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April 22, 2018 — Fulcrum Week, Part 2: Louisville vs. Syracuse

Game time: 1 p.m. today

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse

The records: Louisville 6-9, 22nd ranked in polls, Syracuse 7-7, 22nd ranked in polls

Key players: Louisville: Caroline Blalock (so., m), Tessa Chad (jr., f), Lexie Ball (fr., g). Syracuse: Emily Hawryschuk (so., f), Nicole Levy (jr., f), Asa Goldstock (so., g)

Key matchup: Goldstock vs. Ball in their respective goal cages. Note their classes. This could be the biggest week of each of their playing lives and so much pressure is on their shoulders

The skinny: The parallels between these two programs are uncanny. The head coaches, Gary Gait of Syracuse and Scott Teeter, worked together during Canada’s FIL World Cup campaign. As such, both have worked to bring in an aggressive, athletic style of play. But the last few weeks have been kind to neither team. Louisville is 1-8 in their last nine games, having lost six straight. Syracuse is 2-6 in their last eight, having lost three straight.

What’s particularly damning is the teams’ collective performance in the clutch. Louisville lost late leads against Virginia and Virginia Tech, and Syracuse has lost four one-goal games this year.

Both teams need to catch fire, starting right now, in order to be eligible for the NCAA Division I tournament.

Note: Go to Instagram (@totc) after the game is over for my Unfiltered perspective on the contest.

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BULLETIN: April 21, 2018 — The career assists and points records have fallen

Senior Kylie Ohlmiller of Stony Brook University, in a 22-7 win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, broke a pair of long-standing NCAA Division I scoring records.

With a backhand shot in the first half, she surpassed the combined goals and assists record of 445 previously held by the immortal Jen Adams of Maryland. Later in the game, Ohlmiller assisted her sister Taryn for a goal, which made her the all-time assist leader in NCAA history, surpassing Hannah Nielsen of Northwestern.

Ohlmiller played her scholastic lacrosse for Islip (N.Y.), located about 10 miles south of Stony Brook University, and the only time the last nine years that the Buccaneers finished greater than .500 was her senior year of high school, when the team finished 10-5.

But since Ohlmiller stepped on campus, Stony Brook has won 70 games and lost just eight. More importantly, the Seawolves have no losses this season and are the top team in all the land.

April 21, 2018 — A change in recruitment, but is it the right one?

This week, the NCAA Division I Council voted to change a very important date in the recruitment calendar of high-school athletes.

The day is Sept. 1 of a potential student-athlete’s junior year of high school. That’s the first day that a player may make an official visit to a university campus, and the first day of permissible contact between a coaching staff and a recruit.

The vote, made during meetings of the Council last Tuesday and Wednesday, was spun by the NCAA as some sort of major initiative:

[M]ost prospective student-athletes will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college … The new recruiting model allows potential student-athletes more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school.

The rules were written for every NCAA sport except for football and men’s and women’s basketball. A few sports, like softball, see the rules as necessary given the number of 8th-10th grade commitments that have become the norm, especially amongst mid-major softball programs.

It must, however, be pointed out that there have been more than enough sophomore, freshman, and even middle-school commitments which have hit the news in both field hockey and girls’ lacrosse the last three years.

Indeed, when Syracuse announced that it had landed Caitlyn Wurzburger, an attacker now playing for Florida powerhouse Delray American Heritage (Fla.), a vote one year ago this week amongst NCAA lacrosse coaches put a ban on certain kinds of contact before Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior season.

Sound familiar?

That’s pretty much the same legislation that was passed by the NCAA Council this week to cover most of the rest of Division I scholarship programs, albeit the Division I softball coaches have put down more severe strictures in a separate vote.

Now, it’s dubious what the long-term impact is going to be. In field hockey, a number of players have already escaped before the barn door closed. Carly Hynd, a freshman from Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.), committed a few weeks ago to the University of Maryland. And rising senior Sammy Popper, who contributed to the United States senior women’s indoor national team a few months ago, had committed to Princeton during her freshman year at Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.).

I do not know how many more freshmen or sophomores will be precluded from making verbal commitments or early decisions. I guess it’s the hope that the NCAA Council’s vote will give parents more time to make a good decision about their child’s future, or whether the Council will adopt softball’s stronger rules governing phone contact between coaches and recruits.

But given the national-team, professional, or Olympic dreams of some of these players and the single-mindedness of some to do whatever it takes to pick the right college, there will still be a handful of very elite players who will take an early plunge, sometimes just to get the decision over with.

April 21, 2018 — Fulcrum Week, Part 1: Duke vs. UNC

Game time: 3 p.m. today

Location: Fetzer Field, UNC

The records: Duke 7-7, 22nd ranked in polls, UNC 11-3, 5th ranked in polls

Key players: UNC: Marie McCool (sr., c), Ela Hazar (sr., f), Naomi Lerner (sr., d). Duke: Olivia Jenner (so., c), Callie Humphrey (jr., d), Charlotte North (fr., f)

Key matchup: McCool vs. Jenner on the center draw. Note who wins the initial touch on the draw but who may lose it on a stick check and never get a chance to get it into the attack zone

The skinny: This game could very well be Duke’s season. Here’s why: if the Blue Devils lose this game, it will be 7-8 on the season heading into the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament. If Duke loses that quarterfinal as well, it will be 7-9 and that last pickup game against East Carolina will not be able to save them from being ineligible for the Division I tournament

Note: Go to Instagram (@totc) after the game is over for my Unfiltered perspective on the contest.

April 20, 2018 — Friday Statwatch for games played through April 18

Hi, all. We’re back with Statwatch, a feature of this site which tries to tie together the present and the past when it comes to girls’ high school lacrosse.

Today, we’ll point up the fact that last year’s national scoring leader, Charlie Rudy from Novato (Calif.), is ascending the all-time charts (sitting to the right of this column if you are reading this on a computer, below if you are on a mobile device).

Rudy needs a mere 18 goals to crack the Top 10 for goals scored in a four-year varsity career, and she needs just five goals or assists to crack the Top 10 for combined goals and assists, which I think is even more impressive.

Below is a compilation of girls’ lacrosse statistics from various 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 — coach, manager, athletic director, or thought leader — 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
96 Hannah Carolan, Jacksonville Stanton (Fla.)
86 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
84 Chelsea Smith, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
83 Hailey Carroll, Christian Academy of Knoxville (Tenn.)
83 Stela Chepenik, Episcopal School of Jacksonville (Fla.)
81 Meghan George, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
78 Rebekah Hartnett, El Cajon Granite Hills (Calif.)
78 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
65 Megan Davis, Neptune Beach Fletcher (Fla.)
62 Samantha Douglass, Estero (Fla.)
52 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
52 Logan Dougherty, Fairfax W. T. Woodson (Va.)
47 Gwenna Gentle, Shallotte West Brunswick (N.C.)

44 Emma Pizzo, Charleston Bishop England (S.C.)
43 Hali Sabilia, Greenwood Village Cherry Creek (Colo.)
43 Christie Coulter, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

41 Zoe Katz, Fort Mill (S.C.)
40 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

 

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
417 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
350 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
284 Camryn Rogers, Somerville (N.J.)
234 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
176 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)
165 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
135 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
190 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)

COACHING WINS
760 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
542 Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (N.J.)

So, this is just the start of the journey. If you see something missing, feel to 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.

Thanks for dropping in; see you in six days.

April 19, 2018 — Bracketology, 2018

We’re only a couple of weeks from Selection Sunday, and the Syracuse fansite Troy Nunes Is A Magician has an excellent primer for the contenders for the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament field.

And, as I posited during last Saturday’s tournament, a number of prominent teams are in serious trouble. This includes Syracuse, Duke, and whoever finishes third in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Compare this to Lacrosse Magazine’s bracketology column from yesterday. Both show that the growth of the game nationwide is causing a number of prominent programs some problems when it comes to making the postseason.

April 18, 2018 — Harry Anderson, 1952-2018

For many folks of a certain age, Harry Anderson was the lead actor in a small comedy show wedged in between “Cheers” and “Hill Street Blues” on the lucrative Thursday night broadcast schedule for NBC.

But that situation comedy, “Night Court,” was a precursor to today’s more ribald and quirky comedies. The show tackled such topics as infidelity, discrimination against those of differing abilities, sexual harassment, and bullying. One memorable episode, back in 1985, deftly took on the question of how to deal with someone who has come out as transgendered, and the lessons from that show have remained with me to this day.

Producer and writer Reinhold Weege was able to harness Anderson’s talent and quirkiness to calm down the cast of weird characters who kept on waltzing in and out of the courtroom. Anderson, playing Judge Harold T. Stone, would wear vintage ties and fedoras on set, and would play the music of Mel Torme on a record player in his office. Torme would have several cameo appearances during the nine-year run.

But if you ever got to see some of Anderson’s appearances on television as a comedian or as a magician, you would have seen some true artisanship. He did a routine where he would take a round piece of felt with a hole cut in the middle, and, through folding the fabric or shaping it in different ways, would, through facial expressions, create characters based upon the hat that appeared to be on his head even though it was just a circle of felt.

It was pure genius.

Anderson played Harold T. Stone like some of my favorite quirky fictional characters such as Spenser and Chief Inspector Morse, complicated men who liked the finer things in life even though later generations had trouble understanding what the fuss was all about.

He was an underappreciated genius, and he is very much missed.