Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

BULLETIN: April 29, 2021 — A transformed field hockey national team for May

The U.S. senior women’s field hockey national team, having failed to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and currently at the bottom of the 2021 FIH Pro League, is seemingly building for the far future.

New head coach Anthony Farry is bringing in a different group of players for a European tour next month, including four FIH Pro League games against Belgium and Team GB. Only a third of the 25-player group participated in the two-game series in late 2019 against India for one of the final Olympic berths.

Amongst the players to watch from the new group is high-school phenom Beth Yeager, who has not played a varsity match for Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) since 2019. Instead, she has been playing with her club team WC Eagles, the U.S. women’s national team pool in Conshohocken, Pa., and with the Sacred Heart team during informal playdays last fall. Also in the side is Haley Randall, who you might otherwise know as Haley Schleicher, the only scholastic field hockey player with 50 goals and 50 assists in a season and 200 goals and 200 assists in a career.

The touring team also has a couple of dynamic players who excelled both at the scholastic and collegiate levels. Maddie Bacskai was a fine player at Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) who played well at Princeton, and is scheduled to play field hockey at Northwestern this coming fall as she starts business school there as a graduate student. Also, look for Kelee Lepage, late of Maryland, to make an impact on the offensive end of the pitch. She helped steer Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) to a state championship in 2015 and made two NCAA title appearances in College Park.

I’ll also be interested in a couple of lesser-known, but well-skilled players on the U.S. team. Kelsey Briddell has made a name for herself in indoor hockey, winning her U-16 pool with the ADK club side, as well as competing with the U.S. senior indoor national team. But the Albany graduate has parlayed that experience into the senior women’s outdoor team. Also, look for Alexandra Hammel, the Boston University graduate who had her first cap in 2020 against Argentina. She has paid her dues with the U.S. developmental program and has been called into the side.

Now, I find it interesting that this U.S. team is bereft of players who are just coming off from their college seasons. I can understand why Parry has chosen not to take players like Erin Matson, Sophia Gladieux, Meredith Sholder, and Mackenzie Allessie. All four are in mid-season form when it comes to conditioning, but with COVID-19 protocols the way they are for international play, recalling them for games starting May 15th is a non-starter.

Still, with this young team, I get the feeling that the States are involved in a very, very long rebuild. We’re not likely to see the best of this group in time for the 2022 World Cup, but perhaps in time for a serious run at the 2024 Paris Olympics and whatever devious qualifying obstacle course that FIH devises for those Games.

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