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July 6, 2017 — An appreciation: Michelle Kasold, forward, United States

One in an occasional series.

Michelle Kasold was not above comparing herself against international competition. The same woman who retired today after more than 220 appearances for the U.S. field hockey team had competed against players from other shores for longer than most in her peer group.

Indeed, she was a senior in high school when she played for East Chapel Hill (N.C.) at the 2004 Sun Devil Invitational, a 16-team invitational at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach.

East, in the final, played against St. Mary’s School of Johannesburg, South Africa. St. Mary’s, a team with three future national-team players, played smooth and efficient hockey in a 2-0 victory.

Kasold, however, was the happiest when the trophy presentation occurred after the final. “We’re the second-best team in the world!” she proclaimed.

Her international career began the next year with her participation in the Junior World Cup, then with callups to the senior women’s national team pool.

For a decade, she helped the U.S. program improve through her athleticism and her intelligent use of space. She even took time, during the Clash in the Capital series in 2010, to attend a friendly between Ajax and D.C. United to study how the Dutch club team treated the ball and moved it in the attack end.

The lessons, evidently, served her well. She appeared in two Olympics, played on the Pan American Game-winning sides of 2011 and 2015, and was part of the team which won the U.S. team’s first major trophy in its history when it won the FIH Champions Challenge in 2014.

Kasold’s retirement comes at a difficult time for the U.S. program. The FIH World League semifinals are but two days away. We’re also one month from the Pan American Cup. And Kasold’s departure is just one which has made over the American roster from just one year ago in Rio. Only about half of last year’s roster that went over to Rio is in this year’s cohort, which is trying to win its way into the 2018 FIH World Cup.

And without the cerebral Kasold, the job got just a bit tougher.

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