After a lot of radio silence from One Olympic Plaza as to the makeup and shape of the U.S. men’s field hockey development apparatus, came a rapid-fire series of news alerts today, as members of three national teams were made known.
With fewer than six weeks until World League Round 2 in Trinidad & Tobago, the United States has picked a group of 18 players, some with a lot of experience playing in foreign leagues. But then there’s high-school senior Keeling Pilaro.
Pilaro, a senior at Alexandria Episcopal (Va.), has not played a varsity field hockey game in four years. He was on varsity for Southampton (N.Y.) as a middle-schooler, leading the Mariners to a state title match.
But then, gender politics rose their ugly heads and Pilaro was not allowed to play on the team anymore. Pilaro, instead, moved to Virginia, where he has practiced with the varsity at Episcopal and has played in local adult leagues around the District of Columbia.
Pilaro was not only named to the senior roster, but was also named to the U-19 national roster. Both the U-16s and U-19s have a lot of work ahead of them, including the Cal Cup, a June tour of Europe, and a pair of Test series later in the year.
But for the U.S. men’s national team, the World League is the penultimate hurdle towards qualification for the FIH men’s World Cup. The States need to finish in the top two in this eight-team tournament, or hope they are the the second highest-ranked bronze-medal team in order to go through to the two 10-team World League semifinal tournaments, which will then cut down to 16 for the 2018 FIH World Cup.
For the U.S., ranked 29th in the world, it will be tough sledding.