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Nov. 20, 2017 — The commonality amongst all three PIAA finals

So, coming out of the Saturday tripleheader for the most prominent of field hockey playing states, did anyone notice a commonality?

It was a pretty obvious one: the head coach for all three winning teams was male.

It must be said, however, that the gender of the winning coaches is not nearly the only reason why the winning teams were able to do so this year. Matt Soto, Daan Polders, and Kent Houser have worked over the course of decades to get where they are, learning subtleties about this most subtle and archaic of games in order to become successful.

If you need an example of the kinds of lessons a coach can offer, take the final 10 minutes of the Greenwood-Wyoming Seminary match. There was a collision between Greenwood star player Paityn Wirth and a Wyoming Seminary midfielder right in front of the scorer’s table. It was a bit of a late challenge on the part of the U.S. indoor national team player, and she helped up her opponent with a pat on the back just as the umpire produced a green card.

With a one-goal lead and fewer than seven minutes remaining on the clock, Greenwood had a dilemma: what do you do without your best player?

Fortunately, the Wildcats had that lesson already: it was during a period of a couple of weeks when they did not have Wirth, who was away helping the United States win an FIH Indoor Women’s World Cup berth.

While Wirth was away, the Wildcats were able to beat State College (Pa.) 5-0.

“I think that did wonders for all the other kids and for their confidence, without Paityn on the field,” Houser said.

In the overall debate over the role of male coaches in the current realm of women’s sports, what happened yesterday is something that should be of concern for those aspiring to be good coaches.

However, it is also noticeable that, in this collegiate offseason, there was a change in coaches at Ohio University as Neil MacMillan was let go and replaced by Ali Johnstone. It was a rare occurrence, given the flood of male coaches taking Division I jobs the last 15 years or so.

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