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Archive for December, 2019

Dec. 31, 2019 — 176 right, 137 wrong

Today, I finished my Trivial Pursuit Master’s Edition Year-In-A-Box calendar, a calendar full of questions about everything from Cleopatra to grapes to the nature of spinal nerves. And this year’s collection of questions was hard.

This reflects in my percentage of correct answers this year was 56.2 percent, much lower than the last couple of years.

I still keep score.

Dec. 30, 2019 — From the right hand

The field hockey program at Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) could have looked high and low for the coach needed to replace 1984 Olympian Gina Buggy.

Turns out, all EA needed to do was look in the same coaching box.

Stefanie Fee, who represented the U.S. in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and also was part of the 2014 U.S. team which won the first major trophy for the women’s national team in 94 years of international competition, was hired recently as coach for the Churchwomen.

Episcopal, in Buggy’s final season as coach, finished as the winners of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA). This included wins over Louisville Assumption (Ky.), and Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (VA) in the National High School Invitational.

The Churchwomen, with high-performance players up and down its lineup, are a definite favorite for Inter-Ac and PAISAA honors in 2020, and hiring Fee can’t hurt.

Dec. 29, 2019 — One of the world’s most lucrative sports leagues takes a page from another

TELESIDE, USA — The final week of the English Premier League is run like many others in that all of the games start at exactly the same time so that there is no “scoreboard watching” as there has been on occasion in professional sports.

The tension builds over the course of two hours as the top four teams for European competition are identified, and the lowest three teams for relegation to the EFL Championship are also identified.

This has led to a number of unforgettable situations that have unfolded in real time as games have ended.

Today, the National Football League scheduled its 16 games so that every one of them was a divisional matchup, and that most of the pairs of games were scheduled to occur simultaneously in the usual 1 o’clock and 4:25 windows, with the showcase San Francisco-Seattle game being broadcast at 8:15.

This led to a situation when the games between New England and Miami and between Kansas City and San Diego had a pair of late touchdowns occurring within seconds of each other.

The same occurred with some of the late games, as the Dallas-Washington and Philadelphia-New York contests wound to their conclusions simultaneously.

This didn’t happen in the past, the management of competition to have games potentially influencing other teams’ playoff chances rescheduled to occur simultaneously. But I did see the look on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s face when he put forth the notion of scheduling all 16 games on the final Sunday of the regular season.

That, frankly, can’t happen with NFL franchises in four time zones.

But Decision Sunday made for a pretty good spectacle.

Dec. 28, 2019 — Tinkering around the edges?

Meet the new U.S. women’s soccer team. Same as the old U.S. women’s soccer team.

That is, I think, the takeaway from the release of the training roster for the team as it embarks on CONCACAF qualification for the Olympics.

As usual, the constraint for the program is numbers; the team could simply take its 23-player roster from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but Olympic rosters are just 20 players.

We all know that Alex Morgan is unlikely to play in Tokyo because she is expecting during the late spring, meaning that, aside from paring down one goalkeeper, there could be as few as one cut from the World Cup roster to make up the Olympic roster.

Then again, there are the six players that new head coach Vlatko Andronovski has brought in. This includes known quantities such as Casey Short, Lynn Williams, and Andi Sullivan, all of whom have proven themselves in the National Women’s Soccer League.

A couple of interesting adds for the U.S. team during this training camp are Stanford’s Sophia Smith and Portland Thorns leading scorer Margaret Purce. These are younger players whose best days are ahead, but they are being given a shot at proving themselves on the world stage right away.

I’ll be interested to see the product on the pitch next month, since it will have to evolve between now and this summer because of injury, age, and unforeseen circumstances.

Dec. 27, 2019 — United States Coach of the Year: Ali Good, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

When Ali Good graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1999, she could have chosen to go into her family’s grocery business.

She did, but she also received a call from her high school, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.), to join the field hockey coaching staff.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Dec. 26, 2019 — The Score-O Decade, by grade level

The enormous assault on the part of scholastic field hockey players on the existing Federation record book hit a climax at the end of the 2010.

Below is what we think are the high scorers by class are as of the close of play for this season, understanding that there may be numbers which may not be known to this site:

Freshman Gls
Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 69
Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 60
Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 55
Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.) 53
Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.) 47
Sophomore Gls
Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 78
Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 76
Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 68
Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) 57
Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.) 49
Junior Gls
Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 96
Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 92
Meredith Sholder, Emmaus (Pa.) 64
Amie Survilla, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) 63
Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 60
Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 59
Senior Gls
Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 125
Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 95
Tracey Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 82
Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 81
Carol Middough, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 78

The collective effort on the part of the players and teams in the decade between 2010 and 2019 is an astounding shift. Every player except one competed in the 2010s.

In a game which traditionally sees goals as a rare thing, it’s great for supporters. For some coaches and goalkeepers? It might be an era to forget.

Dec. 25, 2019 — Keeping the cup

Remember this?

Today, I’ll have cocoa in the cup again with my sisters as we gather for the holidays.

May you and yours enjoy the winter holidays, whatever you celebrate.