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Archive for June 30, 2013

BULLETIN: June 30, 2013 — USA 6, Italy 0

One year ago, part of the United States’ effort at the Olympics was a 7-0 loss to South Africa, a result which was the Americans’ worst loss in a world-level event in five decades.

But this morning at the University of Westminster Sports Ground, a few miles west of the dismantled Riverbank Arena, the U.S. flipped the script, running out 6-0 winners over an Italian team that had stolen a 2-1 win in pool play only a few days ago.

Paige Selenski had a natural hat trick, including a pair of impressive backhand goals, in a 10-minute span in the second half. Michelle Kasold, Shannon Taylor, and Jill Witmer had goals for the U.S. It has been a shocking offensive display in the classification round for the United States, which has deposited nine goals over the last two games after scoring a mere two during pool play.

The United States’ fifth place in this tournament earns the Applebees a greater chance in the qualification ladder to make the 2014 World Cup.

The ladder comes from the two classification tables from the World League:

WL1 Competition WL2
GER 1st AUS
HOL 2nd ENG
KOR 3rd ARG
NZL 4th CHN
JPN 5th USA
BEL 6th ITA

Note that the top six (in red) are automatically qualified to the 2014 FIH Women’s World Cup. Also qualified are the hosts (Holland) and the five continental champions. None of those five are as yet determined. However, if any of the continental winners are already in the top six, the next team in the qualifying ladder (in black), starting with the fourth-place teams in World League 2, are eligible for the World Cup.

As of right now, since host Holland has qualified by finishing second in the other World League semifinal, the top-ranked fourth-place team qualifies, followed by the second-ranked fourth-place team and so on down the line as continental qualifiers are identified. Let’s now fill in the lower half of the chart with the FIH world rankings as updated this afternoon on the FIH website:

WL1 Competition WL2
NZL 3rd 4th CHN 7th
JPN 9th 5th USA 10th
BEL 13th 6th ITA 17th

This shows that New Zealand, the top-ranked 4th-place team from World League 2, is the team that qualifies since Holland is the host of the 2013 World Cup. The results of five continental qualifiers will determine the fates of the rest:

AFRICA: At least one team from the continent is required to be in the World Cup. That team will qualify through the Africa Cup of Nations this October in Nairobi, Kenya. Since no team from the continent is in the top 12 in World League rankings, Italy (the lowest-ranked team in our ladder) is not going to Holland unless it wins the EuroHockey Cup.

OCEANIA: New Zealand and Australia have already qualified, and virtually no other team in Oceania has a chance to beat the two titans of the continent in the Oceania Cup this October in New Zealand. Unless Papua New Guinea or American Samoa somehow pull off an upset worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, the next-highest qualifier in our ladder is going to the World Cup.

EUROPE: Holland, Germany and England are already qualified, and there is a cluster of EuroHockey teams ranked from 13th through 17th, including Belgium, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. Belgium and Italy would do themselves a world of good by winning the EuroHockey championship to be held late this summer in Belgium. Belgium has a chance of qualifying through its World League place, but would need a lot to go right.

ASIA: South Korea is in, and China is now first in line for qualification. Japan does not necessarily have to win the Asia Cup this September in Malaysia but can help itself immensely if it does.

PAN-AMERICA: Argentina is through to the World Cup. The United States, as fourth in line for qualification, can win its way in if it takes the Pan-American Cup this September in Argentina. But Argentina can also win the Pan Am Cup and put the next-highest team in our qualification ladder — possibly the United States — into the Women’s World Cup.

In short, for the U.S. to now make the World Cup, it can either win the Pan Am Cup outright, or hope that three of the already-qualified teams into the World Cup win their continental championships. That’s very likely to happen.

June 30, 2013 — Meet the new Big East, same as the old Big East?

Tomorrow is scheduled to be the first day of operations for the American Athletic Conference, a group of teams which formed a part of the old Big East Conference.

And, for the time being, the AAC teams will still be part of the Big East for the purposes of many sports, including field hockey, men’s lacrosse, and women’s lacrosse.

As of now (since there are teams likely headed elsewhere in the next couple of years), here are the new Big East lineups:

FIELD HOCKEY
Connecticut
Georgetown
Louisville
Old Dominion
Providence
Rutgers
Temple
Villanova

W. LACROSSE
Cincinnati
Connecticut
Georgetown
Louisville
Marquette
Rutgers
Temple
Villanova

At first blush, the new Big East conferences have some great storylines. In field hockey, two teams show great promise. Connecticut has not won the NCAA championship since 1985, and has been agonizingly close to that proverbial “next level,” having been to the Final Four three out of the last seven seasons. On the other hand, Old Dominion, with new head coach Andrew Griffiths, has won nine NCAA championships, more than any other team.

In women’s lacrosse, the story remains Georgetown, as Loyola (Patriot) and Notre Dame (ACC) have departed the old Big East. Still, there is plenty of talent on the other seven rosters — including a pair of Albert Award-winners — which should challenge the Hoyas next spring.