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Archive for October, 2017

Oct. 31, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of Oct. 29

With less than a month before the end of the season, this is definitely the calm before the proverbial storm as some state tournaments end, and as regional tournaments wrap up in many places this coming weekend. Watch especially for Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia as their regional champions are crowned.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com honorary No. 11 team of the week is the U.S. senior women’s national indoor field hockey team, which won the gold medal earlier this month in the Pan American Hockey Federation Tournament. The States used plenty of goal-scoring from dragflick and stroke specialist Ali Campbell, forwards Sammy Popper and Mary Beth Barham, and the steady play from fullback Hannah Prince. Full marks to head coach Jun Kentwell and team manager Richard Kentwell for their efforts.

1. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 22-0

The Comets eliminated last year’s state Class AAA finalist, Palmyra (Pa.), and have Hershey (Pa.) tomorrow in the PIAA District 3-Class AAA semifinals

2. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 19-0

Beat San Diego Patrick Henry (Calif.) to highight the week

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 22-0

Beat Allentown Northampton (Pa.) 6-1 last week; Hornets played Swiftwater Pocono Mountain East (Pa.) in the PIAA District 11-AAA semifinals yesterday

4. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 19-0-1

Takes on Caldwell Mount St. Dominic (N.J.) in NJSIAA Non-Public North Tournament

5. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 21-1

Indians have scored 207 goals this season; take on Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.) tomorrow evening in PIAA District 3-AA semifinals

6. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 19-0-1

Vikings take on Manahawkin Southern Regional (N.J.) in NJSIAA Group IV South semifinal

7. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 17-0

Hornets take on Lincolndale Somers (N.Y.) today in NYSPHSAA Section 1 Class B tournament

8. Norfolk (Va.) Academy (Va.) 19-0

Beat Richmond Collegiate (Va.) 4-0 last week; team plays in Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools tournament starting tomorrow

9. Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y) 16-0

Rain postponed NYSPHSAA Section II Class A final against Saratoga Springs (N.Y.) to yesterday

10. Oley (Pa.) Valley 20-1

Oley takes on Greenwood in PIAA District 3-Class A semifinal tomorrow

11.  United States Women’s Indoor Team 7-0

Next step for the States is the World Cup in Germany the second week of February

Who’s out: None

And bear in mind: Monument Palmer Ridge (Colo.) 16-1-1, Enfield (Conn.) 13-0, Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 13-0, Delmar (Del.) 15-0, Lake Forest (Ill.) 22-2, Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) 22-5-2, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 19-7, Winchester (Mass.) 17-0-1, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 27-2, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 18-2, Moorestown (N.J.) 13-3, Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 15-3, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 15-2, Downingtown (Pa.) West 20-0, Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 18-0, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 15-1

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Oct. 30, 2017 — The best strategic move?

The month of October featured a pair of important tournaments on the men’s international calendar for the United States.

The States could have participated in the senior men’s Pan American Hockey Federation indoor qualifier for next year’s Indoor World Cup, but chose not to field a team.

Instead, the United States decided to field and fund a U-21 national team to play in Malaysia at the Sultan of Johor Cup. It was a team which, according to more than one source, went into the competition with a short roster.

I don’t know whether it was because the decision of USA Field Hockey was on short notice or because the players perhaps knew what they were going to be in for at the competition.

What happened was this:

Australia 19, USA 0
Great Britain 11, USA 0
India 22, USA 0
Malaysia 18, USA 0
Japan 14, USA 0
Japan 11, USA 0

This, remember, is men’s field hockey, a game where goals are supposed to be a bit less rare than in soccer, but a sport where a gulf in form or preparation is duly exploited and punished.

But there’s something about the way that the situation with the men’s U-21s was handled that has not gone over well with members of the U.S. men’s field hockey community. Every aspect of our nation’s participation in the Johor Cup — from player selection to the selection of this tournament to situational play during games — has been combed over and criticized with the same level of detail reserved for sports talk radio in major American cities.

If you want a look, it’s there on social media. And, for the most part, these people are right. Despite the best efforts of coaching and technical staff, it’s hard to train up players who do not have regular domestic competition for a tournament at this level.

In a sense, the tribulations of being a male field hockey player in the United States are beginning to hit the mainstream. But given the fact that there is still no varsity field hockey for boys’ only or men’s only teams in the U.S., that mainstream is still very, very far away.

And frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more times in recent years.

Oct. 29, 2017 — Last of the county tournaments

One week from today, the finals of the Shore Conference Tournament will be played. The match, featuring Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.) and Manahawkin Southern Regional (N.J.), represents the last of the 10 in-season tournaments that add to the texture and flavor of the New Jersey scholastic field hockey season.

Most the other dozen or so FA Cup-style knockout tournaments have already been played this year, but this year’s SCT has special significance. That’s because both sides have had tremendous seasons this year and are poised to make a run at state championships.

Rumson-Fair Haven, which has won a number of state titles in the last five years, is in the Group II North 2 bracket. But also in Group II, but in the North 1 bracket, is North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.), your defending Tournament of Champions holder.

Southern Regional is in the Group IV South bracket, and it is a bracket which has hosted the likes of Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.) and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) over the last four decades. And, as it happens, Southern takes on Eastern this Wednesday.

Now, I’ve always said that county tournaments can be great indicators of how teams will do in the high-octane pressure of the state tournament. Let’s see what happens with these two teams.

Oct. 28, 2017 — First of the conference tournaments

Yesterday morning, shortly after 3 p.m., a whistle blew at Phyllis Ocker Field at the University of Michigan. A plastic ball was whisked across wet blue artificial turf by a pair of teams wearing white and red.

The occurrence was the play-in game for the Big Ten Conference postseason tournament, the start of the postseason for NCAA Division I field hockey.

Start of postseason? Aren’t there a ton of games left this weekend? Well, yes, there are. But the Big Ten, as a superconference, has realized that it cannot do what it does in basketball, where the conference brings every team to one site to play down several rounds to crown one champion.

This year, the Big Ten is the only conference to play its field hockey quarterfinal round on campus sites to qualify for the semifinal and final rounds the weekend after. It’s also being done for other sports, such as soccer.

Now, I’m wondering if the other conferences that sponsor field hockey, many of whom only play off their top four finishers, will expand their postseasons in a similar fashion. I think the ACC, which will play its entire tournament bracket in four days next week, could benefit from hosting its three first-round games a week earlier on campus sites.

Oct. 27, 2017 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Oct. 25

Good morning, and welcome to Friday Statwatch. Today, we take a look at what’s become my favorite statistical category since I started compiling national field hockey statistics a few years ago. That category is the 100-100 Club, which recognizes players who are not just good shooters, but who are excellent in the execution of set plays and pass plays in order to shake free teammates for easy goals.

This year, the 100-100 Club could nearly double in size. What had been a four-player group at the start of this season got its fifth member, the magician from Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) Mackenzie Allessie, earlier this season, and just got its sixth member this past week thanks to a six-goal, two assist effort from the fine senior midfielder from Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.), Leah Crouse. Note that, in the below table, Gabby Andretta of Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) is just four goals and two assists from joining this outstanding group (red = active players):

G-A Name School ST Year
148-135* Chantae Miller Williamsville North NY 2003-2008
126-117 Chantae Miller Williamsville North NY 2005-2008
114-108 Alyssa Parker Glenelg MD 2008-2011
200-201 Haley Schleicher Virginia Beach First Colonial Va. 2012-2015
217-134 Meredith Sholder Emmaus PA 2013-2016
208-105 Mackenzie Allessie Mount Joy Donegal PA 2015-2017
101-104 Leah Crouse Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox VA 2014-2017
96-98 Gabby Andretta Summit Oak Knoll NJ 2014-2017

*– six-year varsity numbers

This being The Score-O Decade in American field hockey, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing more and more responsibilities for both scoring and setting up goal-scoring embodied in one person.

And, like we mentioned about the teams that had 68-goal scorers on their teams last week, those teams tend to be successful. All six of the 100-100 players (as well as Andretta) have won at least one state championship, and, with health and a little luck, the three actives could be on the way to the finals in their respective states.

So, here’s this week’s field hockey statistics from available sources. This includes, amongst others, amongst others, Advance Media, PennLive.com, LancSports.com, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PhilaFieldHockey.com, and the Washington Post. It also includes data from the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com reporting tool, and I encourage readers to contact their coaches, athletic directors, and student managers so that they may register for and use the MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams as well as perhaps your conference, league, or your state governing body to enter field hockey information there, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
72 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 
67 Olivia Sahaydak, Bethlehem Liberty (Pa.)
53 Sarah Wilson, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
52 Leah Zellner, Emmaus (Pa.)
47 Alivia Klopp, Tulpehocken (Pa.)
45 Riley Baughman, Emmaus (Pa.)
43 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
41 Ellie McIntyre, Easton (Pa.)
41 Morgan Carr, Walkill Valley (N.J.)
41 Charlotte DeVries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 
40 Regan Dougherty, Haddon Township (N.J.)
40 Meghan Reese, Center Valley Southern Lehigh (Pa.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
36 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
32 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
31 Alyssa Maynard, Falls Church George C. Marshall (Va.)
29 Nicki McNamara, Chantilly Westfield (Va.)
28 Natalie Nava, Edwardsville (Ill.)
28 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
26 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
26 Julia Russo, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
208 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
150 Lily Croddick, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.)
143 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
142 Regan Dougherty, Haddon Township (N.J.)
127 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
125 Alivia Klopp, Tulpehocken (Pa.)
122 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
121 Charlotte DeVries, Virginia Beach Cape Henry Academy (Va.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)*
121 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
107 Gianna Morganti, Hammonton St. Joseph’s (N.J.)
106 Leah Zellner, Emmaus (Pa.)

106 Charlotte DeVries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)**
104 Alexis Rider, Delran (N.J.)
101 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 
100 Julia Russo, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
96 Jessica Maute, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
93 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
96 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
91 Olivia Sahaydak, Bethlehem Liberty (Pa.)
90 Ellie McIntyre, Easton (Pa.)
87 Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)***
* — four-year varsity career
** — three-year varsity career
***— inactive for 2016-17 seasons

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
105 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
104 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
98 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
68 Kara McClure, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
64 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

62 Greer Gill, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
59 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
57 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy

GAMES UNDEFEATED
112 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
84 Los Gatos (Calif.)
76 Emmaus (Pa.)
70 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
84 Los Gatos (Calif.)
76 Emmaus (Pa.)
70 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

So, friends, here’s where you come in, since I know we’re missing some stuff. If you see something that needs correction, please 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 we’ll see you (we hope) next week.

Oct. 26, 2017 — A Hall-of-Fame effort leads to a first-round upset

Pat Toner has been a field hockey coach at some level since 1987. She coached Newtown Council Rock (Pa.) to a pair of PIAA Class AAA title games in the 1990s, then moved to the newer campus when Holland Council Rock South (Pa.) opened in 2002.

She left coaching in 2008, having won more than 300 games, gaining a growing coaching tree of former players in Lower Bucks County as well as in some neighboring colleges.

But somewhere between retiring from teaching in the mid-2000s, being elected to the Lower Bucks County chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and doting on her son Dan’s growing family, the coaching bug came back.

And she responded by taking the head coaching job at Warrington Central Bucks South two years ago. It was an interesting move, given the fact that the Titans had made the PIAA Class AAA Final Four in 2014 under head coach Brittany Gryzwacz.

Yesterday, Central Bucks South suddenly entered the conversation about the PIAA District 1-AAA postseason with a 2-1 win over Eagleville Methacton (Pa.) thanks to a Kasey Dietzel penalty stroke deep in overtime. There were five seconds left before the teams would head to a penalty shootout.

Methacton had been undefeated on the season with a record of 20-0. That was good enough for the No. 2 seed in the bracket, which was already uncertain to begin with, given the fact that the nation’s best player, Team USA’s Erin Matson, would not be participating with Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.). But even without her, Unionville has won its first two matches on the road, beating Boyertown (Pa.) 7-1 and Levittown Pennsbury (Pa.) 4-3.

The District 1-AAA bracket is definitely one to watch.

Oct. 25, 2017 — A trickle becomes a flood

Last spring, 24 members of the Louisville women’s lacrosse team participated in at least one game.

But since the fall of 2016, 16 players have been reported to have left the Cardinal program. Some went back to play at colleges near their homes. Others transferred in groups to follow former assistant coach Katrina Dowd to the University of Oregon.

Some pundits may look at previous trickles of players away from the campus, as well as as a USA Today story alleging verbal abuse by head coach Kellie Young.

As we’ve said in the past, I don’t believe that Young is the problem that is chasing away the players from the program. After all, with the social media tools for documentation that have been used in the past to entrap students who act poorly, I note the lack of credible evidence that Young has been engaging in a pattern of player abuse.

However, one does wonder about the campus at large. This is a university whose basketball program has been allowed free rein when it comes to using sex workers. Its coach and members of the athletic administrative staff are on leave with the intention of dismissal.

Did the women’s lacrosse team somehow encounter some of the environment the basketball team brought to campus?

This is something that bears watching.