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Archive for November, 2019

Nov. 30, 2019 — Finding a needle on Black Friday

If you have been watching our Final Third broadcasts this year, you may have noticed a couple of times when I’ve been a little fidgety in the seat. That’s because the chairs that I have been using developed a degree of discomfort because of the angle of the seat padding. You may have noticed that, during one broadcast, I had to replace the seat cushion in mid-corner.

Well, I’ve been on a bit of a journey this year to find a chair with a tall-enough pneumatic tube, a wide and thick seat, and with good back support. But instead of buying an expensive model at an office supply store, we took the adjustable backless barstool we’ve been using this year, but planned to add a cushy seat to it.

As with all things worth doing, this was not easy. The office chair we decided on for the seat was designed differently from the barstool. Whereas the barstool’s seat was attached to the pneumatic adjustable bottom with four bolts, the office chair comes in three pieces: the back, the seat, and an integrated bottom of the chair and a crossmember on which the other pieces are bolted.

What we needed was a piece of sheet metal that would handle the weight as well as be big enough to reach the bolt holes in the seat.

I spent a good part of Black Friday looking through a couple of the large warehouse-sized hardware superstores, dodging the displays featuring fake trees, tool boxes, and other doodads.

Oddly, one of the store chains showed on their website that there were four pieces of sheet metal that would fit my needs, but there were none on the showroom floor at either my local store or the one about five miles down the road. Indeed, it seemed as though there was little accountability for the incorrect entry on the website.

But I went to the chain’s main competitor, which showed three pieces of the sheet metal that I needed. And wouldn’t you know, there were actually three 16-gauge pieces of sheet metal of the measurement I needed?

As retail is getting more and more computerized, either through online shopping or with companies using metrics to try to anticipate consumer needs, I’m flummoxed at the diametrically opposing ways that two major hardware companies account for their inventory.

Then again, perhaps it isn’t all that surprising, given the pressure that brick-and-mortar entities are under from the likes of Amazon.

Nov. 29, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 23

We’ve already remarked about how 10 field hockey players nationwide (that we know of) have hit the 50-goal mark for the 2019 season. But there have also been some additions to an even more exclusive club: the 30-30 Club for players who have had as many as 30 goals and 30 assists in one varsity season.

Of course, this being The Score-O Decade, the population of the 30-30 Club has ramped up quite a bit in the last few years, but these players are a far sight rarer than those with 50 goals. Here are the latest 30-30 players from this season, including 40-40 scorer Cami Crook, a junior from Somerset-Berkley (Mass.):

G-A Name School
49-47 Cami Crook Somerset-Berkley MA
55-33 Lucas Crook Somerset-Berkley MA
51-38 Elizabeth Yeager Greenwich Sacred Heart CT
32-30 Annabelle Hasselbeck Weston Rivers School MA
31-32 Natali Foster Elverson Twin Valley PA
33-35 Annika Herbine Emmaus PA
41-30 Lilli Smith New Hope-Solebury PA

Posted below is our weekly collection of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, PhilaFieldHockey.com, The Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, The Boston Globe, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post.

We really like MaxPreps, because it is easy for the average coach, athletic director, or student manager to register for the MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams as well as perhaps your conference, league, or your state governing body to enter field hockey information there, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

GOALS
78 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
76 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
67 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
66 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
63 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
58 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
56 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
53 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
53 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
51 Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)

49 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
49 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
48 Taryn Mayer, Huntingdon Valley Lower Moreland (Pa.)

46 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
45 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)

ASSISTS
47 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
38 Abby Periard, South Oldham (Ky.)
38 Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)
37 Carly Cole, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
35 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
33 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

33 Ciana Riccardo, Downingtown (Pa.) West
32 Allie Palumbo, Mullica Hill Clearview (N.J.)

32 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
30 Sarah Beers, Oley (Pa.) Valley
30 Lilly Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
30 Annabelle Hasselbeck, Weston Rivers School (Mass.)
29 Amy Griffin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
29 Zoe Campisi, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
29 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
28 Hannah Berry, Holden Wachusett (Mass.)
28 Annabella Mason, Alexandria West Potomac (Md.)
28 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
206 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
157 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
156* Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
142 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
134 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
133 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
132 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
122 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
117 Annie Grace Louthan, Chesterfield Matoaca (Va.)
116 Hannah Maxwell, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
116 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
109 Lauren Parente, Wyoming (Pa.) Area
107 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
106 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
103 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
102 Rachel Bohn, Newport (Pa.)
102 Alex Wesneski, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
100 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
*–injured

CAREER ASSISTS
132 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
122 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

GOALS SCORED, TEAM
221 Emmaus (Pa.)
200 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
192 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
188 Gloucester (Va.)
167 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
156 Oley (Pa.) Valley

CONSECUTIVE WINS
64 Delmar (Del.)
58 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)
42 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)
42 Somerset-Berkley (Calif.)

If you see a wrong number of if you feel we’re missing something, feel free to 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.

Thanks for reading during the season, and we’ll have a Final Statwatch in December.

Nov. 28, 2019 — Giving thanks

One of the bright spots of the 2019 season was the play of Lynnfield (Mass.) as it made its deepest run into the postseason in nearly two decades.

They were led by goalkeeper Ava O’Brien, who is enjoying her athletic career as a field hockey goalie, knowing that she is showing early signs of multiple sclerosis. Here’s a wonderful story by Anne Marie Tobin.

Nov. 27, 2019 — Contrary to the concept

This website, for the past 21 years, has endeavored to cover the good that happens in field hockey and women’s lacrosse. We’ve seen achievements and accomplishments which Constance Applebee and Rosabelle Sinclair could have only dreamed of when they taught their respective games to their students a century ago.

But occasionally, there is other news, the kind which makes your heart sink.

On Monday, a pair of women’s lacrosse players on the varsity roster of Life University were charged for their part in an armed robbery of a suburban Atlanta party being held at an Air BnB property.

Lauren Riley and Lyndsey Kallish, two sophomores, face 19 charges, including multiple counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and a single charge of first-degree home invasion. It is alleged they scouted a party in the Air BnB before two armed men robbed partygoers of cash, cell phones, and sneakers.

Riley and Kallish both participated in the inaugural season of Life University’s team, which competes at the NAIA level. The Eagles finished with a record of 7-8.

 

Nov. 26, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 24

With three blasts of the umpire’s whistle shortly after 3:30 last Saturday at Wethersfield (Conn.), the U.S. schlolastic season ended with the Class L championship of the CIAC going to Westport Staples (Conn.), a 4-2 victor over Darien (Conn.)

This is our last Top 10 of the 2019 season, and it will form the basis of our more well-researched Final Top 50 which will be coming in December. These Top 10 teams are not guaranteed to be in the same order when that list comes out..

This week’s RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is the field hockey club representing Northeastern University, which won the National Field Hockey League’s fall tournament with a 3-1 win in the grand final over the University of Virginia.

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 26-0
Season complete: Royals won NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final with a 4-1 win over Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 23-2
Season complete: The Vikings dropped the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final as Oak Knoll won 4-1

3. Delmar (Del.) 19-0
Season complete: In a rematch of their Turf Bowl confrontation, the Wildcats bested Dagsboro Indian River (Del.) 6-3 in the DIAA Division II final; win streak now at 64 games

4. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 24-0
Season complete: Raiders won their 42nd game in a row with a 4-1 win over Longmeadow (Mass.) in the MIAA Division 1 final; Lucas Crook becomes the first male varsity field hockey player to record 50 goals in a season

5. West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 25-3
Season complete: Wilson scored a late equalizer in the PIAA Class AAA final against Hummelstown Lower Dauphin, and took the penalty shootoout 3-2

6. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 18-1
Season complete: Won VHSL Class 5A title with a 4-1 win over Stafford Mountain View (Va.); the four goals came in the first 22 minutes of the match

7. Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 19-0
Season complete: The Titans got a 54th-minute goal to beat Richmond St. Catherine’s (Va.) to win the VISAA championship; current win streak now at 42 games

8. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 23-2
Season complete: The Blue Knights played stellar defense against an all-time great in Sophia Gladieux, allowing the attack to get a rebound goal in extra time to win the PIAA Class A final 1-0 over Oley (Pa.) Valley

9. Greenwich (Conn.) Sacred Heart 21-2
Season complete: Defeated Marion Tabor Academy (Mass.) to win the NEPSAC Class A Tournament

10. Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 16-3-1
Season complete: Spartans were able to get the late goal to beat Palmyra (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AA final

11. Northeastern University FHC 18-1
Huskies were paced by Floris Dobber, who scored 31 goals on the season

Who’s out? None.

And bear in mind:  San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 22-2-1, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 22-3, Westport Staples (Conn.) 21-1-1; Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 26-2-1, Assumption (Ky.) 17-10-1, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 17-3-1, Oley (Pa.) Valley 25-2, Palmyra (Pa.) 22-3, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 19-1-1, Langley (Va.) 20-1-1

BULLETIN: Nov. 25, 2019 — The first shoe drops at USA Field Hockey

Within the culture of the U.S. women’s field hockey team, there is a saying. “Whatever you do, don’t lose to Canada.”

But what do you do when you not only lose to Canada, and to Ireland, and to Argentina, and China? What do you do when you lose for the first time to India in a tournament situation?

In a move that has surprised nobody, Janneke Schopmann was fired today as head coach of the United States. She leaves having failed to qualify the American side for the Olympics for the first time since 2004, one which had a record of 3-13 in the FIH Pro League, and one which finished last in its pool at the 2018 FIH Women’s World Cup.

It’s not yet known whether other firings or resignations will follow on from this move. A Change.org petition authored by a handful of U.S. field hockey players lays out systemic problems within the national governing body of the sport, as well as deficiencies in infrastructure, facilities, nutrition, and staffing.

From all that your Founder heard from people familiar with the team, Schopmann was universally seen as “great.”

But the results on the pitch are the ones that count.

Nov. 24, 2019 — The Final Third, Championship Edition

Hi, everyone.

Join us today on our Facebook Live presence for three hours of whiparound coverage of the NCAA Division I, II, and III finals as the U.S. domestic season wraps up with some interesting themes. Join us for context and perspective that you will not find anywhere else.

We’ll be on for three hours, given the fact that the Division III Tournament’s start time has been moved back from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 23, 2019 — A difference of opinion

About a week ago, a handful of members of the U.S. men’s and women’s national field hockey teams posted a Change.org petition laying out a number of grievances about their time with the high-performance level. This included a reference to the deteriorating condition of the pitch at the Spooky Nook Sports, the $22 million complex in Manheim, Pa. which opened five years ago as “The Home of Hockey.” In the petition, the key sentence is, “The Spooky Nook pitch has been condemned by the FIH as unusable and is unsafe.”

Earlier this week, FIH announced that USA Field Hockey would not be playing its home fixtures in the FIH Pro League. A subsequent interview with the Spooky Nook marketing manager indicated that there was a problem with the underliner of the outdoor pitch.

“Looking at it, it looks fine,” Bender said. “but it’s the mesh water-catching substance underneath this turf layer that needs replacement.”

This afternoon, the NCAA played two games at the site, for the championship of Division III. As far as we could tell, none of the players for Middlebury College, Salisbury State University, Franklin & Marshall, and Johns Hopkins seemed to have any problems with the competition surface.

As with all controversies throughout history, truth seems to lie somewhere between two sets of observations. But I think it’s telling that a surface designed to last 10 years is having to undergo a major renovation after only five.

And it’s also happening with FIH still studying the feasability of non-water-based turf for international competition, possibly in time for Paris 2024. If that happens, millions of dollars invested in water-based turf is going to have to be written off.

But that’s in the future.

Nov. 22, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 20

There are just three games left in the scholastic field hockey season: the three Saturday championship games in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Council. The most statistically significant item likely to come out of this is whether Westport Staples (Conn.) can win its fourth consecutive state championship.

The most statistically significant moment of the week just past is the fact that Los Gatos (Calif.) lost a field hockey game for the first time since 2012 with a loss to San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) in the CIF Central Coast Section title game.

What we have below is our weekly heaping helping of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, PhilaFieldHockey.com, The Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, The Boston Globe, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post.

We really like MaxPreps, because it is easy for the average coach, athletic director, or student manager to register for the MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams as well as perhaps your conference, league, or your state governing body to enter field hockey information there, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

GOALS
78 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
76 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
67 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
66 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
63 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
58 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
56 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
53 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
50 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
49 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
48 Taryn Mayer, Huntingdon Valley Lower Moreland (Pa.)
47 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
46 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

45 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)

ASSISTS
39 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
38 Abby Periard, South Oldham (Ky.)
35 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
33 Ciana Riccardo, Downingtown (Pa.) West

32 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
30 Sarah Beers, Oley (Pa.) Valley
30 Lilly Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
30 Annabelle Hasselbeck, Weston Rivers School (Mass.)

29 Amy Griffin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
29 Zoe Campisi, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)

29 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
28 Hannah Berry, Holden Wachusett (Mass.)
28 Annabella Mason, Alexandria West Potomac (Md.)
28 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
26 Kaitlyn Csensits, Emmaus (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
206 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
157 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
156* Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
137 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
134 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
133 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
132 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
122 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
117 Annie Grace Louthan, Chesterfield Matoaca (Va.)

116 Hannah Maxwell, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
116 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
109 Lauren Parente, Wyoming (Pa.) Area
107 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
106 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)

103 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
102 Rachel Bohn, Newport (Pa.)
102 Alex Wesneski, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
100 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
*–injured

CAREER ASSISTS
125 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
115 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

GOALS SCORED, TEAM
221 Emmaus (Pa.)
200 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
192 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
188 Gloucester (Va.)
167 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
156 Oley (Pa.) Valley

CONSECUTIVE WINS
64 Delmar (Del.)
58 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)
42 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)
42 Somerset-Berkley (Calif.)

If you see a wrong number of if you feel we’re missing something, feel free to 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.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll publish one more of these next week.

Nov. 21, 2019 — Issue 1

Time was, the USA Field Hockey’s Board of Directors would meet four times a year, with an Annual General Meeting scheduled to coincide with either the NCAA Final Four or the National Festival.

There’s likely to be an Annual General Meeting scheduled in a few days, and there is a clear top item on the agenda.

Sometime last Saturday, a few as-yet unidentified members of the U.S. women’s and men’s national field hockey teams drafted a Change.org petition, demanding the Board of Directors to take on a full review of the governing body’s “decisions and actions that directly relate to high performance.”

The petition, as of 1:30 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, has received more than 4,100 signatures.

To give you perspective, that’s more than the petitions to save Rhode Island, Philadelphia University, and Pacific University’s field hockey programs combined.

The petition lays out a number of grievances. While not of the lurid nature of lawsuits which are flying around USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Figure Skating Association, and even allegations today surrounding figures in the U.S. Equestrian Federation, what is in the petition are serious charges, most of which TopOfTheCircle.com has not been able to independently corroborate.

Amongst these is what we discussed yesterday, the fact that the current outdoor pitch at Spooky Nook is not FIH-compliant. The petition, however, uses the word “condemned” when discussing the condition of the outdoor turf, which is at odds with FIH comments made yesterday to The LNP.

“FIH comments on Spooky Nook Sports did include a reference to the stability of camera positions, which was not good enough for the required broadcast production quality, but not to safety,” said Nicolas Maingot of FIH to the LNP.

Parenthetically, the NCAA is planning to use that very competition surface tomorrow and Sunday (weather permitting) to determine the Division III national champion, TopOfTheCircle.com has learned.

Other charges detailed in the petition are as follows:

  • Inadequate nutrition (the petition cites “rotten food, under-cooked food, and low-quality food”
  • A lack of central meeting space for the men’s national field hockey team
  • A lack of a high-performance director
  • The lack of ancillary coaching such as a technical staff, video analysis, and medical staff (more specific for the men’s national program)
  • A need for equal medical insurance between the men’s and women’s national sides
  • Budgetary support to achieve high-performance plans for the men’s and women’s sides

The petition says that, because previous high-performance standards have not been met, the quality of player reaching the senior team is less than it used to be. Worse, players are not committing to more than one Olympic cycle because of an inadequate quality of life.

The petition’s demand, it says here, is not going far enough. There must be serious corrective action.

At this moment, on the cusp of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ first international Test, it’s time for wholesale changes in the national governing body’s governance, leadership, and infrastructure.

These changes cannot be made at the edges of the organization: it requires a holistic approach based on different metrics as well as new and better fundraising. There’s no reason, for example, for the U.S. women’s national team to sell toy bears and rubber bracelets in order to make enough money to go to an international tournament.

But all that begins with leadership. USA Field Hockey needs someone like a Bill Belichick, a Joe Gibbs, or a Roger Penske — a president or executive director who is masterful at surrounding themselves with the right people, focused on one goal: winning.

Which certainly isn’t happening now.