Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Feb. 18, 2015 — A firebrand coach hangs up her whistle

It was on Nov. 23, 1997 when the true essence of MaryEllen McCarthy as a head coach, nurturer of talent, and as a team mom came out.

There were five minutes remaining in the NJSIAA Group II title match between her Allentown (N.J.) side and a heavily favored North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) team that had just tied the game.

McCarthy ran up and down in front of her bench, clapping her hands. “Okay! We need all of our superstars now! All of our superstars!”

She knew overtime was looming, and she also knew a pair of players she was going to need for overtime were at less than 100 percent. One took a ball off her nose during pregame warmups, and another had a severe hip muscle pull that required several yards of bandaging for support.

Knowing that the lineup for overtime had to be taken from the 11 players on the pitch at the moment the clock hit 0:00, McCarthy pulled out a number of starters for a couple of minutes, replacing them with some of her end-of-the-bench players who may not have seen a second of action during Allentown’s state tournament run.

She got the necessary personnel back on the pitch by the full-time whistle, setting up Allentown’s 2-2 triple-OT draw with West Essex. And without the trust she showed to her entire roster — not just her Division I prospects — that state championship trophy might not be at the school today.

McCarthy coached not only field hockey, but served as a coach for the school’s softball team and its nascent girls’ lacrosse program. It was a program that produced Alex Moore, one of the top scorers in the history of girls’ high-school lacrosse, even though the Allentown lacrosse program only started in 2006.

It was announced today that McCarthy is stepping down from her current coaching positions at Allentown. It is a loss for not only the school, for the Central Jersey region, but also for every underdog, for every disrespected opponent which is constantly looked down upon by the elites of the athletic world.

She’s an American original will be missed.


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