Oct. 22, 2014 — A curious resignation (and an un-resignation)

Less than three weeks after leading the India men’s field hockey team to the 2016 Olympics by winning the Asian Games, Terry Walsh tendered his resignation yesterday.

Walsh cited, in his letter, his “considerable difficulty adjusting to the decision-making style of the sporting bureaucracy in India” plus a desire to spend more time with his family.

That may be all well and good. But The Times of India has learned that there was a dispute with the Indian government over the tax deductions on his salary as well as those of his support staff.

This is the same Terry Walsh, you remember, who was brought in to improve the fortunes of the U.S. team as technical director. He was paid more than any other technical director amongst Olympic sports. At the same time, he was able to enrich himself from royalties from a video software package from a company with which he worked. He left after the U.S. women’s program, less than a year after winning the Pan American Games, imploded from poor performances at London 2012 and an email scandal that forced the resignation of assistant coach Nick Conway.

Now, I’m not an expert on the Indian tax code, nor am I an expert on the requisition process within the Sports Authority of India. But if you’re a country that has gone through five coaches since 2005 — Jose Brasa, Ric Charlesworth, Gerard Rach, Michael Nobbs, and Walsh — you’ve got more problems than just whether the product on the pitch is successful. It’s a matter of management and stability.

As the resignation leaves India without a head coach ahead of India’s participation in the Champions Trophy in December, it  makes me wonder if the resignation is nothing more than a bargaining tactic.

UPDATE: Apparently, it was.

Earlier today, he met with SAI representatives. According to multiple sources, issues on the agenda included more leave for him to visit his family in Australia, and more discretionary authority to make decisions.

According to multiple sources, Walsh will be offered a new contract before the old one runs out November 19th.

Oct. 21, 2014 — Top 10 for the week of Oct. 19

This week saw losses to two high-quality teams, as Emmaus falls within the Top 10 to No. 8 after a 1-0 loss to a good Stroudsburg (Pa.) team. In addition, our former No. 2 Episcopal Academy got shut out by No. 1 Eastern on Saturday night. The interesting thing to note here: between No. 5 and No. 8 in this week’s list are four teams eligible to play for the PIAA Class AAA title — meaning that only one of them can actually win the title match on Nov. 15th. There will be a lot of jumbling the next four weeks.

For this week’s RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week, let’s give a call to the Whitman-Hanson (Mass.) junior varsity team. Why a JV squad? Consider the fact that the school, located 15 miles southeast of Boston, has not had field hockey since 1984. After years of not fielding a sport because of Proposition 2 1/2 cuts, the school sent out a survey to gauge interest in the sport. The program now has 31 players and a converted ice hockey coach in Todd Humphrey. This is a group that has made remarkable progress this season.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 15-0

Eastern, in one of the most anticipated matches in several years, shut out Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 8-0; the job isn’t over yet as the Vikings have Ocean City (N.J.) and Moorestown (N.J.) in the next fortnight

2. Watertown (Mass.) 14-0

Raiders on a 129-game winning streak and have shut out 16 consecutive opponents

3. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 14-0

Beat Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 1-0 last Wednesday

4. Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 14-0

Bested Norfolk Granby (Va.) 3-0 last week

5. Stroudsburg (Pa.) 19-0-2

After last week’s win over Emmaus (Pa.), the Mounties don’t play until this Saturday in the District 11-AAA Tournament

6. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 16-0

Needed overtime to get by Vista Rancho Buena Vista (Calif.)

7T. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 19-1

Falcons take on Birdsboro Daniel Boone (Pa.) in tonight’s second-round District 3-AAA Tournament game

7T. Palmyra (Pa.) 17-1

Cougars took on Elizabethtown (Pa.) in this evening’s second-round District 3-AAA Tournament game

8. Emmaus (Pa.) 19-1-1

After last week’s loss to Stroudsburg (Pa.), the Mounties don’t play until this Saturday in the District 11-AAA Tournament

9. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 14-0-1

With a 6-0 victory over Montclair (N.J.), the Knights won their fourth straight Essex County Tournament title

10. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 14-1

With a 6-1 win over Summit Kent Place (N.J.), won Union County Tournament

11. Whitman-Hanson Regional (Mass.) JV 6-3-3

Scheduled to return to varsity level in 2015

Who’s out: Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.), 8-0 loss to Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 12-2, Los Gatos (Calif.) 9-0, Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 14-0, Wilton (Conn.) 9-1-1, Lakeville Hotchkiss School (Conn.) 9-0, Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 10-1-1, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 11-0, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 22-2-2, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 10-0-2, Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 12-1, Severna Park (Md.) 12-2, Orange Mahar (Mass.) 13-0-1, Acton-Boxborough (Mass.) 14-0-1, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 19-1, Farmingville Sachem East (N.Y.) 14-0, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 18-3, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 17-1, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 17-1, Phoenixville (Pa.) Area 17-2, Collegeville Perkiomen Valley (Pa.) 16-3, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 18-0-1, Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 14-2

Oct. 20, 2014 — Seeing double

Last night, Peyton Manning set the all-time record for career passing touchdowns with a short pass play to Demaryius Thomas. It was one play after the team lost yardage when an offensive lineman tripped Manning on a dropback attempt.

After the halftime break, Manning’s Denver Broncos got the ball back on an interception about 40 yards from the San Francisco end zone. The Broncos had a 21-10 lead at the time, and the interception prevented the 49ers from coming within four points with a touchdown.

On the very next play — the next play! — Manning purposefully aired the ball downfield to Thomas in double coverage. Thomas ran under the ball and scored the fourth touchdown of the game for Denver.

While watching this game, I said to myself, “I’ve seen this before.”

I had, and it was the night before.

The mark of excellence — for both individuals and teams — is their unwillingness to let up once they’ve gained an advantage, to not let up. I saw that in a four-minute span of play between Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) when the Vikings put in three goals to close out the first half.

The outburst game after a four-minute stretch of Episcopal Academy penalty corners which looked for all the world that the Churchwomen would open their account.

Instead, Mackenzie Keegan scored a rebound off a corner shot, Austyn Cuneo flipped in a penalty stroke, and Jessica Maute had a tip-in from open play. All three came in the final five minutes of the first half, one of those periods of play in a field hockey game where goals almost count for double because of the psychological effect on the team that gives up the goal.

Yes, it’s difficult to connect a group of multimillion-dollar professionals to a group of teenagers playing an ancient stick-and-ball game.

Or is it?

Oct. 19, 2014 — Defying convention

About 10 miles up the Susquehanna River from Selinsgrove sits the borough of Milton, a town of about 7,000.

The school’s field hockey team plays in Division II of the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference. These are small towns and small school districts, and the division includes two co-op teams; Muncy-Montgomery, and Benton-Millville.

Milton finished its season with a record of 7-10 and, as the second-place team in its division, could have played in the PIAA District 4-Class AA Tournament for a berth in the state tournament.

It didn’t. When the brackets get released for District games this week, Milton won’t be in the field.

The reason can be found in the team picture on the school’s website: the boys on the team.

You see, Milton has taken the road less traveled when it comes to the new PIAA rules which were meant to try to start boys’ field hockey teams. Instead of barring boys from playing, Milton has allowed its field hockey varsity to play together and grow as a team.

Only now, with the playoffs looming, Milton has decided not to jettison its boys, who helped the team to its best record in several years.

It might be easy to say that the Black Panthers aren’t doing this out of principle; the bracket features long-time powers like Selinsgrove and Mifflinburg, and up-and-coming teams like Bloomsburg, and only two teams make it into the state tournament.

The odds aren’t great, but that’s what competition is all about. There will be questions about whether Milton could have vaulted into contention for one of the two state tournament berths, even as a sub-.500 team.

Too bad, because of PIAA rules, that we’ll never know.

Oct. 18, 2014 — No. 1 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 8, No. 2 Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 0

VOORHEES, N.J. – The stars were out at McAleer Stadium on Saturday evening; brilliant players on two of the finest high-school field hockey teams in the United States. But one star outshone them all in a contest featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10.

You might think that star was U-19 national teamer Austyn Cuneo, who had three goals in Eastern’s 8-0 defeat of Episcopal Academy. Or perhaps the plucky Mackenzie Keegan, late of the U-17 national team, who had a brace for the winners.

But it was Madison Morano, the junior central midfielder for Eastern, who helped to organize and implement the Eastern defensive strategy from the first minute of the game to the last. Morano also had a tremendous solo goal halfway through the second term. She coolly dribbled through a pair of defenders, cut to the middle of the striking circle, and, cool as you like, flipped in shot off the backboard to the approval of a crowd of thousands who packed the stands.

Morano, who committed to Penn State just this week, helped Cassie Kincaid keep a clean sheet against a team which had come in scoring 96 goals. On the day, however, Episcopal Academy didn’t get anything into the goal cage.

“We knew they were very skilled and very fast, and we just wanted to keep them in front of us,” Morano said. “We did that very well today. They were the best team we’ve faced this season; they have awesome individuals.”

The Eastern midfield and backs withstood the Episcopal Academy possession game, which relied on the use of individual and multi-pass elimination skills. At times, the Churchwomen were able to spring players with good sequences, but would misfire on their goal shot or on the final pass. One such sequence in the second minute involved a bit of magic on the part of junior winger Margaux Paolino, who rounded the baseline on the right wing and was a tackle away from going in alone on Kincaid. Had the chance gone for a goal, the tone of the game could have been altered.

“Completely different,” said Eastern head coach Danyle Heilig. “I go back to the time we lost to Emmaus 4-1 in 2005; we had two open chances in front of the cage. We put those two in, it’s a different game.”

Instead, the Vikings set to work at the other end of the pitch. Cuneo rang the post on a 1-up corner in the fourth minute, then opened her account six minutes later with a blast that sent the assembled McAleer Stadium crowd into an eruption of cheers and applause. It was the 58th straight game in which Cuneo had a goal, and she would get two more to bring her total amassed goals to 290, far and away the most in scholastic field hockey history.

Episcopal then threw in an offensive surge that led to a four-corner flurry midway through the first half, but Cassidy and the Eastern defense were equal. Less than three minutes after that surge, the Vikings got a goal from junior Nikki Santore, who worked incredibly well with Cuneo all game long.

The hosts salted the match away with three goals in about 3 1/2 minutes to close out the first term. The sequence showcased Eastern’s excellence of execution on penalty corners, its skills, and its relentlessness. Episcopal, playing a rare match outside the state of Pennsylvania, didn’t have the answers on the day.

“We have a good team, and we can do better, and we will,” said EA head coach Gina Buggy, the 1984 Olympian. “It was a longshot to come over here, but that’s the kind of team we have. They were excited about this opportunity and considerable challenge.”

The eight-goal difference is somewhat deceptive; the Churchwomen did not play bad hockey, and were able to create chances and corners. The problem was that they were unfortunate to be playing an Eastern team in the midseason form that every other team in New Jersey fears. That form, sometimes referred to as “The Eastern Express,” is typified by speed, possession, and scoring goals in bunches. It’s been a hallmark of Danyle Heilig-coached teams for the last decade and a half.

“When we get on a roll, it’s very hard to get out of it,” Morano said. “Once we start scoring, and playing with intensity, we pick each other up, and the game gets a lot more fun. We just keep going and going; it’s an Eastern thing.”

“Playing teams like this make us stronger,” Buggy said. “Now, we know the kind of speed with which we need to play. We look forward to growing from it.”

And what should be a superb reverse match at Sonje Volla Field in 2015.

Episcopal Academy (17-1) 0-0 — 0
Eastern (15-0) 5-3 — 8
E: Austyn Cuneo (Nikki Santore), pc, 10th
E: Santore (Cuneo), pc, 19th
E: Mackenzie Keegan (Alanna Golotto), pc, 27th
E: Cuneo, ps, 29th
E: Jessica Maute, pc, 30th
E: Madison Morano, fg, 44th
E: Cuneo (Santore), fg, 51st
E: Keegan, pc, 60th
Shots- EA: 21; E: 5. Saves- EA: Rachael Farmer 12, defensive 1; E: Cassie Kincaid 5.


FULL TIME That’s all for tonight; good night and good hockey

60:00 EA PC and GOAL A scramble leads to a Keegan goal from in front! The final score is 8-0

59:00 Last minute of play and the McAleer faithful are sensing victory

54:40 EA PC A four-way passing play is set up for Keegan, but it is shoveled wide

52:15 EA GREEN Palazzse is off for two minutes

50:31 EA GOAL Santore finds a wide-open Cuneo at the left post; hat trick for the UNC-committed senior and the lead is 7-0 for Eastern

48:38 Timeout, Eastern

48:03 EA YELLOW Paolino is off for five minutes

45:00 EA PC Ends with a bad insert

43:03 EA GOAL Morano, cool as you like, dribbles through three defenders and buries the ball in the net; it’s 6-0 in an unlikely scoreline in such a big game

40:12 Timeout, Eastern

40:00 EAS PC Defensed by Rushton

36:41 EA YELLOW Colby Gallagher is off for five minutes for an elbow

34:30 EAS PC Hi-lo deflection to Santori goes through the goalmouth and over the end line!

31:00 EA PC Zanolli’s shot saved by Kincaid!

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME It’s not as those EA is playing bad hockey; it’s just that Eastern has matched and exceeded Episcopal Academy’s speed and execution of skills at that speed

HALFTIME At the horn, Eastern leads Episcopal 5-0

29:45 I don’t believe what I’m witnessing here

29:44 EA PC and GOAL Jessica Maute with the tip-in past Farmer and Eastern leads 5-0

28:15 EA STROKE and GOAL Cuneo with the confident stroke and it’s 4-0 Eastern

28.00 EAS PC A frenzied pileup sees a shot off the body of an EA player on the goal line and a stroke is called!

26:14 EAS PC and GOAL Gollotto with an angle shot saved by Farmer, and Keegan with the putback, and it’s 3-0 Eastern

24:30 EAS PC Cuneo bounces one to Santore who can’t get a stick on it

22:30 EA PC Defensed by Cuneo!

22:00 EA PC Cuneo fouls Ali Rushton at the top of the circle; will reset

18:26 Timeout, Episcopal Academy

18:26 EAS PC Santore picks up a Cuneo rebound and the lead is doubled! 2-0 Eastern!

16:00 EA PC Maddie Bacskai is defensed, the ball goes off an Eastern stick over the end line

15:30 EA PC Palazzse hits Morano in the foot; will reset

15:00 EA PC Palazzse to an option left to Bacskai and the ball hits Kristina Castagnola in the body; corner called

14:30 EA PC Palazzse shot blocked by Morano!

12:30 EAS PC Cuneo’s shot blocked over the top by Paolino on the fly!

12:00 EAS PC Alexis Pettisani with a shot saved by Farmer

10:00 EAS PC Ends on a raised ball

9:27 EAS PC and GOAL Cuneo blasts it in and the crowd erupts! Eastern leads 1-0

8:00 EAS PC Alanna Gollotto is saved by Farmer; Casey Quicksill shoots the rebound wide!

5:00 Keegan hits a shot that is deflected over the end line! Long hit for Eastern

4:20 EAS PC Farmer with the save for the Churchwomen!

3:50 EAS PC Cuneo hits the pipe!

2:00 Episcopal with the early pressure

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Episcopal Academy is in the navy with white trim, Eastern is in the white with navy kilts and trim, and red numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up on the turf under partly cloudy skies and temperatures around 63 degrees. There were dark clouds around dusk, but there’s no rain anywhere on the radar

PREGAME For a preview of the game, please click here: http://wp.me/p1o3I-48L

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to McAleer Stadium on the campus of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) for this interstate match between Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) and the host Vikings

Oct. 18, 2014 — PREVIEW: No. 2 Newtown Square Episcopal Academy at No. 1 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

Today, we have a field hockey game which is a rarity in terms of sporting occasions: one which there may be more talking points after the game than during the buildup to it.

When Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) head coach Gina Buggy and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) head coach Danyle Heilig set up the game over the offseason, it was seen to be a late test before their respective end-of-season state tournaments. Turns out, it is going to be much more than that.

That’s because of the talent on these two teams. It is plausible that, depending on injury or unforeseen events, that 20 percent of the U.S. senior women’s national player pool leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may be Eastern and/or Episcopal Academy graduates.

Episcopal Academy is 17-0 and the No. 2 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10. The Churchwomen are coming off a season in which they finished second in the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) championship. This year’s group has outscored its opposition 96-7, and has almost certainly secured the top seed into the PAISAA championship through the Inter-Ac Conference.

The team is led by seniors Christy Palazzese and Ali Rushton, both of whom will be playing ACC field hockey on Tobacco Road; Palazzese at Duke, Rushton at UNC. The player to watch, however, is junior winger Margaux Paolino, who has this innate ability to melt through players with her skills, and is a playmaker with an unwillingness to give up on a situation. Paolino is a member of the U-19 national team, and teammates Maddie Bacskai and Corinne Zanolli are on the U-17 national team.

Eastern, for its part, is 14-0 and the No. 1 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10. The Vikings are on a dominant run of form within the state of New Jersey, winning the last 15 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state championships. The team has also won five NJSIAA Tournaments of Champions, the unique competition amongst the state’s five sanctioned champions.

This season, the Vikings have struck a rich seam of form which is unknown in the history of the sport in the United States. The team has outscored its opponents 148 to 8 this season. Given the fact that the team’s season is about half over, the potential is astronomical if you do the math. No opponent has gotten to within six goals of the Vikings this season.

One reason for this run of form is the play of senior Austyn Cuneo. The future UNC Tar Heel has already been labeled as the greatest scholastic field hockey player of all time in at least three publications. Given the numbers, it is hard to make an argument against it. Cuneo holds National Federation records for most goals scored (287 and counting), most goals in a season (96), and consecutive games with a goal scored (57 and counting).

She has also set benchmarks not in the Federation record book, such as highest goals totals for a freshman (69), sophomore (68), and a junior (96). She needs just 29 goals to eclipse former U.S. captain Tracey Fuchs for the senior class record of 82. Just as important, Cuneo needs only 13 more goals to get to 300 in a career — a legendary goals total in a sport in which goals are rare.

Cuneo has been noticed by the national high-performance system, having been selected to the U-19 national team pool alongside teammate Madison Morano, while Mackenzie Keegan is in the U-17 national side. Aside from these three, junior Nikki Santore (34 goals, 26 assists) has been having a splendid season.

For Episcopal Academy to win the game, the team needs to withstand the Eastern high-line of pressure and not cough up the ball in its own half. The Churchwomen need to use the same speed and skill Eastern has and force the Vikings to play defense, which it’s hardly had to do this season. I think EA is also going to have to get good goalkeeping from Rachael Farmer.

For Eastern to win this game, the team needs to not be overconfident, especially when it comes to corner execution. In games in which Eastern has struggled, the team has often shot right at the goalkeeper on short corners, something which was costly four years ago in the Tournament of Champions loss to Summit Oak Knoll. I think Cassie Kincaid is going to be put to the test in the Eastern goal, and how well she organizes her defense will be key to the outcome.

 

Oct. 18, 2014 — Moorestown (N.J.) 3, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 1

MOORESTOWN, N.J. – Ali Collins could have picked out any entry from the Joan Lewis Book of Great Motovational Speeches after Moorestown (N.J.) and West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) were goalless after 30 minutes. But Collins, in her eighth season at the helm of the Quakers and nine years removed from Lewis’ retirement, chose instead to keep the team focused on playing its game.

“All the credit really has to go to the team, because we played really good defense in the first half,” Collins said. “We just realized that it was time to showcase our offense.”

It took just two minutes for Moorestown to pick the lock on the Shore defense as freshman Paige Powell scored the first of her two goals to allow the Quakers to run out 3-1 winners.

“The girls played a good team game, they knew how to execute,” Collins said. “We have a highly skilled senior class, and I told them, after the game, that, in the eight years I’ve been here, that this is the team that has the most heart.”

It was a matchup of a pair of potential state champions: Moorestown in Group 3, and Shore in Group 1, a classification in which the Blue Devils are defending champions. Oddly enough, when these two teams last met, it was in a state tournament game in November 2000 when both of these state powerhouses were in Group 2.

It was a different situation this time around, however. Both teams have new coaching staffs after the legendary coaching careers of Joan Lewis at Moorestown and Nancy Williams at Shore Regional. But both Collins and Shore head coach Kelly Koenig have pretty much stuck to their predecessors’ blueprints: skill and pretty attacking hockey.

“They have committed to the game. They love to play; and when you have that and the talent, you have a winning combo,” Collins said. “One thing that we’re doing this year is that we’re not looking around to see what other teams are doing; instead, we are setting the bar that others have to meet.”

“We have some good talent, and they’re starting to connect,” said Koenig, who has been with the team for eight seasons, the first seven as an assistant before Williams’ retirement earlier this year. “I’ve been focused on keeping the core values, playing with structure, and hoping to develop all of the players on the team. What’s important for us is to take one opponent at a time.”

Shore Regional (13-2-2) 0-1 — 1
Moorestown (15-0) 0-3 — 3
M: Paige Powell, fg, 31st
M: Alex O’Donnell (Susan Orth), fg, 49th
M: Powell, fg, 57th
SR: Jessica Welch, fg, 58th
Shots — SR: 5; M: 11. Saves — SR: Sarah Dwyer 8; M: Sabrina Barakat 4.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 717 other followers