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Aug. 29, 2015 — The national preseason Top 10

Today, we release our first draft of a national Top 10, based upon last year’s performance, individuals in the club pipeline, and who’s coming back after graduation losses. Of course, this list is going to be far from perfect; it’s the teams themselves who will help determine their own fates when it comes to the weekly Top 10s. Those will be published on Tuesdays beginning in mid-to-late September.

The thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of important matches in the next three weeks that will jumble the order quite a bit. If you want to go see some good field hockey, you don’t have to wait until your respective state tournament.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 27-0

Nice to know you can graduate one 50-goal scorer (Austyn Cuneo) and return another (Nikki Santore). Vikings have a veteran goalie in Cassie Kincaid and senior Madison Morano at the midfield

2. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 24-2

The Royals, starting five freshmen, were just one goal short of Eastern in last year’s Tournament of Champions final. The teams meet again Sept. 19

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 24-2-1

Hornets are not just playing to get Susan Butz-Stavin the wins needed to make her the all-time leader in coaching victories; they are looking to rebound after a shock 4-0 defeat to Palmyra in last year’s Class AAA semifinal. Junior Meredith Sholder is slotting in attacking midfielder and will be that late player coming into the attack

4. Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 20-3

FC was doing so well until running into Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.). The Colonials, however, are looking to bounce back in a big way; they have some major tests the first few weeks of the season. Haley Schleicher, the only player in National Federation history to score 50 goals and assist on 50 others in the same season, will be counted on a bit less heavily as last year’s young team has matured

5. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 26-1

The defending PAISAA champions return game-changing talent such as Margaux Paolino and Maddie Backsai and have some players in the younger grades who could make a difference as the season progresses. Early games against Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) and Warrington Central Bucks South (Pa.) in a three-day span next week will set the tone for the season

6. Palmyra (Pa.) 23-2-1

The Cougars have targets on their backs because of their co-championship last fall in Class AAA, and they are candidates to do it again. Many of the core of their back seven return, and they’ll have their usual rough league schedule to deal with. Katie Dembrowski, the senior, is an absolute talisman

7. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 23-0

The Hornets have it all: a lot of talent, a tough interconference schedule, and a Bozek at the helm. Dana Bozek will have it all to do in order for Lakeland to win a sixth straight New York public-school title

8. Watertown (Mass.) 23-0

With a cadre of seniors graduating, extending this group’s shutout streak for very long may be a tough ask. But they could break the existing undefeated streak record if they are able to run the table in their regular season. After that, a seventh straight state title may beckon

9. St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 24-1

Bridget Condie leads MICDS in search of a third straight postseason title; Rams are 62-7 in her three years with the team

10. Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 21-2

There has not been as much excitement about one field hockey player at Unionville since the days of Kate Barber. That’s because of the presence of phenom Erin Matson, who has been selected to the U-21 national team as a rising sophomore

And bear in mind: Los Gatos (Calif.) 18-0, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 26-1, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 19-0, Skowhegan (Maine) Area 15-3, Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day School 13-2, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 24-4-1, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 23-1-1, Houston St. John’s (Tex.) 15-2-1, Norfolk (Va.) Academy 14-5-1, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 21-2


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