The big story of the 2016 field hockey season looks once again to be the presence of high-performance athletes helping to upend the U.S. scholastic field hockey record books.
Last year, six players broke the 60-goal barrier, of which three return. Meredith Sholder, the UNC-bound senior forward/attacking midfielder from Emmaus (Pa.), needs just 41 goals to become just the third player in recorded National Federation history to score 200 goals for a career. Just as important, she is just 10 assists away from 100, which would make her one of only a handful of players to break into triple digits in goals and assists.
Also a senior, Megan Rodgers led San Diego Serra (Calif.) with 60 goals a year ago. The Conquistadores had a 26-1 record a year ago, winning the championship of the CIF San Diego Open bracket. Their lone loss came in the second game of the season.
The third player coming off a 60-goal season is sophomore Mackenzie Alessie, who knocked in exactly 60 for Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.). Alessie, in a friendly last weekend against Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.), scored a first-half hat trick, showing that she’s already in form.
All three of these teams are expected to contend for postseason championships. And whereas the CIF San Diego Section changed its format from two tournaments to three, the same is happening in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
A pair of record-setting school teams may see their unbeaten streaks end this year. Both Watertown (Mass.) and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) have graduated tremendous talent the last two years, and it would be incredibly unfair to expect that their incoming players would be able to sustain their respective streaks. Watertown’s record unbeaten streak is now at 160 games, the last 100 of which were victories, just five short of the national record set back in the 1950s and 60s by Oklahoma City Casady School (Okla.). Eastern’s unbeaten streak is at 133 games, and the Vikings have won their last 76 matches.
Eastern is looking to win its 18th consecutive NJSIAA championship this fall. Emmaus (Pa.), after a significant scare last year, is looking to win its 28th consecutive PIAA District 11 championship. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy is looking for its 33rd consecutive Fairchester Athletic Association tournament title, and West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) is hoping to win its 46th straight Shore Conference divisional title.
There are also a number of new field hockey programs that have sprung up in the U.S. One is in Philadelphia, two in Louisville, Ky., three in Colorado, and 15 new varsity programs in Loudoun County, Va.