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Records: Maryland 21-0, Syracuse 18-3.
Against the rest of the Final Four: Maryland 2-0, Syracuse 0-2.
When Maryland has the ball: With top guns Alex Aust, Brooke Griffin, and your Tewaaraton Trophy-winner Katie Schwartzmann, the Terp attack is one of the most formidable since the simultaneous graduation of Jen Adams, Quinn Carney, and Allison Comito. Syracuse has good defenders in Becca Block, Kasey Mock, and Erica Glanell, but covering the Terrapin attack is a different assignment altogether.
When Syracuse has the ball: Alyssa Murray and Katie Treanor each have more than 60 goals this season, but Michelle Tumolo has been injured the second half of the season. Tumolo got about a minute’s worth of action last weekend in the defeat of Florida, but it’s hard to envision her having a role when there are so many talented players on the Orange roster. The defense for Maryland includes Iliana Sanza, Megan Douty, Alice Mercer, Shanna Brady, and Melissa Diepold.
The skinny: The game is a confrontation between two branches of the Cindy Timchal coaching tree. Cathy Reese learned a lot of lacrosse from Gary Gait as a player, and it will be interesting who breaks out what new wrinkle for this game.
Each will try to find a weakness to exploit. For Maryland, I think it will be trying to press out on any Syracuse player not named Murray and Treanor and let someone else beat them. I think the Terrapins also sense uncertainty in the goal cage with the recent platooning of Kelsey Richardson and Alyssa Constantino.
Syracuse will try to exploit matchups on draw controls. Maryland freshman Taylor Cummings has been the main draw-taker, but Reese has been quick to try other people on the circle if the Terrapins lose consecutive draws. If Syracuse has the right matchups, they can control the midfield and the clock. I think the play of Kailah Kempney and Madison Huegel will determine who wins this semifinal.
Yesterday evening in Manassas, Va., a lacrosse player who had helped her teammates finish goals more than 130 times this season was given the opportunity to carry her team’s offense on her shoulders.
Corinne Wessels, the fiery junior for Manassas Osbourn Park (Va.), scored 10 goals to lead the Yellowjackets to a 15-14 overtime victory over Ashburn Broad Run (Va.) in the semifinal round of the VHSL Class AAA Tournament.
As befits the semifinal round of a VHSL championship, the win not only sends Osbourn Park into the Northwest Regional championship Thursday against Haymarket Battlefield (Va.), but sends the team to the four-team state tournament.
And, as befits “tipping-point” games, players and coaches are liable to take as many tactical and personnel chances in this one game than in the sum total of the entire season.
Broad Run did what it needed to do: force Wessels to take the ball to goal more, which she has done splendidly in her high-school career thus far. Her output last night gave her 94 goals and 136 assists for the 2013 season.
Last weekend, the NCAA Division II and III women’s lacrosse championships were held on a tight schedule, with a Saturday quadrupleheader and a Sunday doubleheader at Mustang Stadium.
I find it interesting that the winners of the Sunday games (i.e., the national champions) came from the games that were played earlier in the day. Salisbury, the Division III champion, had a full 24 hours between the end of its semifinal against Middlebury and the start of the final against Trinity. Trinity was afforded only about 22 hours of recuperation.
The disparity was a bit more severe in the final. C.W. Post had about 21 hours after its Division II semifinal win against Adelphi. On the other hand, Limestone had maybe 17 hours to recuperate after its thrilling overtime win against Rollins.
In a sport when any edge, any advantage can multiply, I think all might have been better served by having the Friday-Sunday schedule that is found in Division I.
But in looking at a list of future NCAA championship sites, the Division II and III Final Fours are decoupled next year; the Division II title matches will be held in Salem, Va., while the Division III title will be settled in Gettysburg, Pa. With games held on consecutive days.
Not the way I would have done it.
There is a segment of The Guinness Book of World Records that almost nobody reads. That segment is the foreword, which is usually titled, “Is It A Record?”
Quite simply, to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, the record has to be (1) measurable, (2) based on a single variable, (3) verifiable, and (4) open to being challenged by a greater achievement.
What Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) and its remarkable senior class did over the last eight days wasn’t just win six games. It wasn’t just the fact that the team won two championships. It wasn’t even the fact that the team won 29 games on the season.
Instead, two of the seniors on the team — Besser Dyson and Carly Reed — who are believed to have set respective high marks for assists in a single season (149) and for goals in a four-year varsity career (475).
If you’ve read the verbiage on this site or talked to me on a lacrosse sideline, I marvel at the numbers that these players are putting up, and try to give them due praise.
At the same time, I will also say that there is a very important caveat.
Because the National Federation only started compiling girls’ high school national records only a few years ago, it is entirely possible that the enormous accomplishments of current players may have already been attained sometime in the previous 87 years.
But, like in our field hockey recordkeeping, a few factors make it likelier than not that last weekend’s records are likely to be the ones that will stand out the most:
1. Technology. Today’s ultralight shafts and molded plastic heads are much more accurate in their passing and shooting than the wooden sticks that were de rigeur until about 1995.
2. Advances in fitness and nutrition. It used to be that soccer and field hockey players used to be the fittest female athletes in field invasion sports. But many lacrosse players are now trained to run virtually all day and are often just as fresh in the 50th minute as they are the first.
3. Space. Limiting the attack zone to 7-on-7 has opened up offenses, and restrictions on defenders have opened it up even more. At the same time, offenses are now limited to a defined area around the goals instead of being able to play an infinite sideline.
4. Tactics. Skilled players are a product of good coaching as well as their own conditioning. Many of the best scholastic coaches have been taping college games and showing them to their kids in order to get them to see the game in a different way.
5. Etiquette. Time was, if your team was up five goals, as a coach, you would tell your team to relax. A player with a hat trick would sit out the rest of the game. But, as last year’s MPSSAA championship between Westminster (Md.) and Edgewater South River (Md.) showed, not even a seven-goal lead is safe anymore. Dominant lacrosse teams have not only breached the 20- and 30-goal barriers during some games, but have even shut out their opponents in the process.
More on this to come in the next few weeks.
One in a series.
Somewhere in the archives of The Harvard Crimson is a photo of me taken in September of 1984. I was sitting at the end of a row of Apple Macintosh computers in the new computer room in the basement of the Harvard Science Center.
These were the original 35-pound beige plastic machines with a 16 megahertz processor running 128 kilobytes of random-access memory with no hard drive; you were limited to whatever you could stuff on one side of a 3 1/2-inch floppy disk.
Right now, I am typing this blog entry on a mobile phone which weighs about six ounces, and has a 1 gigahertz processor running 512 megabytes of random-access memory with 16 gigabytes of space.
I’m not expecting you to know the order of magnitude of improvement for all of these items.
But what I know is that, if you wanted to built an iPhone out of the kinds of tubes and wires that formed the core of the Aiken Mark I that is still on the Harvard campus, you would need a space about 38 million times the size of the Aiken to house it.
That’s the leap forward in technology the last quarter-century.
Technology, of all kinds, has had a number of effects on our society. It has made our nation one of citizen journalists (cat videos and celebrity social media users notwithstanding), it allows cars to self-adjust fuel mixture, it allows people to email entire documents like contracts to each other, and it helps in life-saving surgery.
Many of the technologies are things we have seen in popular culture such as Star Trek, The Jetsons, the General Motors pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, Metropolis, and The Fifth Element.
But it has also created a number of unintended consequences. A generation of teenagers thinks it is OK to post nude pictures or videos of themselves on social media or send them via mobile phone. The 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments of our Constitution have been enervated in the name of “homeland security.” There are hundreds of television channels available to most of us, but often without original content. Many houses today are built without land lines for telephone access.
One social trend that I find interesting is that our all-encompassing technology has created a group of people seeking refuge from it. A number of people our age are not only not wired into the digital public square, there are some folks who consciously avoid giving out any kind of information that could potentially result in them being found by random people. You may get an idea of the breadth of the problem by seeing how many blank entries there are in The Red Book.
At the same time, however, some billion-dollar companies have been formed all in the name of what is being called “social media.” This kind of media has evolved with different names: Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, amongst others.
Social media and technology, as has been argued in the fine Robert Putnam book Bowling Alone, has had the dual effect of connecting as well as isolating us. The person who may feel that sense of euphoria connecting with a long-lost friend or teacher may have spent the hours searching in front of a desk at home, alone, and from society at large.
I’m sure the technophile/technophobe dichotomy will shift and evolve over time. I wonder what intervening classes show when it comes to people not wanting to leave their digital fingerprints?
With a goal 4:29 in into the first half of a 19-6 VISAA Class AA championship victory Richmond (Va.) Collegiate, Carly Reed, the UNC-bound attacker for Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) set what is believed to be a new national record for lacrosse goals in a four-year high-school career. She had five goals in the win which gives the Saints a mark of 29-1, and gives Reed 475 career goals.
The crafty senior had broken the existing National Federation mark of 443 goals, set by Shair Masun of Clarkstown (N.Y.) North on May 7 with a hat trick against Oakton Flint Hill (Va.). A number of published records, however, showed that at least three other high-school players had exceeded that mark.
Reed tied the highest known four-year career mark yesterday of 470 goals with a six-goal outburst, again with Flint Hill the opponent. The holder of the previously known mark was Kate Ferris of Carthage (N.Y.), who is now with the University of Massachusetts.
Given the fact that the National Federation of State High School Associations has only started publishing records recently, there is a chance that other numbers may be unearthed.
But if there is, Reed’s run to the record was pretty remarkable. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes had to play six games in eight days in order to win the ISL/VISAA double, all the while knowing that a team loss would mean the end of the season.
Reed’s running mate, Besser Dyson, had eight assists for the second straight game to extend her own record to 149.
Today’s Game of the Day
Newtown (Conn.) at Cheshire (Conn.)
Our Game of the Day feature ends with the end of the regular season for Cheshire (Conn.). The Nighthawks are 9-7 on the season with a pair of one-goal losses to state championship contenders New Canaan and Wilton. It has been a difficult time for the town of 28,000 just over the border from New York after the senseless school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A win at 12-3 Cheshire will help.
This article’s argument is an astounding reversal from the position the Women’s Sports Foundation took in comments made by former WSF president Donna Lopiano on this same subject.
The comments that the former Raybestos Brakette made were part of a 2002 segment on Real Sports, the fine HBO sports magazine series. In it, Lopiano made the case against boys’ participation in field hockey because of a century of underrepresentation of girls and women in athletics overall rather than examining the specifics of the game of field hockey.
This week’s op-ed, written by a lawyer, makes the same case this site has made since 1998 — that Title IX works both ways, and should be invoked to give boys a chance in a sport if there is no comparable all-male outlet. And hopefully, this gives more coaches and ADs around the country a basis to start more boys’ varsity field hockey programs.
Today’s Game of the Day
Eden Prairie (Minn.) at St. Paul Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.)
Eden Prairie has been skimming along with a 9-1 record, with its only loss to Willamette Loyola Academy (Ill.). The Eagles, however, have a week to go before its regular-season show down with last year’s nemesis, Minneapolis Blake School (Minn.). Today’s game against Cretin-Derham Hall will show how far the Eagles have progressed.
This weekend, the NCAA crowns its Division II and III women’s lacrosse champions.
Eight teams from vastly different backgrounds will come to Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Md. Two will prove their mettle and come home with a gold, glass, and wood plaque emblematic of their endeavor, will, teamwork, and effort.
Here’s a look at the Division III semifinals, which, if you remember last year, should be familiar to you: it’s the exact same matchup as a year ago:
SALISBURY vs. MIDDLEBURY
In 1999, when these two teams first met up, Middlebury soundly beat the Sea Gulls 16-2. It’s not going to be like that this time around. It will be a classic battle between Salisbury’s offense (which has been averaging more than 16 goals per game) against the Middlebury defense, which is one of the nation’s best thanks to Hall of Fame coach Missy Foote’s vaunted zone defense.
TRINITY vs. CORTLAND
Cortland has had the most NCAA Tournament appearances without making a national final, having qualified 17 times. The last two years, Cortland has been ousted by two goals, and they hope to make it a closer finish this time against your defending national champions.
In Division II, there is destined to be a Long Island team in the final. But everything else is, as usual, hard to predict:
LIU-POST vs. ADELPHI
These two teams have won six out of the last NCAA titles. They normally meet in the regular season, given the fact that their campuses are located about 11 miles apart out on Long Island. But Adelphi has beaten Post four out of the five times they have met in the NCAA Tournament, and it should be a very contentious battle.
ROLLINS vs. STONEHILL
Stonehill is back to the national semifinal, trying to win its first national championship since 2005. Rollins is in only in its sixth season as a varsity program, yet could very well be the first Florida college to win an NCAA national championship. The Tars are looking to show last year’s season wasn’t a fluke.
Today’s Game of the Day
Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) at Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.)
Something always seems to happen when these two teams get together, either on the hockey or on the lacrosse pitch. This is the reverse of a 16-15 Episcopal Academy victory on April 23rd.
Before the spring of 2013, there was only one recorded instance of a high-school lacrosse player breaking the 100-assist barrier for a single season.
This year, there are two.
And their seasons aren’t even over yet.
Besser Dyson is a senior at Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.), and her team plays tomorrow against Potomac Flint Hill (Va.) in the semifinals of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Tournament, being staged this year at Richmond (Va.) Collegiate. Dyson, who is going to the University of Virginia, has recorded 133 assists in the Saints’ 28 games this season.
Corinne Wessels is a junior at Manassas Osbourn Park (Va.), and the Yellowjackets start the Virginia High School League’s Northwest Regional Tournament next Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Ashburn Broad Run (Va.). Wessels, who is headed to Northwestern after her senior year, has 135 assists this season.
Eight times this season, Wessels has recorded double-digits in assists, including two instances of her getting 13 assists in one game. That’s assists, people.
These are two truly special players in an era of undeniably talented athletes playing lacrosse. Go see them if you can.
Today’s Game of the Day
Westwood (Mass.) at Medfield (Mass.)
We’ve had to call an audible because our original game was cancelled. However, this one is a worthy replacement. Westwood and Medfield are rivals in the Tri-Valley League, and this is a makeup from a rainout last week. Westwood, at 14-0, is looking to maintain its perfect season.
I can’t believe it was 17 years ago today when one of our municipal writers came into the newsroom and told me that you had left us.
Since then, I’ve carried your Game Plan on the back of some of my business cards (at least the ones which haven’t been occupied with QR codes).
It was back then, thinking about the team of young women you left behind, that I first reflected on the impact that a good coach can have on the collective effort of a team — any team. This goes for a task force in a business, or the executive board of a municipal club, or 20 giggling schoolgirls in mid-Jersey.
I’ve gotten to meet a number of outstanding coaches since starting this site. These are people who think of the job as more than just babysitting or getting a stipend for 10 weeks of work.
And in an era in which young people are lumped into a group called “millennials” and saddled with stereotypes about laziness and overt materialism, the young people they coach are capable of the seemingly impossible.
In the last year, I saw a field hockey team rescue itself from a three-goal deficit to win in the last 42 seconds of regulation. In the last week, a girls’ lacrosse team came back from four goals down in just a shade over nine minutes to win its conference postseason championship.
These are two of the best teams in the country in their athletic disciplines, and have had tremendous coaching to get them to that point. And I believe a good coach does make a difference in the performance of a team.
Athletic competition, especially at its highest levels, allows people to show the best of themselves. Remarkable courage, spirit, and cunning have been on display on the hockey and lacrosse fields under some amazing coaches that I have had a chance to meet.
I believe that your exposure to the young women you have left behind have benefited them. I’m happy to say that many of your former players are doing well. Some are progressing in their chosen careers, some are inspiring others to reach higher heights in academia. Others have started families.
And then … there was your predecessor.
His last known location was somewhere in southern Virginia, and he was one vote away from having his sentence halved earlier this year at an appeals panel.
And after these last six and a half years, there are still a lot of truths of this case that have not yet been told. The trail is 17 years in length and have involved many young women, some of whom regrettably would rather not talk about it and be done with the situation.
One of my great regrets in my journalistic career is not having a chance to speak with you off tape on this subject. You did not deserve to have this kind of influence on your team, whether or not he was in the U.S. high-performance system.
Hope you’ve had a chance to say hello to Jim Davis and Betty Logan. Their influence is very much missed.
Yours in hockey,