What we’re doing to do is something a bit unusual today: the preview of a state semifinal round. The reason why is because of our blog entry nine days ago detailing some highly unpredictable areas of the country.
But if you examine the final four teams playing for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association championship, these may have everyone else beat. These are four excellent sides, each with good offenses, good defenses, and with some pretty significant victories on their resumes.
Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.)
Goals scored: 124
Goals conceded: 24
Against the semifinalists: 1-3-1
Quality interstate victories: Beat St. Louis Cor Jesu (Mo.) 1-0 and Webster Groves Nerinx Hall (Mo.) 8-0 in Bluegrass Tournament
The skinny: Christian Academy is playing in rarefied air here; the Centurions have not won a state championship in field hockey. The team’s head coach, Stanley Phulpagar, grew up with the game in Bombay, India, and his team is learning the lessons. Have they learned enough to make the final, much less win it?
Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.)
Goals scored: 118
Goals conceded: 28
Against the semifinalists: 1-4-1
Quality interstate victories: Beat Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.) 4-0 and Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 4-2 in Huskie Invitational; tied St. Louis St. Joseph’s Academy (Mo.) 2-2 at Gateway Invitational
The skinny: In 2011, Manual became the first magnet school ever to win a state championship. Head coach Brittany Tolan is a product of the Louisville system: she played for Debbie Judd at Louisville Assumption (Ky.), and, before taking the Manual job, was an assistant for Wendy Martin at Louisville Collegiate (Ky.). Can the Crimsons repeat the magic of five years ago?
Louisville Assumption (Ky.)
Goals scored: 97
Goals conceded: 23
Against the semifinalists: 5-1
Quality interstate victories: Defeated Ann Arbor Huron (Mich.) 5-1 in Huskie Invitational; defeated Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 5-1
The skinny: Assumption had the thankless task of playing Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) four times in the season’s first five weeks, and won three of them. Can the Rockets win their fourth game against Heart with the season on the line?
Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.)
Goals scored: 103
Goals conceded: 28
Against the semifinalists: 4-4
Quality interstate victories: Defeated Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 3-2; defeated Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 1-0; defeated St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 6-3
The skinny: Think of this: Sacred Heart played the other three KHSAA semifinalists eight times in the first five weeks of the season. Since then, Sacred Heart has won 11 straight matches, including a three-game sweep three weekends ago that saw the Valkyries snap the 142-match unbeaten streak of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.). Can Heart keep the momentum going?
People, if you’re within shouting distance of Bellarmine University this week, go see some great field hockey.