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Archive for November 4, 2019

Nov. 4, 2019 — The Final Third, an epilogue

After signing off on yesterday’s Final Third, I found a pair of pair of NCAA Division I games which turned out to be more than exciting.  The two games — Liberty vs. Duke and St. Joseph’s vs. North Carolina — went into overtime with the ACC sides winning on both occasions.

It brings up a thought.

The recent history of NCAA Division I field hockey has, for me, been about how coaches are able to use their vast experiences to guide their teams through the process of winning a national championship. Coaches like Nancy Stevens at Connecticut, Missy Meharg at Maryland, Karen Shelton at North Carolina, and Beth Anders at Old Dominion were able to win not just because of having talented teams, but being able to guide the teams through all of the non-game experiences — the travel, the training, the NCAA banquet, and the team meals.

I think that’s why there are very few Division I teams who are regarded as threats to the established order of the game; most people filling out a field hockey bracket can go “straight chalk” (i.e., pick the obvious powerhouse) all the way to the Final Four.

But the quality of hockey on offer from Liberty and St. Joseph’s identifies these two teams as possible bracket-busters on the level of a Princeton, a Valparaiso, or even a Virginia Commonwealth when applied to men’s basketball. Both of these teams have skilled athletes and played extremely well.

I’m interested to see how they do in the tournament, and I’m sure nobody is going to want either of these two sides in their quadrant of the bracket.