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Archive for April, 2017

Apr. 30, 2017 — Two ads in one and how it could change women’s lacrosse forever

Over the last few days, I’ve seen on-line advertising trumpeting the new girls’ varsity lacrosse program at Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.), which is being envisioned as lacrosse’s answer to the likes of Findlay Prep in boys’ basketball, Peddie in swimming, and St. Benedict’s in boys’ soccer.

And prominently perched on the head of the lacrosse player in the photo accompanying the ad is a spaceship-shaped contraption which looks like a padded halo for the player’s head.

Yep, because IMG Academy is located in Florida, they’re subject to the new Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) mandate that players wear headgear.

Because of this, the sport’s first American superprep team is being put in an unusual situation. The team will be recruiting players from all over the country to become better players, but will have to get used to a new piece of equipment in order to participate.

And it’s a piece of equipment whose injury protection value is scientifically suspect, as well as nearly nonexistent at the next level. This means a junior who matriculates to IMG to improve skills may actually not be ready for NCAA competition because of the imposition of the helmet. A Florida-prepped player is more likely to take unnecessary risks — both on offense and on defense — because a player assumes herself or an opponent won’t get hurt with the imposition of the headgear.

Now, there’s one other hazard with headgear, and it has everything to do with weather. Yesterday, I saw Harriton (Pa.), a team wearing heat-absorbing black helmets and black jerseys, score just one goal in the second half against Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) in the Katie Samson Laxfest. The conditions in the second half were sunny, warm, and humid with some overnight rain, and wearing black from head to toe cannot have helped.

So, if a team in Pennsylvania can have this happen in the second half of a game, imagine what could happen in Florida.

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Apr. 29, 2017 — Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 18, Glen Mills Garnet Valley (Pa.) 12

POSTGAME That’s all for now; have a great day

POSTGAME But Archbishop Carroll used speed and cunning to pull apart the Garnets’ defense. Sam Swardt is a name you should get to know for next year as she joins Syracuse

POSTGAME I seriously did not expect this result. Garnet Valley has three state titles to its credit, and I thought they would use their size like they did in the first minute

FULL TIME At the horn, Archbishop Carroll takes an 18-12 win

49:49 AC GOAL Grace Gallagher from the fan; Carroll leads 18-12

48:58 GV GOAL Faith pulls GV to within five 

47:33 GV GOAL Regan Nealon pegs the top shelf; Carroll still leads by six

45:03 AC GOAL Gallagher pushes Carroll’s lead to seven

44:39 AC GOAL Swardt makes the Carroll lead six

42:40 GV GOAL Carolina Carruthers scores; it’s 15-10 for Carroll

40:30 AC GOAL Detweiler again; Carroll leads 15-8

37:00 GV GOAL Faith pulls one back for the. Garnets; still trail by five

31:37 The quick pace favors Carroll here; it reminds me of the run-and-gun lacrosse games of the 1990s

31:47 AC FP and GOAL Swart stakes Carroll to a 14-8 lead

31:52 AC GOAL Detwiler responds; lead is five

30:20 GV GOAL Delaney pulls the Garnets back to within four

29:57 AC GOAL Sam Swardt gives Carroll a 12-7 lead

29:11 AC GOAL Grace Gallagher rises, fires; lead is 11-6

27:34 GV GOAL Delaney starts the half off with a goal; GV trails by three

25:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME Garnet Valley has the skill and tactics to be leading here, but Carroll has taken its chances well. It could all change in the second half

HALFTIME Well, isn’t this something? It looked for all the world that Garnet Valley would run off and hide after getting two quick goals to start off the game, but Carroll is a fast team that has scored in bunches to take the lead at the interval

HALFTIME The horn sounds with Carroll leading 10-6

24:51 AC FP and GOAL Fine effort by Sydney D’Orsogna puts Carroll up 10-6

23:35 GV FP Saved by Madelyn Ferraioli

21;45 AC GOAL Anna Murphy gives Carroll a three-goal cushion 

21:00 AC GOAL Faith makes it a two-goal margin once more

19:14 GV Kara Nealon makes it a one-goal game

18:20 AC GOAL Detwiler responds for Carroll as they take a 7-5 lead

17:40 GV GOAL Nealon bring Carroll to within one again

11:35 AC GOAL Swart weaves around theee players and finishes in the fan; Carroll up 6-4

11:00 GV GOAL Kara Nealon with the putaway and Carroll’s lead is down to one 

7:45 AC GOAL Samantha Swart scores to give Carroll a 5-3 lead

7:30 AC GOAL Grace Gallagher sets Carroll ahead 4-3

7:10 GV GOAL Camryn Faith converts a feed and we are tied 3-3

6:24 AC GOAL Anna Murphy off the draw and Carroll takes a 3-2 lead

6:00 AC GOAL Katie Detweiler gets free and scores! Game tied 2-2

3:00 AC GOAL The response comes from Carroll, albeit they still trail 2-1

1:05 GV GOAL Riley Delaney bulls her way in and scores; GV leads 2-0

0:25 GV GOAL Kathryn Toohey shoots over the entire AC defense and it is a great start for the Garnets as they lead 1-0

PREGAME This is another game in the Katie Samson Laxfest, the nation’s largest scholastic lacrosse tournament

PREGAME Garnet Valley is 8-3 on the season, Carroll is 9-0

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Library Field at Radnor High School for this intersectional match between Glen Mills Garnet Valley (Pa.) and Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.)

Apr. 29, 2017 — Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.) 6, Pottstown Owen J. Roberts (Pa.) 4

POSTGAME We’ll be back around noon for the Glen Mills Garnet Valley (Pa.) vs. Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) match

POSTGAME But the Owls defense, particularly the Cornell-bound Andress in goal, were very stingy indeed

POSTGAME Agnes Irwin almost fell into OJR’s trap as they slowed the pace of the game

FULL TIME The horn sounds with Agnes Irwin winning 6-4

49:00 AIS runs the stall 

48:20 OJR FP Andress shuts the door

48:00 Roberts wins the draw, working it around slowly

46:50 OJR FP and GOAL Sydney Drumheller with the bouncer; Wildcats trail 6-4

43:00 OJR is patient; almost too patient with the deficit being three goals 

40:10 OJR FP Dempsey with a chance from top dead center, but Andress with a big stop!

35:30 OJR with sustained possession, but not getting off a telling shot

32:20 OJR GOAL Francesca Carroll gets the EWO goal from a Dempsey feed; AIS leads 6-3

31:20 AIS YELLOW Macaione is off for a check towards the head; her first card, team second 

25:55 AIS FP and GOAL Maria Pansini from the center-right hash; AIS leads 6-2

25:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME The score thus far is not indicative of Roberts’ initiative; the Wildcats have not had much luck against Andreas, and have been guilty of ill-advised turnovers in the attack end

HALFTIME The half ends with Agnes Irwin leading 5-2

24:59 OJR FP and GOAL Eloise Geber bounces it in! Roberts trails 5-2 but last-second goals lend themselves to momentum swings

22:00 Now they run the attack but hit goalie Hailey Andrews in the feet; unlucky!

21:00 OJR is content to hold the ball

15:31 AIS YELLOW Alexandra Hark is booked for a dangerous shot; her first yellow, team first 

15:05 AIS GOAL Lila Barker with a nice move to get open and finishes! Owls up four

12:44 AIS TIMEOUT

11:00 AIS FP Emma Machione from the center hash; goalie Mia Tornetta makes the save

10:15 OJR TIMEOUT

10:00 AIS FP and GOAL Bounce shot by Lila Barker from the right hash; Owls up 4-1

5:30 AIS GOAL Owls’ Alexandra Hark converts on the passing play and take a 3-1 lead

3:50 OJR GOAL Kelsey Kilgallon pulls one back for the Wildcats, who trail 2-1

3:30 OJR FP Anna Dempsey hits the post!

2:02 AIS GOAL Marina Pansini bounces it in from the heart of the arc;  it’s 2-0 Owls

0:53 AIS GOAL Sydney Wolfington scores on a nifty shot from a tight angle on the left wing; Owls lead 1-0

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME OJR is in the all red with black and white trim; AIS is in white with yellow and black trim

PREGAME The teams are warming up under cloudy skies with temperatures about 70 degrees 

PREGAME But it also is a showcase of Pennsylvania lacrosse; six out of the eight PIAA quarterfinalists are here today, as well as all four PAISAA semifinalists

PREGAME This annual fundraiser is now the largest scholastic lacrosse tournament in the country

PREGAME This is just one of more than two dozen games in the 17th annual Katie Samson Laxfest

PREGAME Irwin is 11-2 this season; Roberts is 12-1

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Encke Field on the campus of Radnor (Pa.) High School for this intersectional matchup between Pottstown Owen J. Roberts (Pa.) and Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.)

Apr. 28, 2017 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Apr. 26

We’re back for another installment of Friday Statwatch, which is our back-of-the-envelope statistical look at American girls’ lacrosse.

This year, a trio of deadly scorers from Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.Y.) — Allison Hunter, Jenna Herlihy, and Bridget Ruskey — have been climbing the all-time scoring leader charts. They haven’t hit the leaders for 2017 yet, and they’d be happy not to if it meant that Middle Township was going to be contending for a state championship.

Herlihy has brought success to the school on the hockey pitch; the others on the soccer field and on the basketball court. Together, they could be a threat for Group I sectional honors.

What you see below are statistics from amongst others, MaxPreps.com, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

To make this list better in the future, I encouraging you to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
110 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
96 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
92 Peyton Hornung, Fort Myers Canterbury (Fla.)
90 Jordan Shugrue, Laurel St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.)
90 Kiersen Foust, Greensboro Southeast Guilford (N.C.)
83 Chelsea Smith, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
83 Mary Markwordt, Roswell Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
81 Delaney Joyce, Jamestown Ragsdale (N.C.)
80 Courtney Brianecki, Seymour (Tenn.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
68 KateReagan Costello, Gulf Breeze (Fla.)
55 Madison Dunk, Durham (N.C.) Academy
52 Allie Level, Novato (Calif.)
51 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
50 Sydney Joyce, Jamestown Ragsdale (N.C.)
49 Kendall Goldblum, Wilmington Hoggard (N.C.)
49 Erin Dunn, Poway (Calif.)
47 Jordan Lappin, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.)
47 Mary Markwordt, Roswell Blessed Trinity (Ga.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
425 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
350 Jamie Ortega, Newfield Middle Country Central (N.Y.)
343 Danielle Van Calcar, Ramapo (N.J.)
314 Ally Mastroianni, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.)

300 Paige Petty, Bernards (N.J.)
280 Abigail Daigle, Millville (N.J.)
250 Peyton Hornung, Fort Myers Canterbury (Fla.)
239 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
228 Gabrielle Fornia, Medford Lenape (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
264 Allison Hunter, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL POINTS (COMBINED GOALS AND ASSISTS), CAREER
540 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
513 Danielle Van Calcar, Ramapo (N.J.)
510 Jamie Ortega, Newfield Middle Country Central (N.Y.)
505 Ally Mastroianni, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.)

464 Allison Hunter, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
415 Gabrielle Fornia, Medford Lenape (N.J.)
365 Paige Petty, Bernards (N.J.)
358 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
311 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
170 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)

COACHING WINS
734 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
523 Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (N.J.)

So, if you see something missing, feel to send us an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the adjustment.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

Apr. 27, 2017 — McDonogh’s place in history

After today’s 9-4 win over the as-tough-as-expected Notre Dame Prep team from Towson, Md., Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) now has a 171 game winning streak that extends all the way back to April 11, 2009, when it lost to Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy.

In terms of field-invasion sports — where teams try to secure a ball and score a goal in more-or-less continuous action — McDonogh’s streak is the longest winning streak of any such sport, male or female. Longer streaks exist in indoor sports such as basketball, swimming, and gymnastics. And, of course, the current 183-game unbeaten streak of the Watertown (Mass.) field hockey team includes a 133-game win streak.

Some of the streaks are different from others; the girls’ gymnastics team from Brecksville (Ohio) didn’t win 777 consecutive dual meets; the wins came from placing ahead of other teams in multi-team competitions. The more teams that come, the more “wins” you get if you finish first. Still, it’s impressive how many consecutive all-comers meets Brecksville placed first as a team over the course of more than a decade.

But the wrestling team from Brandon (Fla.) has, I think, the greatest of scholastic sports streaks. Wrestling is a sport that requires individuals to perform individually towards a team goal — with no substitutions and no teammate to pass to. The Brandon wrestling team won every dual meet for a 35-year period from 1973 until 2008.

McDonogh, like its field hockey sisters in Watertown and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), have found winning formulas through coaching and positive peer pressure. No team wants to be the one to end the streak of either wins or championships.

And judging by the quality of teams that the Eagles have played and defeated thus far, it’s anyone’s guess when that end will be.

Apr. 26, 2017 — The ESPN 100 and what it means for print journalism

In an era of high unemployment since the financial crisis of 2008, thousands of job cuts befell the likes of MCI-World Com, Enron, Bear Stearns, and other failing businesses. But the names of those cut from the rolls of these companies were made public.

Today, however, is seeing perhaps the most unusual public airing of job losses in history. Every news outlet has been waiting with bated breath for announcements surrounding about 100 layoffs at ESPN, the most valuable cable television network and the self-proclaimed “world-wide leader in sports.”

With a declining subscriber base and bills coming due on ESPN’s voracious rights fees for both college and professional football, ESPN has been cutting staff at a regular rate. Indeed, today’s announcement is only about a third of the size of cuts which were made in October 2015.

But today’s 100 layoffs — The ESPN 100 — come on the heels of a number of notable departures from the network over the last year or so. Nearly the entire Monday Night Countdown crew from two years ago — Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, and Mike Ditka — are gone. This is the group that is the lead-in to Monday Night Football, the network’s highest-rated program.

Also gone in recent months were Keith Olbermann, Mike Tirico, Skip Bayless, and Bill Simmons. Simmons, a notable writer, put together a tremendous staff of writers to create an enterprise site called Grantland. But when Simmons was fired, Grantland was closed in October 2015.

And while tomorrow’s headlines will concentrate on some prominent on-air personalities as part of The ESPN 100, I think the biggest impact are the dozens of columnists and writers that ESPN is letting go. This goes all the way from award-winning Johnette Howard to ESPNW’s Melissa Isaacson to Jean-Jacques Taylor, who was with ESPNDallas, which was supposed to compete against the sports staff of The Dallas Morning News.

Indeed, I think today’s layoffs are a sign that ESPN’s experiment with trying to pull eyeballs away from stablished media organizations is meeting with abject failure. Columnists from Nashville to the West Coast have been let go. You may not know their names, but you might have seen their work on an ESPN web presence.

The ESPN experiment in print writing has compounded its initial colossal failure with cuts that could very well imperil the network’s ability to cover the beat adequately.

But The ESPN 100 also tips the network’s hand when it comes to its future priorities. The network’s most senior motorsports reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch, who worked at the network for three decades, was furloughed. Given the fact that the network shows exactly five automobile races a year, this is perhaps in a prelude to the dropping of all motorsports coverage.

The NHL division took huge cuts; the network does only a handful of ice hockey games a year. Golf commentator Dottie Pepper was also jettisoned, the sport having long since moved to NBC’s Golf Channel.

But that’s what happens when your “world-wide leader” forgets its core competency and goes off into these incredibly expensive flights of fancy. Anyone remember when “SportsCenter” showed actual sports highlights and delivered news?

Not a good long-term sign.

Apr. 25, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of Apr. 23

Well, there goes the neighborhood. Again.

A raft of interstate results and showdowns have once again shaken up the Top 10, and it’s getting to the point where the competition is so sophisticated and the difference between winning and losing is such a fine knife-edge that you may have a situation similar to a decade ago in college field hockey, where the No. 1 team could have as many as four losses by the end of the season.

Our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week is Naples Barron Collier (Fla.), a team which finally, after six years of trying, got past Vero Beach (Fla.) in the third round of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Tournament. Barron Collier fell behind 5-0 early, stormed back to take a lead at the interval, then took the air out of the ball once ahead 8-7, then scored a short-handed goal with under three minutes remaining.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 12-0

Eagles have an enormous contest on Thursday against Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.), but an equally troublesome opponent could be the promoted IAAM “B” champions from Glenelg (Md.) Country School

2. Ridgewood (N.J.) 10-0

Traveled to Long Island and beat a good Wantagh (N.Y.) side 13-6

3. Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.) 9-0

Panthers had a statement win over Newfield Middle Country (N.Y.) and star midfielder Nikki Ortega

4. Glenelg (Md.) 10-0

Gladiators had a statement win over Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.) last Friday

5. East Setauket Ward Melville (N.Y.) 9-0

Undefeated Patriots draw once-beaten Northport (N.Y.) tomorrow

6. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 14-1

Blazers handed Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) their first loss of the season; can they do the same against mighty McDonogh?

7. Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.) 6-1

Wildcats travel to Sayville this Thursday

8. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 6-2

On a tear since an Opening Day loss to Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.)

9. Moorestown (N.J.) 8-1

Showed pluckiness and a lack of fear against Garden City (N.Y.) in a Gains for Brains victory

10. Franklin (Mass.) 8-0

Big win last Friday against an athletic Andover (Mass.) outfit

11. Naples Barron Collier (Fla.) 15-1

Jaclyn Berry led the Cougars with four goals in their defeat of Vero Beach

Who’s out: Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 11-8 loss to Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.); Garden City (N.Y.) 11-8 loss to Moorestown (N.J.); Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) 9-4 loss to Mount Sinai; Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) 9-4 loss to Darien (Conn.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 15-0, Darien (Conn.) 6-2, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) 17-1, Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) 8-1, Manhasset (N.Y.) 5-3, Garden City (N.Y.) 11-1, Cicero-North Syracuse (N.Y.) 9-0, Apex (N.C.) 12-0, Massilon Jackson (Ohio) 10-0, Wilson West Lawn (Pa.) 12-1, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 10-1, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 11-5