TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Sept. 4, 2015 — Prelude to history

This afternoon, just on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey overlooking the ancient Delaware River Valley, there will be a field hockey game played.

And given the kinds of history-making events that have occurred in the game over the last 20 years, this one game is the first act in another march towards history.

For this afternoon, Emmaus (Pa.) will be traveling to Easton (Pa.) in an East Penn Conference interdivisional game. Head coach Susan Butz-Stavin will be looking for her 839th coaching victory in her distinguished career.

Should the Hornets win, the team would go for the record on Sept. 9th at home against Allentown Dieruff (Pa.).

With Emmaus, a team with a formidable senior class and junior Meredith Sholder in the lineup, the act of Butz-Stavin breaking Nancy Williams’ national record for coaching victories is a foregone conclusion sometime this season.

After all, the Hornet program has put together a remarkable resume under Butz-Stavin’s watch. There have been championships, remarkable athletes, and remarkable teams. There have been Olympians such as Cindy Werley, national teamers like Kristen McCann, and brilliant players such as the Jennings triplets and the defense of the 1997 team, led by Missy Grossman, Liz Reese, Brittany Butler, and Kristin Barlow in front of goalie Audrey Latsko.

In fact, Emmaus is the only field hockey program that I know of which has given up a goal or fewer in a season and scored more than 170 goals a season.

But when you look for a mark of consistency for this Emmaus program, it’s this: the Hornets have won the last 26 PIAA District XI championships in which they have competed.

This is absolutely astounding, considering the kind of pressures that the postseason presents in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PIAA does not qualify its teams directly into the state bracket; rather, they are filtered through the nine districts that offer the sport into two 16-team brackets, separated by enrollment. Depending on the proportion of participation in the state, a district may receive more than one berth, which means that the brackets will run differently from district to district.

The history of PIAA field hockey is rife with teams which may have run the table in the regular season, only to lose its opener in District play, ending the season. There are also stories about teams which have have had to play certain teams a third or even a fourth time in a particular season. Some teams will also engage in a certain amount of gamesmanship within the bracket to avoid a particular team in the state tournament.

These factors makes winning the same postseason district 26 years in a row truly remarkable.

And it’s just one of many facets to a truly remarkable career.

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