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Archive for June 27, 2007

June 27, 2007 — U19 Rumble: Tremble 1, Seismic 0; Work-It wins U14 pool

VIRGINIA BEACH — Across Landstown Road from the U.S. Field Hockey National Training Center is a sizable park which has been used for national youth tournaments in soccer. But this year, there was a field hockey tournament which was part spillover and part experiment.

The three-level National Futures Tournament has pretty much monopolized the two FIH-compliant artificial turf pitches when it comes to scheduling; playing 38 youth teams down to three championships has taken anywhere from four to six days, depending on rain delays.

An expanding and deepening U.S. talent pool, along with several new programs of American player development, cried out for an expanded NFT. However, with only two water-based turf pitches, an NFT with more teams could lengthen the tournament to an uncomfortable degree.

In addition, there was a perceived lack of Division II and III coaches at the NFT over the years, given the fact that very few universities outside Division I play on artificial competition surfaces.

USA Field Hockey decided on a pay-to-play national tournament to be played on Bermuda grass, called the Regional Rumble. Originally an all-comers tournament with players from middle-school to the senior year of high school playing on the same team, the tournament format was changed to a 32-team U-19 field, with eight U-14 teams.

In essence, the addition of the Rumble doubled the size of the athlete pool coming down to the Hampton Roads area. This was feasable, given the fact that the tournaments were being held the week before the July 4th holiday.

But what the Rumble did was allow players from schools other than their region’s elite to be seen. The same could be said for coaches.

Kristen Heyde, head coach of the U-19 Tremble team, is the head coach for Pearl River (N.Y.), a lightly-regarded team in the lower Hudson Valley. But Heyde, thanks to her ability to merge personalities from districts large and small, schools public and private, and communities of every stripe from Buffalo to Long Island, is a national champion today.

“I could not have asked for a better group of girls,” said Heyde after celebratory ice and water dumpings. “They are willing to do anything for me. They’ve meshed as a team over the course of four days, and it’s been outstanding. I thought it was going to be harder than it was; these kids met each other, said ‘hi,’ and said that they were here to play field hockey.”

Tremble won the U-19 Rumble title with a 1-0 win over Seismic, a team from the Delmarva Peninsula. Nicole Sherman had the goal off a Meghan Broderick through pass.

“The thing about these girls is that they’re here because they want to play,” said Heyde. “They’re here because they love hockey, and that’s the most important thing.”

It must also be said that Heyde, a former goalkeeper for Siena College, had the services of a pair of very good netminders. Kim Steiner of Little Falls (N.Y.) and Nicole Lewis of Williamsville (N.Y.) North received special kudos after the championship game.

“Without them, we certainly wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did,” Heyde said.

Speaking of goalkeepers, one of the netminders for the losing Seismic team is the epitome of the kind of player who deserves a look in a national tournament setting. Julia Young is not the first player in Region 7 to have made a USFHA event without having played a minute of varsity field hockey, given the strong club system and international student population in and around the Washington, D.C. area.

However, what is unique about Young is that she attends Washington Woodrow Wilson (D.C.), a school which has not had field hockey in close to four decades. Young, who got her start with the Mater Amoris Ocelots, plays with the Capitol Pegasus club team.

“I’ve been communicating with colleges for a year now, and I’ve been getting as much out of Futures as I can,” says Young.

Young believes the day will come when Wilson will have field hockey, given the intersection of several factors: a new female D.C. Public Schools chancellor, American University’s hockey-specific stadium, and the work of the D.C. Starzz youth field hockey club.

Until then, however, Young has another project.

“I really wanted to start up the process (of getting a varsity team) this year,” she says. “But if I can’t complete that before I graduate, I’m actually trying to start up a club team, just to teach people how to play and get people involved at my school. The D.C. Public Schools need field hockey; it’s something that needs to be reintroduced.”

Tremble 0 – 1 — 1

Seismic 0 – 0 — 0

T: Nicole Sherman (Meghan Broderick), 29th minute.

Shots: T: 5; S: 4.

Saves: T: Kimberly Steiner 3, Nicole Lewis 1; S: Julia Young 3, Jaymi Solomon 1.

In the U-14 championship, an exciting morning of pool play saw Work-It vault to the top of the table with a second-half goal over Slam-It in the final pool round. Without the 1-0 win, Work-It would have tied Slam-It, Push-It, and Move-It for the top position in the U-14 Silver Division. Each team would have had four wins, a loss, and two draws. Work-It, however, would have lost the gold and perhaps even the silver medal because of goal differential.

As it happened, however, Work-It, coached by former Duke standout Katie Grant, won the pool with 16 points, dropping Slam-It to fourth. Push-It, coached by Team USA’s Vianney Campos, finished in second place on goal differential, with Move-It finishing third.

Grant, one of less than two dozen players in the history of high-school field hockey to have recorded a 50-goal season, was impressed with the ability of her players to process the information she was giving them.

“I love this kind of coaching, because too many girls don’t receive coaching where they really understand the game and really, truly learn it at this age group,” she said. “I really appreciated the coaches that I had at that level and made me the player that I became, and I want to do the same for any girl who wants to learn.”

For Campos, who received her first U.S. cap at the recent ATA Champions’ Challenge, it was a similar experience watching her young players develop.

“I started when I was 16 years old, so to see these kids doing what they’re doing at 14 is amazing,” said Campos. “I couldn’t have asked for more; seeing the skills these girls have is awesome.”

Work-It 5-1-1 record, 16 points, +7 goal differential

Push-It 4-1-2, 14, +10

Move-It 4-1-2, 14, +4

Slam-It 4-2-1, 13, +6