TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 16, 2016 — The border war

The final of the U-19 National Club Championship represented an unrealized opportunity for a number of the top players in the United States who played for the finalists, Princeton Field Hockey Club and the WC Eagles.

The Eagles, a club side formed by former U.S. men’s national coach Richard Kentwell and former China national teamer Jun Kentwell back in 2005, has been on a tear for the last several years in national club play, especially in the indoor game. There have been times when the team has won upwards of 2/3 of the available team titles in pool play at some national tournaments.

But a lot of that is because the largest youth field hockey club in North America has some 300 members. For events such as the National Club Championship, the team can only put 11 members on the pitch at a time. This year, the WC Eagles have already taken home championships in the U-14 and U-16 divisions, but the U-19 title match had much more intrigue and backstory than most matches in USA Field Hockey competition than in most years.

Part of the intrigue was about missing players. Because the U.S. junior national team was preparing for this fall’s Junior World Cup in Chile, a number of players, such as Erin Matson and Julia Tornetta, were held out of the NCC Tournament.

Another sidebar surrounds the recent history and the possible future of the Princeton FHC. Its founder, Princeton University head coach Kristen Holmes-Winn, resigned from coaching the varsity Tigers in late June to take a position with a performance-optimization company in Boston. Little is known about whether incoming Princeton University coach, the former U.S. international Carla Tagliente, and her burgeoning coaching staff will take over administration and coaching of the club side and academy, or whether the previous coaching staff will be retained.

But the most prominent storyline came from the players on the two sides. The Princeton FHC roster has a number of excellent players from New Jersey, while the U-19 WC Eagles has a lot of superb players from Pennsylvania. These two states have been most consistently excellent over the years. That excellence was crystallized within the team rosters; Princeton boasts Madison Morano and Kristin Castagnola of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and WC Eagles has Madison Orebono of Emmaus (Pa.). Eastern and Emmaus were the No. 1 and No. 2 teams from the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 50 last fall.

To the surprise of many, Princeton FHC was able to knock off the four-time defending U-19 championship 2-1 in the final. The game-winner was scored deep in the second term by Castagnola. That’s not entirely surprising, since it always seems as though the better players seem to step up in these kinds of all-star and club competitions.

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