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Archive for November 12, 2006

Nov. 12, 2006 — It’s time for the three-division festival

Owing to quirks in the NCAA field hockey schedule, there will be no national varsity champion crowned in the United States today.

Instead, the only national champion that will be crowned this weekend is the champion of the National Field Hockey League, the circuit for pay-to-play club teams.

Perhaps the NCAA should look at this year’s calendar as a model for doing something that only men’s lacrosse has done: playing all three division champions in the same place the same weekend.

It’s actually pretty simple to pull off, but it would require some management skills and the physical plant necessary to accomodate three tournaments and two all-star games.

What you would have would be four games on the first day, three games on the second day, two on on the final day.

On the first day of the festival, you start with an NCAA Division I semfinal doubleheader, then complete the day’s play with the National Field Hockey Coaches’ Association Division I and Division II-III All-Star Games.

The next day, play the NCAA Division III semifinals and the Division II championship game.

The third and final day, the Division I and III final matches are played.

You’ll notice one thing about this narrative: days of the week were not assigned to the three days. That’s because I propose playing the field hockey matches on Veterans’ Day Weekend, not the weekend before Thanksgiving. The match schedules can be played Friday through Sunday if Veterans’ Day is observed on a Friday, and Saturday through Monday if Veterans’ Day is observed on a Monday.

I think only positives can come of these changes. Playing the finals a week earlier gives all coaches an extra week to prepare their recruiting packets and other plans for the National Festival. Holding the tournament a week earlier will also lessen the chances of unplayable weather in northern locales.

But what it would do is change the NCAA field hockey championship’s nature. It wouldn’t be just a set of games — it would be a happening. Thousands of supporters would be able to take advantage of the holiday weekend, and might give a shot in the arm to the NFHCA All-Star matches.