Oct. 31, 2014 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Oct. 29

And we’re back to Friday Statwatch, our weekly nationwide look at field hockey statistics.

We’ve had a number of awesome performances this year, and just this past week, we had the third occurrence of a player having as many as six assists in one game. This past week, it was Jamie Rehus of Whippany Park (N.J.).

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

71 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
50 Jessica Welch, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
48 Jane Donio-Enscoe, Hammonton (N.J.)
46 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
44 Mackenzie Karcher, Maple Shade (N.J.)
44 Jessica Welsh, Morrisville Morrisville-Eaton/Hamilton (N.Y.)
43 Elissa Frien, Carle Place (N.Y.)
41 Kathryn Roncoroni, Glen Gardner Voorhees (N.J.)

41 Caroline Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
41 Nikki Santore, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
40 Bree Bednarski, Exeter Wyoming Area (Pa.)
39 Mayv Clune, Bethlehem Moravian Academy (Pa.)|
38 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)

38 Bailey Quinn, Phoenixville (Pa.)

49 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
32 Nikki Santore, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
29 Leah Carderelli, Acton-Boxborough (Mass.)
28 Bridget Condie, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.)
27 Lindsay Alvarez, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.)

27 Dana Bozek, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
27 Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)
26 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)

26 Sofia Palacios, Herndon (Va.)

8 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
8** Bree Bednarski, Exeter Wyoming Area (Pa.)
7 Deja Watson, Bridgeton (N.J.)
7** Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
7 Jordana Ambros, Seabrook Cumberland Regional (N.J.)
7 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
7 Emma Cate Graham, Houston Episcopal (Tex.)
** — done twice

7 Lindsay Andreana, New Rochelle Ursuline (N.Y.)
6 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
6 Jamie Rehus, Whippany Park (N.J.)

304 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
125 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
113 Jane Donio-Enscoe, Hammonton (N.J.)
108 Jessica Welsh, Morrisville Morrisville-Eaton/Hamilton (N.Y.)

147 Haley Schleicher, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
86 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

133 Watertown (Mass.)
97 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
51 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

OK, so given the fact that we’ve updated all of these things with the mobile phone half the time, we’re not guaranteeing that all of these are dead solid perfect. If you see something out of whack, please, by all means, send us an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. Just include some documentation (a website will do) or someone that can be called to double-check. Friday Statwatch is a living, breathing entity that can be change or added to at any time. We thank you for checking out this space, and, brain willing, we’ll do this again next week.

Oct. 30, 2014 — An even more expensive experiment

In the gloaming over Wallops Island, Va. on Tuesday, a burst of orange flame escaped from under a metal tube holding food, equipment, and, amongst other items, a science experiment designed by a New Jersey high school. Only the orange flame intensified about ten seconds after liftoff, and the rocket’s ascension slowed. A ball of flame soon consumed the Antares vehicle as it crashed to the launch pad.

The lost cargo and the Orbital Sciences-owned rocket cost about $200 million. But the damage done could be a great deal more.

Since the 1986 Challenger disaster, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has become The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. A series of mishaps, including the 2003 loss of the Columbia orbiter on reentry, has resulted in a revamping of the organization as well as a reorientation of the priorities of space flight. One result was the Bush administration pulling the plug on the Space Shuttle, which had become a mainstay in space travel and a model of efficiency for its reusable orbiters and booster rockets.

Since then, NASA has begun relying on private companies, including Orbital Sciences, to supply the International Space Station, to launch satellites, and to send other materiel into space.

It should be noted that, throughout NASA’s history, it has relied in private companies to provide the hardware needed to fly people and payloads; NASA has never built a rocket. But the relationships between NASA and its vendors have been complicated. Your Founder studied the Challenger disaster in a class on organizational theory, using the technical reports from the Rogers Commission to divine what happened before the launch that could have led to the accident.

What you might not remember was that the Challenger launch was beset with numerous delays. The original launch date was scheduled to be Jan. 22,  1986, but was pushed back because of various delays involving weather as well as problems with an exterior hatch. Five days after the original launch, Morton Thiokol, the manufacturer of the solid rocket boosters which enable the orbiter to get off the ground, met in the same room with NASA mission managers in a teleconference with NASA HQ to discuss a launch the next morning.

Thiokol engineers, particularly a man named Roger Boisjoly, voiced concerns about the design of the solid rocket boosters, particularly when the temperatures were under 40 degrees. The NASA mission managers, a collective of very smart and often headstrong engineers, convinced the engineers with Morton Thiokol to go with the launch despite the fact that a solid rocket booster failure was 100 percent certain if the temperature was under 40 degrees, which it was the morning of the Jan. 28th launch. We all know what happened that day.

Now, I can’t even begin to speculate exactly what happened in the Antares explosion. But one report has pointed out that the first-stage rocket, powered by a mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen, exploded during a test last May. The rocket is of a Soviet design, and was refurbished for Orbital Sciences by a California provider called Aerojet.

I wonder if mission managers at Orbital Sciences were guilty of some of the same cavalier attitudes toward safety that led to the Challenger and Columbia explosions.

BULLETIN: Oct. 29, 2014 — A new phase

This afternoon, further details about the report used to dismiss former Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Greisbaum were released. These including allegations of pressuring student-athletes to play with injuries, and that some former players sought therapy for their negative experiences on the team.

These details were in a summary of the university’s internal investigation, and were supplied to the Associated Press by Greisbaum.

The AP story also says this:

Griesbaum’s planning legal action against the school, alleging gay female coaches have faced discrimination.

Collectively, this tells me that Greisbaum and her legal team are taking an aggressive tack. Given the sketchy circumstances surrounding her firing, it seems to me that the University of Iowa is going to be in for a fight.

Oct. 29, 2014 — An expensive experiment

There have been branding experiments throughout the history of organized sports — not all of which have succeeded.

Back in 1888, Albert G. Spalding took a team of touring baseball players to places as far-flung as Egypt, Sri Lanka, Italy, New Zealand, and England. The game didn’t take in any of the places where the tour took place — at least, not right away. It is notable that there is organized and quality baseball in Australia and Hawaii (which was not a state when Spalding’s all-stars visited). But the Spalding tour lost money, and his eight-team Players League folded two years later.

In 1991, the National Football League made a marketing foray into Europe — first with the World League of American Football, then with NFL Europe. The league experiment lasted until 2007, although there have been regular-season NFL games played in London ever since.

So, it was a couple of days ago when Club Deportivo Chivas USA folded. The Major League Soccer franchise was a $35 million buy-in back in 2005 by Jorge Vergara, the business magnate who also owns C.D. Chivas Guadalajara, the most successful club team in Mexico.

It was hoped that the team would bring a certain Mexican flair to league play, that the Chivas Academy system could be replicated in the United States, and that would bring more Latin-American fans out to games.

That hope came with some tradeoffs. Chivas Guadalajara traditionally has not fielded players not of Mexican origin, and that has not led to recent success with the parent club, winning only one championship since Vergara bought the franchise. A few years ago, Vergara sought to extend the Mexico-only policy to Chivas USA by 2012. Lawsuits by coaches followed, and the Chivas USA product was being seen as a minor-league team.

Mercifully, Major League Soccer bought Vergara out in February, and the team was closed just this past week.

Soccer, as a developing sport in the United States, has attracted numerous foreign teams as investors. AC Milan and Chelsea run youth academies in the States. Crystal Palace once owned a team in the A-League, the second division of American pro soccer. And now, Manchester City is the co-owner of New York City FC, which will open play next spring in Yankee Stadium.

Given the deep Middle Eastern pockets behind Manchester City, I’ll be interested to see how much control the ownership will allow the team when it comes to day-to-day operations, signing players, and marketing. Will there be a Vergara-esque power grab if things don’t go well?

If so, it won’t end well in New York.

Oct. 28, 2014 — Top 10 for the week of Oct. 26

As state tournaments begin in many states and end in others, our Top 10 remains pretty much at station, though there’s a lot of opportunity for shuffling the next few weeks as teams get eliminated from tournament play.

This week’s RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Riverhead (N.Y.) Central, which won its first state tournament game since 1984 with a 2-1 win over Lake Ronkonkoma Sachem North (N.Y.). Katie McKillop’s overtime goal was a difference with a 2-1 victory.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 18-0

Moorestown (N.J.) may have gotten the first goal against Eastern in last week’s match, but the Vikings scored the next 12; they’re that good

2. Watertown (Mass.) 18-0

Raiders on a 133-game unbeaten streak and have shut out 20 consecutive opponents; Raiders start state tournament play Friday against Newburyport (Mass.) or Wilmington (Mass.) in the MIAA Division 2 North Tournament

3. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 16-0

Awaits the winner of Ossining (N.Y.) and East Fishkill John Jay (N.Y.) in the NHSPHSAA Section 1 Class A Tournament

4. Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 16-0

After defeating Virginia Frank W. Cox (Va.) in strokes, Patriots need to gear up in Coastal Conference tournament this week; possible rematch with Cox later this week

5. Stroudsburg (Pa.) 20-0-2

After last week’s 1-0 win over Nazareth (Pa.), will take on Allentown Northampton (Pa.) in semifinals of the PIAA District 11-AAA Tournament

6T. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 21-1

Takes on Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) in this evening’s semifinals of the PIAA District 3-AAA Tournament

6T. Palmyra (Pa.) 19-1

The Cougars will play Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley (Pa.) in tonight’s semifinals of the PIAA District 3-AAA Tournament

7. Emmaus (Pa.) 20-1-1

Hornets take on Easton (Pa.) in the semifinals of the District 11-AAA Tournament with a possible rematch with Stroudsburg on tap for the final

8. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 18-0-1

The Knights will take on either High Point (N.J.) or Wanaque Lakeland (N.J.) in quarterfinals of NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Tournament

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

Will take on Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.) or Englewood Cliffs Dwight-Englewood School (N.J.) in quarterfinal of NJSIAA North Non-Public Tournament

10. Los Gatos (Calif.) 11-0

Wildcats have been on an absolute tear in recent days, scoring 45 goals in their last four games; have not given up a goal thus far this season

11. Riverhead (N.Y.) Central 10-6

Reward for its historic win is to play undefeated Farmingville Sachem East (N.Y.) today in sectional tournament

Who’s out: San Diego Serra (Calif.), 2-1 loss to San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Serra (Calif.) 19-1, Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 16-2, San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 13-2, Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 17-0, Wilton (Conn.) 14-2-1, Lakeville Hotchkiss School (Conn.) 9-0-1, Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 11-1-1, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 14-0, Lake Forest (Ill.) 21-4-1, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 24-2-2, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 20-3-1, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 12-0-2, Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 13-2, Severna Park (Md.) 12-2, Orange Mahar (Mass.) 16-0-2, Acton-Boxborough (Mass.) 17-0-1, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 21-1, Farmingville Sachem East (N.Y.) 15-0, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 20-3, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 18-1, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 20-1, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 20-0-1, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 14-2, Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 15-3, Herndon (Va.) 14-2

Oct. 27, 2014 — The power of 10 panthers

I’ve written occasionally about field hockey teams which, by either misfortune or low interest, have had to play short for an entire season.

This year, while there isn’t anything as extreme as the year when Franklin (N.J.) played with exactly seven players the entire season, there have been teams which have had as few as 10. Two such teams have the nickname of Panthers, and both are participating in their states’ respective postseason tournaments.

One such team is Palmyra (N.J.), which has had five victories this season — more than in any season since at least 2009. The Panthers have, since a nadir of a 0-20 season in 2011, seen continuous improvement each year since. Palmyra won three games in 2012, four a year ago.

They have a chance to improve on their win total as they have opted into the state tournament and have a game tomorrow afternoon against seventh-seeded Audubon (N.J.) in the NJSIAA Group I Central Tournament.

Up the coast at Yarmouth North Yarmouth Academy (Maine), head coach Tracy Quimby has been seeing success with her pack of Panthers. The latest conquest of this band of 10-players was a 1-0 Maine Principals’ Association Class C West quarterfinal win over Hiram Sacopee Valley (Maine).

It was a contest in which, as per usual, there were no substitutions, even when junior Mackenzie Sangster had to leave the pitch eight minutes from time with an injury. That meant that the Panther had just nine players against Sacopee Valley’s 11.

But minutes later, Sangster was back in the fray and her attacking pressure led to a penalty corner in the final play. Sangster’s insert was optioned to Marina Poole for a one-time blast that found the goal cage. There were just 44.6 seconds left to play. That moves them on to a match tomorrow against Wales Oak Hill (Maine).

It’s amazing what can be learned about a team and its players when facing adversity — not just on occasion, but when the adversity threatens to overshadow the team the entire season.

Oct. 26, 2014 — The passion of 1,000 suns

There are times when I really like technology.

And times when I really hate it.

Heading into last weekend, I was experimenting with video-streaming with an eye to possibly livestreaming the Eastern vs. Episcopal Academy game, but for some reason I wasn’t able to get the signal to broadcast into the channel I had set up.

I couldn’t figure it out until I read other people’s experiences and discerned that the problem lay in my reliance on a cellular network for the broadcast; apparently it was limited to Wi-Fi.

And remember this? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve finally set to getting some video work done which had chronicled some record-breaking achievements.

After several days of trying, I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion: I’m losing my affinity for iMovie version 10, which was forced on me because of my changeover in operating systems. In fact, I’m beginning to hate it with the passion of a thousand suns.

My complaints are legion. If it’s not the lack of speed in opening the software, it’s the seeming inability to load to the correct YouTube channel. If it’s not confusion over which project to open, it’s the software’s insistence that each project be linked to one and only one “event.” Nothing in this version of iMovie is instinctive; the version from two years ago was much better.

That being said, please enjoy the footage from Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) breaking the all-time record for consecutive games won, Austyn Cuneo’s record 52nd straight game with a goal, and Haley Schleicher’s record-breaking assist performance (which, by the way, includes a late goal). I’ve also included these video clips on the bulletin stories the day they were posted.


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