TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Dec. 3, 2016 — Concerns for future foundations

The United States senior women’s national teams currently hold soccer’s World Cup, lacrosse’s World Cup, and field hockey’s Champions Trophy bronze medal.

But over the last year and a half, there has been some doubt sown as to whether the junior national teams can feed into these successful programs.

Two summers ago, the U.S. U-19 women’s lacrosse team finished second to Canada; it was the first time the States had lost the gold since 1995.

Last night, the U.S. failed to medal at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, losing the bronze-medal match 1-0 to Japan, just the fifth regulation loss ever for the national side, but it was the third straight defeat to Japan during this World Cup cycle.

And tomorrow at 9:45 Eastern time, the U.S. U-21 field hockey team plays England in the 7th-place game, marking the fourth straight cycle the States are playing for either seventh or eighth place.

If brows aren’t being furrowed in Baltimore, Chicago, and Colorado Springs, they should be.

The young women who are being brought along at the junior level are, doubtless, going to find their success at the senior level. But for every Andie Aldave, Mallory Pugh, and Erin Matson, there are dozens of players in each sport who are looking wistfully at the footage of the world tournaments, knowing deep in their hearts that they could have made a difference for their country.

There are also pundits who are looking askance at the selections made by the national team coaches.

But each of the three rosters were chosen under completely different circumstances. In the case of the lacrosse team, the U.S. staff purposely chose a scholastic all-star team rather than find a couple of eligible players to come off a college roster. That proved costly as the Canadians rode the scoring of Selena Lasota and Danita Stroup to the gold medal.

The calendar was not kind to the soccer and field hockey selectors. The U-20 soccer team had to rely on players who were not in the NCAA Tournament, which finishes up this weekend. While this was a good chance for players like U.S. senior national selector and 2016 Olympian Mallory Pugh to get some time in for top-quality competition, there were a number of players in the College Cup which could have made a difference in Papua New Guinea, had they been released by their collegiate teams to play.

The same could be said for the field hockey team. About a third of the U.S. roster was playing right up until the end of the U.S. domestic season, and, after competing in the NCAA Final Four, flew directly out of Norfolk to go to Chile for the tournament, limiting their pre-tournament contact with each other. The conditioning and game sense for the Americans should have been in mid-season form, but the player who leads the team in scoring has not played a timed, scored, and umpired game this fall.

Which makes you wonder where the strength lies in the U.S. developmental system in all three sports.

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