April 23, 2015 — Maryland 13, Penn State 10

POSTGAME That’s all for now; have a good evening

POSTGAME If you read the blog earlier this week, you’ll have noted that the sign of good competition is that you’ll see something you haven’t seen before. I guess this incident is an indicator of the Big Ten having arrived as a high-performance women’s lacrosse conference

POSTGAME But the PSU comeback was stalled when Smith went out injured. In a game where goalies are protected by rule as well as by equipment, this rarely happens 

POSTGAME Credit Penn State for its second-half comeback, however. The opening 11 minutes saw the Lions pull to within one. If nothing else, the comeback is a marker thrown down by the Nittany Lions for next week’s Big Ten tournament

POSTGAME Maryland won the game with an opening salvo in the first 11 minutes that should frighten just about every other rival

FULL TIME And that’s the end of the game; Maryland wins 13-10

59:38 PSU YELLOW Loiseaux is off for two

58:45 Penn State works the ball around the zone but fumbles it out of bounds 

53:06 UMD GOAL Taylor Hensh gives Maryland a 13-10 advantage

49:50 PSU GOAL Moskietti from an impossible angle and Penn State pulls to within 12-10 

47:48 PSU GOAL Lazo scores in the fan and Penn State cuts the lead to 12-9

47:22 UMD GOAL Stukenberg rolls it in from the crease and Maryland is up 12-8

45:43 TV TIMEOUT

45:43 PSU GOAL Lazo scores from an extremely a tight angle and Penn State pulls to within 11-8

43:49 UMD FP and GOAL Kelly McPartland from the right hash and Maryland is up 11-7

43:22 UMD FP and GOAL Cummings scores from the right hash and the Terps lead 10-7

42:23 TV TIMEOUT McKenna Coyle, a freshman, now goes into goal for Penn State

42:34 UMD FP and GOAL Cummings from the center hash and Maryland leads 9-7

41:00 Emi Smith, the Penn State goalie, is down injured with a twisted knee; she refuses assistance getting up

39:59 PSU GOAL Steph Lazo from the tightest of angles and the Maryland lead is one!

37:25 PSU GOAL We now have a game; Tatum Coffey opens her account and the lead is down to 8-6

36:40 PSU GOAL And just like that, O’Donnell finds Mosketti and the Terrapin lead is cut to 8-5

36:21 PSU GOAL Katie O’Donnell knifes in front and scores; Terps still lead 8-4

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME One sequence typified the half; with about three minutes to go, Penn State was running its attack, fired a shot on goal, and failed to have anyone behind the goal for backup; a stunning mental error

HALFTIME As much as Maryland was able to assert its physical and athletic dominance (especially in the first 10 minutes), I think the Lions were unprepared mentally

HALFTIME The horn sounds with Maryland up on Penn State 8-3

25:00 UMD GOAL Whittle pings the top corner where Mom hides the Thin Mints; the Terps lead 8-3

15:07 TV TIMEOUT Thus far there are a couple key matchups. One is Cummings marking Coffey on the defensive end; I find it interesting that a low defender isn’t taking Penn State’s most heralded offensive weapon. On the other end, sophomore Natalie Schmitt is marking Whittle and is almost overplaying her as if to try to shut her off; that is a big mark of respect on the part of the Penn State defense

15:07 PSU GOAL Mosketti with a steal off Stukenberg; Ally Heavens finishes the delayed fast break to bring her side a bit closer; Maryland up 7-3

13:22 PSU GOAL Jenna Mosketti finds the top corner but Maryland leads 7-2

11:43 UMD GOAL Lamon is left open in the middle again and finishes Stukenberg’s pass; Terps lead 7-1

11:02 PSU GOAL Madison Cyr answers but with Maryland leading 6-1 the road back seems to be long for the Nittany Lions

10:42 UMD GOAL Griffin finds Lamon for the goal and the hosts lead 6-0

9:55 The frightening thing is that if Maryland continues at this rate, the final will be 30-0

9:55 UMD GOAL Stukenberg with a lefty finish! 5-0 Terps

8:03 TV TIMEOUT

8:03 UMD GOAL A curling Zoe Stukenberg takes a Kelly McPartland pass in stride and finishes. It’s 4-0 Maryland

4:25 UMD FP and GOAL Kristen Lamon from the left hash and it’s 3-0 Maryland! They are looking to control this game early

0:44 Not the start the Nittany Lions wanted, surely

0:44 UMD GOAL Cummings with the brace and the Terrapins lead 2-0

0:10 UMD GOAL Taylor Cummings wins the draw and scores straightaway! What a start! Terps up 1-0

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Penn State is in the navy with white trim; Maryland is in the white trimmed with the motifs of the Lord Baltimore and the George Calvert coats of arms that make up the state flag

PREGAME The teams are warming up under clear and breezy skies, temperatures around 50

PREGAME One key for Penn State is freshman Katie O’Donnell — no, not the USA field hockey player, but the daughter of Hall of Fame umpire Jen O’Donnell who scored more than 400 lacrosse goals at West Chester (Pa.) Henderson and also did a fair amount of scoring on the hockey pitch as well

PREGAME The key to the Nittany Lions attack will be the play of Tatum Coffey. One of the leading goal scorers in National Federation history, she caused a sensation when she chose Penn State. She will have to step it up due to several injuries in the Penn State lineup

PREGAME The Terrapins’ five-pronged attack of Taylor Cummings, Zoe Stukenberg, Brooke Griffin, Megan Whittle, and Kelly McPartland may be the most awesome attack unit since the Maryland teams of the late 90s and early 00s that included the legendary Jen Adams and Quinn Carney

PREGAME More importantly, both teams are 4-0 in the Big Ten. This game is therefore the de facto Big Ten regular season championship game; the winner receives the No. 1 seed to next week’s postseason tournament at Rutgers, a sizable trophy, and some outsized expectations

PREGAME Penn State is 12-3 on the season, Maryland is 16-0

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to The Lacrosse and Field Hockey Complex (yep, we’re calling it that) at the University of Maryland for this showdown between No. 14 Penn State and No. 1 Maryland

April 23, 2015 — The politics of blowback

Across the field you see the sky ripped open
See the rain through a gaping wound
Pounding on the women and children
Who run
Into the arms
Of America

-U2

The lyrics above were written at the close of the 1990s, and were a subtle poke at the United States’ economic and social dominance of the Americas since the days of the Monroe Doctrine.

It also was a not-so-subtle indictment of what the implications of what some of the U.S. policies caused: a blowback of Central American immigrants fleeing poverty, social injustice, and armed conflict.

In the last few weeks, there have seemingly been daily reports of rafts and boats and trawlers full of refugees from Syria and North Africa being intercepted in Italian waters.

These refugees, many maltreated by the smugglers paid to envoy them to Europe, are trying to find better lives in the northern part of the continent, with the social benefits found in Scandanavia and elsewhere.

The problem is, the southern European countries they land in — chiefly Italy, Greece, and Spain — are in terrible financial shape. And because of the Dublin Agreement, refugees are not guaranteed automatic asylum once they arrive in Europe. And this, despite the fact that Europe is supposed to be an economic union.

Human migration has been part of our history as a civilization, whether it has been the migration of Europeans to the New World, the migration of Asians to the Americas thousands of years ago, the Manifest Destiny of the 1800s, or the flight of Rwandan refugees in the 1990s.

Today, migrants are more mobile than ever before — not only because of the easy availability of travel and transport, but because of rapid communication. Somehow last year, hundreds of thousands of poor central Americans got the idea that emigrants to the United States of a certain age would get automatic asylum. Which simply was not the case. Despite that, somewhere north of 50,000 children made their way to the U.S.

I don’t know exactly what got into the idea of Syrians and North Africans that they could emigrate to southern Europe and find work, but what is happening especially to governments is that they are rapidly building detention centers for the migrants, unwilling to let them settle in the general population for fear of the kinds of voter backlashes that are happening in Germany, Sweden, and France.

The movement of a people to a new geographical location simultaneously is an opportunity for the migrants, but a governance problem for the nation-state where they wind up.

And although today’s EU meeting is likely to result in a rise in funding for search and rescue of migrant boats, the perception of an easy life in Europe is a hard reputation to live down.

Apr. 22, 2015 — Towards a women’s lacrosse superconference, Part 2

Tomorrow, the ACC Tournament begins in Charlottesville, Va. with eight teams playing down to one Automatic Qualifier position for the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament.

Realistically, however, as many as five teams will likely make the field for the tournament; seven out of the eight member schools are in the top 22 in Ratings Percentage Index.

But what makes tomorrow’s first round of the tournament so interesting is the fact that one of the game is a Top 10 matchup featuring a team which has made the NCAA final two out of the last three years.

When No. 4 Boston College takes on No. 7 Syracuse at 6 p.m. tomorrow, it will be a test of legitimacy for both teams. Boston College has had women’s varsity lacrosse since 1992 and yet has never won an NCAA Tournament game. That could change this year because of the coaching of former Maryland and Team USA midfielder Acacia Walker and the play of senior Covie Stanwick.

For Syracuse, a team which made the NCAA final in 2012 and 2014, it will be all about how the team reacts to adversity. As an elite team, the Orange already were a team with a virtual target on its back, and every team on the schedule would bring their “A” game.

Syracuse almost certainly should have heard the alarm bells when it escaped from Connecticut with a one-goal win, and those bells should have been even louder when they only beat an under-.500 Harvard team by one goal.

But the Orangewomen have had to look at themselves even harder since star defensive midfielder Kelly Cross was suspended from the team for running her car into a stairwell on campus in late March. Since then, the team is 3-3, having lost to Duke, Notre Dame, and North Carolina.

That tailspin has sent Syracuse to the sixth seed in the ACC Tournament. And a loss to Boston College may very well send the Orange home for the summer. Despite playing a strong schedule, and building up quality wins over the season over Virginia and Florida, losing four out of the last seven games is a factor the NCAA Tournament committee may consider.

All this being said, it’s more than likely that four teams from the ACC will make the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame and Syracuse are both on a precarious bubble, and could do with a couple of wins here.

Then again, you never know when it comes to these matters.

Apr. 21, 2015 — Towards a women’s lacrosse superconference, Part 1

It’s the final week of the inaugural season of Big Ten women’s lacrosse. The league table looks a bit like a layer cake with two teams which will make the NCAA Division I tournament, two teams which will definitely not make the tournament, and two teams who could make the field with a good run in this championship.

And it turns out that the three games later this week will neatly yield the six seeds. The No. 1 seed is on the line Thursday night as Penn State and No. 1 Maryland square off. Ohio State and Northwestern will be playing for the third seed on the weekend, while Rutgers and Louisville are both trying to escape the league basement.

As well as the competition has been in the conference this season, it could be a lot better. I believe that a full lacrosse conference — with all 14 member schools competing — would create a tidal wave of playing and coaching talent flowing towards the Big Ten.

It should be simple; all of the schools have the infrastructure, as all 14 schools have a women’s soccer program and more than half have field hockey. I think, therefore, women’s lacrosse at Iowa, Michigan State, and Indiana should be a priority. A problem, however, will be weather. Scheduling February games at Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin is an exercise in foolhardiness without some kind of domed facility.

Returning to the competitiveness of the current Big Ten, you will often find that the level in a good conference is so high that you are guaranteed to see something in a game that you haven’t seen before. The incident becomes a talking point and (on occasion) becomes the basis for a rules change.

Thus far, in the Big Ten games I’ve seen thus far, there’s only been one incident that isn’t covered in the rulebook. It occurred in the opening minutes of the second half of the game between Northwestern and Maryland. After Northwestern attacker Shelby Fredricks scored the opener of the second half, the Maryland bench called for a stick check.

The umpire ruled the stick illegal, but the Northwestern bench protested that the mechanics of the inspection — specifically, the act of pressing the ball down into the shallow pocket of the stick — made the stick illegal.

I’m sure we’re going to see something unusual on Thursday as well.

April 19, 2015 — A change in the order?

Yesterday evening, the U.S. women’s field hockey team defeated Argentina 3-0 in its last game of an eight-nations tournament in New Zealand.

At first glance, the game doesn’t seem of much importance, because it was the fifth-place game in the Hawke’s Bay Cup. The American side had trouble against East Asian opposition in this championship, losing to Korea in the quarterfinals and fumbling a chance to top its pool by conceding a late goal to China.

But this result is notable. It is hard to remember the last time the Applebees had this kind of result against the Albicelestes. Since Argentina started placing in international tournaments — notably beginning with the silver medal at the 1972 Josselin de Jong Cup, a test event for the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations for a World Cup-type tournament — the American side has been chasing the game when it comes to their South American rivals.

Argentina won seven straight Pan American Games women’s golds from 1987 and 2007, and also has swept the four Pan American Cup golds from 2001 to 2013. It seemed as though no matter what happened in pool play, Las Leonas could find that extra energy, the extra insight, and, frankly, an extra gear to win in knockout play.

The results have been much more even in recent years, however. Beginning with a 2-2 draw in Olympic pool play at Beijing 2008, the American side has been doing much better against their Pan American Hockey Federation rivals.

Indeed, the climax seemed to have been four years ago in the Pan American Games, when the United States defeated World Cup holders Argentina 4-2 in Guadalajara.

And with this 3-0 win last night, the U.S. laid down a marker for this year’s Pan American Games in Toronto.

April 18, 2015 — The first shot

This weekend, in a park located about a half-hour north of Baltimore, 14 teams are meeting on the field of play. But this isn’t one of the panoply of lacrosse tournaments that occur during the year in the Free State.

Instead, this is a field hockey tournament, the Top Recruit Tournament, which is sponsored by the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association.

This site is going to have a podcast on this subject later in the season, but what you should know is that the economy of field hockey is getting to the point where you’re having multiple showcase events over the course of a calendar year; at least three different organizations are hosting these all-comers events in the next year.

A few years ago, there were other such tournaments on the calendar. One was hosted by a current field hockey club team, another by a group which normally does lacrosse events, and yet another was conducted by a scholastic booster club. The latter was a well-funded organization with a slick website and attendance promises by several dozen coaches. But the organizer was jailed for more than 17 years on a morals charge.

This weekend’s event is one which bears watching because it is sponsored by a well-entrenched group in the sport of field hockey, the NFHCA. The organization is partnering with Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which in turn has put on a number of good events across the country in the last few years, including road races and lacrosse tournaments.

And I’ll be interested to see whether these tournaments will have staying power this time.

April 16, 2015 — What a gyrocopter and a coupon promotion have in common

An odd thing is happening in Philadelphia this year. The mega-coupon site Groupon is running a promotion to get rid of unsellable Phillies tickets for as low as $8.50 a seat.

People aren’t coming out to see Phillies games, despite the fact that they are around .500 and are not as bereft of talent as their Sports Complex neighbors, the 76ers. Last Friday, the relatively new Citizens Bank Park — which once had three straight years of sellouts — saw a record low attendance for a single game.

But what some people are saying in the comment sections of some of the articles written on this subject is the fact that people are being scared away from Citizen’s Bank Park by the metal detectors that are now mandatory at every Major League Baseball game this season.

Baseball is a pastoral game which has never seen a terrorist attack, nor has there been any hint of one even in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Yet, the lords of MLB has seen fit to impose a security theater in each park, a solution in search of a problem.

“Security theater” is defined as a security perimeter which is primarily a visible deterrent and is not defined by its effectiveness or efficacy.

Which is what happened to the no-fly zone surrounding the District of Columbia this week when a postal worker landed a gyrocopter on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Many in news media has reported on the flaws of the current anti-air defense system — a small aircraft, flying at tree-top level, can fly under the radar. And there has been more than one instance when small planes have flown into the area around the Capitol, including one which held a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, which caused an emergency evacuation on the day of the State of the Union address.

And yet, apologists for the system continuously assert that the system is so robust that a mosquito couldn’t fly through it without it being detected.

It’s a laughable characterization of the effectiveness of this security theater.

Security theaters are showy and expensive, and, frankly, have not captured one terrorist. Not at a ballpark, not on a train, not on a boat, not on a plane.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the entire strategy.

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