TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for September 1, 2018

Sept. 1, 2018 — Validation of a law

This week, this site celebrates its 20th year.

It is a site that has been guided by journalistic principles, including carefully sourcing and presenting information, sometimes on controversial topics.

This site has been out front on several occasions. We advocated for actual home games for international field hockey teams since 1999, and we’re getting this early next year with the FIH Hockey Pro League. We advocated for boys’ field hockey on boys’ teams, and we did have a couple of all-male teams in California for one test run a few years ago. We’re hoping for more progress in that front.

Our site has been out front when it came to an assault case on a Pennsylvania college campus during Homecoming, an on-field assault during a girls’ lacrosse game in Connecticut a few years ago, and the arrests of several people within the American field hockey community on morals charges, including former U.S. international Todd Broxmeyer. At times, this site has been known, in the vernacular, to “go there.”

But aside from the ugliness behind the scenes, the game is the most important part of what we do. We’ve seen games from Boston, Mass. to San Diego, Calif., and many places in between. We’ve seen how fleeting the careers of players can be, and we get to see how amazing some young players can be when the game is taught and played well.

Twenty years ago, we were marveling at the likes of Jen Adams in lacrosse and the undefeated and unscored-upon field hockey teams at Garden City (N.Y.) and Winslow (Maine).

Today,we marvel at the likes of Caitlin Wurzburger in lacrosse and Mackenzie Allessie in field hockey as they mount their assaults on the all-time scoring leaders in their respective sports.

Throughout this journey, we have see parallels all the time between the two sports. Within the same academic year, Watertown (Mass.) saw its all-time unbeaten streak of field hockey games end at 188, and Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) ended its 198-game win streak.

Also in the same time frame, head coach Susan Butz-Stavin of Emmaus (Pa.) beat Nancy Williams’ mark for most field hockey coaching wins the same year that Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) girls’ lacrosse coach Kathy Jenkins exceeded the existing known mark for coaching wins set by Angela Tammaro.

And within the same few years in the middle of this decade, Austyn Cuneo in field hockey and Sophia Turchetta in lacrosse vaulted to the top of their games’ career scoring marks.

History repeats itself all the time in these two games.

But while girls’ high-school lacrosse is the fastest growing high-school sport in America, field hockey still is stuck just short of 2,000 scholastic teams. That’s one regret this site has had over the years.

Another was the time that I did a video story on a pair of senior girls’ lacrosse players who were one of the greatest scoring combinations of all time. The phrase “Besser Dyson to Carly Reed” were uttered in Alexandria, Va. with greater frequency than “John Stockton to Karl Malone” or “Joe Montana to Jerry Rice” when it came to showing off team play. And the two were absolutely remarkable to watch.

In truth, I should have been looking at the other end of the field for what is winding up to be a bigger story. Gussie Johns, the goalie for that St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes team, was quietly forging her own path from the school to Southern California for college, then playing for the United States in a World Cup/World Games double during the summer of 2017. She played professionally this past summer for the Philadelphia Fire of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League.

Oh, and speaking of professional leagues, this last 20 years has seen an alphabet soup’s worth of professional and semiprofessional opportunities for women to compete in many different athletic competitions. More than 100 tackle football teams, three U.S. Soccer Division I women’s pro soccer leagues, two pro women’s lacrosse leagues, and even a women’s competition in motor racing.

Throughout this site’s existence, we’ve codified many of our observations into tropes that we call “laws.”

And this morning, I want to call your attention to the TopOfTheCircle.com First Law of Field Hockey. The principle is that games aren’t played on paper, and it is sometimes difficult to predict with certainty what will happen.

That’s because yesterday, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in scholastic field hockey, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), dropped its opening game on the road at Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.).

Year 21, here we come.

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