Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 13, 2019 — The case for Austyn Cuneo

One in a series of posts laying out arguments for the greatest scholastic field hockey player of all time.

It was sometime around mid-October 2011, when you compiled the game-by-game statistics, that the realization came like a lightning bolt: Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) has got another scorer. And her name is Austyn Cuneo.

The two decades’ worth of excellence for the Eastern field hockey team isn’t just great coaching, but is a product of individual brilliance harnessed towards a team goal.

Or in the case of Cuneo, 327 of them. The relentless center forward put in the work, whether it was slogging in wet grass or playing on turf. She scored on long penalty corner shots, strokes, and even in offensive breaks where it sometimes it appeared she was flying along the surface of the earth on the way to goal.

Cuneo also served the team on the penalty corner defense unit as corner flyer, the single most high-risk position, I think, in all of scholastic sport, one where a player willingly gets into the path of a five-ounce ball of plastic which can travel more than 80 miles an hour.

She put her individual success towards team goals as the Vikings went 106-0-1 in her scholastic field hockey career. This wasn’t against poor competition; the team played against outstanding sides such as Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.), Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.), and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.).

Cuneo helped Eastern to four straight Group IV titles and three Tournaments of Champions. Indeed, it was only a force of nature that kept her from winning four: the remnants of Hurricane Sandy threw a spanner in the works of the 2012 NJSIAA postseason schedule and terminated the season at the group finals stage.

Cuneo made an impact on the international level when asked: she played for the United States in the qualifier for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, leading the team in scoring. After a pair of injury-plagued seasons at North Carolina, she transferred to Rutgers, where she helped lead the Scarlet Knights to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 32 years.

Her tally of 327 goals was thought to be unreachable at the time it was set.

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