One side effect of having dominant dynasties in any sport — football, field hockey, lacrosse — is that you forget that there are sometimes other great performers on teams that face them.
It’s hard to remember, as good as Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) has been in field hockey over the last 18 years, that there are up to seven state champions crowned every year in the Garden State. Four are public-school champs crowned by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), there is one NJSIAA Non-Public state titlist, and there are up to two preparatory-school champions to be won through competition sanctioned by the New Jersey Independent Schools Athletic Association (NJISAA).
And on many of these teams, there have been some amazing players who have trained hard, run many miles, and have accelerated their levels of play through offseason hockey.
One such player was Emily Wold, who played on a pair of NJSIAA Group III championship sides and distinguished herself by cobbling together a 50-goal season in 2011 and finishing with 81 assists, which is amongst the greatest career totals of all time.
And in an era where so much attention was paid to a new generation of youth players such as Maria Elena Bolles, Austyn Cuneo, Erin Matson, and Meredith Sholder, it was Wold who broke through at the age of 19 to make the senior women’s national side. At the international level, she was a five-tool player, excellent in all phases of the game.
Yet, just over 50 caps into her national career, Wold called it quits this week.
For me, this is the most stunning of the retirements coming out of the Olympics. Wold, for me, was the player who could very well have been the key string-puller in the midfield for a decade or more had she decided to. The ball seemed to find her in good places in the center of the pitch, and, more often than not, good things seemed to happen when she got her stick on the ball.
The regrettable thing is, we’ll never know how good she and the cohort of well-trained, athletic players coming after would have been on the world stage. She’ll be missed.