TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Nov. 28, 2022 — A small part of “On-The-Go” could become a larger part of the field hockey landscape

A couple of weekends ago, we watched askance as the anticipated matchup in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Division I title game was pushed into the background.

Part of it was because of a technical fault in the livestreaming of the game. But the big reason why is the fact that the game wound up much more of a one-way game than we expected.

In the game, Richmond Collegiate (Va.) beat a good Norfolk (Va.) Academy side 4-0. Three of those goals were scored by junior Callie Rogers, who has given her verbal to the University of Maryland.

From everything we’ve heard, Rogers may be the finest field hockey player to come from central Virginia since Shannon Taylor willed Midlothian James River (Va.) to a VHSL title, one of the few not won by a Virginia Beach-area side before the state went to four divisions in state field hockey.

Last weekend, at the Shooting Star field hockey tournament, Rogers was a prime leader of the Panthers United club team as it won the “A” pool in the Under-19 division. She used skill in the attacking third in order to generate attacks and keep the opposition off-balance.

It was an excellent team performance for a side which was undefeated on the weekend, winning three matches and drawing two. I think that Rogers, the inspirational figure for Panthers United, could make Collegiate a team to watch in 2023.

Nov. 27, 2022 — The Final Third, Emerald City Edition

Join us this afternoon shortly before 1 p.m. Eastern time for whiparound coverage of the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Divison II field hockey tournament. Who will join Shippensburg and East Stroudsburg in Seattle next weekend? We’ll be on Facebook Live for the action.

Nov. 26, 2022 — The siren calls

In the early 1990s, when I was still working in the dailies, I was invited to join up with a number of field hockey people to go to the USFHA National Festival in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

This was several years before I became a full-time beat writer for the sport. Years before I learned the place of my region in the sport. Years before I left the dailies to start this website.

I’ve never been to a post-season club competition in field hockey. Not to Festival, nor to Disney, not to the NFHCA winter showcase, and not to the Shooting Star tournament.

Until, that is, today.

I’m popping down to experience the expanse, the fact that dozens of games are taking place over the course of three days at the River City Sportsplex in Midlothian, Va.

I’m looking for stories and old friends, for new contacts and for story ideas for 2023 and beyond.

It ought to be an interesting day.

Nov. 25, 2022 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 20

This has been an interesting season, for sure. Unlike the last several years, we have not had teams concentrate their scoring in one person. When you look at the scoring sheets for Delmar (Del.) and Emmaus (Pa.), you see several excellent scorers on these two teams, all of whom pushed their teams towards their team goals.

Below are statistics published by, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media. We encourage coaches, ADs, team managers, and staffs to register for the MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams as well as perhaps your league, section, or state governing body to enter field hockey information there, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

SEASON GOALS
89 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
55 Kate Fiest, Yorktown Tabb (Va.)
50 Tyler Everslage, Louisville Assumption (Ky.)
49 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
49 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
47 Darian DeLeo, Clearview (N.J.)
49 Maggie Sturgis, Marblehead (Mass.)
44 Aubreigh Uba, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
44 Maggie Sturgis, Marblehead (Mass.)
44 Katie Clarke, Purcellville Loudoun Valley (Va.)
43 Maggie McCrae, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
43 Jordyn Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)
42 Olivia McKenna, Northport (N.Y.)
42 Reagan Eickhoff, Boiling Springs (Pa.)
41 Jessica Albertson, Gibsonia Pine-Richland (Pa.)
41 Danielle Hand, Queensbury (N.Y.)
41 Izzy Morgan, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)

SEASON ASSISTS
45 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
40 Abby Burnett, Emmaus (Pa.)
35 Sammie Goin, Leesburg Independence (Va.)
32 Erika Culp, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.)
31 Molly Digiulio, Buffalo Nichols School (N.Y.)
30 Halley Beaudoin, Fairfax (Va.)
29 Lillian Willis, South Glens Falls (N.Y.)
29 Smilla Klas, San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.)
28 Madison Beach, Glenbrook (Ill.) South
28 Kate Fiest, Yorktown Tabb (Va.)
26 Ella Murphy, Buffalo Nichols School (N.Y.)
26 Katie Clarke, Purcellville Loudoun Valley (Va.)
26 Francesca McCaughey, East Greenwich Rocky Hill Country Day (R.I.)
26 Sophia Borgese, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio)

CAREER GOALS
223 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
175 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
171 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
141 Lauren Masters, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.)
123 Olivia Bent-Cole, Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.)
121 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)
120 Maggie Sturgis, Marblehead (Mass.)
117 Tyler Everslage, Louisville Assumption (Ky.)
109 Kate Fiest, Yorktown Tabb (Va.)
106 Emma Watchilla, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
103 Kate Galica, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)
103 Darian DeLeo, Clearview (N.J.)
101 Ava Bleier, Pittsford Sutherland (N.Y.)

CAREER ASSISTS
130 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
104 Abby Burnett, Emmaus (Pa.)
84 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)
79 Gigi Edwards, Frontenac Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
78 Hope Haynes, Houston Kinkaid (Tex.)

GOALS SCORED, TEAM
212 Emmaus (Pa.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
115 Delmar (Del.)
55 Northport (N.Y.)
52 Watertown (Mass.)
46 Yorktown Tabb (Va.)

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
115 Delmar (Del.)
55 Northport (N.Y.)
52 Watertown (Mass.)
46 Yorktown Tabb (Va.)

ACTIVE COACHING VICTORIES
1041 Susan Butz-Stavin, Emmaus (Pa.)
873 Linda Krieiser, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.)
759 Karen Klassner, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
731 Eileen Donahue, Watertown (Mass.)
724 Cheryl Poore, Harwich (Mass.), Monomoy (Mass.), and Nauset (Mass.)
705 Sharon Sarsen, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y)

So, this is the last of our weekly Statwatches until we have a final listing in December. Until then, if you see something wrong, just send an email to us at TopOfTheCircle.com. Send us some evidence (a website will do), and we can make corrections.

Thanks for dropping in every week on this feature and we’ll see you in the spring for lacrosse.

Nov. 24, 2022 — Giving thanks

Hello, readers.

I hope you are taking advantage of this Thanksgiving time to be with family and to give thanks for health, happiness, and fellowship, whether you are in Florida or in Virginia for competition this week.

The Moran family on Long Island has a special reason for giving thanks this year. Read this amazing story about their daughter Sam, a starting center back from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Nov. 23, 2022 — An appreciation: Erin Matson, forward, University of North Carolina

One on an occasional series.

“A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but put it on a stand so that it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14a-15)

Between 2016 and 2017, Erin Matson’s considerable light was hidden. She had scored 87 goals in her freshman and sophomore years at Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.), but had decided to train full-time with the W.C. Eagles club team and with the U.S. national team when it was housed at Spooky Nook.

She gave up her junior and senior seasons of scholastic hockey but her experiences during those two years were unlike anyone else in recent American field hockey history. She played for the U.S. senior women’s national team in various competitions including the Hockey World League, where she was able to score in a penalty shootout in a win over world power Germany.

Starting in 2018, however, Matson would be trading in her navy and red for navy and Carolina blue. She won two championships for the University of North Carolina in her freshman and sophomore seasons.

But then came a pair of events which could have extinguished Matson’s competitive fire. The first was the United States’ failure to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after losing to India by one goal on aggregate in two-match series.

And then came the global pandemic, which ended NCAA sport for the spring of 2020, postponed the Olympics to 2021, and threatened great damage to non-revenue sports at universities..

Matson and her UNC teammates were some of the only field hockey players to get meaningful games during the fall of 2020 as the Atlantic Coast Conference played a double round-robin season before playing a fall conference tournament. In the spring of 2021, the rest of Division aside from the Ivy League played a spring season. The ACC played a second round-robin season, followed by a winner-take-all final for the automatic berth from the league to the NCAA Division I championship.

Matson and her Tar Heels were able to win their way through this maze to get to the NCAA final against Michigan. In the longest NCAA season ever (255 days), Carolina was able to win a third straight NCAA title thanks to a spectacular Matson overtime goal.

This made UNC a favorite to win a fourth straight title in 2021. But part of the burden of having three straight national championships is receiving the best competition from every opponent on the schedule. UNC struggled to a 12-7 record before getting drawn against Northwestern in an NCAA opening round game. It was a game that Northwestern won 2-0, and it was the launching point for Northwestern’s 2021 national title run.

In 2022, Matson’s final season as a collegian, the Tar Heels went into the season focused. And in 20 games — all wins — Carolina played 1,264 minutes. The Heels trailed for just 55 of those minutes. And that’s against teams with not only some of the best talent from American secondary schools, but a foreign contingent that had as many as seven offshore athletes in their lineups at any one time.

Matson ended her career last Sunday as a four-time NCAA champion, the ACC’s all-time leading scorer, and the only five-time conference Player of the Year in any sport in the NCAA. And it’s likely that in the next few months, she’ll pick up the Honda Award for the national Division I Player of the Year.

I’m hoping that the light that she has been for thousands of younger players wanting to grow up to be like her will burn a few more years with the United States looking to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

And hopefully she’ll be healthy for a 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. She could be that transformative figure in the sport that the average person will identify with as a champion.

Nov. 22, 2022 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 20

It’s been a November to remember in scholastic field hockey. The last two weekends’ worth of competition saw more last-second goals, overtimes, and post-overtime shootouts than we’ve ever seen in 24 years of running this site. And it’s therefore fitting that Delmar (Del.), a team which was taken to overtime to start the month, finished No. 1 in our Top 10.

This is our final weekly Top 10 of the 2022 season. Our comprehensive final Top 50 will be published in December.

Our honorary RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is North Carolina. No, not the NCAA Division I champions, but the club field hockey side that plays out of Chapel Hill. The team won the National Field Hockey League with a dominating 4-0 win over Georgia last Sunday in Virginia Beach..

1. Delmar (Del.) 19-0
Season complete: Bested Claymont Archmere Academy (Del.) 7-1 to culminate a memorable and artful era in field hockey during which the Wildcats won seven straight state championships and 115 games in a row

2. San Diego Canyon Hills (Calif.) 26-0
Season complete: The Rattlers won the CIF Open Division Tournament but it was not easy; the team got a penalty corner goal with 10 seconds left to beat San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.)

3. Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.) 21-1
Season complete: Irish beat Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 2-1 to win the NJSIAA Non-Public state championship

4. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 19-1
Season complete: Hill beat Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) in the final minute of the PAISAA final

5. Northport (N.Y.) 23-0
Season complete: Tigers got by a game Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) outfit thanks to an Olivia McKenna overtime penalty stroke

6. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.) 20-2-1
Season complete: The Dragons won their first state championship in style, outscoring their opposition 36-1 including a 4-1 win in the final against Hillsborough (N.J.)

7. Watertown (Mass.) 22-0
Season complete: Raiders beat Sandwich (Mass.) 2-0 in the final of the MIAA Division 3 Tournament

8. Mechanicsburg (Pa.) 21-4-1
Season complete: The Wildcats got an overtime goal from Gracyn Catalano to beat league rival Palmyra (Pa.) 1-0 in the PIAA Class AA final

9. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 22-3-1
Season complete: Falcons were the beneficiary of an Avery Pollock overtime goal in a PIAA Class AAA final win over West Lawn Wilson (Pa.)

10. Whitney Point (N.Y.) 21-0
Season complete: The Vikings take on Wilmington Padua Academy (Del.) in the semifinals of the DIAA Division 1 Tournament

11. North Carolina Field Hockey Club 13-3-1
Season complete: Beat Georgia 4-0 in the final of the National Field Hockey League’s fall tournament

Who’s out: Emmaus (Pa.) 2-1 loss to West Lawn Wilson (Pa.); Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 2-1 OT loss to Smyrna (Del.); Palmyra (Pa.) 1-0 OT loss to Mechanicsburg (Pa.)

And bear in mind: San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 20-2-1, Huntington Beach (Calif.) 20-1, Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 18-1, Darien (Conn.) 23-0, Watertown Taft (Conn.) 18-1-1, Branford (Conn.) 14-4-1, North Branford (Conn.) 19-1-1, Smyrna (Del.) 16-2, Washington St. John’s College (D.C.) 12-1, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 25-4, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 22-5-1, Skowhegan (Maine) Area 18-0, Lawrence (Maine) 19-0, Winthrop (Maine) 16-2, Owings Mills Garrison Forest School (Md.) 16-1-1, Annapolis Broadneck (Md.) 20-0, Glenelg (Md.) 12-6, Crofton (Md.) 16-2, Andover (Mass.) 22-1, Walpole (Mass.) 21-2, Uxbridge (Mass.) 22-0, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich,) 12-1-1, Dexter (Mich.) 13-5, Frontenac Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 23-2-1, Exeter (N.H.) 17-1-1, Weare John Stark (N.H.) 16-0-1, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 20-3-1, West Deptford (N.J.) 18-4-1, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) 20-5, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 17-6, Vestal (N.Y.) 15-5, Charlotte Myers Park (Calif.) 21-1, Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) 11-5, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio) 18-2, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 14-5, Palmyra (Pa.) 20-3-2, Boiling Springs (Pa.) 26-0, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 25-2-1, Emmaus (Pa.) 26-1, Providence Moses Brown (R.I.) 16-1-1, Houston St. John’s (Tex.) 18-2, Hinesburg Champlain Valley Union (Vt.) 15-2, Woodstock (Vt.) 15-1, Richmond (Va.) Collegiate 17-5, Yorktown Tabb (Va.) 24-0, Fairfax (Va.) 24-1-1, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 17-4, Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 17-3, Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels (Wisc.)

Nov. 21, 2022 — It’s not over!

Today at 3 p.m., the NCAA Division II field hockey tournament committee announces the six teams which will be playing for the D-2 national championship.

Three conference tournaments were decided yesterday, with East Stroudsburg beating Millersville in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Converse beating Mount Olive in the South Atlantic Conference, and Adelphi beating Pace in the Northeast-10.

However, according to the NCAA bylaws, none of the three tournaments yielded an AQ berth for the winner. Instead, the NCAA Tournament Committee selects three teams from the pool of 21 in the Atlantic Region and three from the pool of 14 in the East Region.

Now, we can try to guess which six teams are going to make it, but it would be only that — a guess. Like in every NCAA Tournament, there will be some teams who are on the outside looking in, and will be upset that they were left out of the bracket.

That being said, who’s going to make it from the Atlantic? Here are the contenders:

East Stroudsburg (18-2)
Converse (17-2)
Millersville (16-5)
Kutztown (15-3)
Shippensburg (15-3)
West Chester (14-4)
Mount Olive (14-4)

From the East Region, these are the six teams with more than 10 wins on the season:

Assumption (14-5)
St. Anselm (14-6)
Adelphi (13-8)
Pace (13-8)
Bentley (11-8)
St. Thomas Aquinas (10-9)

The committee looks at a number of criteria, including strength of schedule, ratings percentage index, and how teams did in their last seven games of the 2022 season.

For me, the team to watch out of the 13 listed is West Chester. Despite its 14-4 record, it has the highest strength of schedule and second-best in ratings percentage index. If they make it, a very good team in the Atlantic pool will be sent home, and it will be a long nine months for the non-selected teams to mull over what they could have done differently.

Nov. 20, 2022 — The Final Three

This morning in Windsor, Conn., the New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Council will be holding its annual championship games.

For most hockey aficionados, the Class A title game, at 11 a.m., is the one to watch between Greenwich (Conn.) Academy and Watertown Taft (Conn.). Both are long-time New England powerhouses and rivals, though GA has had the better of it in the last few years. Taft has not won the NEPSAC title since 1999, but GA has three top-flight titles since then.

In the Class B tournament, Newbury Governor’s Academy (Mass.) takes on Concord Middlesex (Mass.), while South Hamilton Pingree (Mass.) meets New Hampton (N.H.) in Class C.

The NEPSAC teams play fine hockey, often at a higher level than their public-school sisters. The global pandemic put a hard stop on the New England prep schools in the fall of 2020, but have been coming back with strength and ambition.

It is a good cherry on top for the scholastic season.

Nov. 19, 2022 — A first try at lessening the officiating crisis

According to a press release a month ago, more than 50,000 scholastic sports officials have quit the business since March 2020, the beginning of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

No sport, it seems, has been immune to the officiating shortage. The shortage is especially acute in developing sports in developing areas, especially in athletic pursuits experiencing high growth, such as lacrosse.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has created a public information campaign called “Bench Bad Behavior,” which concentrates on lessening the abuse leveled at umpires, referees, linesmen, lane monitors, and other game officials in scholastic sports by both coaches and spectators.

Indeed, according to a survey of officials who have left the profession, the following came out in the data:

  • 84% said fans treated them unfairly
  • 59% said they didn’t feel respected
  • 55% left due to verbal abuse
  • 46% said they felt unsafe

Read that first line again. Nine out of 10 game officials left the profession because of unruly spectators.

The website has a number of posts and a toolkit that you can download including signs to be posted at games, a script for public-address announcers to read, and player/parent contracts.

At the same time of the Bench Bad Behavior campaign, the NFHS has also started an initiative to recruit game officials through the website HighSchoolOfficials.com. Through the site, the Federation is attempting to recruit for everything from the revenue sports to activities such as bass fishing, scholastic bowl, speech and debate, and even theater and film competitions.

I’m hoping that these measures may help in getting more game officials to consider a career in sports officiating, but I think there are some others that need to be considered, such as a bump in pay to compete with the growth of pay-to-play club competitions in many sports nationwide.