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Dec. 18, 2018 — Games of the Year, 2018

The 2018 scholastic field hockey season was a collection of some wild games played coast to coast, some of which had major implications for the direction of the season. Here are the games which will remain long in the memories of those who played and those who witnessed the competition:

15. Louisville Kentucky Country Day School (Ky.) 2, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 1, OT, KHSAA semifinal: Assumption had come into the state tournament with a sizable chip on its shoulder, having battled to the semifinals of the Apple Tournament, only to come across KCD, losing by a goal. Then, as a sendoff to the Ring of Honor Tournament in Virginia Beach, Assumption played KCD again, losing 1-0 before posting its 2-2 record at Hampton Roads. For the third meeting, you might think the Jim Davis First Law of Field Hockey might come into play, but instead it was KCD coming up with a third consecutive winning effort

14. Nov. 3, 2018: St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 1, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 0, Midwest Tournament final: This is the game which turned Taryn Tkachuk from superstar to legend. The leading goal-scorer the last two years in the St. Louis area, she had a lower-body injury in mid-season, which kept her off the scoreboard for a fortnight. But in the game they needed her the most, she knocked in a goal four minutes into the second half to beat MICDS in the final

13. Nov. 3, 2018: Biddeford (Maine) 4, Skowhegan (Maine) 3, MPA Class A final: This was a victory of inexperience over experience, as Biddeford won its first championship, beating a Skowhegan team that had made the state championship final the last 18 consecutive years

12. Oct. 8, 2018: Providence Moses Brown School (R.I.) 4, Walpole (Mass.) 2, regular-season game: Moses Brown has sent a number of good players to Division I schools in recent years, and the current varsity played a rare game outside the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. In that game, Moses Brown beat the perennial powerhouse from eastern Massachusetts

11. Nov. 15, 2018: Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.) 1, San Diego Serra (Calif,) 0 (OT), CIF San Diego Section Open Division semifinal: San Pasqual, boasting perhaps its best team since the days when head coach Tracey Paul patrolled the sidelines in the 1990s, had battled the best of the San Diego Section, but had suffered four defeats to Serra, Scripps Ranch, and Torrey Pines in the regular season. But in the CIF Open semifinal match against Serra, the Jim Davis First Law of Field Hockey raised its head, and Serra could not beat San Pasqual a third time in the same season

10. Nov. 11, 2018: Garden City (N.Y.) 1, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 0, NYSPHSAA Class B final: Two great programs with outstanding traditions and superb coaching met up at Williamsville (N.Y.) North for this final, which was decided by a Kylie Tierney goal four minutes into the second half. It broke Lakeland’s 137-game unbeaten streak and ended its championship streak at nine

9. Oct. 13, 2018: Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2, Moorestown (N.J.) 1, regular-season game: On a Saturday night at McAleer Stadium, it was Eastern getting a telling second-half goal in order to beat a Moorestown team led by senior Delaney Lawler, the niece of Eastern head coach Danyle Heilig

8. Nov. 13, 2018: Westport Staples (Conn.) 2, Darien (Conn.) 1 (OT), CIAC Class L semifinal: These two teams always play it close; coming into the contest, the last eight contests were decided by one goal or fewer. For Staples, the difference was Kyle Kirby’s overtime penalty stroke. This allowed Staples to play for, and win, its third straight state championship under head coach Ian Tapsall

7. Nov. 17, 2018: Hershey (Pa.) 2, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1 (OT), PIAA Class AAA final: These two teams are rivals in the Mid-Penn Keystone Conference, and had met each other three times earlier in the season, with Lower Dauphin winning two including a District 3-AAA semifinal. But Hershey was able to beat Lower Dauphin in the game which mattered most, on an overtime goal; it was the Trojans’ first state field hockey title

6. Aug.  31, 2018: Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 3, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 2, regular-season game: The closest thing you are going to get to a Tournament of Champions in Pennsylvania, the defending PAISAA champion met the defending PIAA-AAA champion. It was a dandy match which was decided by two Lauren Curran goals in the second half. Oddly enough, neither team made it back to their respective state final

5. Oct. 17, 2018: Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 3, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 2, regular-season game: Not to be outdone, Notre Dame took on the defending PIAA-AA champions and beat them as well, only it took a four-goal comeback on the part of the Irish after spotting the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead

4. Sept. 23, 2018: Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 5, Oley (Pa.) Valley 3, regular-season game: Speaking of comebacks, how about the way Donegal spotted Oley Valley a 3-0 lead at the interval, only to score five goals in the span of 6:01 to come out victorious? This showcase game, played at Penn State, saw the two players who would eventually finish 1 and 3 in the national scoring race for the year. Donegal’s Mackenzie Allessie and Oley Valley’s Sophia Gladieux would finish with a goal apiece

3. Nov. 13, 2018: Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 3, Fort Washington Germantown Academy 3 (Episcopal Academy won 3-1 in penalty shootout), PAISAA final: While the entire Eastern Pennsylvania private-school field hockey world focused on defending champion Notre Dame, it was Germantown Academy, not Episcopal or Notre Dame, that took the No. 1 seed in the PAISAA Tournament. Popper, from the U.S. indoor World Cup team, had a hat trick in the final, but Episcopal Academy and its cadre of young stars held off Germantown Academy. In the shootout, goalkeeper Caroline Kelly of EA was massive in holding down GA’s shooters

2. Nov. 10, 2018: Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 1, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 0, 2 OT, VHSL Class 6A final: These two schools are a mere two miles apart and have fought for state honors annually since First Colonial head coach Laura “Beanie” Schleicher came over from Norfolk Maury (Va.) a few years ago. Cox, meanwhile, had a new head coach in Taylor Rountree, who was looking to cement her name in the lore of Cox field hockey. But the one name that people will remember from this final is Kylie Levine. In a bizarre overtime period which saw four yellow cards issued, Levine was able to make a defensive save in the 68th minute, then, as the time wound towards the 88th, she latched onto a Zoe Campisi diagonal pass and scored. It was her first goal of the season, and the difference in Cox’s 20th state championship victory

1. Nov. 17, 2017: Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 2, Palmyra (Pa.) 1, OT, PIAA Class AA final: This game is going to be remembered not for the first 60 minutes, the last 2 1/2 minutes. Donegal, seeking a second title in three seasons, was seemingly back on its heels, having to absorb corner after corner from Palmyra. That is until Mackenzie Allessie, the senior midfielder, said, “Enough.” Self-starting from the edge of her striking circle, she thundered down the field and beat four Palmyra players for pace, wove left around the Palmyra goalkeeper, and slotted it into the goal, cool as you like. It was Allessie’s 351st and final scholastic goal

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Dec. 17, 2018 — The biennial solution

A year ago, we wrote this.

Over the weekend, the CEO of FIH, Thierry Weil, told media that the international governing body would start holding Junior World Cup competitions on a biennial basis as early as 2021.

“We need to support youth in sport and give every generation a chance to participate in Junior World Cup,” Weil told media members assembled in India for the FIH men’s World Cup. “If we don’t, we lose a generation of players.”

Evidently, FIH is looking to other Olympic sports for inspiration. FIFA holds a U-20 World Cup every other year, and the IIHF holds its World Junior Championships ever single year.

It would appear as though the International Lacrosse Federation is next.

BULLETIN: Dec. 16, 2018 — Allessie tapped for senior national team

Mackenzie Allessie, the senior attacking midfielder from Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), who was the first scholastic player to amass 100 goals in a season, has been tapped for the roster of the U.S. women’s national field hockey team a scant seven weeks before the Americans go to Argentina to debut in the FIH Pro League.

Allessie, also the leading goal-scorer in the history of the National Federation with 351, is one of a number of prominent additions to the U.S. roster made over the last few days by head coach Janneke Schopmann. She has added goalkeepers Kelsey Bing and Kealsey Robles, along with national collegiate Player of the Year Linnea Gonzalez from the University of Maryland.

Training begins in earnest next month for the U.S. women, but the addition of Allessie is very much a statement of confidence.

“Mackenzie is one of the bigger talents in our pipeline and showed her potential this past summer against the Chile U-19 team,” said Schopman in a USA Field Hockey news release. “After two trial weeks, she has convinced the staff that she is able to play at the required level, and despite her age, we feel comfortable adding her to the team. She will join us full-time in January as she graduated high school early which is important in her development as a player.”

The recent history of the U.S. women’s national team, at least since Olympic qualification failure in 2000, has featured a number of teenage players such as Erin Matson, Katie O’Donnell, and Katelyn (Falgowski) Ginofili seeing significant time with the senior national team and helping them to consecutive Olympics as well as consecutive Pan American Games championships.

But few have put up the kinds of numbers that Allessie has, and it will be incredibly unfair to compare her high-performance career to her scholastic career, given the pace, tactics, and goalkeeping in the international game.

The possibilities, however, are enormous.

Dec. 16, 2018 — Even more work to do

As some of you may know, one of my off-hours vocations is coordinating volunteers at public dance events at a national park. As such, I have a certain responsibility to ensure that the volunteers help create a safe and harassment-free environment for the patrons.

I assist two out of seven presenters for one specific dance form. There are seven different dance forms run out of this particular venue, and there are up to three dozen dance forms are enjoyed by tens of thousands of people in a metropolitan area of 6.2 million people.

As such, I’m beginning to understand the magnitude of the problem of what USA Today laid bare late last week, where Olympic governing bodies of sport have seemingly been unable to prevent banned coaches from having a role in the sport from which they were banned.

It’s similar to a situation which I witnessed a few weeks ago. After attending a dance held by another presenter, I went to a different dance on the same premises where a banned dancer from my dance form was engaged in his same predatory behavior towards young women.

I went to a seminar last weekend, trying to learn more about the magnitude of the problem and whether any kinds of “safe space” or other policy could ameliorate the situation. What I found was a legal thicket, involving an entire wing of the law called “premises liability” and the question of whether dance volunteer duty should involve mandatory-reporter duty.

The overall North American partner dance world has been roiled by scandals involving instructors who have been accused of sexual misconduct by victims emboldened by the MeToo movement. The ramifications have been immediate: disinvitation from teaching gigs, the discontinuation of a clothing line, and even the removal of footage of these instructors from YouTube.

Yet, there are also stories about many of these same instructors being able to find work, even though there is a common ban-list with the names printed out in black and white, But, unlike USA Safe Sport, there is actual documentation showing why the particular figure is banned.

Dance, and sport, are involved in a long game in order to mitigate sexual misconduct, and it appears that not even a higher level of transparency is helping.

Dec. 15, 2018 — Work to do

A couple of days ago, USA Today published a large multimedia story detailing the fact that there were, and are, significant gaps in the banning of coaches who prey on young people.

Part of the narrative of this story, as well as others written on the same subject, remains the same: the rules surrounding background checks are such that potential predators can drive a truck through them.

In the original Sports Illustrated story from the 1990s, the one baseball coach who was the center of the narrative would simply go from small town to small town, coaching a new team every year, disappearing quietly when his indiscretions were evident.

It was much the same when it came to former U.S. international field hockey player Todd Broxmeyer, who rarely stayed in one town or at one job for more than a year over his peripatetic existence. He seemingly changed jobs as if to keep one step ahead of scrutiny — or the law.

Broxmeyer is one of four people who currently appear on USA Field Hockey’s SafeSport banned list. But missing from that list are any of the other half-dozen or so people who were arrested and/or convicted on morals charges the last decade. This includes organizers, coaches, and even one field hockey writer.

The USA Today story does make a point that became painfully obvious in the past decade: it is still just as easy now as it was a decade ago for someone to masquerade as a field hockey coach simply by buying a membership in the National Federation or the NFHCA, or creating a fancy logo on the Internet and luring teams to a field hockey showcase, or leveraging an out-of-state teaching certificate into a coaching position in another state.

These loopholes have parallels in the greater society. More on that tomorrow.

 

Dec. 14, 2018 — The Final Top 50

It’s the end of another U.S. scholastic field hockey season, and, for the 15th time, a season-ending national Top 50.

Heading it, of course, are the two rivals from New Jersey, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.). They have played a pair of close matches this season and it was anyone’s guess as to who would win the September regular-season match as well as the November Tournament of Champions final.

And, as such, when you have such a high-level of competition, you are likely to see something that you have never seen before. In the regular-season match, it was a substitution for an injured umpire. In the second game, it was a situation when Eastern was reduced to seven outfielders because of three rapid-fire cards.

Eastern overcame all that and beat five state champions, and are therefore a deserving No. 1 for the year. (NB: the team, as well as the others named No. 1 by this site over the years, cannot be termed “National High School Champion” because the phrase is trademarked by the National Federation of State High School Associations.)

So, after some long evenings with copious amounts of vitamin-enhanced water, here’s our Top 50:

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 27-0
2. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 24-2
3. Delmar (Del.) 18-0
4. Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 25-1
5. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 28-1
6. Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) 19-0
7. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 21-2-1
8. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 14-2-2
9. Hershey (Pa.) 19-5-1
10. Palmyra (Pa.) 19-6-1
11. Garden City (N.Y.) 19-0
12. San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 25-2
13. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 22-2-1
14. Moorestown (N.J.) 22-2-1
15. Emmaus (Pa.) 26-1
16. Los Gatos (Calif.) 22-0
17. Dennis-Yarmouth (Mass.) 21-0-3
18. Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 17-1
19. Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 23-0
20. Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) 15-4-1
21. Westport Staples (Conn.) 22-1
22. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 19-1
23. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 21-3-1
24. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 22-3-1
25. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 22-2
26. Newport (Pa.) 18-7-1
27. Louisville Kentucky Country Day (Ky.) 22-5-2
28. Biddeford (Maine) 17-0-1
29. Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 18-3
30. Charlotte Myers Park (N.C.) 19-0
31. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 22-1
31. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 22-2

33. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 22-5-1
34. West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 22-4
35. Gloucester (Va.) 22-0
36. North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) 19-0
37. Andover Phillips Academy (Mass.) 17-0
38. Whitney Point (N.Y.) 18-2
39. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 20-1
40. Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.) 25-2
41. Charlotte (N.C.) Latin 14-3
42. Oley (Pa.) Valley 25-3
43. Danbury Immaculate (Conn.) 21-2
44. West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 22-4
45. Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.) 20-2-1
46. Edgewater South River (Md.) 16-3
47. Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 21-1
48. Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 15-2-1
49. Houston St. John’s (Tex.) 18-0-1
50. Hudson (Ohio) 17-4

And bear in mind: Darien (Conn.) 18-3-1, Guilford (Conn.) 19-2-1, Bel Air C. Milton Wright (Md.) 18-1, Eldersburg Liberty (Md.) 17-2, Sykesville South Carroll (Md.) 11-8, Ann Arbor Huron (Mich.) 18-2, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 21-6, Hampton Winnacunnet (N.H.) 14-3, Manchester Derryfield (N.H.) 15-1-1, The Lawrenceville (N.J.) School 15-5, Bernards (N.J.) 23-1, Maine-Endwell (N.Y.) 14-4, Charlotte (N.C.) Latin 14-3, Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 14-4, Barrington (R.I.) 12-2-1, Providence Moses Brown (R.I.) 15-2, Westminster Bellows Falls Union (Vt.) 17-0, Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) 17-3, Fredericksburg Chancellor (Va.) 16-4, Fredericksburg James Monroe (Va.) 18-2, Brookfield (Wisc.) Academy 11-3-1

Dec. 13, 2018 — The PIAA’s private problem

Three years ago, I wrote this.

In it is the following passage:

Currently, the (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) does not hold separate competitions for non-public schools. I did a back-of-the-envelope experiment yesterday and found that it is possible for the PIAA to have a fourth non-public division if it would partner with the PAISAA to fill a bracket using the roughly 70 prep, charter, Quaker, Christian, Roman Catholic, and Mennonite schools in the state that have (field hockey). It would have to take a sea change in thinking for this to happen at the administrative level.

Yesterday, it was announced that the sea change hadn’t happened yet. A PIAA position statement said, in part:

The PIAA board of directors, at the recommendation of counsel, concludes and therefore reaffirms that the separation of playoffs with regard to public, charter and private schools is contrary to the publicly documented legislative intent Act 219 of 1972.

Act 219 is the mechanism by which many private schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania play alongside state public schools for PIAA championships. In many revenue sports, such as football and basketball, private schools dominate the ranks of champions, which has led to calls to have separate non-public championships.

The rise of private schools is a trend in field hockey. Since the institution of the three-division system in 2016, at least one private school has won a PIAA state championship each year; Bethlehem Moravian Academy (Pa.) in 2016, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) in 2017, and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) in 2018.

I believe that the competition in the PIAA is healthy enough as it is, but, as the nation’s most prominent field hockey incubator, I think the most significant part of yesterday’s communique is this:

… the PIAA Board of Directors recommends that the PA Equity Group, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Charter School Coalition attempt to work in unison to find common ground within their respective groups in providing proposals for consideration that are consistent with the intent of Act 219 and further aids in establishment or revision of policies for the betterment of all student-athletes.

It sounds like the PIAA is kicking the proverbial can down the road. But I think a sea change is coming, with the number of parochial schools shrinking and the dawn of the age of the charter school in the commonwealth.

Stay tuned.