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Sept. 5, 2019 — Rise of the Americans

Yesterday at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Mercedes Pastor, a midfielder for the Louisville field hockey team, sliced a centering pass into the scoring circle that was too hot for the Kent State defense to handle. The ball popped into the air, creating a dangerous situation.

While the umpire held the whistle, Margot Lawn of the United States U-17 and U-19 national teams met the ball and caressed it over the goalie’s left shoulder and into the netting for her first collegiate goal.

The umpire’s whistle blew. Louisville 3, Kent State 0.

The first week of the NCAA Division I field hockey season has been one about the Americans, especially those upon which expectations have been heaped.

Your current Players of the Week in the nation’s most prominent conferences just happen to be prominent American players. The current ACC Player of the Week is Erin Matson, who played just two years of scholastic field hockey before training with both the WC Eagles club side and with the U.S. national team in Spooky Nook. She made the national side in 2017 and already has 60 international caps.

In the Big Ten, the Offensive Player of the Week is Austyn Cuneo, who prepped at Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and not only set the record for the most goals scored in a scholastic career (328), but she also set another record for most consecutive games with a goal (70). After being hampered by injury for a spell, she has come out firing in the early part of this season, scoring three goals in wins over Maine and Ball State.

Duke’s scoring is led by three Americans with two goals each. Haley Schleicher is the only scholastic field hockey player to have 200 goals and 200 assists in a career, Olivia Sahaydak once held the Pennsylvania single-season goal-scoring record, and Leah Crouse, a player who went to school one mile from Schleicher, is part of the 100-goal, 100-assist club in a scholastic career.

One other American of note did something promising this past week: Mackenzie Allessie, the all-time scholastic goal-scoring leader and member of Team USA, scored her first collegiate goal for Ohio State as the Buckeyes staked themselves to a 2-0 start on the season.

In an era of collegiate field hockey now dominated by foreign athletes, it’s good to see the Americans breaking through on the scoreboard now and then.

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