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Archive for June, 2017

June 30, 2017 — Keep reading

Hi, all.

Just a note that, despite the fact that we’re posting our usual July essay from an actual field hockey player on her journey to college, we’re continuing our daily blog posts below that letter. In July, we’re having our national post-season lacrosse posts, a look at the National Club Championships in field hockey, and the World League semifinals for the U.S. women’s national field hockey team.

June 29, 2017 — In U-19 final, defense beats offense and vice-versa

The night before the championship final of the 2017 U-19 National Futures Tournament, it was pretty much a given that the two Region 5 teams representing Pennsylvania — Albertville and Torino — would be meeting each other at high noon at Spooky Nook.

They didn’t disappoint. In one of the most competitive and gripping NFT finals in some 20 years, it was Torino who survived to win a 3-2 shootout victory after the sides tied 3-3 after regulation.

The winning margin came in the fourth round of a penalty shootout after the sides were level 2-2. In the fourth round, Albertville’s shot was tackled and cleared by Torino’s Katie Jean, the state-championship-winning goalkeeper for Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.). Torino was able to lift its final shot past Albertville’s prone goalkeeper for the winning shot.

The shootout was leveled at 2-2 only after a crafty piece of play on the part of Meredith Sholder, the second all-time leading scorer in Federation history. She managed to sneak her goal underneath Jean, with the ball rolling slowly over the goal line, barely beating the eight-second clock.

The teams had traded goals throughout regulation, and Albertville thought it might have the game won when Sholder convered a stroke 5 1/2 minutes from time. But Torino earned a stroke in the final two minutes, which it converted to tie it at 3.

June 28, 2017 — The great divide?

Jonathan Sigal penned this story on espnW about the prospect of a bidding war between two women’s lacrosse leagues.

The title, of course, says it all. And it’s a good read.

June 27, 2017 — Just what the Big Blue ordered: a slice of purple, green, and gold

It’s been four years since the Michigan women’s lacrosse program began. And with the recent firing of head coach Jen Ulehla, there was an outsized opportunity for a coach with the personality and flair to be able to match the resources that the university is putting behind her.

And it seems that coach is going to be Hannah Nielsen. Despite winning two Tewaaraton trophies at Northwestern University as part of a lacrosse dynasty, Nielsen didn’t jump at the first head coaching job that came along. Instead, she got a flavor of several programs: Towson, Penn State, Colorado, and Northwestern over the last several seasons.

Nielsen is now preparing to play in her fourth World Cup along with Team Koala, meaning that she will be coming off an international tournament with all of the training and fitness needed for her to jump into drills and, if need be, scrimmages during fall-ball.

And I think it will be really scary if more than one of her recruits is able to apply what she knows from being taught by the Australian legend. Nielsen is one of those once-in-a-lifetime players who actually understands her role in the history of the game and tries to build on it.

Nielsen’s personal hero has been Jen Adams, the greatest female player ever to walk the earth. She has taken to wearing the number 77 as a tribute when they are on the same team, and has even worn her hair in the short pigtails that were Adams’ trademark.

And the two women have played remarkably successful lacrosse over the years.

It would be a fitting tribute if Nielsen could make a significant impact on the Michigan program, much like Adams has at Loyola.

June 26, 2017 — U-14 Futures: Squaw Valley beats the heat, Grenoble

The way the schedule fell for the medal round for the U-14 National Futures Tournament, the finalists had to earn their medals.

Squaw Valley was required to finish off Pool N play at the outdoor pitch at Spooky Nook, then had to wait an hour as Pool A first-place team Grenoble beat cellar-dwellers Antwerp for the top of the pool, also at the outdoor pitch.

And minutes after that game, the final began at high noon under the bright skies of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Rare has been the time that a semifinal and a final were played back-to-back in Futures play.

In the final, Squaw Valley beat Grenoble 3-2. Squaw Valley, like the other teams in the U-14 Division, did not have a cluster or concentration of players from any single Futures region. It is notable, however, that Squaw Valley boasts U-17 indoor national team Ryleigh Heck, whose older sister Kara was one of the nation’s leading goal-scorers last year for Voorhees Eastern (N.J.).

June 25, 2017 — The helmet debate takes a new turn

The Associated Press has run a story about the advent of new helmets in girls’ high-school lacrosse.

The scenario in the lead paragraph of the story, however, is extremely misleading if outright irresponsible:

Erin Foster was running toward a ground ball at an indoor lacrosse game when she was pushed, sending her unprotected head into a wall.

The game where the injury occurred was not a high-school game, but a weekend rec league game which is not covered by National Federation rules.

Yet, the story was all about how players need protection, not whether helmets actually prevent concussions. Indeed, this story is one of the few that deliberately eliminates the fact that no helmet can prevent a concussion.

What is happening is that the vote two years ago, which was made in spite of the science that existed at the time and still exists today, is leading to a hard-shell helmet which is being imposed on Florida players next year.

The problem is that few journalists have bothered to mention the fact that Massachusetts went to mandatory headgear in the 1990s, which led to rough play and the inability of some players to get recruited because of the lack of stick skills on defense.

There has been little discussion about how the Federation’s rules on protecting players has affected their chances at getting recruited at the NCAA level. Look at field hockey, which has had about six or seven years of eyewear. The rule has had a particular effect on attacking players, who are now unafraid of carrying the ball into opposition territory without a defensive tackle popping the ball upward.

At the same time, however, the presence of foreign players on every Division I team and even now some D-II and D-III teams has kept some Americans off of college rosters.

Will this happen in lacrosse? Given the box-lacrosse skills of players like Selena Lasota, Kenzie Kent, and Danita Stroup, you get the feeling that those kinds of players are going to be the ones more sought.

June 24, 2017 — U-16 NFT: Atlanta chalks up a dominating gold medal

Picking the winner of the 2017 U-16 National Futures Tournament was a matter of looking at the rosters.

On Team Atlanta, you had Lauren Wadas from PIAA Class AAA runner-up Palmyra (Pa.), Madison Orobono from PIAA winner Emmaus (Pa.), Sophia Gladieux and Sophie Mackrella from PIAA Class A runner-up Oley (Pa.) Valley, and Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) sophomore Mackenzie Allessie, she of the 76 goals scored last season for the state Class AA champs.

The results were predictable.

The loaded Atlantans not only won the gold medal in the tournament, they waylaid opponents doing it. They won all five matches by a combined score of 33-2, ultimately winning the gold medal over Cortina d’Ampezzo 4-1. As it turns out, the Cortina team also represented Pennsylvania, and had players such as Emma Deberdine of Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), Kayla Kisthardt of Emmaus (Pa.), Adele Iacobucci of Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.), and Sarah Beers of Oley (Pa.) Valley.