The 2016 season was a season of records, goals a-plenty, and amazing drama. And it’s gotten to the point where this feature is threatening to go beyond our usual 10 best games. But we were able to weed out some of the pretenders to make a strong Top 10:
1. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 2, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 1, OT
Nov. 18, 2016
NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final
Eastern has been the standard-bearer for scholastic field hockey for more than a decade and a half, and had been able to win six Tournaments of Champions because of relentless offense, skill on the pitch, and corner execution. The previous five years, Eastern was able to score more than 200 goals a season, and have a player score 60 or more goals. But a balanced and speedy attack on the part of West Essex allowed the Knights to play the Vikings to a 1-1 draw at full time. A few minutes into extra time, the drama began. A trip in the circle led to a penalty corner, and on the corner, a sure goal was stopped on the goal line by a foot. Lia Sinisi’s ensuing penalty stroke ended an instant classic of a game.
2. Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 1, Yorktown Grafton (Va.) 1; Great Bridge wins 5-4 in penalty shootout
Nov. 12, 2016
VHSL Class 4A final
The greater Hampton Roads area has been a hotbed of field hockey for years, but one of the areas which had not gotten the benefits of a championship is the city of Chesapeake, which lies on the south side of Norfolk. But with a VHSL now split into four championships, Great Bridge and leading scorer Payton Tollaksen took advantage. The team outscored its opposition in the conference and regional play by a margin of 32-2, but found the competition much different in the state tournament. The Wildcats beat Warrenton Fauquier (Va.) in overtime in the semifinal before edging Yorktown Grafton (Va.) in a penalty shootout that built in intensity over the course of two five-shooter rounds that ended 4-4. It took Tollaksen, in the 11th round of the shootout, to end the game.
3. Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 3, Scarsdale (N.Y.) 2
Oct. 17, 2016
The 2016 season was one of rebirth for Scarsdale, which had beaten Hudson Valley powerhouse Mamaroneck 4-0 to start the regular season. The reverse match was goalless for 55 minutes, but then, the offenses finally decided to unleash their fury. All five goals in this match were scored in the final five minutes, with Molly Banks tipping in an Elizabeth Brissette option-left dragflick on an untimed corner at the end of regulation. Don’t believe me? Watch this.
4. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 4, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 3
Nov. 16, 2016
PIAA Class AA semifinal
It looked for all the world like Villa Maria would win another close match against Donegal like they did a year ago in the Class AA semifinal round. However, the will of sophomore Mackenzie Allessie would not be denied. She rescued the Indians’ season, scoring on nearly identical backhand goals to tie the game with 37 seconds left, and then to win the game 1:05 into overtime.
5, Leesburg Heritage (Va.) 2, Warrenton Fauquier (Va.) 1, 2 OT
Nov. 3, 2016
VHSL Class 4A West Final
The expansion of the Virginia High School League’s tournament from three classes to four was chiefly because of the addition of 15 schools, 14 of which were from high-growth Loudoun County. The best of the lot wound up being Heritage, coached by Derek Ryan. The Pride won its way through Conference 21, then ran into Fauquier in the regional final. Though both teams were guaranteed a berth in the state semifinal round, the two sides fought each other hammer and tong before Heritage won on an untimed corner at the end of the second overtime period.
6. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 1, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 0,
Oct. 20, 2016
Lancaster-Lebanon League final
This was a game featuring two of the most powerful teams in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But because it was in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, the two teams were from different classes, making this game the closest possible thing to a Pennsylvania Tournament of Champions. Penn Manor showed its virtuosity and speed, but it took Mackenzie Allessie’s penalty corner blast in the final 10 minutes to win the game.
7. Wilton (Conn.) 1, Westport Staples (Conn.) 0, 2 OT
Oct. 3, 2014
The big story amongst Class L teams in 2016 was the rise of Staples. Under head coach Ian Tapsall, the Wreckers improved their record to the point where they were being seen as a serious contender for the state title. The Wreckers’ defense held off Wilton, the defending state champion, for regulation and overtime. But in the second half of extra time, a late challenge from behind led to a Wilton penalty stroke with 4:16 left in second overtime. It wound up being extra motivation for Staples in their march to the state title. Watch the game here.
8. Oakland Messalonskee (Maine) 3, Skowhegan (Maine) Area 2, OT
Oct. 11, 2016
Skowhegan Area has been the most successful Maine field hockey team in the last decade and a half, winning 13 championships in the 15 years leading to 2016. Messalonskee, located about 20 miles away, has become the Indians’ biggest rival over the last few years. Messalonskee, in a reverse match from a 1-0 loss in the season-opener, was able to win this game on a backhand goal from Lydia Dexter with 3.5 seconds remaining in extra time.
9. Bethlehem Moravian Academy (Pa.) 4, Oley (Pa.) Valley 3
Nov. 19, 2016
PIAA Class A final
The stars certainly came out for this game. Mayv Clune, the daughter of former U.S. international Diane Molinaro, had a hat trick as she staked the Lions out to a 4-0 lead. But Oley Valley, led by the precocious freshman Sophia Gladieux, mounted a furious comeback. The Lynx, however, would mount an audacious comeback, scoring three goals in under 14 minutes. That set up a tense final 12 minutes which culminated in a backhand shot by Gladieux that flew about four inches wide of the post.
10. Whitney Point (N.Y.) 2, Greene (N.Y.) 1
Oct. 25, 2016
NYPHSAA Class C, Section 4 semifinal
The Class C state championship usually comes through one of the small villages in Section 4, and a pair of past champions met for a ticket to the sectional final. In a taut thriller, the game was not decided until the final second of play; Greene was able to put the ball in the cage on an untimed corner at the end of regulation, but the shot came from outside the striking circle.