Sept. 30, 2016 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 28

Welcome back to Friday Statwatch, our weekly look at the numbers that define field hockey and that make an attempt at defining greatness across generations.

This week’s most statistically significant event is the performance of Megan Rodgers, a senior at San Diego Serra (Calif.). She has vaulted into the lead amongst individual goal-scorers on the basis of a 13-goal performance in the knockout rounds of the Serra Invitational on Saturday. She had five goals in a 7-0 quarterfinal win over Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.), four in a 12-0 semifinal victory over San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.), and four more goals in an 11-3 win over San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) in the final.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard of one person scoring that many goals in a single day. Indeed, the only documented occurrence of this that we’ve been able to find was in 1969, when Mary Ann Messner of Herndon Line Mountain (Pa.) scored 13 in a single game against Coal Township Shamokin Area (Pa.). Oddly enough, field hockey wasn’t even her best sport, as she was capped for the U.S. women’s lacrosse team in the mid-1970s.

What you see below reflects games through the end of play on Wednesday. We’re hoping that each of you can adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

Below is a combination of stats from, amongst others, MaxPreps.com, PhilaFieldHockey.com, Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, The Washington Post, The Reading Eagle, and the Ann Arbor News:

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
44 Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
31 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
30 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
29 Jillian Shive, Cincinnati Ursuline Academy (Ohio)
26 Alivia Klopp, Tulpehocken (Pa.)
24 Abriana Gatto, Pennsburg Upper Perkiomen (Pa.)
24 Annie Genovese, St. Louis St. Joseph’s Academy (Mo.)
22 Mackenzie Alessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
22 Paitlyn Wirth, Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.)
21 Jensen Bury, Purcelville Woodgrove (Va.)
21 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
21 Gabriella Pontone, Allendale Northern Highlands (N.J.)
20 Rialee Allen, Ocean City (N.J.)
20 Amanda Strenk, Baldwinsville (N.Y.)
20 Shylea Dukat, Baldwinsville (N.Y.)
20 Caroline McGovern, Holland Council Rock South (Pa.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
20 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
18 Kassidy Shetler, Ramsey (N.J.)
17 Katie Schneider, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
17 Megan Schneider, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
17 Meghan Conroy, St. Louis Lafayette (Mo.)
17 Josie Rosbach, Leesburg Heritage (Va.)
17 Jessie Lebens, Creve Coeur Whitfield School (Mo.)
15 K.P. Peterson, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
15 Fiona Vetter, Ladue Horton Watkins (Mo.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
188 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
130 Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
114 Julianna Tornetta, Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.)
114 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Court House Middle Township (Pa.)
109 Mayv Clune, Bethlehem Moravian Academy (Pa.)
108 Emily Surgent, Wall (N.J.) Township
107 Jillian Shive, Cincinnati Ursuline Academy (Ohio)
94 Dani Profita, Washington Warren Hills (N.J.)
92 Rialee Allen, Ocean City (N.J.)
87 Mackenzie Keegan, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
87 Lily Croddick, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.)
87 Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)*
82 Mackenzie Alessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
82 Kourtney Kennedy, Watertown (Mass.)
74 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
* — inactive for 2016 season

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
106 Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.)
74 Rialee Allen, Ocean City (N.J.)
74 Emily Surgent, Wall (N.J.) Township
71 Kourtney Kennedy, Watertown (Mass.)
58 Dani Profita, Washington Warren Hills (N.J.)

GAMES UNDEFEATED
168 Watertown (Mass.)
139 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
82 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
52 Los Gatos (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
108 Watertown (Mass.)
82 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
80 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
52 Los Gatos (Calif.)

Here’s where we count on you. If you see a stat that is errant or out of place, let us know — bearing in mind that the above is as of the close of play Wednesday. Feel free to send us an email to us at TopOfTheCircle.com. Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the adjustment. Statwatch is meant to be a living, malleable entity which can be edited.

Thanks a lot for reading, and we’ll see you next week.

Sept. 29, 2016 — A lone voice

DISCLAIMER: Jim Himes and The Founder were in the same graduating class at Harvard.

Jim Himes is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 4th District in the state of Connecticut.

And, it just so happens, his district includes a number of tremendous scholastic field hockey programs: Greenwich (Conn.) Academy, Darien (Conn.), New Canaan (Conn.) and Westport Staples (Conn.) among them.

Last week, he was the lone dissenting vote in a 415-1 vote to extend tax-free status to bonuses paid out to Rio Olympic medal winners.

His rationale, published in the Connecticut Post, was this: “As problems go, the problem of the tax status of Olympic athletes is not something we should be spending our resources on.”

He’s right.

First and foremost, the action doesn’t benefit every single athlete that went to Rio. The American delegation for the Olympics constituted 558 people; for the Paralympics, 267, including seven guides for visually-impaired athletes. The American teams won 121 Olympic medals and 115 Paralympic medals.

On average, that would mean that only one out of every four Olympian and two out of every five Paralympians would have received medals, leaving a majority of athletes unaffected by the tax change in the first place.

And think of this: there are bonus dollars that going to millionaires on the Olympic team such as members of the men’s basketball team. Meanwhile, there are Olympic hopefuls who have to apply for food stamps in order to get by, or, as was the case for current mixed martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey, lived out of her car.

The reality is that the majority of Olympians find it difficult to make a living competing in the sport they love. It’s time for Congress to use its oversight powers over the U.S. Olympic Committee for more equitable support of athletes in the elite pool in various athletic activities.

Sounds like a job for a Harvard man.

Sept. 28, 2016 — Polls, trends, and competition

I don’t envy the 47 people who fill out ballots for the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association NCAA Division I poll every week, especially after what happened last weekend.

North Carolina, after staggering through the early part of its season, took down No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Duke in a three-day period.

That vaulted the Tar Heels from fifth to … second. Yep, second.

The team currently at the top of the NFHCA heap is the University of Connecticut, the sole unbeaten team in NCAA Division I. However, the Huskies are ahead by only one point over UNC, and the Tar Heels have 18 first-place votes, as opposed to Connecticut’s 14.

National polls for collegiate field hockey are kind of fun, allowing fans to debate the merits of their particular side. They aren’t supposed to affect selections to the end-of-season Division I Tournament.

But it seems that, given the clustering of votes at the top of the poll, there are four clear favorites for the NCAA final. These teams are Connecticut, North Carolina, Duke, and Syracuse. All four of these teams have at least five first-place votes in this week’s poll.

And in the metrics of the poll, these top four teams have a significant gap between themselves and the rest of the teams that received votes. Connecticut graded out at 860 points, North Carolina 859, Duke 848, and Syracuse at 842.

When you consider that 47 people vote in the poll (with 20 points for a first-place vote, 19 points for second, etc.), an 18-point margin between first and fourth is incredibly small. By the same token, the gaps from Syracuse to fifth-place Penn State (718) and sixth-place Northwestern (653) are enormous.

It will be interesting to see whether the NCAA Division I Tournament Committee will follow this same script when Selection Sunday occurs on Nov. 6.

Sept. 27, 2016 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 25

This week’s Top 10 pretty much holds station, though if you could designate one team like a list of “hot stocks” on Wall Street, it would have to be San Diego Serra (Calif.). The Conquistadors won the Serra Invitational last weekend in dominating fashion, have the nation’s leading goal-scorer in Megan Rodgers, and have outscored their opponents 113-3 on the season.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Easton Wilson Area (Pa.) The Warriors’ achievement was a 2-1 win over Kintnersville Palisades (Pa.) last Wednesday. It was Wilson Area’s first victory in four years, and it was sweet revenge for a game two years ago in which Palisades beat the Warriors 17-0.

1. Emmaus (Pa.) 9-0

Emmaus in the midst of a stretch when they are playing unbeaten teams. Beat Stroudsburg (Pa.) 5-0 last Thursday, and were to play Bethlehem Liberty (Pa.) yesterday

2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 6-0

Got by Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) last week, and have a showdown with a talented Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (Pa.) side on Friday

3. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 8-0

Donegal will have New Holland Garden Spot (Pa.) and Lampeter-Strasburg (Pa.) before embarking on play in Saturday’s Falcon Classic on Oct. 1 at Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.)

4. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 13-0

The Conquistadors won the 40th Serra Invitational with an 11-3 win over San Diego Scripps Ranch; it was the third game of the day for both teams

5. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 10-0

Comets beat their last four opponents by identical 8-0 shutouts and were to play Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) last night

6.Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 5-0

Last week’s showdown with Norfolk (Va.) Academy was postponed to October 17

7. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 6-1

Royals building towards an intriguing game Saturday against Ocean City (N.J.)

8. Watertown (Mass.) 7-0

Raiders now have now won their last 107 games and played Melrose (Mass.) yesterday afternoon

9. Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 9-0

Katie Anderson had seven goals last week, which includes a three-goal, three-assist effort against Downingtown Bishop Shanahan (Pa.)

10. St. Louis St. Joseph’s Academy (Mo.) 11-0-1

Angels are idle until an intriguing Friday match against a surging Webster Groves Nerinx Hall (Mo.) team before a Sunday matinee against St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

11. Easton Wilson Area (Pa.) 1-7-2

Wilson finished out last week with a 2-2 draw with Salisbury (Pa.)

Who’s out: Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 2-1 loss to Palmyra (Pa.)

And bear in mind: Los Gatos (Calif.) 5-0, Westport Staples (Conn.) 7-0, Darien (Conn.) 6-0; Delmar (Del.) 4-0, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 13-1, Glenelg (Md.) 7-0, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 7-0, Charlotte (N.C.) Latin 7-0, Chapel Hill (N.C.) 7-0, Cincinnati Ursuline (Ohio) 8-1-2, Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) 10-0-1, Oley (Pa.) Valley 11-0, Palmyra (Pa.) 10-1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 7-1-1, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 6-1, Gloucester (Va.) 8-0, Yorktown Tabb (Va.) 7-0, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 5-1

Sept. 26, 2016 — Dawn Hampton, 1928-2016

Dawn Hampton was brought up in a family of entertainers in Ohio that toured and played jazz and dance music. Dawn was introduced into the act as a singer at the age of three, and eventually joined the instrumental part of the family band as a saxophone player.

In the 1950s, Dawn Hampton and sisters Aletra, Virtue, and Carmelita would break off from the family act to record together as The Hampton Sisters.

Dawn Hampton worked on Broadway for a while and tried her hand as a solo singer before surgery on her vocal chords in 1964 limited her vocal range.

She then took on the demanding artform of cabaret singing for the next two decades. Even with limited vocal range, she was able to connect with the smaller and more intimate audiences that cabaret licensing laws in New York City afforded them. One reviewer called her “The Queen of Cabaret.”

On the side, she began teaching the kind of vernacular jazz partner dance that she loved as a child, swing dance. She was selected to help with the choreography for one of the opening scenes for the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X, then she began a third act in her entertainment life as a dance teacher.

I first met Dawn Hampton in Washington Square Park in the late 2000s. The party was a collection of seemingly unconnected and dispirate folks. There was a rollerblader with a gossamer outfit that made her look like a silver hummingbird. There were people dressed in grass skirts, others in 1940s-era garb.

Even in that crowd, Dawn Hampton stood out. She wore a sequined cap with silver shoes and a hand-lettered sweatshirt with a motivational saying on it.

Later that evening, we danced in a small space catty-corner from Madison Square Garden. For being eighty-something years old, she did everything well. Heck, for any age, she did everything well.

After our dance, she hugged me. I thanked her.

We’d run into each other every once in a while at events along the mid-Atlantic, and she’d treat me like an old friend even though I barely knew her.

Dawn Hampton died late yesterday. As one of the last living legends of swing dance, a significant voice has been lost. Fortunately, a short documentary on the Hampton Family Band has preserved her voice and thoughts. Take some time to watch this.

Sept. 25, 2016 — As pressure multiplies

Heading into last weekend, there were five unbeaten streaks for field hockey teams that were greater than 70 games each.

And now, there are three. Yesterday, Monument Palmer Ridge (Colo.) beat four-time defending state champion Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.). That halts the Mustangs’ unbeaten streak at 78 games, which is good for 11th all time.

Also yesterday, Severna Park (Md.) defeated Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) to halt the Vikings’ unbeaten streak at 76, just two games short of Colorado Academy’s mark.

I’ve gotten to know, over the course of many years, coaches who hate dwelling on winning or unbeaten streaks. They absolutely hate them. Part of it is because they would rather than focus on winning the next game as an accomplishment rather than trying to build on a streak of games, no matter how impressive it is.

Six years ago, Wendy Wilson of Yorktown Tabb (Va.), one of the best young coaches in the country, told us what it meant to build a winning streak back in 2010, when the Tigers’ win streak had grown to 54 games.

“The first year when we went 24-0, it was exciting and fun, but last year it was stressful because every game you felt you had to prove it, and even this year it was more and more (pressure). It’s hard to live up to (the past) especially with a whole new team.”

For some coaches, especially heading into a single-elimination situation such as a state tournament, that pressure doesn’t just increase game by game, it increases exponentially.

And this is why I marvel at the internal fortitude of the only coaches that have more than one unbeaten streak of more than 75 games: Eileen Donahue of Watertown (Mass.) and Danyle Heilig of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.).

Donahue currently has the nation’s longest winning and unbeaten streaks of all time, but also had a 77-game unbeaten streak a few years back. Heilig’s Eastern program currently has a 139-game unbeaten streak, but had the record of 153 games until Watertown’s current streak, which coincides with their seven straight MIAA state titles.

Eastern, incidentally, is 10 games away from breaking its team record for consecutive wins, which is 92.

As of now, these two programs lead the way when it comes to remaining unbeaten, and it’s anyone’s guess who can knock them off this season, as both teams are playing well.

Sept. 24, 2016 — The post-Olympic shuffle

In international team sports, national team coaches rarely last more than eight years. And the same can be said of various staff members within a coaching structure.

Last week, it was announced that three members of the U.S. Olympic field hockey braintrust — Kelly Knapp, Nate Franks, and Dave Hamilton — were leaving their posts.

Hamilton, the former strength and conditioning coach for England Hockey who was the fitness guru behind the U.S. national team’s efforts the last four years, is going to bring his talents and philosophy to Penn State University, where he will serve as assistant athletic director for applied health and performance science.

As much as coach Craig Parnham was the man who advanced the fortunes for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team, Hamilton was the man behind the throne. His influence has started to spread: at least one Division I university has a wireless notebook computer on the sideline, gathering data from the transponders fitted to each of the players on the pitch. There is discussion that similar systems may become widespread in five years or fewer.

Departures of this sort after an Olympics are not unexpected, given the fact that the next major competition isn’t for another two years in field hockey.

But that doesn’t make what’s been happening in Australia any less shocking. Even six months before the Rio Olympic tournament began, Hockey Australia and head coach Adam Commens announced that the women’s coach would be leaving his position after the Games.

Only now, Commens’ departure is much less voluntary.

After reports he exposed himself during a watch party for the Olympic final on Aug. 19th, Commens was dismissed as coach of the Hockeyroos yesterday by Hockey Australia’s David Hatt.

“On behalf of the board of directors of Hockey Australia, I want to make clear that as an organisation, we take the on-field and off-field behaviour of our players, coaching staff and employees very seriously,” Hatt said in a terse statement.

Australia, a multiple Olympic winner and runners-up in the most recent World Cup, has undergone a number of setbacks since. Not only did the women’s team, the Hockeyroos, fall in the knockout round of the Olympics, but the same fate befell the men’s side, the Kookaburras. Yep, the Kookaburras, featuring star striker Jamie Dwyer.

It was the first time since Los Angeles 1984 that Australia has failed to medal in field hockey. And I also think Hatt didn’t have a choice in the matter, given the fact that Commens had left Anna Flanagan out of the side in the aftermath of her drunk-driving episode earlier this year.