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Archive for April, 2018

BULLETIN: April 30, 2018 — The McDonogh win streak survives — barely

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On a windswept W. Boulton Dixon field this afternoon, the Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) girls’ lacrosse team found itself in a position where it had little to play for because it had already clinched the regular-season title in the IAAM Division “A.” The little matter of a 194-game win streak was also in play.

But the visitors from Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.), aiming to break a three-way logjam for the two other first-round byes in next week’s tournament, gave the Eagles all they could handle before losing 11-10 in overtime.

Julia Hoffman provided the game-winner for the Eagles in the third minute of overtime on a day when little seemed to go right for the hosts. Indeed, even as McDonogh won three of the first four draws of the game, it didn’t seem to matter, as the Blazers ran out to a 3-1 lead, and held that two-goal advantage at the interval.

After the halftime talk, McDonogh roared back with four straight goals to take an 8-6 lead, whereupon NDP chipped away thanks to some uncharacteristic shooting from the Eagle offense, which appeared to be pressing a little too much to make the perfect pass or the perfect shot.

Notre Dame Prep, which was ranked No. 3 in the TopOfTheCircle.com preseason Top 10, showed great strength and mettle throughout the game and had its chances to win in the final minutes. NDP had the ball after winning a late draw, but, with 42 seconds remaining, turned it over to a McDonogh defense which chose to press out instead of collapse.

NDP also had its shot in the first minute of overtime, but McDonogh made a smart double-team and forced the turnover that led to Hoffman’s free-position goal.

McDonogh’s IAAM season is complete with a 12-0 record, and will finish its regular season Thursday against Sykesville Century (Md.), while NDP takes on Severna Park Severn School (Md.) to finish out its IAAM season.

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April 30, 2018 — The almost-perfect matchup, and what might happen this afternoon

Today begins the final week of play in the nation’s premier lacrosse conference, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s “A” Division.

Many in the lacrosse intelligentsia, including your Founder, thought that there would be two undefeated teams by the time this week started, and that the two teams meeting this afternoon at W. Boulton Dixon Field, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) and Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.), would be those two teams.

But recall the TopOfTheCircle.com First Law of Lacrosse: “There’s a reason why games aren’t played on paper.”

While McDonogh has freight-trained its schedule thus far to a 194-game winning streak, Notre Dame Prep lost its opener to Ellicott City Glenelg Country School (Md), then to Baltimore Roland Park (Md.) and Mount Sinai (N.Y.) to open the season 5-3. Since then, however, the Blazers have reeled off eight straight victories.

Within the league standings, McDonogh has a 2 1/2-game lead on Notre Dame Prep and a two-game lead over Glenelg Country School, meaning that the Eagles will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s postseason tournament.

Today’s game is much more important to NDP, because it needs a win in order to solidify a top-three finish in the league standings. Only the top three teams get a bye into the “A” Division octofinal round next week; the fourth- through 13th-place teams are paired off into five first-round games.

It’s plausible, for this reason, that the Blazers might be able to pull the upset here. A number of teams have taken advantage of the lack of a possession clock to try to take the air out of the ball and keep it out of the hands of McDonogh’s clinical finishers.

But that requires Notre Dame Prep to find some countermeasure against McDonogh’s center, Maddie Jenner. The Duke-bound 6-foot-2 senior is a multi-headed Hydra on draws: she can win them to herself, win them to spaces for teammates to run onto, or win them to teammates who can make the catch.

Thing is, even if NDP holds Jenner to 50 percent in the circle, they would have to be nearly perfect in most every other aspect of the game in order to be successful. If they can recapture the magic that propelled them by Olney Good Counsel (Md.) and Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) back in the second week of March, the Blazers will be extremely competitive.

We’ll find out this afternoon.

April 29, 2018 — A view to a more physical future

A couple of summers ago, the American lacrosse community was first exposed to a new lacrosse league, United Women’s Lacrosse. At the same time, it was exposed to a new style of lacrosse, one where the umpires seemingly swallowed their whistles and let the players decide the game rather than call minor fouls all over the place.

That tendency has spread into the women’s college game with, I think, some detriment.

A major talking point was the final minutes of play in today’s ACC championship game between Boston College and North Carolina. The last seven or eight minutes were very chipping and physical, culminating in one of the worst fouls I’ve seen on a girls’ or women’s lacrosse field since 2014.

On the play, Boston College’s Christina Walsh was led into the midfield by teammate Sam Apuzzo’s smart pass. She had an open lane to goal from the midfield and ran into the arc, whereupon she was cross-checked from behind by UNC defender Kara Klages.

Walsh flew forward, her head striking the bottom hand of another UNC close defender, drawing blood.

A straight red card was issued.

Barely 70 seconds earlier, North Carolina was making a self-start in the attacking third when Boston College defender Hannah Hyatt took not just a slash, but a full swing from behind in order to try to dislodge the ball from her opponent.

That only received a yellow, but it reminded me of an indoor lacrosse incident that I saw on a black-and-white newsreel when the players wore nothing on their heads but knitted caps. Presumably, the players were assumed to have a certain amount of respect for each other’s heads.

I believe that respect is rapidly eroding in the free-movement era of women’s lacrosse, and it’s not a good thing to see.

 

April 28, 2018 — Into the gap

It’s already conference tournament season in NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse, as four tournaments are already underway, with two AQ champions being crowned by tomorrow afternoon.

Huh? How is that? Aren’t there a total of 13 tournaments and AQs on order?

Well, yes. But two conferences — the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Big South — have a one-week gap between the first round (held at home sites) and the final two rounds (held at a predetermined site). Another conference, the Patriot, starts its tournament on May 1, then plays its semifinal round on Friday with the final Sunday.

I don’t remember this happening in the past, though I did note that the Big Ten did something very similar in field hockey last fall. All nine teams played their preliminary tournament games on campus sites, then converged on the University of Michigan the following weekend for the semifinals and final.

In many college sports, the conference tournament not only serves as a final opportunity for teams to play their way into an NCAA Tournament, but also serves as the venue for a conference’s annual banquet and for the conference to release its league all-star team as well as announce its player and coach of the year.

It’s for this reason that I believe a conference loses a little bit if you have a break in between the first round and the semifinals, since you’re not going to have every team in the same location at the same time.

But I guess, in these days of athletic budgets being what they are (except for football and men’s basketball, that is), this is going to be the new norm.

 

April 27, 2018 — Friday Statwatch for games played through April 25

Readers, we are back with Friday Statwatch, a place of statistical achievements, oddities, and occasional awesomeness.

This week, I’m pointing up the fact that The McDonogh School is not the only entity in girls’ high school lacrosse that breaks a record every time it comes out onto the pitch.

For the last two years, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) has broken a record just about every time it plays a game. That’s because head coach Kathy Jenkins is the all-time leader (that we know of) for girls’ varsity lacrosse coaching victories. She surpassed the legendary Angela Tammaro of Greenwich (Conn.) Academy during the school’s 25th Anniversary Spring Fling, and has kept on going, as she has since she started the lacrosse program in 1976.

Below is a compilation of girls’ lacrosse statistics from various sources including MaxPreps.com, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post. These numbers are as of the end of play on Wednesday, meaning that there could very well be numbers in the Daily Statwatch which are newer.

I encourage all coaches, managers, athletic directors, and any influencers out there to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
101 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
99 Molly Dankowski, Cumming Pinecrest Academy (Ga.)
96 Hannah Carolan, Jacksonville Stanton (Fla.)
89 Alissa Champagne, Gatlinburg Pittman (Tenn.)
89 Rebekah Hartnett, El Cajon Granite Hills (Calif.)
88 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
87 Kaley Attaway, Roswell Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
85 Stela Chepenik, Episcopal School of Jacksonville (Fla.)
84 Chelsea Smith, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
83 Hailey Carroll, Christian Academy of Knoxville (Tenn.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
65 Megan Davis, Neptune Beach Fletcher (Fla.)
63 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
63 Samantha Douglass, Estero (Fla.)
62 Amy Roche, Falls Church George Mason (Va.)
56 Logan Dougherty, Fairfax W. T. Woodson (Va.)

53 Emma Pizzo, Charleston Bishop England (S.C.)
51 Karson Harris, Leonardtown (Md.)
51 Cassidy Slavik, McLean (Va.)
50 Kaley Attaway, Roswell Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
50 Balay Woodworth, Dallas North Paulding (Ga.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
432 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
360 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
299 Camryn Rogers, Somerville (N.J.)
237 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
178 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)
171 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
141 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
193 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)

COACHING WINS
762 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
544 Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (N.J.)

With many cool-weather states now heading into the meat of their seasons, there are going to be a lot of changes in this list the next month or so. If you see something missing, 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 a lot for reading, and we’ll reconvene next week.

April 26, 2018 — A change at the very top

You may have noticed a slight change in the up-to-the-minute lacrosse statistics that we keep just to the right of this column, the “Daily Statwatch: Chasing History” segment of this site.

The change is in the ultimate target that scholastic lacrosse players will be aiming for when it comes to the number of goals and the combined goals and assists in a career.

Two years ago, I did a video story on Sophia Turchetta, a senior at Harvard Bromfield School (Mass.). Now a sophomore at Dartmouth, she was putting up unbelievable numbers for Bromfield.

Now, to be fair, the National Federation is likely to recognize her for scoring 538 goals, which is the number that she scored from ninth through 12th grade. The NFHS record book did the same thing with field hockey star Chantae Miller.

TopOfTheCircle.com doesn’t believe that a varsity career, especially for players of exceptional physical maturity or ability, should be limited to just four years, so we sometimes have to include players twice on our all-time lists.

Until this week, however, we had an incomplete accounting of Turchetta’s impact on not only Bromfield, but the sport. We only had stats for Turchetta’s eighth-grade through her senior year, which was 641 goals and 143 assists.

A couple of days ago, however, the Worcester Telegram published a more complete accounting, which had her for 654 goals and 149 assists. This meant that she would have had 13 goals and six assists as a seventh-grader on varsity. That makes sense to me, so that’s why she now also has the six-year record for combined goals and assists of 803.

That’s a lot of scoring plays.

April 25, 2018 — With their 193rd consecutive win, McDonogh makes a statement

It was “first” vs. “best” at W. Boulton Dixon Field at Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.), as the host Eagles, having won its previous 192 varsity matches, took on IAAM “A” rival Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.), the oldest varsity girls’ lacrosse program in the United States.

And there was every reason for the Mawrtians to think they could be the team that could end the McDonogh streak. They had won their first six games before losing by a goal to conference rivals Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) and Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.).

McDonogh, however, was a different level of play. Bryn Mawr had taken a 2-1 lead in the fourth minute of play, but scored five straight goals in the next five minutes, and even got the margin to a clock-running 10 goals before winning the game 15-6. It was the Mawrtians’ lowest goal output of the season, but just another dominant win for the Eagles.

McDonogh’s week of challenging contests, which started last Monday with a win over Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.), continues Friday against Ellicott City Glenelg Country (Md.), then a titanic Monday showdown against Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.).