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Archive for December, 2019

Dec. 21, 2019 — A regrettable push of the judiciary envelope

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you are a minor, you may wish to have a parent read this alongside you.

Part of the story of the advancing of field hockey and lacrosse across the country the last quarter-century is the fact that the demand for youth coaching is such that there is, frankly, a shortage of competent coaching to go around.

Low teacher pay and convoluted employment regulations in certain locations have led to some coaching positions being a revolving door, and others becoming open doors to potential criminals.

This space has chronicled more than a half-dozen incidents involving inappropriate relationships between coaches and students, but an incident revealed this past week goes far beyond morals charges.

Gary Reburn, the former girls’ lacrosse coach at Bethesda Walter Johnson (Md.), is currently awaiting extradition from the United Kingdom on charges involving an elaborate kidnapping scheme involving three other adults.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice’s Western District of Virginia, Reburn’s girlfriend hatched a plot to kidnap five children living in two deparate residences in Dayton, Va., to keep and raise them themselves after executing their parents.

The plot was seen through to a home invasion last summer, only to see one of the parents in the first house escape and notify police. The police took one of the conspirators into custody; that conspirator pleaded guilty last week and is now facing life in prison.

“Although the facts of this case read like the script of a bad horror movie, the defendants’ murderous plot was real and it posed a grave risk to their intended victims,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Curran said in a press release.

Reburn, who had resigned from his coaching position at Walter Johnson before the attempted kidnapping, was one of two gunmen who broke into the house and were presumably going to murder the parents of the five children. Once the plot was broken up, however, Reburn, his girlfriend, and the wife of the captured co-conspirator fled to Maryland, then to Europe.

As far as we can tell, none of the members of the Walter Johnson lacrosse team were in any kind of peril. The kidnapping plot was hatched only after Reburn had resigned from the job after the 2018 season.

However, I think the hiring practices for coaches in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one of the largest school systems in this country, may require a revisit.

Dec. 20, 2019 — The Final Top 50

We’re back with our (reasonably) well-researched national Top 50. Heading this list, of course, are, once again, the two Garden State Firm rivals, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.).

The gap between the two teams has grown a bit thanks to a pair of 4-1 wins on the part of the Royals. However, next year the northern queens graduate a lot of seniors, and Eastern returns the nation’s leading scorer, Ryleigh Heck.

After some long evenings with copious amounts of vitamin-enhanced water and the occasional egg nog, here’s our Top 50:

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 26-0
2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 23-2
3. Delmar (Del.) 19-0
4. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 24-0
5. West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 25-3
6. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 18-1
7. Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 19-0
8. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 23-2
9. Greenwich (Conn.) Sacred Heart 21-2
10. Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 16-3-1
11. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 23-1-3
12. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 20-1-1
13. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 26-2-1
14. Palmyra (Pa.) 22-3
15. Dexter (Mich.) 19-1-2
16. Westport Staples (Conn.) 21-1-1
17. Oley (Pa.) Valley 25-2
18. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 23-2-1
19. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 20-1-1
20. Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio) 20-0-1
21. Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 17-10-1
22. Maine-Endwell (N.Y.) 16-3
23. West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 24-3
24. Langley (Va.) 20-1-1
25. San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 22-2-1
26. St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 17-3-1
27. Mullica Hill Clearview (N.J.) 22-3-1
28. Gloucester (Va.) 19-2
29. Houston St. John’s (Tex.) 15-2
30. Severna Park (Md.) 16-2
31. Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 17-2
32. Fredericksburg James Monroe (Va.) 20-3
33. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 22-3
34. Owings Mills Garrison Forrest (Md.) 17-3-1
35. Skowhegan (Maine) 18-0
36. Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 18-0
37. Guilford (Conn.) 21-0
38. Sykesville Liberty (Md.) 16-0
39. Los Angeles Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) 18-0
40. Dover-Sherborn (Mass.) 21-1-2
41. Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic 16-2
42. Granby (Conn.) Memorial 18-0-1
43. Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.) 12-3-1
44. Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day School 18-3-2
45. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 19-5
46. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 17-3
47. Weston Rivers School (Mass.) 18-0-1
48. Virginia Beach Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) 15-4-1
49. Windsor (Vt.) 14-2-1
50. Windham (N.H.) 16-1

And bear in mind:  San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 18-2-2, Westminster (Md.) 13-5, Hanover (N.H.) 14-1-1, Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.) 19-3, Bronxville (N.Y.) 17-3-2, Emmaus (Pa.) 26-1, East Greenwich (R.I.) 15-1-1, South Burlington Rice Memorial (Vt.) 12-4-1, Bristol Mount Abraham Union (Vt.) 12-3-2, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 15-3, Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels (Wisc.) 9-6

Dec. 19, 2019 — A powerful expansion in one sport (thus far)

Today, it was reported that the University of North Carolina at Charlotte would be adding a women’s team sport.

And, by 2022, women’s lacrosse will be a part of the athletic offerings in a school located in a city that is now one of the most important financial centers in the United States. Charlotte is slated to become the seventh NCAA Division I university to offer women’s lacrosse.

I’ve known for years that the school has been aiming to develop a competitive football team in Conference USA. As such, the school needs to add more women’s athletic teams to create Title IX balance.

There is a good argument for the school to begin a field hockey program, as central North Carolina has become a tremendous breeding ground for new scholastic programs. The city had both finalists in the public-school and the private-school state tournaments in 2019. The problem, of course, is that the only other Conference USA team playing field hockey is Old Dominion, which competes in the Big East in that sport.

But the potential benefit of UNC-Charlotte picking up the sport is the fact that several C-USA schools are located near places where field hockey is present, such as Western Kentucky, Texas-San Antonio, and North Texas State. I would think having a Charlotte field hockey program might be the touch paper that ignites college field hockey in the deep South.

Let’s see what happens.


Dec. 18, 2019 — An unusual guru

This fall, I have been drawn in by some compelling sports television: the series by the NFL Network selecting the 100 greatest players and coaches of the first 100 years of the NFL.

The most interesting parts of these “reveal” shows isn’t just the revelations of the players and coaches. For me, it’s the discussions between host Rich Eisen, commentator Cris Collinsworth, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Belichick’s public persona may be of the coach with taciturn statements to the media, but who loves to discuss lacrosse with Baltimore-area reporters during teleconferences whenever the next opponent is the Ravens. He is a six-time Super Bowl champion who was, frankly, within a possession of three more titles.

And, given what the NFL has written about the selection process, and his comments during the broadcasts, Belichick is a historian of the game of pro football. He teamed with former Oakland coach John Madden in doing research on the first 60 years of the NFL to give context and perspective to the rest of the selection committee so that the TV Era of the league does not get too much influence in terms of the selectees.

And Belichick’s comments have been wonderful and incisive, especially when former players have been brought in. The discussions between he and Jim Brown and Ray Lewis and Emmitt Smith and Lawrence Taylor have been incredible. There was some special repartee between Belichick and Lewis, especially when it came to a certain pass route that Lewis and teammate Ed Reed would sniff out and intercept just about every time the Patriots tried it.

There are a few more installments left to broadcast, and replays are available on demand from the NFL’s YouTube channel. It’s a wonderful time capsule, and it’s the kind of historical perspective on sports that I very much enjoy.

Dec. 17, 2019 — The Final Statwatch for 2019

NOTE: We’re calling an audible here, postponing our Top 50 until Friday, so today, we’ll run our Final Statwatch for 2019.

One of the things we do with Statwatch over the course of the season is compare what we’ve been able to find in statistical coffers with what is written in newspapers who cover the sport.

We’ve been able to establish, for example, that Cami Crook, the junior attacking midfielder for Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) is only the fifth player in recorded National Federation history to record as many as her total of this year, 47.

It’s notable, of course, that the national assist record-holder, Haley Schleicher, exceeded that number all four years when she was at Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.). But Crook, who is going to Providence College in the fall of 2021, is on the verge of another unique honor. She is just 11 goals away from becoming the latest member of the 100-100 Club, for players who scored 100 goals and assisted on 100 others. Amazingly enough, she would join her brother Lucas on that exclusive list.

So, with that, here is our final collection of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day,, The Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, The Boston Herald, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post.

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.)

47 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
38 Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)
38 Abby Periard, South Oldham (Ky.)

37 Carly Cole, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
35 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
35 Sydney Scales, Walpole (Mass.)
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.)
29 Alanna Richardson, Hamilton Pingree School (Mass.)
28 Hannah Berry, Holden Wachusett (Mass.)
28 Annabella Mason, Alexandria West Potomac (Md.)
28 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)

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
108** Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)
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.)
**–four-year total

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

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

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

Thanks for reading Statwatch this season, and we’ll be back in the spring for interesting lacrosse doings.

Dec. 16, 2019 — Clean slate or bare cupboard?

The announcement today of the retirement of Caitlin Van Sickle from the U.S. women’s national field hockey team means that there is going to be a near-complete turnover of the senior women’s squad in fewer than three years.

And all this before the next U.S. coach is selected, following the recent firing of Janneke Schopmann.

All this, of course, begs the question: what kind of team is the next U.S. coach going to be able to assemble?

Could the next U.S. coach be able to coax commitment from some of the players who left the team after Rio? Or perhaps dig a little deeper in the U.S. college ranks to bring in players like Haley Schleicher, Kelee LePage, or even an Austyn Cuneo?

Hopefully it’s a shakeup of the U.S. player pool, seeing as how the current selection system has not been working.

Dec. 15, 2019 — Healing in a town that certainly could use it

It was seven years ago yesterday when a madman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and shot 26 people, 20 of whom were elementary school students.

There has been precious little done in terms of Federal law — much like in the instances of Jonesboro, of Columbine, of Orlando, or of Las Vegas — to contain unfettered access to military-grade weapons.

The people of Newtown have therefore had to find solace and comfort in other ways.

One way is through sports. This fall, Newtown’s field hockey team earned the No. 1 seed in the Class L championship with an undefeated record.

Had Newtown carried that form through the tournament, it would have been a great story. But New Milford (Conn.) ended the Nighthawks’ dream with a 2-1 win in overtime.

Which brings us to last night — seven years to the day since the Sandy Hook massacre.

Newtown’s football team had won its way into the state Class LL final against Darien (Conn.).

The Nighthawks and Blue Wave fought to a 7-7 draw into the final seconds of play.

And then, this happened.

Mind you, no football win, no matter how dramatic, will bring back the 26 lives lost seven years ago.

But in the long road towards healing, it’s a pretty good start.

Dec. 14, 2019 — Brittany Stevens, 1999-2019

They’ll remember Brittany Stevens today at a Celebration of Life service in Catonsville, Md.

That such an occasion is necessary is a tragedy.

The LaSalle University women’s lacrosse player died suddenly a week ago, leaving behind a disbelieving family, team, and friends.

Stevens was a four-sport athlete Catonsville (Md.), playing basketball, aquatics, field hockey and lacrosse. She helped lead the Catonsville girls’ lacrosse team to the 2014 state final.

Upon her matriculation to LaSalle, she became a key player on attack. After playing in ever game her freshman season, she had seven starts a year ago for the Explorers, which finished 5-11.

Off the pitch, Stevens was a traveler. She was involved in Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, and participated in overseas trips to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Kenya.

But what seemed to distinguish Stevens from her peers, according to her obituary, was her positive attitude. She liked to make people laugh, and, according to the text of her obit, would ask family members, “What made you laugh today?”

That’s a great thing to remember her by. Rest in peace, Brittany.

Dec. 13, 2019 — Games of the Year, 2019

Assembling this list of prominent and/or exciting matchups has taken a bit longer every year, especially since the offensive intensity inherent in The Score-O Decade means that occasionally you have the buildup to a “big game” leading to a multi-goal win.

We hope that this group reflects close competition, but you’ll notice there are some offensive outbursts that are of note.

10. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 3, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 0
Nov. 5, 2019
VHSL Class 5 Region A semifinal
These two rival schools, located about a mile from each other, were moved from 6A last year to 5A this year, and the inevitable happened. This matchup was in the regional semifinal “tipping point” round, which meant that the winner would earn two more games, while the loser would have 10 months to think about everything that went wrong. Cox, for its part, parlayed the win into a second straight state title

9. West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 1, Point Pleasant (N.J.) Boro 0
Oct. 17, 2019
Shore Conference Tournament semifinal
This semifinal was a matchup of great scorers. Point Pleasant Boro’s Jordan Carr (56 goals on the season) might have been the best player to come out of the program since Christie Rampone, who would win two World Cups and three Olympic gold medals playing soccer. But Lily Santi (67 goals) and Shore would come out ahead in this encounter

8. Dexter (Mich.) 1, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 0
Sept. 22, 2019
National High School Invitational
Dexter had come into its slate of matches in Conshohocken a little flat, losing 8-1 to Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.), but came back splendidly against Lakeland, a team which had won nine New York state titles in the last 10 years. Both teams would win their respective state championships in 2019

7. Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) 1, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 0
Aug. 26, 2019
Apple Tournament final
Both Manual and Sacred Heart have won Kentucky state titles the last decade, but the Apple Tournament was pretty much the exclusive domain of the private-school teams in the Louisville area. That is, until Manual, a public magnet school, came along. Manual’s 1-0 win in the season-opening tournament was the first for a non-private school in some three decades

6. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 5, Hershey (Pa.) 3
Sept. 21, 2019
National High School Invitational
In the closest thing you’re ever going to get to a Champion’s League final, last year’s NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner beat the PIAA Class AAA winner in a game that had a wild last 15 minutes at The Proving Grounds

5. San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 1, Los Gatos (Calif.) 0
Nov. 16, 2019
CIF Central Coast Sectional final
The game itself wasn’t as memorable as to what Archbishop Mitty did: it ended Los Gatos’ skein of sectional titles, and also ended the Cats’ unbeaten streak at 128 games

4. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 3, Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 2, (OT)
Sept. 21, 2019
National High School Invitational
New Trier did not have a positive opening to its Saturday slate of games at the National High School Invitational, having lost 7-0 to Voorhees Eastern (N.J.). But the Trevians were able to score in extra time in a thrilling match that signaled that the program has truly arrived as a national powerhouse

3. Johnstown (N.Y.) 3, Carle Place (N.Y.) 2 (2 OT)
Nov. 16, 2019
NYSPHSAA Class B semifinal
The undefeated Johnstown Lady Bills took a 2-0 lead at the interval, only to see Carle Place get an Emiline Biggin brace to level the match by full time. The teams battled through 7-v-7 overtime, and it was Johnstown sophomore Kalena Eaton that won the game in the final three seconds of overtime

2. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 4, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 1
Nov. 15, 2019
NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final
In the latest installation of The Garden State Firm, both teams had been mindful of a a previous meeting in the regular season, won by Oak Knoll 4-1. To their overwhelming credit, the Royals repeated the feat, scoring magnificent goals against an Eastern team which had beaten everyone else on its schedule, including a number of state champions. But Oak Knoll proved to be that much better this year

1. West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1, Wilson wins 3-2 in penalty shootout
Nov. 16, 2019
PIAA Class AAA final
The drama that occurred in the PIAA Class AAA final didn’t only come from the fact that Lower Dauphin was looking to bounce back from an overtime loss to Hershey (Pa.) a year ago, but it was a final a few years ago that ended in a co-championship that led Pennsylvania, the most powerful and influential state in the Union when it comes to field hockey, to break a tie at the end of extra time. It was a thrill-a-minute penalty shootout that saw Emily Horace connect in the fifth and final round for the game-winner

Dec. 12, 2019 — When Blue meets Red

One of the aftereffects of the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is the fact that a number of teams in the U.S. domestic league, the National Women’s Soccer League, are demanding, and receiving, better facilities.

I think, however, the biggest upgrade occurred with Sky Blue FC. The team called Yurcak Field at Rutgers University home. And, from every indication, hated it.

Indeed, there were numerous stories coming out of the locker room about the lack of decent locker rooms and showers for players, and the inability of the Sky Blue front office to find a better deal on a home field.

Apparently, that has been struck. A few weeks ago, it was announced that Sky Blue’s new home would be the $200 million Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

“The move to Red Bull Arena builds upon the positive momentum we gained last season and will help propel our club and the league to the next level,” said Sky Blue GM Alyse LaHue. “After our players and fans experienced Red Bull Arena in 2019, we knew it was the perfect venue to host Sky Blue and showcase this incredible league.”

Sky Blue played two matches at the home of MLS’s New York Red Bulls, earning draws against Orlando and Reign FC.