TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Sept. 18, 2017 — A pair of significant weekend results

While this site was concentrating on the interstate match between Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) and Norfolk (Va.) Academy, there were two more significant occurrences in the field hockey world on Saturday.

One was the rematch of a pretty significant match from a year ago, but this year, the in-season confrontation between Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) was to take place at Montclair State University.

The last two times these state powerhouses have met, it was Eastern coming out on the front foot and taking the initiative, winning both contests. But Saturday, it was Oak Knoll who got the first goal in the 43rd minute off the stick of Gabby Andretta.

Eastern, to its credit leveled the score four minutes later. Oak Knoll then took the lead again in the 48th, leaving it up to the Vikings to try to even the score. The Royals’ defense were pounded for the next eight minutes before Kara Heck, last year’s leading goal scorer for Eastern, tied it up. The score remained 2-2 through 10 minutes of overtime, but not before a final scare. Eastern’s Izzy Sinibaldi, a promising player who has been gaining more playing time over the years on such a loaded attacking side, had a late breakaway but had her shot stopped by Oak Knoll goalie Jordan McGinley.

About 100 miles west of this game, history was being made in the Lehigh Valley. But for Emmaus (Pa.), the quest for getting head coach Susan Butz-Stavin her 900th career victory was not made easy by their guests, Allentown Parkland (Pa.).

Indeed, this game went into overtime. But it took senior Leah Zellner to finish off a one-timer from the wing to give the Green Hornets a 2-1 win.

These games represent their own varieties of a “gut check.” Eastern, in its last 17-plus years of dominance, was staring at an early loss for the first time; usually, it is late in the season when the Vikings fall short in any particular game.

And for Emmaus, the entire season surrounds one problem: how to deal with talent that is no longer on the team. Graduating an all-time great such as Meredith Sholder, the Emmaus attack has been looking for its own identity, and the overtime result certainly represents an enormous mental hurdle for the players on the current roster.

But overall, one cannot help but pay respect to Butz-Stavin, who has coached some of the finest players and teams of all time, including last year’s No. 1 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Final Top 50.

And yesterday’s grit and determination not to lose against Parkland was a testament to her methods. A hearty “Well-played!” from this corner.

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