Brooklyn Boro

LIU field hockey: It’s a social thing

November 21, 2022 Andy Furman
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Her field hockey career may have ended.

But a new career could be on the horizon for the Long Island University social-media star.

Maddie Leitner, the graduate of Watertown High School (Mass.)  was a five-sport athlete for the Raiders – field hockey, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse and softball.

She was a Middlesex League all-star as a junior and senior – and helped lead the Raiders to four state championships during her career.

Make that her playing career.

She has a new one now.

Sure she produced her first career goal this past season as an LIU graduate student – against Merrimack.

But it was her presence off the field – and on social media – that’s made Maddie Leitner a star.

She posted a team video on TikTok thispast seasn which generated one million views.

That’s right – one million.

“I’m always on TikTok,” the Business Major who will get her degree next month, told the Eagle. “When I saw we got a million hits, all I could say was, ‘OMG.’”

So did her coach, Raenee Savin.

“It was great,” Savin said, “it certainly spotlighted our program and gave us a jolt.”

But there’s more.

“I Was posting our teammates,” Maddie said, “and that’s what drew the attention.”

LIU has 15 players from Australia on their field hockey roster.

And two from The Netherlands, one from New Zealand, two from Trinidad, one from Spain and one from Belgium.

“We get videos from You Tube all the time,” Savin said, “and we’ve made some great connections.”

And Maddie’s one million “hits” certainly won’t hurt.

But why the heavy contingent fro Argentina?

“Argentineans pride themselves on their country’s successful field hockey women’s team,” Savin said. “While field hockey may not be that popular here in the states,” she added, “its No. 1 in Argentina.”

And now at LIU.

Field hockey is the most popular female sport in that country. The government wants schools to play it more often, but they claim the equipment is expensive.

In fact, Las Leonas is an accurate name for Argentina’s field hockey team – a feisty group of  women who made their way into sports history with energized matches against competitive teams.

Their earliest win happened in the 1987 Pan American Gamesm in Indianapolis.

During the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia the team defeated the Netherlands, 3-1. Days later, they earned a silver medal after defeating China and New Zealand. Although the Australian team won the gold medal, Las Leonas made a name for themselves in these Olympics.

They became World Champions twice—in 2002 and 2019 -against the Netherlands.

Argentina’s fearless female field hockey team has accumulated four Olympic medals – two silver medals, 2000, 2012; two bronze medias, 2004, 2008.

Their most recent win was in 2016, where they obtained their eighth gold medal.

Raenee Savin just completed her 20th season as head coach of the  LIU field hockey team. 

She became the all-time winningest coach in LIU Post field hockey history in 2011 – after 16 seasons of then Division II LIU Savin boasted an overall record of 183-117.

To close out their final season  at the NCAA Division II level in 2018-19 Savin guided the Pioneers to a 13-5 overall record, a 12-3 Northeast-10 Conference record and advanced to the semifinals in the NE10 tournament in 2018.

But that was all prior to ML – Maddie Leitner – the lightning rod that is selling LIU women’s field hockey world-wide.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have  problem attracting international players here at LIU,” Leitner said, “these players dream  of coming to the USA; and the travel is easy right from JFK to LIU.”

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