May 30, 2016 — An Olympic roster taking shape?

Today, USA Field Hockey made its announcements for rosters leading into the women’s national team’s first entree into the FIH Champions’ Trophy since 1997.

The U.S. earned its way into the tournament in London by virtue of winning the 2014 Champions’ Challenge, the Applebees’ first major world-level trophy since the inception of international play in 1920.

In preparation for the tournament, head coach Craig Parnham is taking a team of 19 players, which, after playing a two-game series against world No. 1 Holland, will be cut down to 18. U.S. head coach Craig Parnham has played his first roster card by bringing 19 players to Europe, but leaving Paige Selenski off the Champions’ Trophy squad.

The 19-player roster includes veterans Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski, Katie (O’Donnell) Bam, Michelle Kasold, Michelle Vittese, Katie Reinprecht, Julia Reinprecht, Melissa Gonzalez, and goalkeeper Jackie (Kintzer) Briggs. Combined, the core of the squad has 1,920 caps.

But I think some of the more recent additions are going to be key to the success of the team this summer. Jill Witmer is the speed in the midfield and in the final third. Kelsey Kolojejchick and Kat Sharkey have been awesome on the front end as well. Alyssa Manley, Stephanie Fee, and Emily Wold are going to be counted on for critical minutes as defenders and holding midfielders.

The London tournament is a precursor for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and as such, these rosters will form the basis of the 2016 Olympic team depending on performance and injuries. Anyone on the European roster can be changed at any time; remember that, a year ago, Kat Sharkey broke her ankle just a week before the Pan American Games.

It’s an interesting youth/veteran mix that could be the right combination headed into Rio; the Champions Trophy is going to provide a great test.

 

May 29, 2016 — Notes from the Final Four

After the Division I championship weekend in Philadelphia, here are a few observations about what’s happened:

1. Never assume. The weekend had “coronation” written all over it, given the ease by which the University of Maryland had beaten most of its opponent this season. One notable exception earlier this season: North Carolina. Nobody except people in the UNC camp believed that Maryland could be beaten except for UNC itself.

2. Jenny Levy’s gut feeling. Goalies in field-invasion sports like lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer are somewhat like quarterbacks on a football team. Because of their pivotal importance on a team, it’s important to have one who is the starter and one a designated backup. But UNC coach Jenny Levy has often used hunches to determine when her goalies Megan Ward and Caylee Waters would get to play. Megan Ward started the national semifinal against Penn State and lasted only a shade more than eight minutes, making no saves; Caylee Waters played the rest of the game. She went back to Ward for the final and she made 14 stops.

3. Carly Reed. Three years ago, the junior finished off a storied prep career at Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) with 475 goals. Though she had a strong freshman campaign with 35 goals, she got into only 11 games a year ago, scoring eight. But in 2016, she showed clutch performances in tight matches. She had four goals in the ACC final, five goals in the semifinals, and two more in the championship game.

4. The Herb Brooks strategy. In many of sport’s great and famous victories, the key to victory is to find out what makes the opponent successful and throw it right back at them. It worked in 1980, and it certainly worked in the final. Carolina sprinted out to a five-goal lead in the first half and never let go. Similar quick starts on the part of Maryland have been the hallmark of the team the last few seasons.

5. The pressure of comparison. This week, Jen Adams, the greatest female lacrosse player who ever lived, said this to the Baltimore Sun when asked who was the best player ever: “If my vote counts for anything, I vote for Taylor Cummings.” It’s a compliment to the two-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner, but it is its own kind of pressure — not only on Cummings, but on a team trying to build its own history.

6. The new landscape. Think of this: teams from non-traditional lacrosse areas have won nine out of the last 12 Division I championships, and with the rise of programs like Florida and Southern California, it is a different era. Too, I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for future Division I champions to go through the entire season undefeated; the last two were Northwestern in 2005 and 2009.

May 28, 2016 — A date with a singular talent

When you take Route 111 south from the interstate, the town of Harvard, Mass. lies beyond green rolling hills. Town Hall is a three-store white clapboard building which is undergoing some work, and the town center is dominated by the Harvard General Store, which has in it a Grant Wood-esque painting of the town.

Even in these days of technology, there are still towns that time forgot. The store sells blueberry cobbler, espresso, candy and mementos, and the fizzy New England soft drink called Moxie.

Just down from the cemetery next to the general store sits Harvard Bromfield School (Mass.), which overlooks Bare Hill Pond. It’s a 330-acre body of water visible from the elevated wall that separates Route 111 from the green in front of the school, on which the girls’ lacrosse team plays its home matches.

For the last six years, there has been a singular talent patrolling that field. Sophia Turchetta, the Trojans’ attacking midfielder, played her last regular-season home game this week. Jet quick, with an uncanny knowledge of the game and an aggressiveness borne of having three older brothers, she had honed her game playing with the boys.

This month, Turchetta hit a number of career scoring marks, including surpassing the four-year varsity scoring record, becoming the first known scholastic player — male or female — to record more than 500 goals in a four-year career, and 600 overall.

The thing is, she has had even more goals scored in her varsity career but for the lack of accurate records from her seventh-grade season in 2011. That will come out in time, but she is, by most metrics, the most prolific attacking force that scholastic lacrosse has ever seen.

The Dartmouth-bound senior is unsure of what her exact role will be next year, since she has played all over the pitch during her prep career. In addition to her scoring talent, she takes draws as the Trojans’ center, and, when she was selected to an Under Armour All-America side, she played close defense.

We’ll have a video story on her later this year as the team embarks on another run to the MIAA Division 2 final, which Bromfield has yet to win. The team is seeded No. 1 in the Central/West bracket and hosts Chicopee Pope Francis (Mass.) in the first round on Tuesday.

May 27, 2016 — Friday Statwatch for games played through May 25

It’s Friday, and that means another version of Friday Statwatch, our weekly look at national scoring and statistical leaders. With about three weeks to go in the scholastic season, there is plenty of opportunity for the northern teams to catch up to the players setting some pretty high marks.

This past week, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.) ended its season, meaning that everyone else is chasing junior Bridget Ruskey for the national lead in goals scored. And just outside of the list, it is notable that Sophia Turchetta of Harvard Bromfield School (Mass.), the all-time leader in goal-scoring, notched her 100th of her senior season in a 21-10 win over Tyngsborough (Mass.) on Wednesday.

Statwatch reflects games through the end of play the previous Wednesday. If you are a coach or team manager, I encourage you to subscribe to, and enter information in, the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams in your league or state high school association to enter their information there as well. We’re aiming to have as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

Here’s what we’ve compiled thus far, thanks to, amongst others, MaxPreps.com, Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, and The Washington Post:

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
135 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
125 Samantha Mehalick, North Brunswick (N.J.)
119 Jessie Wohner, Virginia Beach Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Va.)
119 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
117 Carly Vaccaro, Mooresville Lake Norman (N.C.)
114 Olivia D’Angelo, Bloomfield Hills (Mich.)
114 Tori Barretta, Downingtown (Pa.) East
113 Maria Johnson, St. Louis Lafayette (Mo.)
110 Danielle VanCarcar, Ramapo (N.J.)
109 Bailey Brown, Katy (Tex.)
109 Ashley Britton, Annandale (Va.)
109 Elizabeth Murphy, Centreville (Va.)
108 Jordan Shugrue, Laurel St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.)
107 Nora Bowen Purcelville Woodgrove (Va.)
107 Michaela McMahon, Saddle River (N.J.) Country Day School
105 Nicole Hunt, Greensboro Southeast Guilford (N.C.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
105 Allison Hunter, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
83 Tatum Altman, North Brunswick (N.J.)
81 Jordyn Pandolfo,San Ramon California (Calif.)
76 Becky Holley, Littleton Dakota Ridge (Colo.)
76 Balay Woodworth, Dallas North Paulding (Ga.)
75 Monica Borzillo, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)
75 Jensen Neff, Novato (Calif.)
75 Andie Regan, Irvington (N.Y.)
72 Corisa Atkins, Wilmington Ashley (N.C.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER

621 Sophia Turchetta, Harvard Bromfield School (Mass.)
421 Samantha Mehalick, North Brunswick (N.J.)
412 Daniella MacMahon, Saddle River (N.J.) Country Day School
380 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL POINTS (COMBINED GOALS AND ASSISTS), CAREER
757 Sophia Turchetta, Harvard Bromfield School (Mass.)
559 Samantha Mehalick, North Brunswick (N.J.)
540 Tatum Altman, North Brunswick (N.J.)
538 Daniella MacMahon, Saddle River (N.J.) Country Day School
485 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
214 Tatum Altman, North Brunswick (N.J.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
155 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)
37 Upper Arlington (Ohio)

COACHING WINS
719 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
512 Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (N.J.)

Here’s where you come in. If you see a statistic that is wrong or missing, please send an email to TopOfTheCircle.com. Your email should include a bit of documentation (a website will do) or someone that can be called to double-check. Friday Statwatch is a malleable feature that we can add to or correct at any time. Let us know what needs to be fixed, and we’ll try it all again next week.

May 26, 2016 — Inside the Division III Final Four: Trinity vs. Franklin & Marshall

TRINITY
Record: 18-3
Against the Final Four (1-1): Beat Middlebury 13-9, lost to Middlebury 10-7.
Key players: Martha Griffin (sr., A), Clare Lyne (jr., A), Ashley Stewart (sr., D), Zoe Ferguson (so., G), Emily Mooney (sr., G)
Intangibles: Trinity’s schedule is such that they met a national Top 20 team in seven out of its last nine matches. The Bantams are undefeated under the new sudden-death overtime rules. Trinity uses a platoon system for goalies; Ferguson in the first half, Mooney in the second.
The skinny: This is the second year in a row that Trinity has met Franklin & Marshall in the national semifinals, with the Bantams winning 11-6 a year ago. But they also have likely looked at F&M’s box score from the quarterfinal round and will likely wonder if they’re in for a defensive struggle on Saturday.

FRANKLIN & MARSHALL
Record: 21-2
Against the Final Four (0-0): Did not play.
Key players: Paige Moriarty (so., A), Grace Saliba (sr., A), Anastatia Mergner (sr., M), Samantha Blicht (sr., D), Vanessa Budd (jr., D)
Intangibles: Head coach Mike Faith has a second bite of the apple after the Diplomats made a return to the national semifinals after the hazing scandal that cost the team its 2012 season. Only team in the Final Four to shut out an opponent this season.
The skinny: F&M’s defense has held 15 of its opponents to six goals or fewer. The Diplomats locked down Salisbury in winning their quarterfinal matchup 6-5, and this is the team that could alter the pace and rhythm of a potential final with Cortland. But Franklin & Marshall cannot look past Trinity.

May 26, 2016 — Inside the Division III Final Four: SUNY-Cortland vs. Middlebury

SUNY-CORTLAND
Record: 21-0
Against the Final Four (0-0): Did not play.
Key players: Tara Monghan (sr., M), Hannah Elmer (s0., A), Kristen Ohberg (jr., A), Ashley Gentile (sr., M), Jaclyn Beshlian (jr., G)
Intangibles: Cortland has had an impressive season, but built on a schedule with only four ranked teams. That being said, the Red Dragons have hit double-digits every game, and held 13 opponents to seven goals or fewer.
The skinny: Cortland’s attacking prowess has masked the fact that only one of the team’s close defenders has caused more than 10 turnovers for the season. Beshlian committed 1urnovers this season, which could be a concern against an opposing ride. Beshlian and the defense had a good game against The College of New Jersey in their cross-border showdown, but it is going to be interesting to see how the Dragons respond to a team able to change and control the rhythm and tempo of the game.

MIDDLEBURY
Record: 20-1
Against the Final Four (1-0): Lost to Trinity 13-9, beat Trinity 10-7.
Key players: Bridget Instrum (sr., A), Mary O’Connell (jr., A), Laurel Pascal (sr., M), Evie Keating (so., D), Katie Mandigo (jr., G)
Intangibles: This is a rematch from last year’s national semifinal, one won by Cortland 19-12. What can the Panthers learn from last year’s defeat?
The skinny: Middlebury did not have Mandigo for the first month of the season because she is a forward on the school’s women’s ice hockey team. Since jumping in, she has done splendidly. Can she be the difference against the Cortland firepower?

May 25, 2016 — Inside the Division I Final Four, North Carolina vs. Penn State

NORTH CAROLINA
Record: 18-2
Against the Final Four (2-1): Lost to Maryland 8-7, beat Syracuse 12-11, beat Syracuse 15-14 (OT).
Key players: Molly Hendrick (jr., A/M), Marie McCool (so., M), Sammy Jo Tracy (sr., A/M), Megan Ward (sr., G), Aly Messenger (sr., A), Caylee Waters (jr., G)
Intangibles: North Carolina had to put forth its greatest effort to beat Maryland two years ago in the national title match. The Heels have not only many of the players in that very game, but is also dealing with a goaltending situation. What else is new?
The skinny: Tracy is the team leader in draw controls. If the Heels can get past this game, she has a chance to alter her side’s chances in the final against either Taylor Cummings of Maryland or Kayla Traynor of Syracuse. Tracy is that good.

PENN STATE
Record: 14-6
Against the Final Four (0-1): Lost to Maryland 10-9.
Key players: Madison Cyr (sr., M), Steph Lazo (jr., A), Madison Carter (fr., A/M), Katie O’Donnell (so, M), Jenna Mosketti (sr., A), Abby Smucker (jr., D/M), Emi Smith (sr., G)
Intangibles: Penn State is the surprise package of this national semifinal, having to beat Florida and Penn on the road to get to this moment. The Nittany Lions are trying to win their first national title since 1989. Missy Doherty’s long-term plans for success with this program are bearing fruit.
The skinny: A lot is going to be asked from Mosketti in the draw circle this weekend. If she can hold her own against Tracy, then either Cummings or Traynor, the Lions have a chance.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 947 other followers