
Leah Settipane, sophomore starting goalie for seventh-ranked Boston College field hockey, almost didn't have a spot on the team's roster.
After graduating high school, Settipane explored her options to continue playing field hockey in college. Boston College, a historically strong field hockey program, did not need a goalie. With her dream school out of the question, Settipane further developed her skills in net by playing a postgrad year of at The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut.
Then, with a little bit of luck, her future at BC started to look brighter. Late in the recruiting process, the Eagles' backup goalie didn't return. When Settipane got the call from Boston College with the recommendation of her club coach and BC's goalkeeper coach Carolyn Cahill, she didn't have to think twice.
"I was so excited. Like, `Yes! Of course. This is the best school ever," Settipane said with a rare burst of emotion. She committed to Boston College with the intention of filling the role of backup goalie.
Two weeks before preseason, the Eagles' starting goalie left the team. Settipane would get her chance after all. Settipane, a true freshman whom there was not a spot on BC's field hockey roster, would now start in goal.
Thrust into the starting role, she had to adapt.
"I had to adjust in every possible way: Reaction timing, strategy. There were just so many other things that we didn't do in high school. I had to learn a lot," she said.
Settipane, thrown into a high-pressure situation with a lot of moving parts, had at least one reassuring familiarity upon assuming the starting goalie position at BC: Coach Cahill.
Cahill coached Settipane all through high school for her club team in addition to coaching her at Boston College camps and clinics.
"My entire field hockey career we've been together," says Settipane. "Without [Cahill's] coaching ability, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Today, Settipane boasts an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 104 saves and a .770 save percentage - good for third in the ACC - on the 12-5 team. As a freshman, she tallied a league-high 87 saves, was first in the ACC with an average of 4.58 saves per game and second in the ACC with four shutouts.
"She was a champion. Leah is an ultimate competitor," said Cahill about Settipane's handling of the starting job as a freshman. "I vowed when I first got to Boston College that I would not put a true freshman in goal. I don't care how good she is. At our level...I don't know how they could be successful. I truly believed that."
It is Settipane's quiet dedication that makes her so successful.
"She did everything I asked her to," said Cahill. "Every task I gave her, she performed. She'll never settle. And neither will I. I demand perfection. And Leah wants perfection. So when we win it's a simple high five, great job. When we lose, don't come near either of us."
Cahill once told Settipane to be ready for the opposing team to score on her, because it would. She needed Settipane to be mentally strong enough to bounce back from those goals. Settipane walked away with a shutout. Her relentless competitiveness and discreet intensity push her to set a high standard for herself.
And that standard has been set very high. Five additional ACC teams join Boston College in the top 10 in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) rankings. With Wake Forest left on BC's regular season schedule, Settipane and the Eagles look to finish strong.
"I couldn't imagine being in any other conference; I love the competition. On any given day, anybody could win. It's whoever shows up to play that day," Settipane said.
"When you compete in the ACC, every shot matters," Cahill added.
One of the team's mission statements for the season includes winning three ACC games. Wins over Wake Forest and in the first round of the ACC Tournament would allow the Eagles to reach that goal. Another is making it to the NCAA Tournament. Settipane takes those goals to heart.
"You never know when your time is going to come. Work hard, because it always pays off," she said.
Settipane has put in the work and seen the results. But--never satisfied--she and Coach Cahill will keep working to reach the next level.