Sept. 22, 2014 — Hope Solo has every right to play

In the wake of numerous allegations of domestic violence amongst professional football players, some columnists and pundits have dredged up four-month-old charges of domestic violence against U.S. national team goalkeeper Hope Solo only weeks before the U.S. team embarks on World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

As the narrative goes, a drunk and upset Hope Solo and her 17-year-old nephew got into a verbal altercation at her sister’s house in Kirkland, Wash. A probable-cause affidavit reports that the nephew had scratches on his arm and had a bleeding cut on his ear.

But here’s where I diverge with the media-driven story of an angry woman.

If we’re to believe the police reports, which are available online, the nephew had it coming. He brandished a gun and a broomstick at the U.S. nation team goalkeeper and also berated her with language that would not fly with FCC regulations.

There is a growing crescendo in the media to suspend Solo ahead of World Cup qualifying, but I don’t think this situation is even close to knocking out your own fiancee with a punch. Or hitting a four-year-old child with a tree branch. Or terroristic  threats. Especially since the terroristic threats seem to have been directed at Solo rather than by her.

Too, the charges against Solo are gross misdemeanor charges, rather than felony assault. And, lest we forget, Solo has not been found guilty yet of these allegations. A trial date is set for November, after World Cup qualifying.

Should Solo keep playing? Until the justice system plays itself out, I think she should.

And no amount of punditry and jumping up and down on soapboxes will change that.

 

Sept. 21, 2014 — The fight for separatism, alive?

Late last week, the United Kingdom and the European Union waited with bated breath as people in Scotland went to the polls to vote on a referendum as to whether or not to form an independent country.

There seems to be a habit of this; there is going to be a vote in about a month and a half as to whether a region of northeastern Spain will separate from the rest of the country.

Catalonia is a very affluent region of Spain whose contribution to the national gross domestic product is estimated to be north of $200 billion. And the region got a very rich booster last week. During a soccer match last weekend, FC Barcelona, one of the world’s richest sports teams (about $2.6 billion) wore the red and yellow of the Catalan flag rather than its usual blue and red stripes.

Making matters more interesting was the fact that Barcelona’s opponents last week was Athletic Bilbao, which wore the colors of the Basque region. Basques have resorted to terroristic acts — numbering more than 3,300 of them since the 1960s — to get their point across to the Spanish government.

Given the patchwork of ethnicities which have evinced themselves since the fall of the Soviet Union, I’m a little surprised that it took this long for the kinds of referendums found in Scotland and Catalonia to be organized. After all, when you look at maps of Europe today, and you see the number of nations that have sprung up, you recall the amount of blood spilled, especially in the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia.

And not only was there blood spilled, but relationships were altered forever. Every once in a while, I come across the documentary “Once Brothers,” which detailed the relationship between the late Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac. The former Yugoslav teammates were separated because of the political and military realities of the time, and Petrovic died before the two could have a chance to settle their differences.

I wonder what might happen if the Spanish populace, in a fit of pique over the poor economy and austerity measured, decides to split into three countries. I’m not so sure it will end well.

Sept. 20, 2014 — Edgewater South River (Md.) 3, Severna Park (Md.) 1

EDGEWATER, Md. – The coaching staff at Edgewater South River (Md.) could have picked any number of games to psych up the team for their first meeting of the year with Anne Arundel County rival Severna Park (Md.). After all, over the past decade and a half, these two teams have dominated large-school competition in the state of Maryland and have often crossed paths on the way to the state final.

But South River head coach Megan Atkinson didn’t have to reach back very far to find motivation: the team had dropped a 2-1 double-overtime game to Gambrills Arundel (Md.) on Thursday.

“Moreso, what motivated us was our last game,” Atkinson said. “We had to play a much higher tempo and potential today than our last game. We had to be confident, play hard, and minimize our mistakes.”

Did they ever. South River fell a goal adrift in the eighth minute, but the Seahawks applied crushing pressure in the midfield, allowing Kayla White to score a pair of late goals to give them a 3-1 victory.

“We’re working together about a thousand times better than we did a year ago,” White said. “We were just using the whole field instead of staying in a little part of it. More space allows us to work our magic.”

Throughout the match, South River had the majority of possession in the center of the park, flummoxing the Severna Park attack and allowing very little in the way of scoring chances. Indeed, the defending state champion Falcons earned their only corners of the game in the final eight minutes of play.

A lot of this came from three seniors: White, along with twins Brooke and Emily Szachnowicz, bottled up ball carriers and made heroic tackles inside the 25 to keep the Falcons at bay. Severna Park didn’t seize the midfield like it has been known to do.

“We’re just sad they’re all seniors,” Atkinson said. “Brooke played perhaps the best game she had all season, and Emily’s goal was beautiful. It was put in with such power and confidence.”

One sequence typified the day. With about 12 minutes left and with the score tied, Severna Park had the ball in the center of the park with open space and momentum, but a moment of indecision as to whether to take the open space or pass led to a giveaway. Seconds later, South River was up the right side of the field, and Emily Thomas pegged the ball off teammate Emily Szachnowicz to White, who scored to give the Seahawks the lead.

“Once they got that second goal, they didn’t get back on their heels and play defense. They went on attack right away,” said Severna Park head coach Ann Andrews. “Kudos to them; South River wanted it for 60 minutes.”

“(Severna Park) is such a good team they could have their sticks behind their back and still stop the ball, they’re so talented,” Atkinson said. “We just had to make sure that our passes were crisp and that we stayed tighter in our passing angles so that when we did eliminate a player we could get by them quicker.”

Severna Park, which had not allowed a goal all season in its first six games, now has a number of things to work on for the balance of the season, one which will see a reverse match against this same team on Oct. 7, as well as possible encounters in the Region V championship game as well as in the Class 4A state tournament.

“We still have some work to do, and there’s a lot of season left,” Andrews said. “Hopefully we can work some things out.”


POSTGAME In the final analysis, this game was won in the midfield. Severna Park, which usually dominates midfield play with speed and skill, did not flood the center of the pitch with its usual flair and speed and it was South River building the attacks

FULL TIME At the final siren, South River wins 3-1

58:40 SP PC Defensed by Brooke Szachnowicz

53:00 SR PC Mikaela Dooley shoots wide

51:00 SR GOAL White gets open at the penalty spot and takes a flat pass from the right wing and deposits it into the cage; South River takes a 3-1 lead and has assumed control of the game here

48:47 SR GOAL A cross by Thomas touches Emily Szachnowicz at the doorstep and Kayla White finishes! South River leads 2-1

46:15 SP PC Defensed by Brooke Szachnowicz

41:41 Timeout, Severna Park. The Falcons have not looked good in the midfield this half and I think some changes and positive reinforcement are in order here

35:30 Elie Ulery, the South River goalie, absorbs a blistering shot and dives to push the rebound past the post

32:30 SR PC Ends on a bad insert

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME It’s been a half of frustration for South River, who had the lion’s share of chances but only has one goal to show for it

HALFTIME The siren goes with the game tied 1-1

29:00 SR. PC Caroline Thompson’s backhander from the doorstep is saved

25:30 SR PC Thomas with a diagonal pass back to inserter Kayla White, but the ball goes wide

20:00 SR GREEN Emily Thomas is off for dissent

18:00 South River is surging in the midfield and forcing Severna Park to make some heroic tackles to keep the Seahawks at bay

11:09 SR GOAL But on the redirect, Emily Szachnowicz puts it in to tie the game 1-1; that is the first goal the Falcons have conceded this season

10:35 SR PC Defensed by Cassey Zachares

7:41 SP GOAL And just like that, Severna Park matriculates up the field and Katlin Patterson scuffs it in; Falcons lead 1-0

7:10 SR PC Brooke Szachnowicz shoots wide right

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Severna Park is in the navy with white trim; South River in the white with powder-blue kilts and numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up on the turf with a gentle breeze off the Chesapeake Bay, temperatures in the upper 70s

PREGAME For her part, Megan Atkinson is doing a fine job following on from the success of Katie Corcoran, whose teams made a number of state finals in a row during the 2000s. Corcoran is still on the South River staff as an assistant coach

PREGAME One sidebar to this game is the coaches, each of whom replaced highly successful predecessors. Severna Park head coach Ann Andrews has had a pretty good start in her coaching career after taking over from the legendary Lil Shelton in 2012, winning the 2013 Class 4A state title, the program’s 21st all time

PREGAME Both teams have some significant victories this season; Severna Park beat Virginia Class 6A defending champion Chantilly Westfield a week ago, while South River defeated Glenelg (Md.) and Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) in its recent invitational

PREGAME Severna Park is 6-0 this season; South River is 4-2

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to South River Memorial Stadium for this regular-season field hockey game between Severna Park (Md.) and Edgewater South River (Md.)

Sept. 20, 2014 — The FIH’s grand experiment begins

Today, the 17th Asian Games begin in earnest in Incheon, South Korea after last night’s Opening Ceremonies.

Four games in the men’s tournament — Japan-Bangladesh, Malaysia-Singapore, Pakistan-Sri Lanka, and Oman-China, take place today.

The games will be offering a glimpse into the new rules which have been put into place for Test matches.

Gone are the traditional two halves; the games will be four 15-minute quarters. In addition, there will be automatic 40-second clock stoppages upon the awarding of penalty corners, and when goals have been scored.

News reports have indicated that coaches will be emphasizing speed a bit more than before; at least one coach is going to have only one goalkeeper on the roster to have an extra fresh player for the interchange area.

I’ll be interested to see whether these changes expand the effective playing time of a game, but a true analysis probably won’t be done until a sizable number of internationals are played; perhaps not until after next year’s World League finals.

What do you think about the timing changes in world field hockey, and is this something that should have been adopted by the NCAA this season?

Sept. 19, 2014 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 17

Happy Friday! We return again to Statwatch, our weekly helping of national scholastic field hockey statistics.

The collection below reflects games through the end of play last Wednesday. You might notice that these are not going to be identical to the Daily Statwatch numbers in the column next to this one, which gets updated continuously.

All statistics should come from any and all timed, scored, and umpired games in a team’s season that count towards a predetermined limit (if any) set by a state or regional sanctioning body and/or qualify a team for, or affect a seeding in, a postseason tournament. This includes any losers’ bracket games for in-season tournaments and any postseason tournament for which a team qualifies.

This week’s most significant statistical occurrence happened on Wednesday, where a pair of players had a pair of all-time great single-game performances. In a 9-0 win over White Plains (N.Y.), junior Lindsey Andreana of New Rochelle Ursuline (N.Y.) had seven assists. She’s only the sixth known field hockey player in recorded Federation history to record that many assists in one game.

Also, senior Austyn Cuneo of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), the leading scorer in the history of the National Federation, had a career-high seven goals in an 11-1 win over Sewell Washington Township (N.J.). She joins Jordana Ambros of Seabrook Cumberland Regional (N.J.) and Meredith Sholder of Emmaus (Pa.) to have had that many goals in a game this season. Oddly enough, Cuneo is the fourth player from New Jersey to have scored seven in a match the last two seasons.

Here’s what we’ve compiled thus far, thanks to, amongst others, Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com,The Washington Post, The Syracuse Post-Dispatch, The Reading Eagle, and the Ann Arbor News:

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
27 Bailey Quinn, Phoenixville (Pa.)
19 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
16 Rachel McLaughlin, Cazenovia (N.Y.)
16 Kelsey Roberts, Greenfield (Mass.)
15 Jennifer Bukowski, Stroudsburg (Pa.)
15 Elyssa Okken, Hellertown Saucon Valley (Pa.)
15 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
15 Emily McNamara, Chantilly Westfield (Va.)
15 Sofia Palacios, Herndon (Va.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
14 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
14 Cassidy Goodwin, Gloucester (Va.)
13 Kourtney Cunningham, Allentown Whitehall (Pa.)
13 Sofia Palacios, Herndon (Va.)
12 Erica McKay, Slatington Northern Lehigh (Pa.)
11 Taylor Stone, Herndon (Va.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, GAME
8 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
7 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
7 Jordana Ambros, Seabrook Cumberland Regional (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, GAME
7 Lindsay Andreana, New Rochelle Ursuline (N.Y.)

UNBEATEN STREAK, TEAM
119 Watertown (Mass.)
83 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

Here’s where you come in.  If you see a stat that needs correction, please send us an email at TopOfTheCircle.com, which should also include a bit of documentation (a website will do) or someone that can be called to double-check. Friday Statwatch is a living, breathing thing that we can shift around and add to at any time unlike printed type. Thanks for your updating help, and we’ll do it all over again next week.

 

Sept. 18, 2014 — Herndon (Va.) 3, Vienna James Madison (Va.) 0

VIENNA, Va. – The surprise package last year in scholastic field hockey was the upstart performance of upstate Virginia teams against the heavily fancied teams from Hampton Roads. One year ago, the three state champions were Chantilly Westfield (Va.) in Class 6A, Stafford Mountain View (Va.) in 5A, and Fredericksburg Chancellor (Va.) in 4A.

This has given a number of field hockey programs in the Virginia High School League hopes that they, too, can succeed at the state level. One such program is Herndon (Va.), which has started the season 11-0. The Hornets’ latest conquest was a 3-0 win over Vienna James Madison (Va.) under the lights at Warhawk Field.

“I think we just need to take it one game at a time,” said Madison head coach Mary Miller. “You have to build up a certain institutional knowledge when it comes to playing those big games. Two years ago, when I first started coaching here, we made the final 8 (of the VHSL Northern Virginia Region), and last year, we made the final 4.”

Herndon is led by a pair of seniors, Sofia Palacios and Taylor Stone. Stone, an attacking midfielder committed to Louisville, hit a number of crushing shots on corners, but her lone goal on the evening was a 23rd-minute penalty stroke. Palacios, who is headed to Penn next year, had a brace to give her 17 goals on the season, which is amongst the nation’s leading scorers. She had the stick skills and speed to effortlessly built up attacks in the final third; she was a threat every time she was given a lane to goal.

“The key is looking up and seeing where your players are, and keeping a level head,” said Palacios. “We knew they were a fast team, so we wanted to get rid of the ball quicker so that they would be chasing us, rather than us chasing them.”

Madison, for its part, responded after falling three goals adrift at the interval by applying a good high-pressure line to start the second term. The tactic disrupted the Herndon midfield, but the hosts couldn’t manufacture a good-enough shot.

“This game was really important for us, because we didn’t have as much pressure put on us in our other games,” Palacios said. “As the season goes on, this kind of game will help us.”

“It was a great game for our defense to get some action,” Miller said. “This was one of the toughest opponents we’ve played this year.”

Though Herndon had three by the half-hour, the Madison defense, led by goalie Sydney Lewis and defensive midfielder Rachel Cooke, played well throughout.

“This team,” said Madison field hockey coach Lizzie McManus, “is exceeding my expectations. They are sponges, they are athletes, they play to our game plan, and they are improving every day.”

McManus has seen many of the young women on the field hockey team on the lacrosse pitch; she is an assistant coach for James Madison’s program in the spring.

“We’re coming in here with a number of high-level soccer and lacrosse players, and, while we have some players who have played club field hockey, we’re playing teams whose core players are in club hockey,” said the former University of Maryland star. “I want to play those kinds of teams.”


FULL TIME With the horn, the final is Herndon 3, Madison 0

59:00 Madison’s defense led by Rachel Cooke and Madeleine Cybulski, are still fighting

57:30 Palacios comes off with acclaim from the team bench

53:00 HDN PC Taylor Stone saved by Lewis; her follow-up is wide

50:00 HDN GREEN Samantha Stone is off for two minutes

47:00 HDN PC Palacios shot cleared by Rachel Cooke

45:00 HDN PC Palacios backhand goes wide

44:00 HDN PC Stone’s shot saved by Lewis again; she is keeping her side in it today

40:00 Madison has turned up the wick and applied a high pressure line. There is space inside the 50, but Herndon cannot advance the ball; meanwhile, a couple of Warhawk forays squirt wide of the goal cage

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME Though Madison can match Herndon for speed and skill, there aren’t many countermeasures for the Penn-bound Palacios, who gobbles up empty space with outstanding quickness

HALFTIME The horn goes with Madison maintaining a 3-0 lead

28:47 Timeout, Madison

28:47 HDN GOAL Palacios finds open space and slips it over the line; Herndon in control; 3-0

28:00 HDN PC Shot goes off Kierra Sweeney’s leg; advantage played

24:45 HDN PC Option left to Stone, but a foot is called

24:00 HDN PC Stone’s shot saved by Lewis, rebound in the mixer

22:30 HDN STROKE Taylor Stone puts it into the side mesh and it’s 2-0 Herndon

22:30 An open Herndon chance is tackled by Lewis; a stroke is called! A bit harsh on the decision as Lewis appeared to play the ball rather than the player

21:00 Madison is buzzing in the attack end and the ball falls to Maggje Shostak, but goalie Jessica Corum is equal

20:00 HDN PC Stone’s blast from the top of the circle is saved by Lewis; cleared by Rachel Cooke

17:30 HDN PC Blistering shot by Taylor Stone finds the pads of junior goalie Sydney Lewis

16:20 HDN PC Palacios shot is too high: ball coming out

14:55 HDN PC Taylor Stone with a diagonal looking for a deflection, but the ball scoots wide

10:30 That’s her 16th this season already

10:19 HDN GOAL Sofia Palacios seizes her moment and rifles the ball into the cage; Herndon leads 1-0

6:00 HDN PC Palacios on the option right, but hits her foot

5:20 HDN PC Palacios dispossessed, but a Madison foul; will reset

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Madison is in the home white with black numbers and red trim; Herndon is in the black uniforms with red numbers and white trim

PREGAME James Madison is a school whose field hockey team feeds into a very successful girls’ lacrosse program that won state titles in 2011 and 2013. It will be interesting to see how former Maryland star Lizzie McManus (who is an assistant coach for the lacrosse team) deploys her defense to stop the high-powered Herndon attack

PREGAME Herndon is perhaps the surprise team in the Commonwealth of Virginia this year. They are undefeated and led by seniors Sofia Palacios and Taylor Stone, who are amongst the nation’s leaders in scoring

PREGAME Herndon is 10-0 on the season, while Madison is 7-2 thus far

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Warhawk Field as the Herndon (Va.) Hornets visits the hosts, James Madison High School

Sept. 18, 2014 — A puzzling deployment

For much of the last 70 years, there have been questions posed about the true role of the United States’ vast military assets. Indeed, huge amounts of newspaper ink and television time has been expended on questioning and outright criticism of how American military power has been used since the end of World War II.

Of course, there has been perpetual shock about the United States’ use of nuclear weapons as well as their proliferation during the Cold War.

But there has been a lot of questioning about how and when military power is used. Various historians have gone away from the term “Korean Conflict,” when referring it to a police action occurring in East Asia in the early 1950s, and have just called it “The Korean War,” despite the fact that war was not actually declared.

Some outright blunders have occurred in recent history. One was the ; a U.S. Marines barracks was bombed by terrorists in 1982. Rather than using the incident as a rallying point to further action, the Reagan Administration instead was burned by the misuse of troops. Marines are specialized personnel who are trained to invade tough-to-penetrate and fortified areas, and to succeed against overwhelming odds. They are not meant to hold down occupied areas for long periods of time.

So, what are we to make of Tuesday’s announcement of what could be a $750 million effort to deploy 3,000 military troops to try to help control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa?

In my public administration mind, I think it is an effort that cannot end well.

First of all, putting the military as the lead of a humanitarian effort does not put the friendliest face on it. After all, the military is trained, above all, to fight wars against people with armaments.

Never in the history of the world has a military force ever conquered a disease. Indeed, to paraphrase the words of author Gore Vidal, you can’t have a war on the Ebola virus because it’s not an actual enemy. It would also be a war that could very well be eternal, such as efforts to control influenza. It may not be possible to eradicate it like smallpox or polio.

It’s why medical organizations should take the lead — experienced and competent personnel from Red Cross/Red Crescent, CARE, Doctors Without Borders, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While I understand that a portion of the military would be building mobile hospitals and for supporting approximately 500 health care workers in West Africa, I’m not so sure that putting a heavily military face on this is the right way to go.

After all, it’s a case where there will be boots on the ground in a foreign land with a mission with an uncertain endpoint. Any complication in the situation — which could include terrorists flooding into both Guinea and Liberia from neighboring Mali — and there could be a change in mission that nobody could have foreseen.

And one more thing: if the American health care system is so elite, why aren’t 10 percent of our doctors and our surfeit of nurses and nurse practitioners going over to West Africa?

It would be a great start.

 

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