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BULLETIN: June 14, 2019 — A dream deferred

The U.S. men’s field hockey team had a chance to earn its way into the Olympic qualification ties later this year, had it won its crossover matchup today against South Africa in the FIH Series tournament in India.

But after the States took an early 1-0 lead, the South Africans mounted a comeback and won the game with 34 seconds left in regulation by a 2-1 score.

The United States’ remaining hope of making the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is winning the Pan American Games later this summer in a field which includes Argentina, your current Olympic champions.

Such are the fine measures of field hockey, where one bounce, one mistrap can make the difference in an entire four-year Olympic cycle.

June 14, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games played through June 12

With only a handful of teams still in play in three states, we’re still looking to pull in stats from an eventful 2019 season. And with twice as many girls’ lacrosse teams nationwide than there was about 15 years ago, I’m not 100 percent sure I’m getting everything I need for our weekly list.

What follows are national girls’ scholastic lacrosse statistics from available sources, including MaxPreps.com, NJ 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, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage you to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to 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.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
158 Brittany Sherrod, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)
157 Bailey Gehler, San Diego Our Lady of Peace (Calif.)
154 Eliz Fino, Highland (N.Y.) Central
154 Francesca Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
146 Madaleine Champagne, Livonia Stevenson (Mich.)
145 Katelyn Murphy, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.)
125 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
125 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
122 Abbey Peterson, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
108 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
103 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
85 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
83 Bailey Thomas, Dexter General Brown (N.Y.)
82 Maddi Koury, Pottstown Owen J. Roberts (Pa.)
77 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
73 Balay Woodworth, Dallas North Paulding (Ga.)
71 Bella Mims, Clermont East Ridge (Fla.)
70 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)
69 Kayla Rinaldi, Mooresville Lake Norman (N.C.)
69 Maddie Barber, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
69 Sydney Reipl, Tinton Hall Trinity Falls (N.J.)
66 Meghan Decker, Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.)
66 Sadie Tschider, Piedmont (Calif.)

CAREER GOALS SCORED
408 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
371 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
346 Hannah McCarthy, Bedford (N.H.)
331 Cassidy Spilis, Tabernacle Seneca (N.J.)
316 Mariana Lopez-Ona, Princeton (N.J.)
316 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
290 Kira Sides, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)
250 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
213 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)

CAREER ASSISTS
440 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
293 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
279 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
273 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
217 Maddie Barber, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)
208 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
45 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

COACHING WINS
794 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

So, if you see something missing or wrong, please send us an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the adjustment. See you all next week.

June 13, 2019 — A perspective on runaway scores

Yesterday, I published an opinion on the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s 13-0 win over Thailand.

It wasn’t the only opinion, naturally.

But my thoughts on blowouts (and how to deal with them) are shaped by what I have seen on this site over the last 21 years.

And some of the defeated teams were American.

On Constance Applebee’s first European tour of the Home Nations of Great Britain back in 1920, the United States women’s field hockey team lost to England by a score of 16-0. Don’t believe me? Read the title card from this vintage newsreel. It wouldn’t be until 1962 until an American field hockey team got at least a draw from the English national team.

On the men’s side, India defeated the United States by a score of 23-1 in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. It stood for decades as the most lopsided international score in men’s field hockey until Argentina’s men beat the Dominican Republic in the 2003 Pan American Games by a score of 30-0. That was only surpassed in 2007 when New Zealand beat Papua New Guinea by a score of 39-0.

And there was one high-school game in Pennsylvania in which Hazelton (Pa.) Area beat Wyoming (Pa.) Area by a score of 29-0.

Lacrosse has also had its share of monumental blowouts. Back in the 1960s, when an England women’s national select team was taking a tour of North America, the team played a Long Island all-star team and beat their hosts 40-0. There have been some blowout defeats domestically on the part of teams like the girls’ team at Ellicott City Mount Hebron (Md.), a side which routinely beat teams by 25 or more goals during the late 80s, early 90s, and the 2000s.

In college lacrosse, the record had been a 1993 game between Roanoke’s men and Virginia Wesleyan, which the former won by a score of 40-0. That is, until the Colorado Mesa men beat Johnson and Wales-Denver by a score of 52-0 in a game this past April. It is a game which had been shortened by 7 1/2 minutes due to a severe injury.

So, I ask you: where were the pundits then, decrying the victors in these games?

June 12, 2019 — (Un)lucky 13

History will show that the U.S. women’s national soccer team started its 2019 World Cup with a 13-0 win over Thailand.

But it will take a lot of perspective to know whether this game was the best thing to happen to the U.S. or the worst thing.

Of course, if you look at the game and only it’s result, it is the very best thing that could have happened to the Hammers. The team logged in more than 100,000 meters in movement, according to FIFA.

The team kept the ball, kept pressure, finished well, and kept their foot on their opponent’s neck, not letting up.

The team’s most important cogs — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and super-sub Carli Lloyd — found net. And so did role players such as Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan.

The swagger with which the U.S. dispatched its opponent, however, cuts in two directions. The scoreline may be a shot across the bow of the other 23 teams in this World Cup.

But the result also doesn’t take away the perception of the team as the “big, bad Americans” which every other team would take delight in defeating.

In addition, I would be worried if I was a coach within the U.S. camp. I’d be worried, first of all, if the team is peaking too soon. The Americans have always been at their best when they have seen some adversity, such as the 1999 and 2015 knockout games against Germany, when the U.S. fell behind in Landover and almost did the same in Montreal. That kind of experience has allowed the team to grow and get better as the tournament has gone along.

Another reason I’d be worried is that, with a 13-goal output, the team has exposed a lot of its considerable playbook. Opposing coaches are likely at work trying to figure out how to disrupt the American attack.

And ultimately, the U.S. team is faced with this question: “What do we do for an encore?”

Chile is going to find out Sunday, certainly.

June 11, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of June 9

With only Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota left to contest their respective state championships, this Top 10 is settling into near-final format, especially since only one of our Top 10 is still playing this week.

For our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week, let’s give a call to Trumbull St. Joseph (Conn.) which made the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class M championship game as the 13th seed, but fell 10-6 to East Lyme (Conn.)

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 21-0

Season complete: The Eagles won their 10th IAAM Class A crown in 11 years, but not without receiving a major scare from Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.). McDonogh was down two in the last four minutes before winning 5-4 in double overtime

2. Northport (N.Y.) 18-1

Season complete: The Tigers beat Baldwinsville (N.Y.) 10-8 in the NYSPHSAA Class A final

3. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 20-2

Season complete: Saved its best lacrosse for the end of the season, besting Delray American Heritage (Fla.) and then Palm Beach Benjamin School (Fla.) in the FHSAA final

4. South Huntington St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) 17-1

Season complete: Beat Hempstead Sacred Heart Academy (N.Y.) 9-7 to win CHSAA Class AA title

5. Westwood (Mass.) 21-1

Season complete: Warriors take on Wellesley (Mass.) in MIAA Division 1 South semifinal

6. Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) 17-2

Season complete: Beat Cross River John Jay (N.Y.) 11-8 to win NYSPHSAA Class C championship

7. Summit Oak Knoll (20-2)

Season complete: Won NJSIAA Tournament of Champions with a 10-8 victory over Moorestown (N.J.)

8. Severna Park (Md.) 19-1

Season complete: Falcons beat Timonium Dulaney (Md.) 10-5 to win MPSSAA Class 4A final; program’s 14th state championship

9. Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) 18-2

Season complete: Beat Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) in the NYSPHSAA Class B final

10. Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.) 12-10

Season complete: It’s not often you see a 10-loss team anywhere near a Top 10 in any kind of national sports countdown. But this Gators team, part of the single toughest league in the country, put together a great run in the IAAM playoffs, knocking off Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) and Glenelg (Md.) Country to get to the final

11. Trumbull St. Joseph (Conn.) 12-8

The Cadets were led by midfielder Jettke Gray and attacker Lily Ivanovich

Who’s out? Baldwinsville (N.Y.) 10-8 loss to Northport (N.Y.); Pittsford (N.Y.) 13-3 loss to Northport (N.Y.)

June 10, 2019 — 60 minutes away from 120 minutes

Earlier today, the U.S. men’s field hockey team achieved a 2-2 draw with Japan. That tie puts the American men — an unfancied group of amateurs at the start of the FIH Series final in Bhubaneswar — in the semifinal round of its tournament.

That means if the Americans are able to beat the winner of the Russia-South Africa play-in game this coming Friday, they will not only make the final of this FIH Series tournament, they will qualify automatically into one of the seven two-legged ties that will determine who goes to the Olympics.

Deegan Huisman, a Dutch-born forward, had a brace for the United States, and German-born goalie Jonathan Klages had himself a fine effort against the Japanese side.

For an American program which has qualified for only one world-level tournament tournament on its own (i.e., when it has not been the host nation) since 1954, this step up in class is almost unprecedented. One can point to the ease of the Americans’ draw in this tournament, but the States have been training together in an almost “us against the world” attitude for years.

It’s an attitude you need to have after having not received the same kinds of training and residency opportunities the women’s national team has gotten since the opening of Spooky Nook. Or the fact that there is no varsity men’s field hockey in a U.S. college or secondary school.

This is a story that bears watching; this is the best opportunity for the U.S. men to make a major tournament since finishing second in the Pan American Cup ten years ago.

 

June 9, 2019 — A convergence of championships

Over the weekend, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association crowned four champions for its public-school divisions. In all four, a team from Long Island — either Nassau (Section 8) or Suffolk (Section 11) — won the state crown.

In Class A, Suffolk County champions Northport (N.Y.), had sent a message to the field in 10-goalling Farmingdale (N.Y.) and Pittsford (N.Y.) on the way to the final, then found a way to get by Baldwinsville Charles W. Baker (N.Y.) 10-8 in the title game.

Class B also had a Section 11 winner in Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) as it beat Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) 9-7. ESM also had a not-unsubstantial win on the way to the final as it had to get by Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy in the state semifinal.

Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.), representing Nassau County, took the Class C title with an 11-8 win over Cross River John Jay (N.Y.). CSH found the Long Island portion of its bracket substantially more difficult than the rest of the tournament, in that it had to get by Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) 5-4 in the state quarterfinal.

In the small-school Class D final, it was the co-op Mattituck/Southold (N.Y.) side besting Bronxville (N.Y.) 11-7. Like Cold Spring Harbor, the Tuckers found the most substantial competition on Long Island, as it only escaped the state quarterfinal with a 9-8 win over Carle Place (N.Y.).

With these four wins, plus the independent-school tournament win by South Huntington St. Anthony (N.Y.) a few weeks ago, Long Island is now the de facto center of girls’ high-school lacrosse in the Empire State.

Which begs the question: should the NYSPHSAA redo its brackets so that the top-ranked teams in each of the four classes don’t knock each other out before the final?

I’m not so sure that could ever work. First of all, if you mandate such a system for girls’ lacrosse, you have to make the mandate stand for everything from baseball to football to swimming. For most team sports in New York, it’s one representative per section.

There’s geography to bear in mind as well. A bus trip from, say, Southampton (located way out on Long Island) to Clarence High School in Buffalo could take anywhere from five to seven hours depending on traffic.

It’s an imperfect system, but I can’t see New York adopting Maryland’s seeding system in order to keep regional rivals from meeting each other before the state tournament, no matter how good the teams are in comparison to the rest of the state.