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Archive for September, 2018

Sept. 30, 2018 — The next installation

On today’s blog entry in 19 Harvard Blazers, we talk about how art and design have informed my life over the last few years.

Sept. 29, 2018 — A final (albeit very important) footnote

On the upper plaza at the west end of Burns Field on the campus of Radnor Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.), I had a chance to talk with a very important figure behind yesterday’s game between the Irish and InterAc rival Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.).

Emily Snowden is a former varsity field hockey for the University of Vermont and the current volunteer assistant for Drexel University.

She is also the Director of Goalkeeping for the WC Eagles field hockey club, the offseason club program which has dominated indoor club play as well as National Club Championships during the summer. Amongst their alumnae are Team USA’s Erin Matson, as well as numerous members of age-group national teams as well as the senior national indoor team in the last cycle.

Club founders Richard and Jun Kentwell have made their reputations by questioning everything. They have done several things that no other club team had ever tried before, such as building their own hockey-specific facility. But more germane to yesterday’s game was Snowden, who, in the offseason, trains both EA goalkeeper Caroline Kelly and ND goalkeeper Paige Kieft.

Now, as i said yesterday in the game story, the coaching of goalkeeping was something that wasn’t taken seriously 20 years ago. But specialized coaching at the top levels of the college game has made its way to club play. Snowden works pretty much full-time for WC Eagles, in a U.S. club system where coaching is very much done on a part-time basis.

I hadn’t thought of the benefits of a full-time goalkeeping coach, but it makes sense in the context of what has made WC Eagles such a powerful name in American and international field hockey circles, even making it into a chapter of Gavin Featherstone’s book, “The Hockey Dynamic.”

Sept. 28, 2018 — Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 3, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 2 (OT)

VILLANOVA, Pa. — One of the nation’s best scholastic field hockey rivalry games has gotten a bit spicier this season. Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) are Inter-Academies Conference rivals located about two miles from each other along the Main Line west of Philadelphia, and have likely met each other more than 60 times on the hockey pitch since EA started admitting female students into the upper school sometime after 1980.

Yesterdays installment of the rivalry was just as intense as many of the recent matches, with Episcopal taking a 2-1 lead with about 15 minutes remaining, only to see the Irish tie the game on a rebound with under eight minutes to go. Notre Dame would then get an overtime goal Lauren Curran penalty corner to win 3-2.

But this game, and the rivalry, got a bit spicier this year because it was about a month ago when Notre Dame, the three-time defending Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) champion, defeated Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), the defending Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class AAA champion, by a score of 3-2.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the center of field hockey in America, that is a seismic occurrence.

The result of that game has put a target about the size of a house on Notre Dame, which has kept the momentum going, defeating Class AAA runner-up Downingtown (Pa.) West as well as District 1-AAA runner-up Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.).

“It was bold of us to set up the schedule starting with Penn Manor, but we just wanted to take on the top team, and compete, regardless,” said Adele Williams, who is in her 16th year of coaching the Irish. “The girls stepped up and played well, and have been in good form since.”

But for all of the scrutiny and pressure, there’s another level whenever Notre Dame takes on Episcopal. The dramatic outcome was worthy of a league final, but this could be the first of three times these sides could meet in 2018.

“Today, you saw two teams playing a good level of hockey,” said EA head coach Gina Buggy. “The ball was being used productively throughout the field, and with exciting and threatening moves.”

Inasmuch as the game was an exhibition of good team play, use of space, and smart ball-possession, the two goalkeepers played some outstanding hockey.

Senior Caroline Kelly of Episcopal Academy and sophomore Paige Kieft of Notre Dame are two young women whose excellent reflects the enormous changes in goalkeeping over the years — not just the type of athlete involved, but how they are coached. Specialized goalkeeper coaching used to be a rarity at the scholastic level in the U.S. except for summer camps. And until about 20 years ago, only a handful of U.S. college teams even had goalie coaches.

But Kelly and Kieft have received specialized coaching from the time they picked up the game in middle-school, and are current members of the WC Eagles club side, which employs a full-time goalie coach. The two have gotten to train with some of the best in the world in recent years.

“I’ve had many goalie coaches over the years, and this summer I was able to train in Amsterdam for a month, and I was fortunate to get one hour with a man named Martin Dreiber,” Kelly said. “Every single word he said settled in my mind, and I think about what he said to me constantly.”

“Jackie Briggs (the retired U.S. starting goalkeeper) was my goalie coach a couple of years ago in the spring,” Kieft said. “Just the experience of her talking about her experience and how she experienced situations, it was really special working with her.”

Today, however, they were on opposite sides in a high-stakes derby. During the game, both sides played smart possession hockey, using space and every square foot of the pitch to generate scoring chances.

Though Notre Dame generated more opportunities in the final third, Episcopal did an equally wonderful job at converting theirs. Indeed, the Churchwomen had seized the lead late on a 90-yard snowbird after a failed Notre Dame corner.

On the play, Kelly Smith, the Episcopal corner flyer, found space up the middle of the pitch to get the ball to teammate Maddie Rehak, who relayed the ball to forward Gianna Pantaleo, who took the ball right at the Irish defense. She created a 2-on-1, pulling out Kieft with a darting move along the right side, whereupon the Boston University commit deposited the ball from a tight angle.

“We’re big on trying to get rid of the ball quickly, and taking advantage of their weak side, and this was an example of Gianna making a third effort,” Buggy said. “It was working together, and it was really great to see.

“Usually, I trust my defenders to make the play,” Kieft said. “I think the ‘uh-oh’ moment was when I didn’t want to execute the skill I wanted to correctly. I needed to be more patient and stay in goal.”

EPISCOPAL ACADEMY (3-1-2) 1 1 0 — 2
ACADEMY OF NOTRE DAME (9-0-1) 1 1 1 — 3
ND: Lauren Curran (Mia Leonhardt), pc, 16th
EA: Gianna Pantaleo (Kathleen Anderson), fg, 18th
EA: Pantaleo, fg, 46th
ND: Riley Gillin (Jess Schneider), fg, 53rd
ND: Curran (Leonhardt), pc, 65th
Shots — EA: 8; ND: 22. Saves — EA: Caroline Kelly 16, defensive 3; ND: Paige Kieft 6.

POSTGAME Thanks for following along; good day, good hockey

POSTGAME Lauren Curran ended the game, and she will be lauded for it. But the two goalkeepers in the match — Caroline Kelly for EA and Paige Kieft for ND — were outstanding

POSTGAME One of the nation’s finest rivalries yielded another classic confrontation that went down to the end

64:02 AND PC and GOAL Curran’s blast bounces past Kelly and into the mesh! It counts! Notre Dame wins 3-2! What a game!

62:10 EA PC Pantaleo blocked down by Leonhardt; second shot saved by Kleft!

60:00 We are on with extra time

FULL TIME We will now have golden-goal overtime for 10 minutes

FULL TIME Regulation ends with the sides level 2-2

59:20 EA PC Angled shot from Acosta is repelled by Kleft

58:10 AND PC Curran with a bouncing shot that Kelly repels

56:15 EA PC Szukics with the 1-up and Paige Kieft says no

52:39 AND GOAL Gillin puts in the rebound from her own shot and the game is tied 2-2!

51:20 AND PC Curran shoots from deep; Kelly says no

49:25 AND PC Leonhardt tries to round the left wing and Kelly is there for the save; Szukics intercepts and clears!

48:55 AND PC Leonhardt’s shot is saved! Rebound is stopped!

45:51 EA GOAL And just like that, Episcopal runs a snowbird on the Irish defense and the Churchwomen score! Episcopal leads 2-1 on a Panateleo score from the tightest of angles

45:30 AND PC Defensed by Kelly Smith

44:43 Leonhardt runs a break up the center but cannot find Curran with the pass


40:45 Macy Szukics hits the post with the backhand! Wow!

39:10 ANC GREEN Gillin now off for a push

38:30 Irish get a cross in front to Riley Gillin, who can’t convert the chance

37:00 Pantaleo starts a jailbreak for the Churchwomen, and Maddie Rehak can’t get off a clean backhand

35:20 AND PC Defensed by Louisa Baxter

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME The Irish have created better chances, but will need to put them away to come away with the result

HALFTIME The teams are playing smart and skilled hockey, creating chances and forcing the goalkeepers into some good stops

HALFTIME At the horn, we have a 1-1 draw

29:30 Szukics knifes into the circle and is open for a second, but is tackled smartly

25:50 AND GREEN CARD Curran is off for a free-hit encroachment

23:20 AND PC Ends on a raised ball

22:50 AND PC Angled shot flies wide, but will re-rack

20:15 EA PC Pantaleo blasts it wide!

17:31 EA GOAL Kathleen Anderson smartly rounds the baseline and finds an open Gianna Panataleo who puts it top shelf! Game tied 1-1

15:51 AND PC Lauren Curran blasts the 1-up from Mia Leonhardt and the Irish take a 1-0 lead

14:15 AND PC Defensed by Kelly Smith; the redirect by Episcopal Academy goes all the way down the field where Maddie Rehak cannot get her stick on the pass; is this a premonition of what is to come?

2:10 AND PC Two good stops by Caroline Kelly in the EA cage

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Notre Dame is in the white with gold letters and numbers, Episcopal is in the navy with white numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up on the turf under partly cloudy skies, and temps have risen to the mid-70s

PREGAME I’ll refer you to the Thursday Takaway for the preview

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Burns Field for today’s InterAc regular-season match between Episcopal Academy and Academy of Notre Dame

Sept. 28, 2018 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 26

We’re back with Statwatch, our feature which looks into the numbers and superlatives that define field hockey across generations.

This week’s statistical milestone is the 600th career victory for Bob Derr of Lititz Warwick (Pa.). He was the first male scholastic coach to get his 500th win when he crossed that barrier seven years ago, and he is, I think, the only field hockey coach who also doubles as a wrestling official.

Derr’s victory came earlier this week in an overtime match against Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley (Pa.). He becomes the 18th known member of the all-time 600-win club, although there are some coaches who may never get credit because of poor recordkeeping for girls’ sports through most of the 20th Century.

Below, in red, are statistics as of the close of play on Wednesday, meaning that they are going to be somewhat different from the Daily Statwatch numbers to the right of this column, which we try to update in, more or less, real time.

I encourage the use of the easy-to-use website to report statistics. It is easy for the average coach, athletic director, or student managers to register for  the 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.

So, here’s what we have thus far, thanks to, amongst others, MaxPreps, Advance Media,, The LNP Media Group, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,, and the Washington Post:

53 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
29 Riley Baughman, Emmaus (Pa.)
28 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
28 Jaiden Wittel, Swiftwater Pocono Mountain East (Pa.)
26 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
25 Lucy Poindexter, Louisville Kentucky Country Day (Ky.)
25 Peyton Halsey, Reading Exeter (Pa.)
24 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
23 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant (N.J.) Boro
23 Hannah Miller, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.)
22 Julianna Kratz, Flourtown Mount St. Joseph Academy (Pa.)
22 Lily Saunders, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
22 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
21 Cassie Romanczuk, Bethlehem Moravian Academy (Pa.)
20 Ava Mariani, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.)
20 Josie Rossbach, Leesburg Heritage (Va.)
20 Megan Connors, San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.)
20 Taryn Ringer, Johnstown (N.Y.)
20 Isabella Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)

23 Riley Baughman, Emmaus (Pa.)
17 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
17 Emma Deberdine, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
16 Kacie Patton, Emmaus (Pa.)
16 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
16 Suzy Keefer, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
15 Isabella Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
15 Madeleine McGaughey, Langley (Va.)
14 Abbey Playle, San Jose Leigh (Calif.)
14 India Reed, Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.)
14 Briana Harsh, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)

280 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
151 Charlotte de Vries, Virginia Beach Cape Henry Academy (Va.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)*
142 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
139 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
138 Paityn Wirth, Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.)
136 Charlotte de Vries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)**
123 Emma DeBerdine, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
111 Gabby Bitts, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
106 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
* — five-year varsity career
** — four-year varsity career

124 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
87 Emma DeBerdine, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)

123 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
99 Los Gatos (Calif.)
91 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

91 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

So, this is where you can help us out immensely. If you see a statistics that is missing or wrong, feel to send us an email at 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 try it again next week.

Sept. 27, 2018 — The Thursday Takeaway

NB: We’ll try to highlight a few prominent regular-season games that will be held later this week and into the weekend. Feel free to print this entry out and take it with you when going to the games:


Where and when: Memorial Field, 5 p.m. today

Records (at the start of play Sept. 26): Oak Knoll 7-1, Mamaroneck 4-1-1

Key early wins: Oak Knoll def. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 4-0; Mamaroneck def. Greenwich (Conn.) 3-0

Key players: Oak Knoll: Bridget Murphy (jr., f/m), Annabelle Brodeur (jr., f), Emily Antunes (jr., d), Megan Joel (so., m). Mamaroneck: Elizabeth Brissette (sr., m), Brigid Knowles (sr., f), Shannon Maresca (so., g)

The skinny: This is one to watch because, historically, not many North Jersey teams will schedule New York public high-school teams despite their relative proximity. But this match should be a good one since both teams have a defeat already, and would like to avoid a second. This is a matchup of sitting state champions, as Oak Knoll is the New Jersey non-public champ, and Mamaroneck is your current New York Class A titleist.


Where and when: Walter E. Kottmeyer Stadium, 3:30 p.m. Friday

Records (at the start of play Sept. 26): Eastern 10-0; Downingtown West 6-2

Key early wins: Eastern def. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 5-3; Downingtown West def. Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 4-1

Key players: Eastern: Kara Heck (jr., f), Madison Guyer (sr., d), Nina Santore (jr., g); Downingtown East: Julianna Smyth (sr., f), Tatum Johnson (jr., f), Anna Miller (sr., m)

The skinny: This is a matchup of two teams which fell one short of their ultimate goal a year ago. Eastern fell one overtime goal short of winning the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions, while West fell to Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AAA final.

In an attempt to get back to those championship finals this year, both sides have bolstered their schedules. Eastern played Oak Knoll a couple of weekends ago, then, after this game, has a pair of interstate games scheduled against Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) the first weekend of October. For their part, the Whippets have scheduled PIAA Class AA champion Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.), Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.), and Hershey (Pa.) this season.


Where and when: Burns Field, 3:30 p.m. Friday

Records (at the start of play Sept. 26): Episcopal Academy 3-0-2, Notre Dame 7-1

Key early wins: Episcopal Academy def. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 3-2; Notre Dame def. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 3-2

Key players: Episcopal Academy: Maddie Rehak (sr., f), Macy Szukics (fr., a/m), Sofia Acosta (so., m/d); Notre Dame: Lauren Curran (sr., f), Paige Kieft (so., g), Lindsey Barnes (sr., d).

The skinny: Everyone and their brother in the field hockey world is pointing to the Oct. 17th non-league fixture with Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) as the key game in Notre Dame’s calendar.

We beg to differ; Episcopal-Notre Dame has been the pivot point around which the InterAc, and the PAISAA, revolve. And, like in the English Premier League, we hockey people are fortunate to see this rivalry twice; the reverse match is Oct. 23 at Sonje Volla Field.


Where and when: Memorial Field, noon Saturday

Records (at the start of play Sept. 26): Downingtown East 9-2; Emmaus 10-0

Key early wins: Downingtown East def. Royersford Spring-Ford (Pa.) 2-1 (OT); Emmaus def. Stroudsburg (Pa.) 3-1

Key players: Downingtown East; Caroline Webb (sr., f), Lauren Siezkowski (fr., m/f), Ava Irwin (jr., g). Emmaus: Riley Baughman (sr., f), Annika Herbine (so., f/m), Kayla Kisthardt (sr., m), Kacie Patton (sr., m)

The skinny: As well as Downingtown West played a year ago, do not discount the improvement from the team from the east side of town. This game comes just two days after today’s Downingtown Derby match.

Emmaus has been merciless this season, scoring 115 goals and conceding one. Yep, one. Is this Hornets team primed for yet another state title bid?

Sept. 26, 2018 — An overdue honor

Earlier this week, the University of North Carolina announced that the newly-minted field hockey-specific campus stadium would be named for head coach and 1984 Olympian Karen Shelton.

Just about everyone in the U.S. field hockey community has hit upon the same two words to describe the event: “well-deserved.”

Shelton has been at the helm of the Heels’ program for 38 years, guiding her teams to 20 ACC titles and six NCAA championships. The Tar Heels’ excellence was certainly evident in the mid-1990s when they won three straight titles between 1995 and 1997, when the team featured the likes of future Olympian Kate Barber.

But what is also remarkable about UNC’s excellence is its consistency. Between 2007 and 2016, the Tar Heels made the Final Four nine times, the championship game seven times, while winning two titles. That’s an enviable track record in a sport in which goals are rare.

And so, it seems, is Shelton’s coaching acumen.

Sept. 25, 2018 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 23

The early days of every year’s Top 10 are the times that try one’s soul, especially with two of the teams drawing matches this week. That fact throws an enormous spanner into the works, resulting in a jumbling of the ranks.

For our No. 11 Team of the Week, let’s give a call to Delran Holy Cross Preparatory Academy (N.J.). The school nearly closed three months ago after the Diocese of Trenton ceased funding of the school, but a group of alumni/ae and a new board are running the place under a slightly altered name. The changes have not affected the field hockey team, which is off to an undefeated start.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 9-0

Vikings play against PIAA Class AAA runner-up Downingtown (Pa.) West this Friday

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

Hornets conceded their first goals of the season in a win over Scardale, then shut out Mamaroneck (N.Y.) last Saturday

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 9-0

Hornets unloaded 50 shots on goal in beating Bethlehem Freedom (Pa.); meets up with Downingtown (Pa.) East this Saturday at noon

4. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 10-0

Mackenzie Allessie (45 goals) leads the nation in scoring, but the team effort to carry the Indians past Oley (Pa.) Valley cannot be overlooked

5. Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 7-0-1

Came back from a 2-2 draw against Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) to beat Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.); Irish have InterAc rival Episcopal Academy this Friday

6. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 4-1

A tough week with yesterday’s clash with North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) as well as a Thursday night game at Mamaroneck (N.Y.)

7. Delmar (Del.) 5-0

Wildcats have five clean sheets against five very unpredictable opponents, including a 3-0 shutout over Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.)

8T. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 9-1-1

Penn Manor showed a lot of fight after falling adrift for the first time all season; Comets could have won the game in the final 10 seconds of regulation

8T. Hershey (Pa.) 6-2-1

Trojans were on the front foot during the contest and almost won it in the final seconds of extra time

10. Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 14-0

Swept its games in the Lake Forest Invitational, including an impressive 4-3 result over Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)

11. Delran Holy Cross Preparatory Academy (N.J.) 5-0

Dana Burgess and Bevan Gebhardt (six goals each) have paced the Crusaders’ attack this season

And bear in mind: San Diego Serra (Calif.) 11-0, Westport Staples (Conn.) 5-0, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 14-1; Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 2-0-2, Downingtown (Pa.) West 5-1, Palmyra (Pa.) 7-1-1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 7-1-1, Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 6-0, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 5-0

Sept. 24, 2018 — The exclusivity of Sunday

One of the first high-school sports assignments I received when I was working in the dailies 30 years ago this month was a Sunday afternoon football game featuring two teams in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

It really didn’t strike me until yesterday’s game between Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) and Oley (Pa.) Valley just how rare Sunday contests are in high-school sports. This especially goes for field hockey.

I have attended some of these Sunday contests; New York will schedule its state semifinals and finals on a flexible schedule so that, if bad weather befalls the game site like it did in Syracuse in 2005, games could be shifted to Sunday if need be. New Jersey used to schedule its state finals for the Sunday before Thanksgiving before the Tournament of Champions was instituted. This year, the quintupleheader is being held on a Saturday.

So, why are there so few scholastic games — in any sport — held on Sundays? Part of the reason is the scheduling tradition dictated by football: high-school on Friday, college on Saturday, professional on Sunday.

In other athletic pursuits, being able to find qualified officials on a Sunday would be difficult because Sundays are when umpires and referees in many sports sometimes officiate in adult or youth leagues.

Now, in some states, it is actually illegal to hold a scholastic contest on a Sunday. I’m not sure whether these fall under some sort of “blue law,” but it is, to me, a bit silly to block out 14 percent of available days for young people to play a sport.

This goes especially in field hockey, where roughly half of all college games are played on Sundays.

Makes you wonder if it is time to open up the entire calendar?

Sept. 23, 2018 — An Oedipian tale

This week, on 19 Harvard Blazers, is the story of how one can try to run from one’s fate, only to run right back to it.

Sept. 22, 2018 — The mental game

Last Saturday, the Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) field hockey team held a 5-1 lead heading into the last three minutes of play, then surrendered two quick goals that led to not only a late timeout, but certainly a change in the postgame team talk.

On Monday, Hershey (Pa.) held a 4-1 halftime lead before giving up three in the second half in a 6-4 victory, a development which also likely changed the tenor and tone of the postgame talk.

Field hockey, for all of the stick skills and physical fitness that is ever-present in today’s game, is, above all, a mental game. The best players play from the shoulders up, rather than the other way around.

Indeed, when it comes to the scoring list accompanying this space, I’ve noticed certain traits about the young women who have exceeded the 200-goal barrier in the last few years. Austyn Cuneo, Mackenzie Allessie, Meredith Sholder, and Haley Schleicher are all relentless, driven players for whom the time on the clock and the game situation are irrelevant.

That is, at least until their team is behind. Then, they redouble their efforts.

I remember watching one Emmaus (Pa.) game a few years ago when the Hornets were being frustrated by Stroudsburg (Pa.) for the first several minutes of the match. But sometime late in the first half, there was a redirect of a penalty corner which saw the ball fall to Sholder, who accelerated on her curving run into space.

I was on the endline of Memorial Field and said to a couple of people I was talking to, “This is a goal.” Seconds later, the ball hit the backboard.

I’m hoping that these four are leading a generation of player into the high-performance pool who will change the collective mental makeup of the U.S. national team and change its culture.

It’s a culture which, at one time, led to a team which opened a spanking-new hockey pitch in Virginia Beach playing South Africa to within a goal in the final five minutes, only to collapse in the final minutes, conceding a pair of late goals.

The U.S. head coach at the time was replaced 18 months later.