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Archive for August, 2018

Aug. 24, 2018 — Preseason Statwatch for 2018

Hi, everyone.

Beginning next month, we’ll try to compile nationwide field hockey statistics from not only various sources, but from you, the public.

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.

Here’s what we have from last year, going forward with active players:

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
227 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
137 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
132 Charlotte de Vries, Virginia Beach Cape Henry Academy (Va.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)*
132 Paityn Wirth, Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.)

117 Charlotte de Vries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)**
114 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
104 Emma DeBerdine, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
100 Gabby Bitts, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
* — four-year varsity career
** — three-year varsity career

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
108 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
70 Emma DeBerdine, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)

GAMES UNDEFEATED
115 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
90 Los Gatos (Calif.)
79 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
79 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

COACHING WINS
919 Susan Butz-Stavin, Emmaus (Pa.)
811 Laurie Berger, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
786 Linda Krieser, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.)
658 Karen Klassner, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
652 Matt Soto, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
641 Eileen Donahue, Watertown (Mass.)
617 Sharon Sarsen, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
598 Bob Derr, Lititz Warwick (Pa.)

589 Debby Watson, Dardenne Prairie Barat Academy (Mo.)

COACHING YEARS OF SERVICE
53 Judy Schneider, Hanover (Mass.)
51 Kathleen “Cookie” Bromage, Enfield (Conn.)
50 Barbara Major, Lawrence Notre Dame (N.J.)
48 Nancy Gross, Wall (N.J.)
48 Claudia McCarthy, Millville (N.J.)
47 Karen Klassner, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

If you see a number or statistic or even some statistical oddity that you’d like to bring to our attention, 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.

We’ll start our weekly Statwatch in late September

Aug. 23, 2018 — The fallout continues

Today, the state of Michigan filed charges against former Michigan State University women’s gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages for lying to investigators about what she knew about Larry Nasser, the university’s former team doctor.

Earlier this year, Nasser was convicted in his part in sexually molesting student-athletes at Michigan State as well as various competitors on dance teams and in gymnastics schools, including those feeding into the elite pool that sent gymnasts onto Olympic careers.

More than 150 women have come forward in the last few months to testify either in open court or in affidavits. Nasser is in a Federal prison in Oklahoma City, serving anywhere from 100 to 235 years in prison — in essence, a life sentence.

Klages is the first of Nasser’s alleged enablers to be charged as an accessory. Published reports list her alongside more than a dozen people who could have reported Nasser’s behavior but are alleged to have done nothing.

The highest-ranking official in this situation, MSU President Lou Anna Simon, has already resigned. With these charges, the Michigan attorney general is certainly in the process of going after the rest.

 

Aug. 22, 2018 — What has been lost

The announcement today that U.S. women’s national team captain Melissa Gonzalez and starting goalkeeper Jackie Briggs have retired from international competition has led to a dubious statistic.

With these two retirements, as well others since the end of the 2016 Olympics, the U.S. women’s national team program has lost more than 1,500 caps’ worth of international experience.

Think about it: 1,500 caps is what you would get if you had the same starting eleven and five subs playing 94 games together.

I think the loss of Briggs is an especially difficult one. She came in a year before the London Olympics, replacing an injured Amy Swensen to help propel the U.S. team to the Pan American Games gold medal. But Swensen came back into the team for the 2012 Olympics, whereupon the States finished 12th and last in London.

Gonzalez played for the legendary Sharon Sarsen at Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) as well as for Nancy Stevens at the University of Connecticut. She was an especially effective and skilled player at the international level, but was, above all, fearless.

International field hockey experience isn’t something that can be easily replaced, even for an Argentina or a Holland. It’s something that can’t be manufactured or sold. As a race car driver once quipped, “It’s hard to lay down old pavement.”

But the retirements of so many players from the Rio roster certainly is the start of the remaking of the U.S. women’s national team program. Only a few months now stand between the team and the start of the 16-game Hockey Pro League. Oddly enough, only one of the U.S. fixtures has been assigned a location, as the United States take on Australia at Sydney Olympic Park next March 2.

But with an Olympic berth at the end of the road, the States will have to earn it with a new generation of player, one which started to show itself at the recent World Cup, but will need to find their own way in a new team culture without the experience, guile, and grit of two of the greats.

 

Aug. 21, 2018 — A step back; no, make that several steps

In the last few years, USA Field Hockey has made incremental steps to try to dispel the notion that field hockey is only a game for women. It has attempted to increase participation amongst young men and boys in club programs by starting age group pool play at the National Indoor Tournament, and even encouraging a couple of California high schools to start all-boys’ teams, an experiment which fell away with the resignation of Nick Conway six years ago.

With today’s launch of a campaign called “This Is Where We Play,” the one-minute video on the USA Field Hockey website is, frankly, an enormous retrenchment. The video highlights are exclusively of female players, dominated by the U.S. women’s national side. Only in a five-second burst towards the end of the initial video are there any male faces other than the training staff for the women’s national side.

I’m hoping this campaign, going forward, will show the increasing diversity of the game, geographically, demographically, and socially.

Heck, I can point you to a place where a lot of the action in that realm is happening right now; it’s a place that USA Field Hockey knows well: the Commonwealth of Virginia.

There are places right now in Virginia that did not have competitive field hockey five, 10 years ago, but now have high-school teams capable of making the state finals. There are a couple of teams from immigrant communities that regularly have players from Guatemala, Honduras, India, and other countries on its roster.

It’s easy to find good stories when it comes to field hockey: all you need to know is where to look.

Aug. 20, 2018 — The start

Last Thursday evening, with a whistle and a clack of plastic against a composite stick, the American scholastic field hockey season began in earnest as the Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) took on Louisville Kentucky Country Day School (Ky.) in Pool A action of the 46th annual Apple Tournament.

The Christian Academy was last year’s state champion, and found its first step in trying to repeat was as tough as expected, as Kentucky Country Day found a late equalizer to level the result at 2-2.

The tournament continues through the week, and despite delays due to heat and lightning, the committed volunteers, coaches, and players have kept going forward. Eight teams make up the Varsity “A” division, eleven make up Varsity “B”, while eleven JV and six freshman teams will also be playing games over the next week or so, looking to win championships.

There are plenty of stories to keep an eye on during the tournament, from the long-time powers like Sacred Heart and Assumption, to the schools debuting as champions the last decade like duPont Manual and Christian Academy, to the teams which have only started the last three or four years like Holy Cross and Pleasure Ridge Park.

The winners of the pools and divisions of this tournament will certainly have earned their trophies.

Aug. 19, 2018 — Next up

This week, 19 Harvard Blazers looks at not only dining out, but a prescient piece of prose written by one of our own.

Aug. 18, 2018 — Addition by addition?

This week, the team that polled as the No. 1 NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse team in the country for most of the season, showed its hand as to what it is going to try to do to win a national championship.

Stony Brook, which lost in the quarterfinal round in overtime to Boston College, may have graduated a sizable and accomplished senior class, but it is also welcoming four transfers amongst its newcomers. Nicole Barretta, Kelsi LoNigro, Sara Moeller and Sabrina Tabasso.

“We look at it as a reload,” SBU head coach Joe Spallina tells Long Island Newsday. “We have a ton of faith in the players that we have back, and now the pieces that we added.”

Of the four, Moeller may have the largest impact. She scored 77 goals and recorded 60 assists for the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in the last two years, and was a league all-star last year.

Now, I have seen transfers become bona fide game-changers at times in my three decades of observing the sport. But very few transfers have been the difference in whether a team makes it to NCAA championship level. One of the most memorable transfers was when Dana Dobbie transferred from the disbanded Ohio University program to set records for draw controls at the University of Maryland. Yet Dobbie never won a title with the Terps.

We’ll get an idea about how the transfers affect the team during fall-ball.