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Archive for June, 2019

June 23, 2019 — An incubator for greatness

The scene was the ancestral home of American lacrosse, Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University. The game was a WPLL fixture between the (formerly Philadelphia) Fire and (formerly New England) Command, a game which would determine the top of the league table with just two match weekends to go.

With the clock ticking down to under six minutes to go in the second half, Katrina Dowd, the former Northwestern star, threw a lollipop pass across the face of goal about three feet over the plane of the crossbar. Suddenly, a blue-shirted Fight player stuck her stick in the air, and in one motion, guided the ball over the Fire goalie and into the net.

Golazo!

It was an amazing bit of teamwork which is pretty much to be expected from some of the best female lacrosse players on the planet. Cummings has been spectacular this year for the Fight, as she had five goals this afternoon, including a handful of the artful variety. And that’s also to be expected from her as a three-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner.

But it also turns out that Cummings is a heck of a coach, too. She was able to get her alma mater, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.), to run the table in the nation’s most demanding league schedule, winning non-league matches against teams in New York and Florida, and taking the IAAM Class A title at the end of the season to claim the consensus No. 1 designation as the finest girls’ scholastic lacrosse team in the land.

And now, just two years after helping the United States to wins in the World Cup and the World Games in 2017, Cummings is tearing it up in the WPLL. It’s almost as if though everything she touches turns to gold when it comes to the game of lacrosse.

 

June 22, 2019 — The red ebb

The octofinal round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins today, having eliminated eight teams, many from nations who just happen to excel in that other field-invasion sport, field hockey.

But there were a number of national teams which were not even qualified for the tournament this time around. If you take a look at a European map, there’s an entire area which is not represented: the region which was, in another generation, known as the Communist Bloc.

Think of it: Croatia’s men were the second-best team at last year’s World Cup. But the women’s team fell out of second-round UEFA qualifying without winning any of its eight games.

Russia, which prioritized its men’s national soccer team for last year’s hosting duties of the World Cup, saw its women finish third in its group behind England and Wales. Bulgaria, whose men’s team made the Final Four at USA 1994, didn’t even enter a women’s team for this World Cup.

North Korea, which made four straight World Cups between 1999 and 2011, did not make this World Cup after having been banned from the 2015 tournament due to doping results.

Indeed, the only Eastern Bloc country to make this World Cup was China. China is in the octofinal round playing Italy this coming Tuesday.

I’m wondering why it’s taking so long for the national governing bodies of some of these countries to fund their women’s soccer programs equally with their men.

June 21, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games through June 19

Only four more teams remain to add to their statistical outputs, as the championship finals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association are scheduled for today. So, this week, I’d like to take you through the statistical wonder that is United States U-19 attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger.

Wurzburger, by almost any measure, is the single most prolific point-scorer in National Federation history. Since starting her varsity career at Delray American Heritage (Fla.) as a middle-schooler (which was allowed under the state rules of the time), she has caused a sensation just about every time she has taken the field — either for the Stallions, summer travel or all-star teams, or for the U.S. Under-19 program.

Her staggering varsity numbers, year on year, are below:

Year G A Year
7th 58 40 98
8th 100 103 203
Fr 101 115 216
So 105 114 219
Jr 103 103 206
TOT 467 485 952

Now, when Wurzburger’s numbers are printed (eventually) in the pages of the National Federation’s record book, only her freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years will be counted. That may rob her of 300 scoring plays, but she is still — with one year left — amongst the top four-year performers of all time.

Mind you, she many “only” have 309 goals in her upper-school years, but her assist and total-points outputs are off the charts. Reminder: she still has one more year to go before matriculating to North Carolina:

ASSISTS (4-year)
331 Caitlyn Wurzburger
318 Allison Hunter
297 Maura Mahoney
293 Erin Coykendall
289 Emily Garrity
278 Alyssa Murray
275 Besser Dyson
275 Carolyn Davis

COMBINED (4-year)
695 Emily Garrity
667 Taylor Pinzone
659 Sophia Turchetta
654 Charlie Rudy
641 Caitlyn Wurzburger
619 Bridget Ruskey
618 Alex Moore
611 Shannon Smith

Below, please find national girls’ scholastic lacrosse statistics from available sources, including MaxPreps.com, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage you to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
158 Brittany Sherrod, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)
157 Bailey Gehler, San Diego Our Lady of Peace (Calif.)
154 Eliz Fino, Highland (N.Y.) Central
154 Francesca Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
146 Madaleine Champagne, Livonia Stevenson (Mich.)
145 Katelyn Murphy, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.)
130 Kelsey Kimmel, Lampeter-Strasburg (Pa.)
125 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)

125 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
122 Abbey Peterson, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
108 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
103 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
94 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)

85 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
83 Bailey Thomas, Dexter General Brown (N.Y.)
82 Maddi Koury, Pottstown Owen J. Roberts (Pa.)
77 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
75 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)
73 Balay Woodworth, Dallas North Paulding (Ga.)
71 Bella Mims, Clermont East Ridge (Fla.)
69 Kayla Rinaldi, Mooresville Lake Norman (N.C.)
69 Maddie Barber, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
69 Sydney Reipl, Tinton Hall Trinity Falls (N.J.)
66 Meghan Decker, Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.)
66 Sadie Tschider, Piedmont (Calif.)
66 Sophie Sorenson, Lincolnshire Adlai Stevenson (Ill.)

CAREER GOALS SCORED
467* Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
437* Kayla Soltys, Warrenton Highland School (Va.)
371 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)

346 Hannah McCarthy, Bedford (N.H.)
331 Cassidy Spilis, Tabernacle Seneca (N.J.)
316 Mariana Lopez-Ona, Princeton (N.J.)
316 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
294 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)
290 Kira Sides, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)

250 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
213 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
* — five-year career

CAREER ASSISTS
485* Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
293 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
284 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)
279 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)

273 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
217 Maddie Barber, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)
208 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)
203* Kayla Soltys, Warrenton Highland School (Va.)

* — five-year career

CONSECUTIVE WINS
45 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

COACHING WINS
794 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

So, if you see something missing or wrong, please 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. See you all next week for what should be our final Statwatch of the year.

June 20, 2019 — A leap into Division I, but at what cost?

Tuesday, it was revealed that Bellarmine University, a small Roman Catholic college in Louisville, Ky., was going to move from its place in Division II to the Atlantic Sun conference in Division I.

The move is expected to be finalized by next summer, led by the school’s men’s basketball team, which won the Division II national title in 2019, and will instantly have regional rivalries with Louisville, the University of Kentucky, and Western Kentucky University.

Bellarmine has been a favorite of the NCAA, as the campus chipped in with hosting several events in the Division II championship festivals in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The question is, with this move up in class, what will the impact be on other sports at the school?

I particularly worry about field hockey. Bellarmine has just made a pretty good upgrade by bringing in former Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) star Devanny Kuhn Boisvert as head coach, and fellow SHA alumna Michelle Ciliberti as assistant coach. But Bellarmine is going to have to go from its current (and stable) Great Lakes schedule to the unknown and unpredictable world of being a Division I independent.

That is, unless the Knights want to join up with a very disjointed field hockey conference map. There being no Atlantic Sun field hockey, it’s possible the Knights may want to replace Pacific in the America East, which has given its remaining three Pacific Coast teams (Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, and Cal-Davis) for one more year, backtracking on the original plan to drop them after the addition of Monmouth University.

Now, I think there’s an opportunity for the A-Sun, since Liberty University already has a team, albeit it is in the Big East. Too, there are a number of enterprising colleges in the conference such as Florida Gulf Coast, Kennesaw State, and Stetson, who could plant the seeds of field hockey in the deep south.

But for an A-Sun league to truly have a chance to start, you’d have to start with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, located smack in the midst of about half of the field hockey talent in the United States if you extend a circle for 200 miles around its campus. Yep, it could attract all of New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut, a good part of Massachusetts, eastern Pennsylvania, and the northern half of Delaware.

This whole thing could get interesting quick if NJIT gets a field hockey team.

June 19, 2019 — A team to take back the gold?

Yesterday morning, U.S. Lacrosse released its roster of the 18 young women who are looking to win back the U-19 World Championship that Canada won four years ago.

The States, learning their lesson, have a number of current collegiate players in its lineup along with a star-studded collection of scholastic players.

Chief amongst them is all-time leading point-scorer Caitlyn Wurzburger, who has scored or assisted more than 950 times in her five-year varsity career with Delray American Heritage (Fla.); Florida allows middle-schoolers on varsity. In addition, Michaela McMahon from the University of Pennsylvania had a hand in more than 500 scoring plays as a high-school star at Saddle River Country Day (N.J.).

With this team being coached by Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte-Hiller, you might expect some Wildcats on this roster. Isabella Scane, who had a sensational freshman campaign at the Lakeside, has made the U.S. side as well as Greta Stahl, Madison Doucette, and Elle Hansen.

There’s also a considerable presence from the high-school program at Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.). Emma Schettig, who helped lead the Eagles to the nation’s No. 1 ranking this year, is on the team. And, taking draws, will be the six-foot-one center Maddie Jenner, who has already recorded 88 draw controls despite for Duke University despite starting only one game.

But if there’s one player that I think will be a difference-maker for the Americans, take a good look at Kasey Choma, the senior from Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.). She had an awesome season in leading her Sharks to the state championship, scoring 71 goals despite being closely guarded in every match.

It was quite a difficult task to cut the team down to the 18 needed under FIL rules, and that included cutting Elle Hansen’s younger sister Jane, as well as the nation’s leading goal-scorer in 2017 and 2018, Charlie Rudy, late of the University of Colorado.

June 18, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of June 11

At the beginning of this week, exactly eight scholastic girls’ lacrosse teams remained in play. That number will be down to four by this evening. That’s because only Massachusetts remains to contest its two championships this week, and there is plenty to play for at Babson College.

For our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week, we honor Maine Principals Association Class C state champion Auburn Saint Dominic Academy (Maine). As a Class C school, it is a tiny school with two campuses straddling the Androscoggin River about 25 miles due north of Portland. The Saints were in last year’s inaugural C title game, losing to Naples Lake Region (Maine).

This year’s rematch wound up being a lot different, especially when the day of the championship arrived. The Saints had exactly 12 players on the bus to Fitzpatrick Stadium — no substitutions. St. Dom’s were down five players because of a midseason injury and a class trip, meaning that the team would have had to have played short if there was another injury.

But Saint Dominic would go on an 8-1 run in the first half, and held on to win 11-8 in an incredibly courageous effort.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 21-0

Season complete: The Eagles won their 10th IAAM Class A crown in 11 years, but not without receiving a major scare from Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.). McDonogh was down two in the last four minutes before winning 5-4 in double overtime

2. Northport (N.Y.) 18-1

Season complete: The Tigers beat Baldwinsville (N.Y.) 10-8 in the NYSPHSAA Class A final

3. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 20-2

Season complete: Saved its best lacrosse for the end of the season, besting Delray American Heritage (Fla.) and then Palm Beach Benjamin School (Fla.) in the FHSAA final

4. South Huntington St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) 17-1

Season complete: Beat Hempstead Sacred Heart Academy (N.Y.) 9-7 to win CHSAA Class AA title

5. Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) 17-2

Season complete: Beat Cross River John Jay (N.Y.) 11-8 to win NYSPHSAA Class C championship

6. Summit Oak Knoll (20-2)

Season complete: Won NJSIAA Tournament of Champions with a 10-8 victory over Moorestown (N.J.)

7. Severna Park (Md.) 19-1

Season complete: Falcons beat Timonium Dulaney (Md.) 10-5 to win MPSSAA Class 4A final; program’s 14th state championship

8. Hingham Notre Dame Academy (Mass.) 21-3

Warriors took on Walpole (Mass.) in one of the two MIAA Division 1 semifinals from last evening

9. Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) 18-2

Season complete: Beat Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) in the NYSPHSAA Class B final

10. Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.) 12-10

Season complete: It’s not often you see a 10-loss team anywhere near a Top 10 in any kind of national sports countdown. But this Gators team, part of the single toughest league in the country, put together a great run in the IAAM playoffs, knocking off Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) and Glenelg (Md.) Country to get to the final

11. Auburn Saint Dominic Academy (Maine) 10-5

Avery Lutrzykowski led the Saints’ attack with eight goals in the title match

Who’s out? Westwood (Mass.) 13-8 loss to Hingham Notre Dame Academy (Mass.)

June 17, 2019 — “Keepers of the Game,” epilogue

Four years ago, a documentary on the girls’ lacrosse team at Fort Covington Salmon River (N.Y.) became a sensation not only on the repertory theater circuit, but on ESPN.

One of the feel-good stories from this year’s girls’ high-school lacrosse season is the fact that the Shamrocks once again won the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Section X Class D championship, just like they did the year that a camera crew followed the team for the documentary “Keepers of the Game.”

And, just like four years ago, the team ran smack into Skaneateles (N.Y.) in the state’s octofinal round, and fell 18-3.

The continuing improvement of this team despite numerous obstacles is detailed in this Washington Post story.