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Archive for August, 2019

Aug. 31, 2019 — Setting the tone

Yesterday was the start of field hockey in hockey-mad Pennsylvania, and, as such, a number of interesting inter-conference matches took place yesterday.

But none so interesting as when Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) took on Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) in a rematch of a game played exactly 365 days ago.

Both of these championship-caliber sides came into yesterday’s match having fallen short of their team goals in 2018, as Notre Dame fell out of the PAISAA Tournament semifinals, and Penn Manor lost in the PIAA 3A Tournament quarterfinals to eventual champion Hershey (Pa.).

Yesterday, Notre Dame got a 1-0 win on a second-half penalty corner shot by Riley Gillen. Penn Manor gave a good effort on the day, but could not find the late equalizer.

Aug. 30, 2019 — Preseason Statwatch for 2019

Hi, all.

Welcome to Statwatch, our feature which brings together the statistical side of field hockey from coast to coast. We often keep real-time stats in the column to our right (below, if you on the TOTC.mobi site), but most of our work comes through the weekly Statwatch, which we’ll start in mid-to-late September.

Here you will find data from returning scorers and teams, thanks in part to, amongst others, MaxPreps, 757Teamz.com, Advance Media, PennLive.com, The LNP Media Group, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PhilaFieldHockey.com, the Boston Globe, the Rochester Herald-Democrat, and the Washington Post.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
156 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
140 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
87 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
96 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
89 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

GAMES UNDEFEATED
112 Los Gatos (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
57 Brattleboro Bellows Falls Union (Vt.)
39 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)

We’ll catch you next month for weekly helpings of numbers.

Aug. 29, 2019 — Two decidedly different outcomes

This morning, the world governing body of field hockey, FIH, issued a press release regarding the Olympic qualifying draw for both men’s and women’s field hockey.

The information contained therein pretty much confirms what this site said after the Americans finished third in the Pan American Games, that the Americans wouldn’t have to face a top-five side like Germany or Team GB. But if you’ll notice, there’s one outstanding game left, and that’s the final of the Oceania Cup between Australia and New Zealand (no other sides are competing in this tournament).

If New Zealand was to win the Oceania Cup, I think the pool of opponents from which the U.S. could play are going to be Spain, Ireland, India, and China. If Australia wins, the four teams would be Spain, Ireland, India, and New Zealand.

New Zealand, I think, is one of two flies in America’s Olympic ointment, having been winless in the last five Tests against the Kiwis. The States have not had the greatest luck playing in New Zealand in the last few years, whether it is playing the White Sticks or any other team in either the World League Final or the Hawkes Bay Cup. But even if Australia wins and drops New Zealand into one of the four host spots, the U.S. has just a 25 percent chance of drawing them.

The other team that is going to be supremely difficult is Ireland. Second in last year’s FIH World Cup, they should still have Ayeisha McFerran, Roisin Upton, and Zoe Wilson, all three of whom have won NCAA championships with their respective university sides.

We’ll see what the lineup is in a few days’ time.

Aug. 28, 2019 — Circling back to an historical event

The Apple Tournament is one of a number of field hockey events which has the personal touch of Constance Applebee.

The Louisville-area tournament is the traditional opener for scholastic field hockey in the United States, and it brings an early indicator as to which team or teams are likely to walk away with the Kentucky state championship title in October.

This year saw some history. And it’s not just because host Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) didn’t win. And it’s not because another private school didn’t win, either.

Instead, it was Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.), a public magnet school that specializes in technology, music, and theater arts, that won the Apple earlier this week. It wasn’t the first time that the Crimsons have taken a major hockey trophy; back in 2011, the school became the second known magnet school in America to win a field hockey state championship.

Then, as now, the team is coached by Brittany (Tolan) Vencill, and she and the Crimsons are likely to have a pretty good-sized target on them throughout the season.

Manual also has a schedule which matches that of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) in terms of degree of difficulty. The Crimsons participate in the Gateway Classic this weekend, the Huskie Invitational near Chicago in late September, as well as the little matter of facing Flemington Hunterdon Central (N.J.), Biddeford (Maine), and Garden City (N.Y.) in the National High School Invitational.

It’s a tough row to hoe, but for a team striving for state honors, the schedule is more opportunity than obstacle.

Aug. 27, 2019 — The national preseason Top 10

This is our 18th season of national rankings, and these don’t get easier over time. Even when you have wonderful teams such as Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.), and Watertown (Mass.) who have strung together state championships like they’re coming out of a factory, you still have to realize that this is competition featuring 13-to-18-year old young women. There could be some surprises this year.

As per precedent, this preseason list is not guaranteed to be the same once the weekly Top 10s are compiled in mid-September. And even if all 10 of these teams are undefeated by then, they are not guaranteed to be in the same order.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) — 27-0 record in 2018

The season for Eastern is going to hinge on their performance during a 32-day stretch in which they will be playing Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.), Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.), Winnetka New Trier (Ill.), Downingtown (Pa.) West, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

2. Hershey (Pa.) — 19-5-1

Last year, after years of trying, the Trojans found the self-belief to go with their talent. Maddie Zimmer is one of the best players in the state, and she will pair with Ashley Arnold to make a deadly offensive combo

3. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) — 24-2

The Royals have had a purple patch of form this entire decade that puts them at amongst the very best in the country, but they happen to be competing in the same era as rival Eastern. They’ll get an opportunity to host the Vikings Sept. 14th

4. Oley (Pa.) Valley — 25-3

For the Lynx to make the state title match in a difficult bracket, the team is going to try to show that it’s not all about Sophia Gladieux. She and her teammates Sophia Mackrella and Sarah Beers have grown and matured together over the years, and it should be a lot of fun to see how well they do

5. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) — 19-1

Cox pulled out a tremendous win in last year’s 6A final, and will need that sort of effort in mid-season when they meet rival Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.), then play Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Garden City (N.Y.) at the National High School Invitational

6. Emmaus (Pa.) — 26-1

This is a group of mad Hornets, given the suddenness with which last season ended. The team fell five goals adrift of Hershey (Pa.) on the way to a 5-3 defeat. Watch for junior Annika Herbine to have an enormous season

7. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) — 14-2-2

The Churchwomen are your defending PAISAA champions, and even though the team has graduated goalie Caroline Kelly, the team has a number of gifted players such as juniors Sofia Acosta and Kelly Smith, along with sophomore Macy Szukics. EA will be trying its hand at the National Field Hockey Invitational, meeting Louisville Assumption (Ky.) and Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.)

8. Louisville Dupont Manual (Ky.) — 20-5-2

Manual is a high-achieving team filled with high-achieving student-athletes. It is one of the only magnet schools to have ever won a state championship in field hockey, and is just coming off a win in the 47th Apple Tournament, the first for not only a magnet school, but the first for a public school

9. Delmar (Del.) — 18-0

Delmar starts off with a bang, playing Edgewater South River (Md.) and Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) the same weekend as the Wildcats try to win a fourth straight state title

10. Newport (Pa.) — 18-7-1

The Buffaloes have been creeping closer and closer to a state title just about every year for the past three, making the state final a year ago only to lose to Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

And bear in mind: Los Gatos (Calif.) 22-0, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 25-1, Biddeford (Maine) 17-0-1, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 22-2, Garden City (N.Y.) 19-0, Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) 19-0, Hershey (Pa.) 19-5-1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 22-2-1, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 22-4, Gloucester (Va.) 22-0, Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 23-0

Aug. 26, 2019 — NCAA Division III Preview

The Fearless 5ive

Messiah
Middlebury
Rowan
Salisbury
The College of New Jersey

One year ago, Rowan walked off the field after dropping the 2018 national title game. The Profs are looking to contend without leading scorer Rachel Galante, but Bridget Guinan, Krystyna Hovell, and Kristina Castagnola return. Morgan Novak, who played all but 56 minutes last year, is a senior captain as goalkeeper.

Middlebury beat Rowan on that November day, and they should have enough talent to replace a number of senior scorers. Start with Erin Nicholas and Danielle Brown, the two juniors who are the Panthers’ leading scorers. Also, there’s Marissa Baker, who did not see the field until the sixth game of the season, but is one of the leading returning scorers for this year’s side.

But if there’s a team which is going to be trouble for the entirety of Division III, it’s The College of New Jersey. The team’s four leading scorers — Cayla Andrews, Kayla Peterson, Tori Tiefenthaler, and Tori Hannah — return. Their collective output last year was 57 goals and 27 assists. Such a balanced attack may be hard to stop.

For Salisbury, the team will be led by Tara Daddio, the team’s leading returning scorer. The team also gets a boost of Division I-level talent as Delmar (Del.) star Peyton Kemp has transferred from Syracuse.

Brooke Good enters her eighth season at Messiah this fall, and is primed to bring the Falcons a second national championship. For that to happen, she will have to get the best out of a team returning little of its 66-goal output. Hannah Palm and Kris Levesque will lead the charge.

The Contenders

Johns Hopkins
Rochester
Tufts
Vassar
Washington & Jefferson

Tufts does not return a double-digit goal-scorer, but will have Marguerite Salamone, who recorded seven assists for the Jumbos. Sophomore Andie Stallman looks to lead the defense from her goalie position.

Vassar was one of the first schools Constance Applebee visited after instituting field hockey at Harvard in 1901. It took 100 years for the team to become nationally-ranked as they were as high as fifth in the NFHCA poll. Chalk up a lot of this to head coach Michael Warari and his staff, but they’re going to have to work doubly hard as the team’s three leading scorers have graduated.

Washington & Jefferson graduate leading scorers Alana Boyd and Rachal Buyan, but will have plenty of game experience up and down the lineup. Goalkeeper Rena Israel will lead the Presidents on defense.

Johns Hopkins made last year’s national semifinals despite scoring a mere 56 goals. However, they all came at the right time, allowing Jodie Baris, the Westport Staples (Conn.) product, to shut down the opposition. Her goals-against last year was 0.93, an excellent average in this era of turf and composite sticks.

Our Division III dark horse is Rochester. It is the top team in the preseason Liberty League poll, and is led by a seven-member senior class including goalkeeper Kate Kujawa. The Yellowjackets have never gotten past the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament and, with six out of their top eight players returning, could be a real threat to the Division III order.

Aug. 25, 2019 — NCAA Division II Preview

The Fearless Five

East Stroudsburg
Limestone
Millersville
Shippensburg
West Chester

A year ago, Shippensburg won its third straight Division II title. A lot of the credit went to sophomore sensation Jazmin Petrantonio, who was utterly unstoppable in the national semifinal against West Chester, scoring four times. She’ll be back this fall.

Millersville will be one of Ship’s contenders for Division II honors, especially with leading scorer Erica Tarsi returning, plus there are a pair of foreign first-year players with skill and talent.

A year ago, West Chester was ranked No. 1 heading into the NCAA Division II championship festival in Pittsburgh — meaning that the postseason would extend a bit longer than usual. That might have thrown off the Rams’ knowledge base when it comes to how to manage a team through the postseason, as the team lost its national semifinal match. But with leading scorer Katie Thompson returning, I have a feeling West Chester will be meeting up with their PSAC competitors with angry eyes.

Another Pennsylvania team to watch will be East Stroudsburg. They were a break or two from winning last year’s final, which would have been the team’s first title since 2015. An incoming player to watch is attacking midfielder Maddie Kline, who had played with distinction at Oley (Pa.) Valley.

A Division II team with plenty of veteran leadership is Limestone, which returns junior attacker Kelly Diplock. She led the conference in goals and assists a year ago, and it is hoped that the defense, led by Cameron Felch, will keep opponents off the board.

The Contenders

Lindenwood
Merrimack
Pace
St. Anselm
Stonehill

A year ago, Pace was everyone’s favorite newcomer to the ranks of Division II elite. The Setters went 18-3 a year ago and made the NCAA Division II Final Four. To progress to that next step, the team got not one, but three freshmen from the storied Williamsville (N.Y.) North program. Goalie Samantha Mallaire, forward Jenna Piotrowski, and attacking midfielder Lauren Rabinowitz aren’t going to be the answer right away, but with guidance from an able coaching staff, this is a team to watch.

Merrimack is going to have to get their offense going without the graduated Mary McNeil, but there is plenty of experience up and down the lineup. Katharina Ohmen is going to be the key player on defense, as the team’s goalkeeper.

St. Anselm‘s Carly LaCasse and Michelle Lemelin are going to be the fulcrum of the Hawks’ attack this fall. Watch also for goalie Julia Hand, who had 20 starts a year ago as a sophomore.

Stonehill loses a mainstay in 32-goal scorer Kacie Smith and 14-goal scorer Carly Andersen, but will return first-year sensation Olivia Cameron as well as senior Michaels Antonellis.

Our Division II dark horse this year is going to be Lindenwood. The Lions had a 12-3 record, and all three losses were by one goal each. However, the team did not receive a bid to the Division II Tournament. The team has seven off-shore players, something that could very well help this team towards a tournament berth.

Aug. 24, 2019 — NCAA Division I Preview

The Fearless 5ive:

Connecticut
Duke
Maryland
North Carolina
Penn State

North Carolina, your defending champions, may have lost Team USA’s Ashley Hoffman, but retains Team USA’s Erin Matson. That alone should have opponents quaking in their turf shoes, but there is plenty of skill up and down the lineup.

UNC’s keenest competition will come from a resurgent Duke side. The Blue Devils have been aching to atone for an overtime goal yielded from a near-impossible angle in a season-ending defeat in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland, last year’s national runners-up, will be making another run at Big Ten and national honors despite graduating Team Germany’s Nike Lorenz and Team USA’s Linnea Gonzalez. Watch for incoming freshman Emma DeBerdine, who has impressed in the early going.

Maryland’s top in-conference rival, we think, is Penn State. The Nittany Lions will debut transfer Bree Bednarski, who at one time held the state record for goals scored in one season until a certain Mackenzie Allessie came along. Paityn Wirth is the team’s super-frosh; she can take a game over with her speed and skills.

Another team looking to make a run at national honors is the University of Connecticut. The Huskies have three incoming foreign freshmen and also has redshirt sophomore Cheyenne Sprecher, who is a game-changer in the goal cage.

The contenders:

Iowa
Michigan
Princeton
Virginia
Wake Forest

Wake Forest graduates its dynamic duo of Julie Grashoff and Meagan Anderson, but third-leading scorer Anne van Hoof returns. Isla Bint looks to be the incumbent in the goal cage, but will be pushed by former age-group national-teamer Katie Jean.

The Princeton roster is brimming with possibility. Add incoming super-scorer Sammy Popper to a lineup including midfielders Samantha Davidson, Julianna Tornetta, Mary Kate Neff, and striker Ali McCarthy, and you understand why there’s a lot of optimism along Nassau Street.

A team which matured greatly last year was Iowa. The Hawkeyes return their top three scorers in Maddy Murphy, Katie Birch, and Sophie Sunderland. Iowa also returns goalie Leslie Speight for her senior season.

Emma Way, and her 20 goals, are graduated from Michigan. This means trying to put together an attack from leading returners Meg Dowthwaite, Sofia Southam, Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort, and Kathryn Peterson. Goalkeeper Anna Spieker, the six-footer, returns for Marcia Pankrantz’s defense.

Much will be expected at the University of Virginia because of their performance a year ago. No player on the roster had more than five goals or five assists last season, scoring a mere 29 goals on the season. But that experience, plus incoming stick-wizards such as Adele Iacobucci, should have the Cavaliers on the move.

In the hedgerows:

Liberty
Ohio State
Rutgers
St. Joseph’s
Syracuse

A lot of attention, right or wrong, will be focused on Ohio State the next four years because of a recruiting class including NFHS all-time leading scorer Mackenzie Allessie. But if head coach Jarred Martin can get everyone working together, this will be a dangerous side.

Speaking of NFHS all-time leaders, can you believe this is Austyn Cuneo’s senior year at Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights made the NCAA Tournament this past year, and there’s enough talent on the roster that the team could very well make it again. Of the incoming freshmen, watch for Amanda Beck, who won a state championship with Allessie at Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), but her family moved to South Jersey, where she graduated from Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.)

Syracuse is a team which has a real chance to make some inroads in a tough ACC circuit.  The Orange return second-leading scorer Chiara Gutsche and welcome 191 goal-scorer Charlotte de Vries, whose mother played for the U.S. Masters women’s national team and coached at Kent State for a number of years.

Agueda Moroni, the leading scorer for Liberty a year ago, has graduated. But the Flames return Jill Bolton, Mallory Fortenbaugh, and Alivia Klopp to face a tough Big East schedule.

Our national dark horse for 2019 is St. Joseph’s University. This is a side which has been reborn thanks to the coaching of Lynn Farquahar, a disciple of Beth Anders. Tonya Botherway and Sara Hayes, two of the Hawks’ three leading returning scorers, return.

 

Aug. 23, 2019 — The next college sport network, trying to find its niche

Last night, at 7 p.m. Eastern, the ACC Network signed on.

The ESPN-backed network has been seen as a revenue stream for the schools that make up the Atlantic Coast Conference, and as a way to compete with other major conferences with sports networks such as the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

Since most ACC schools have only started practice recently, there’s precious little in the way of actual games to be broadcast. And what does a network like that do? Well, it starts off with a football talk show and a “cinema verite” documentary on a critical juncture in the career of Mike Krzyzewski’s career, when he was able to piece together a championship team with the likes of Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, and Jay Bilas.

Looking ahead on our digital TV provider, it looks like the first game to be broadcast is in about three or four days, a women’s soccer game.

But I wonder, given ESPN’s penchant for obfuscating and marginalizing women’s sports on its major network, if the ACC Network is committed to women’s athletics, including field hockey and women’s lacrosse. These are two sports that the ACC is very good at, and almost swept both titles in the last academic year.

Too, the ACC is going to be showing off incredible, dynamic women athletes such as Erin Matson and Charlotte De Vries in field hockey, and Caitlyn Wurzburger and Izzy Smith in women’s lacrosse. And I hope the network is able to showcase these fine players and their teams in a better format than before.

Given the fact that the network is only having three conference field hockey games shown on the network this year, it is not a promising start.

Aug. 22, 2019 — Short-sided, but not short-sighted?

I wrote a few days ago about what a travesty it would be if the Olympic field hockey event went from 11-a-side to six-a-side.

But it brought me to thinking about situations where the resistance to reduced-side play was not necessarily an option. I keep reading about how some American high schools who used to play 11-man tackle football have had to start their own eight-man football leagues in order for the game to survive.

I guess I can understand that, but there will be certain dynamics that will change amongst the competitors, I think.

Take a look, for example, at international competition in a game called “futsal,” or indoor soccer. Depending on the era, it was either a game played on a hockey rink with the orange high-visibility ball used in the snow, or the more formalized game with a slightly heavier and less-filled soccer ball and out-of-bounds lines.

In world futsal, as you might expect, the world domineers of the sport are Brazil, with five world championships. But there are other interloping nations: the United States have placed as high as second in futsal World Cups, and Iran has also done very well in comparison to its outdoor team.

In Rugby Sevens, the only version now played at the Olympics, World Cups have been won by New Zealand and Wales, but also by your current Olympic champions, Fiji, an island with the population of Jacksonville, Fla.

Yep, if a nation that small can be a world powerhouse in the sport, I wonder how, for example, a nation like the U.S., which puts a lot of time and effort into indoor field hockey, would do if short-side field hockey was made into an Olympic event.

Certainly, it would be an exhibition of what the States are doing — right or wrong.