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Archive for February, 2019

Feb. 28, 2019 — The catalyst behind a comeback

Many of you know that Kali Hartshorn is the center for the Maryland women’s lacrosse team, and her prowess in the center draw circle is comparable to the likes of former Terrapins Quinn Carney, Acacia Walker, Taylor Cummings, Dana Dobbie, and Karri Ellen Johnson.

But is she the best lacrosse player in her own family?

Her younger sister Marin is a freshman attacking midfielder for Rutgers University, a team which is 3-2 after last night’s loss to Pennsylvania. But Rutgers has already gotten notice for a dramatic overtime win last weekend at Delaware, a game which saw the Scarlet Knights’ defense hold the Hens’ attack scoreless the entire second half, plus the sudden-death extra session.

One major reason for the comeback was Marin Hartshorn’s prowess on the draw circle. She won three draws and had a clutch goal in the final minute of regulation, one which led to Taralyn Naslonski’s overtime free-position goal.

Hartshorn has already won one award for Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week. I foresee a few more.

Feb. 27, 2019 — When self-knowledge is a bad thing

It was about six or seven years ago when a college football quarterback named Johnny Manziel was one of the biggest names in sports.

While a player at Texas A&M University, he won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for some 8,000 yards in two seasons, and got the Aggies to one of the major bowls after the 2012 season.

Manziel’s combination of running and passing made him a media celebrity. The problem was, he knew it.

By the time he was the first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2014, he had gotten a reputation for partying instead of working diligently on his game. His professional career since the NFL draft has been, frankly, a disaster. In eight NFL starts, he threw for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

He then jumped to the Canadian Football League, where he didn’t play at all with his first team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, then in his first game with his new team, the Montreal Alouiettes, he threw four interceptions in the first half. That first 30 minutes of play was one of the most discouraging things I’ve ever seen in sports.

Today, the Alouettes announced that Manziel had violated the terms of his contract with the team. The termination of the contract means that none of the other eight CFL teams are allowed to sign him.

It’s a sad situation, for a young man of 26 years of age who has publicly admitted to having bipolar disorder.

And I’m not sure that the presence of spring pro football south of the border will help him.

Feb. 26, 2019 — An incremental step into the Deep South

About 20 years ago, there were a pair of teams who participated in the independent league encompassing field hockey teams in the Carolinas.

But there’s been an effort to resurrect field hockey in the Palmetto State. Read this story from the Daniel Island News.

Feb. 25, 2019 — A great Final Third non-broadcast

Because of a throat infection I picked up last week, I didn’t go forward with a Final Third broadcast for the third week of the regular season in NCAA women’s lacrosse.

It’s a shame, because three absolute doozies played themselves out in front of our screens. Both of our chosen Division I matches — Maryland-UNC, and Northwestern-Syracuse — went into overtime. And so did our Division III game, Catholic-Salisbury.

And our fourth, featuring past Division II champions Florida Southern and Adelphi, wound up with a two-goal margin.

Yep, I know how to pick good games.

Here are a few notes from this quartet of matches:

  1. Though North Carolina is in the midst of a rich seam of form when it comes to recruits, the team is still a work in progress. I got the distinct feeling that the team was waiting for Marie McCool to walk out of the locker room to help them.
  2. Maryland, as is its wont, got off to a hot start, scoring the first three goals against UNC. But, as often happens when Maryland gets on a starting run, the opposition finds a way to come back.
  3. Northwestern is a fun, fun team to watch on the offensive end. They have all the tools necessary to make a serious run at a national title.
  4. Syracuse seems to have its issues in the draw circle together, with a platoon system that doesn’t rely on just one player.
  5. Florida Southern, which has made the last three NCAA Division II championship games, is no fluke. They are an effective and hard-working lacrosse team that came up against a good Adelphi defense.
  6. Catholic went up four goals early on Salisbury, and had a chance at a fifth straight off a half-field breakaway. How different might the outcome have been if that bounce shot had gone in?
  7. Twice in these contests, our least favorite lacrosse call came up: the dangerous shot. In both cases, the interpretation of the rule appeared to me to be towards the lower end of ridiculous. In one instance, a Syracuse shot hit a Northwestern defender who wasn’t in the goal frame when the shot was attempted, but the defender scooted from post to post and, frankly, “ate” the ball deliberately. In the other, a Maryland’s shot attempt hit the back of a UNC player who was outside the goal frame — outside of shooting space. The way I see it, this new emphasis is leading to some unjustifiable judgments.

 

Feb. 24, 2019 — Equality should be effortless

Three days ago, the Big Ten Network announced its slate of broadcast lacrosse games for the main network. It’s a schedule which includes today’s enormous fixture between Maryland and North Carolina, a bellweather game for the women’s lacrosse season.

Unlike most every other network that shows lacrosse on TV, however, this year’s BTN schedule is dead solid equal: 14 men’s games and 14 women’s games.

Television network executives: equality isn’t that hard to do. And I think that especially goes with lacrosse, where ESPN produces a half-hour special previewing the men’s game, and not one second for the women’s game.

Feb. 23, 2019 — NGB jitters, political instability … and rain

Ever since the FIH Pro League was announced in 2017, there have been all sorts of obstacles which have been bedeviling the world field hockey governing body in its attempt to truly professionalize and grow the worldwide game by having Test matches being played in each individual participating nation, rather than hosting qualifying tournaments in one or two places around the globe.

As such, the FIH has now been tasked with exporting its brand to the participating nations of the Pro League, ensuring that FIH officials oversee a match taking place at an FIH-compliant site in each individual country.

As such, the teething problems started early, with India’s men’s and women’s teams opting to qualify for Tokyo 2020 through the FIH Open Series, and with Pakistan’s men pulling out of the Open Series citing a lack of backing from its national governing body.

But last night, a men’s Test between Germany and Argentina — the second game of a doubleheader in Buenos Aires — was cancelled due to heavy rain and lightning, even after the two countries’ women’s teams played to a shootout won by the Albicelestes.

You may be wondering how this happened. Well, it’s a league regulation that if a game cannot be played on the day on which it is schedule, the game is cancelled outright and the points shared in the standings.

An outright cancellation is something that would never — NEVER — happen in any other outdoor game at the international level. One example: the U.S. men’s soccer team, in 2014, beat Costa Rica in a snowstorm in Denver.

The FIH, relying on its regulations, chose to close up shop early because of the rain instead of making the effort to get the men’s game in, either by waiting out the storm, or by playing the next day.

Yep, an elegant solution; problem solved.

 

 

Feb. 22, 2019 — A couple of notable retirements

Late today, a pair of coaches who made unusual coaching history in their respective careers announced their retirements.

Brenda Beckwith, one of only a handful of coaches ever to have an undefeated and unscored-upon team when she guided Winslow (Maine) to the 1998 Maine Principals Association title, has left her position with the girls’ basketball team in order to follow her daughter at nearby Simmons College in Boston. She had long since given up her position on the field hockey sideline, where she had won four state titles between 1993 and 2000.

It was the 1998 title which saw the Black Raiders complete the season with a goalless draw and the rest of the season with clean sheets.

GA School State Year
0 Los Gatos CA 2017
0 Watertown MA 2014
0 Garden City NY 1998
0 Winslow ME 1998
0 Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes VA 1995
0 Pocomoke MD 1993
0 Stowe VT 1983
0 Philadelphia Archbishop Wood PA 1973
0 Springfield (Delaware County) PA 1968

Also, Jaye Stuart, one of only three known field hockey coaches to have won state championships in more than one state, retired from Washington Shepaug Valley (Conn.) after four decades and two Connecticut public school titles. She had previously won a championship with Duxbury Harwood Union (Vt.) in 1979, her first year of coaching.

Stuart is in the same two-state category alongside Jodi Burd Hollamon, winner of a state title with Salisbury Parkside (Md.) and a four-time state champion with Delmar (Del.), and Daan Polders, who won state championships with Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) and Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.).

The depth and knowledge of the American scholastic field hockey coaching corps has definitely taken a hit today. It has also lost some of its uniqueness.