Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

May 5, 2021 — Slicing down the email boxes

Ever since I got my first America Online account in the days of the ubiquitous 3.5-inch floppy disks which offered you 30 days of the service for free, I took advantage of the feature which allowed you to get multiple email addresses; I had one to receive email from my undergraduate friends, one for my friends from graduate school, one for my “social” friends who I knew from Thursday night dance parties back in New Jersey, and one for this website. Because of the 10-character limit on AOL accounts back then, my email addresses looked like an entry in a baseball boxscore: “topofcrcle at”

A few years later when the limit was taken off, I was able to get full-out spellings on my four email boxes. I also got a “burner” account through my association with Yahoo Geocities, which hosted this site from 1998 to about 2006. It’s an account which I use if I am likely to receive a large number of spam emails, so I made this address just to be able to keep them away from my four primary email boxes.

That is, of course, before I found the free Google email in 2004, which you can see in the header at the top of this site. I still have several email boxes to distinguish emails coming from different groups of friends. I also have an email I will use for more professional correspondence.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was receiving an odd message on my phone as I was going through my daily task of going through my email boxes: “Unable to access email address; please check settings.” I tried to go through my phone’s email settings to figure out what was wrong.

Apparently, my America Online email accounts were trying to get me to log off and log back with a code which would confirm my phone number. The problem? The phone number suggested was my old landline back in New Jersey.

It was then that I decided that my AOL email accounts were best left abandoned. After all, I get all of these gigabytes of storage with Gmail, and they also do a great job of arresting spam emails and putting them in a folder.

My phone now monitors just six email accounts. My life is a lot happier.

May 4, 2021 — Monthly field hockey Top 10 for the week of May 2

We’re in the home stretch for domestic field hockey, as North Carolina will have a playoff later this month for the schools which did not participate in last fall’s competition. The May 22nd final should be the final field hockey game played in the 2020-2021 scholastic year.

This is going to be the last of our monthly Top 10s for the academic year; we’ll have our well-researched Top 50 next month as part of our end-of-season field hockey stories.

Our No. 11 Team of the Month is James Madison High School of Vienna, Va.. The school, almost invisibly tucked away off the main drag through town, did something that few field hockey teams have done in more than 112 years of scholastic field hockey: go through a minimum eight-game season without giving up a goal. Madison was able to beat a very good Virginia Beach Floyd Kellam (Va.) side in the Class 5 championship final in the Virginia High School League. It was the Warhawks’ 15th clean sheet in 15 starts.

1. Delmar (Del.) 15-0
Season complete: Wildcats beat Bear Caravel Academy (Del.) 4-1 to win their fifth consecutive state championship. The stateliners yielded exactly two goals during the season whilst crafting a number of artful goals on the attack end

2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 14-0
Season complete:
Vikings got by Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) 9-0 to win the NJSIAA Southwest D sectional championship

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 16-0
Season complete: Solid team effort gave the Hornets a 4-0 state championship win against Harrisburg Central Dauphin in the PIAA AAA final

4. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 14-0-1
Season complete: Beat Summit Kent Place (N.J.) 3-0 in NJSIAA Central-East E sectional final

5. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 17-0
Season complete: Beat Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 3-0 to win PIAA Class A final

6. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 0-0
Season complete:
 Sacred Heart has finished its playdays and did not have a timed, scored, and umpired game during the open week of competition in November

7. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 14-0
Season complete: 
Won Midwest Field Hockey Association championship with a 1-0 overtime win over St. Louis John Burroughs (Mo.) on a backhand golazo by Taryn Tkachuk

8. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 13-0
Season complete: Falcons won their 22nd state championship with a 1-0 overtime win over Fredericksburg Stafford (Va.) in the VHSL Class 5 championship

9. San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 11-0
Season complete:
The Falcons’ month-long season (no CIF postseason) included signature wins over Serra and Scripps Ranch, and the team survived a player who moved away as well as another who is playing lacrosse in the spring

10. Cohasset (Mass.) 13-0
Season complete: Dominated all comers in the South Shore League; it’s an open question how they would have done in the MIAA state tournament bracket

11. Vienna James Madison (Va.) 15-0
Season complete: Warhawks did not have head coach Carrie Holman on the sidelines, as she was two days away from giving birth, but technology helped keep her in touch with the team during the playoffs

And bear in mind:  San Diego Serra (Calif.) 9-1, Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 9-1, Glastonbury (Conn.) 14-0, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 9-0, Longmeadow (Mass.) 6-0, Walpole (Mass.) 8-0-1, Franklin (Mass.) 11-0-2, Worcester Doherty (Mass.) 14-0, Andover (Mass.) 6-0, Dexter (Mich.) 16-0-1, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 12-0-1, Northport (N.Y.) 16-1, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 13-1, Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) 12-0, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 7-1, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 18-3, Palmyra (Pa.) 15-2, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.) 16-2, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 6-0, East Greenwich (R.I.) 9-0, Poquoson (Va.) 12-2; Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 10-1

May 3, 2021 — A few “hot takes” on the Division III women’s lacrosse bracket

The Division III women’s lacrosse bracket is very much a lottery, since the 37 teams selected represent a somewhat broad brush as to the reach of the sport in recent years. We’ve had, in recent history, teams from as far away as California and Colorado make the tournament.

This year, we have the some of the usual powers making the field, such as The College of New Jersey, Salisbury, Franklin & Marshall, Ithaca, and Cortland. But the last two title-holders, Gettysburg and Middlebury, aren’t in the field this year.

Instead, the Division III women’s lacrosse bracket is a chance for debutante programs to make a mark in this season like no other.

I think the survivor of the lower half of the Washington & Lee bubble is going to be a major, major contender this year. In this quarter of the national tournament are the following:

Salisbury State (15-0)
SUNY-Morrisville (7-2)

Washington & Jefferson (10-0)
SUNY-Farmingdale (8-0)

Ithaca College (12-1)
College of Notre Dame, Md. (7-0)

Washington & Lee (13-0)
FDU-Florham (16-0)

That’s six undefeated teams in what we call the “Quarter of Death.”

In the upper portion of that bracket, you will find a pair of Wisconsin teams, in UW-River Falls and Carroll College, as well as two from Illinois, Aurora and the University of Chicago.

In the Colby College bubble, there is a brilliant potential quarterfinal matchup if The College of New Jersey and top-ranked Tufts are able to get through their first- and second-round matchups.

In the other half of that bracket, you have 13 teams, including five play-in contests on May 8th. A potential May 15th octofinal between Franklin & Marshall and Catholic University could very well determine who makes the Final Four from this half of the bracket. But you get the feeling that SUNY-Cortland and Messiah will have an answer for whoever comes out of the F&M quarter of the Colby bubble.

It should be an unpredictable and most memorable championship. Stay tuned.

May 3, 2021 — An elegy for Stanford field hockey (with a nod to Walt Whitman)

O Leland! my Leland! their fearful trip is done,
The team has weather’d every game, the prize they sought not won,
The end is here, the bells I hear, supporters not acclaiming,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
  But what was a beating heart
  With cardinal blood of red
  With the team representing Leland
  Is left instead for dead.

O Leland! my Leland! the team still hears the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag was flung—for you the bugle trilled,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the pitch a-crowding,
For you they called, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
  Here Leland! dear founder!
  The team for which they bled
  Has now become a dream that on the deck,
  And fallen cold and dead.

My Leland does not answer, the Board is stone and still,
The Board does not feel her; they have no pulse nor will,
The team is moored safe and sound, its voyage had its cost,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in, but object lost;
  While others on the farm will ring the bells,
  The players slowly tread,
  Walk the green, while the team lies,
  Fallen cold and dead.

May 2, 2021 — The Final Third, Epic Edition

Joins us today on our Facebook Live presence shortly before noon for our whiparound coverage of the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I field hockey tournament, plus we’ll document four automatic bids for the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament, featuring the two conferences (ACC and Big Ten) from which the 2021 champion will likely emerge.

We’ll also have bonus coverage of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, where we’ll see Division II’s two best sides, Lindenwood and Indianapolis, cross sticks for the second time in 10 days. Of all of the games today, I think this one might turn out to be the best one.

Let’s see.

May 1, 2021 — Declaring too early a victory?

I invite you to watch the video accompanying this story of last Thursday’s CHSAA field hockey final between Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) and Greenwood Village Cherry Creek (Colo.).

If you’re a health-care professional, the scenes in this video would have scared you to death a few weeks ago. You don’t see a lot of worn masks in this footage, and you have enormous groups of students choosing not to social distance.

Thing is, we’re in a different place as a country than we were six months ago. More than 100 million people have been vaccinated nationwide, and it’s estimated that number could double by July 4th.

For its part, the state of Colorado had ended a lot of its previous restrictions on April 6th, going off the “dial” system of alerts and allowing individual counties to make final decisions. Denver County, in which the state championship field hockey game was played, is in the Blue Level, which is the second-loosest level of restrictions.

This strategy is not without risk. Coming into this week, levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths, and positive tests in Colorado have generally been trending upward, albeit not at the levels where they were around Thanksgiving.

Now, it may be better to decentralize how COVID-19 and future worldwide pandemics are handled. But left to one’s own devices, people want to gather in groups every once in a while, such as at sporting events. Today, for example, some 65,000 people will be gathering in Louisville, Ky. for the Kentucky Derby.

Problem is, what happens if gatherings like these turn into super-spreader events like that motorcycle rally in South Dakota, a choir practice in Washington, spring break this past February in Florida, and a certain White House Rose Garden ceremony last September that sickened 35 people?

Hopefully, enough of the spectators will have gotten their vaccines.

April 30, 2021 — A humanitarian catastrophe could very well become one of Olympic proportions

In the last two weeks, four million people in India have tested positive for COVID-19. The rate of infections has started to reach some 400,000 per day in one of the densest-populated nations on earth.

I have always feared this might happen. Having a communicable and deadly disease in a place where millions of people are almost literally living on top of each other in cities like Delhi and Mumbai is like throwing a lit match in a massive forest with dry underbrush in the middle of a drought.

India is also one of the world’s best up-and-coming economies, but that prosperity has been lost on the greater population of the country. Some 600 million people — twice the population of the U.S. — live without running water. The sanitation challenges, in the face of COVID-19, are enormous.

And so are the challenges of trying to “flatten the curve,” either by quarantining or by a general lockdown. As of yesterday, there was no indication that the government would be instituting a sweeping lockdown. Instead, it has been left to local governments: yesterday, Manipur a state in the extreme east of India, called for a seven-day lockdown.

With a mere 84 days until the start of the Olympics, India is in very much a COVID crisis. Some 91 athletes are scheduled to be part of the Games; a plurality (32) are on the two field hockey teams that have qualified through the FIH-mandated processes.

Now, a couple of days ago, the International Olympic Committee published a virtual guide for athletes as to how to maintain social distancing and tips on not getting COVID-19. The so-called “playbook” restricts Olympians to taking official transportation, eating only where COVID-19 countermeasures in place, and staying away from most of the general public.

In other words, you’re not going to have a situation where you might have a Charles Barkley visiting the general public like he did during Barcelona 1992.

There’s also going to be quite a lot of testing. Athletes must have two test before coming to Tokyo, then everyone gets tested once a day for three days upon arrival. Athletes are scheduled to be tested daily, while coaches and support staff will be tested regularly.

The thing is, nothing in the guide mentions what happens if athletes are unable to travel to the Games because of either a government-imposed lockdown or if there is a widespread COVID-19 outbreak amongst members of a team.

It’s the latter that could be a matter of wounded pride if India is unable to participate in the Olympics because of the outbreak.

And you can say the same thing about the United States, which has seen more than a half-million deaths. While more than half the U.S. population has already received some sort of vaccine therapy, it is hard to declare an immediate victory over the virus; nearly a thousand people are dying every day in America from it.

Too, if the Indian women can’t go, it would be a supreme irony because the United States was the team that the Eves vanquished back in 2019 to get the golden ticket to Japan. The U.S., the 15th-ranked team in the world, would not be next in line as first alternate; I believe that the alternates are selected by world ranking. As of today, Korea is ranked 11th, the highest-ranked women’s side not already qualified for the Olympics.

BULLETIN: April 29, 2021 — A transformed field hockey national team for May

The U.S. senior women’s field hockey national team, having failed to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and currently at the bottom of the 2021 FIH Pro League, is seemingly building for the far future.

New head coach Anthony Farry is bringing in a different group of players for a European tour next month, including four FIH Pro League games against Belgium and Team GB. Only a third of the 25-player group participated in the two-game series in late 2019 against India for one of the final Olympic berths.

Amongst the players to watch from the new group is high-school phenom Beth Yeager, who has not played a varsity match for Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) since 2019. Instead, she has been playing with her club team WC Eagles, the U.S. women’s national team pool in Conshohocken, Pa., and with the Sacred Heart team during informal playdays last fall. Also in the side is Haley Randall, who you might otherwise know as Haley Schleicher, the only scholastic field hockey player with 50 goals and 50 assists in a season and 200 goals and 200 assists in a career.

The touring team also has a couple of dynamic players who excelled both at the scholastic and collegiate levels. Maddie Bacskai was a fine player at Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) who played well at Princeton, and is scheduled to play field hockey at Northwestern this coming fall as she starts business school there as a graduate student. Also, look for Kelee Lepage, late of Maryland, to make an impact on the offensive end of the pitch. She helped steer Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) to a state championship in 2015 and made two NCAA title appearances in College Park.

I’ll also be interested in a couple of lesser-known, but well-skilled players on the U.S. team. Kelsey Briddell has made a name for herself in indoor hockey, winning her U-16 pool with the ADK club side, as well as competing with the U.S. senior indoor national team. But the Albany graduate has parlayed that experience into the senior women’s outdoor team. Also, look for Alexandra Hammel, the Boston University graduate who had her first cap in 2020 against Argentina. She has paid her dues with the U.S. developmental program and has been called into the side.

Now, I find it interesting that this U.S. team is bereft of players who are just coming off from their college seasons. I can understand why Parry has chosen not to take players like Erin Matson, Sophia Gladieux, Meredith Sholder, and Mackenzie Allessie. All four are in mid-season form when it comes to conditioning, but with COVID-19 protocols the way they are for international play, recalling them for games starting May 15th is a non-starter.

Still, with this young team, I get the feeling that the States are involved in a very, very long rebuild. We’re not likely to see the best of this group in time for the 2022 World Cup, but perhaps in time for a serious run at the 2024 Paris Olympics and whatever devious qualifying obstacle course that FIH devises for those Games.

April 29, 2021 — A bad situation at a bad time

Yesterday, John Desko, the men’s lacrosse coach at Syracuse University, called a press conference to discuss a situation within his team.

The situation involves one of his best players, junior Chase Scanlan. According to multiple reports, he was involved in a situation which eventually required the intervention by the Syracuse University Department of Public Safety as “a domestic incident.”

The case remains open, and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and City of Syracuse Police are investigating. Fitzpatrick indicated that the incident involved an unidentified woman.

You can put two and two together.

It’s regrettable that this incident, plus a suspension and what is an increasingly controversial reinstatement, are occurring a few days before One Love Week, the observance of the 11-year anniversary of the murder of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love in a domestic violence incident. Indeed, during last night’s Virginia-Boston College ACC women’s lacrosse tournament, head coach Julie Myers wore a One Love Foundation T-shirt.

Since Love’s murder, the lacrosse community has been very intolerant of violence against women. Indeed, I find it interesting that the reinstatement of Scanlan, the Orange’s leading scorer in 2020, is coming with some resistance within the team. Reports came out that team members were planning to skip practice if he rejoined the team.

Syracuse University is Scanlan’s fourth school in the last six years. He attended Silver Creek (N.Y.) Central, then transferred after his sophomore year to Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.), a super-prep school in the sport of boys’ lacrosse. He chose Loyola University for college, but transferred after one season to Syracuse.

I get the feeling there is going to be one more address change for him soon.

April 28, 2021 — The road to Unitas Stadium

In the next 48 hours, the path that the field of 29 teams in the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament will be paved, as the two most prominent conferences begin play.

Today, the ACC’s eight members play four quarterfinal matches, while tomorrow, six of the Big Ten’s seven entries play three quarterfinal games while top-seeded Northwestern has a bye.

There’s one over-arching reason why you should pay attention to these two tournament: your 2021 NCAA champion is likely to come from one of these two tournaments. The top five teams in the ILWCA poll are all from the Big Ten or the ACC, and 14 out of the top 25.

So, instead of doing individual capsules on each of the 15 teams starting their journey to the Final Four, let’s give you some items to think about before the tournament begin:

THE TOP TWO: North Carolina and Northwestern, the top seeds in each tournament, are the odds-on favorites to meet each other in the national final. Both teams desire the extra in-conference play, especially given the fact that both teams have a week off after the championship final instead of having that extra game just before an NCAA first-round game. They’d both love to win, but also are keeping a wary eye on one another. I would venture that neither team will go very deep into their playbooks for fear of showing the other something that can be exploited should these two undefeated powerhouses meet.

WHITHER MARYLAND? The Terrapins are the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament, but the team is 7-5 on the season and are 2-4 in their last six games. If Maryland was to lose their first-round match against Michigan, it would be highly damaging to the team’s positioning in the NCAA bracket.

THE HURT LOCKER: A number of teams have been dealing with key injuries. Syracuse has lost attacking stars Emily Hawryschuk and Megan Carney for the season, and the replacements in the attacking seven have justified head coach Gary Gait’s faith in his pool of forwards.

ACC’S ACES: The ACC has a number of tremendous and physical forwards, all of whom would not be out of place in a professional league upon graduation. Boston College’s Charlotte North, UNC’s Jamie Ortega, Syracuse’s Maeghan Tyrrell, Virginia Tech’s Paige Petty, and Duke’s Gabby Rosenzweig are all players who have highlight-reel ability and can run off multiple goals with impunity

GETTING MORE: I’ll be interested to see which of these 15 teams are able to get that little extra from their players that the coaching staffs might not expect. I mean, when North Carolina has the ball, everyone and their brother knows that the ball is likely to find its way to Katie Hoeg and Jamie Ortega. But what if someone like a Taylor Warehime or a Melissa Sconone starts finding the net?

SHOTBLOCKERS: As this site has noted over the years, goaltenders tend to play an outsized role in the outcome of playoff games. Watch especially for Boston College’s Rachel Hall, Johns Hopkins’ Kathleen Garvey, Syracuse’s Asa Goldstock, Northwestern’s Madison Doucette, North Carolina’s Taylor Moreno, Ohio State’s Jillian Rizzo, and Notre Dame’s Bridget Deehan. I believe that in at least one of these two tournaments, a goalie will be named Most Outstanding Player.

INTANGIBLES: There could be a first-year or second-year player who may, in a key moment, have the game of her life. Watch for Notre Dame’s Kasey Choma, UNC’s Caitlyn Wurzburger, Maryland’s Shaylan Ahearn, Louisville’s Kokora Nazakawa, or Northwestern’s Erin Coykendall to perhaps have a Walter Mitty moment.