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Archive for June, 2021

BULLETIN: June 22, 2021 — A radical shift towards the future

Remember this?

Today, it appears that USA Field Hockey and head coach Anthony Farry are doubling down on the youth movement with an eye towards the Paris Olympics and beyond.

The 36-player U.S. national team pool has added Hope Rose, who is a graduating high school senior at Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.). Ashley Sessa is a rising senior at Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.). Elizabeth Yeager, a graduating senior from Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.), is coming off her first international experience in the FIH Pro Leagie.

The team is also welcoming back UNC icon Erin Matson, fresh off an NCAA title season. In the back will be experienced goalkeepers Kealsie Robles, Jenny Rizzo, and Kelsey Bing.

Also on the team is a player born outside the United States. Sofia Southam, a midfielder from the University of Michigan, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and came up through the city’s club infrastructure before matriculating to Ann Arbor.

The team will be training together in the Carolinas beginning in August to prepare for the Pan American Cup in January, the lone path for the United States to make the 2022 FIH Women’s World Cup.

June 22, 2021 — Field hockey: The Final Top 50

We’re back with our (reasonably) well-researched national Top 50, from this season which has been like no other. We’ve had to track different seasons which ran from the heat of August in Ohio and Kentucky all the way to the spring in Virginia and North Carolina.

Heading this list is a skilled and fast Delmar (Del.) team which yielded just two goals all season, and played a European style of one- and two-touch hockey which led to some amazing finishes. They’re a group which is going to get better over the next couple of years, so it’s good to keep an eye on the Wildcats.

After some long evenings and fretting, here’s our Top 50 for the past academic year:

1. Delmar (Del.) 15-0
2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 14-0
3. Emmaus (Pa.) 16-0
4. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 14-0-1
5. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 17-0
6. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 0-0
7. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 14-0
8. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 13-0
9. San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 11-0
10. Cohasset (Mass.) 13-0
11. Vienna James Madison (Va.) 15-0
12. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 9-0
13. Washington Warren Hills (N.J.) 13-0
14. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 6-0

15. Palmyra (Pa.) 15-2
16. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 13-1
17. Worcester Doherty (Mass.) 14-0
18. Glastonbury (Conn.) 14-0
19.
St. Louis John Burroughs (Mo.) 8-2
20. Charlotte Myers Park (N.C.) 10-0
21. Dexter (Mich.) 16-0-1

22. East Greenwich (R.I.) 9-0
23. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 9-1
24. Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 18-3
25. Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 16-4
26. Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 7-1
27. North Branford (Conn.) 9-0
28. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 12-0-1
29. Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) 12-0
30. Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.) 16-2
31. Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 13-1
32. Poquoson (Va.) 12-2
33. Longmeadow (Mass.) 6-0

34. Biddeford (Maine) 6-0
35. Northport (N.Y.) 16-1
36. Gilroy Christopher (Calif.) 10-0
37. Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 10-1
38. Walpole (Mass.) 8-0-1
39. Cherry Hill Camden Catholic (N.J.) 12-2-1
40. Suffield (Conn.) 10-0
41. St. Louis Cor Jesu (Mo.) 8-4
42. Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) 16-2
43. Franklin (Mass.) 11-0-2
44. Concord Bishop Brady (N.H.) 11-0-1
45. Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 9-1
46. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 6-0
47. Andover (Mass.) 6-0
48. Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.) 13-1
49. Columbia River Hill (Md.) 9-1
50. Windham (N.H.) 9-0

June 21, 2021 — The power of the comeback

Over the weekend, there were a number of good championship games held around the country. And as you might expect in girls’ lacrosse, a number of these games came down to the final minutes.

As you might expect, many of these games were taut and tense, with the favored side barely managing a one- or two-goal lead before holding on at the end.

But some had tremendous comebacks in the second half, making the win more memorable to the players and their supporters.

This happened in the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, where Non-Public “A” champion Summit Oak Knoll found themselves behind Group III champions Moorestown (N.J.) 6-4 at the interval. Moorestown, having been in 32 state championship finals since 1976, was the state’s “old guard.” But Oak Knoll, winners of the 2019 Tournament of Champions, were the “new kids.” And they did incredibly well in their comeback, scoring four straight goals while holding Moorestown scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the second half, winning out 10-9.

Up the coast, Manhasset (N.Y.) took a 5-2 lead on Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) in the Long Island Class C championship, pitting the Section XI and Section VIII champions against each other. Bayport-Blue Point, a school which is known for playing great lacrosse against schools with larger populations, chipped away at the Manhasset lead until pulling ahead in the dying minutes, winning the crown with a 6-5 score. The goal was scored by Haydin Eisfeld.

At least three other states — Colorado, Massachusetts, and Virginia — are slated to choose champions in the next few days. It will be interesting to see what happens with these states.

June 20, 2021 — Half the usual

This time of year is not only the denouement of the scholastic girls’ lacrosse season, but it is also the time for the bi-state exhibition games between New Hampshire and Vermont.

Yeah, “games.” The lacrosse game between the New Hampshire all-stars and the Vermont all-stars took place yesterday with New Hampshire winning 19-5 over Vermont.

The field hockey game between the two states, however, is not taking place this year. Vermont has reportedly pulled out of the game, leaving the Granite Staters to organize a single senior all-star game this coming Saturday. The game, a fundraiser for a cancer facility, will take place at Amherst Souhegan (N.H.).

I’ve always been fascinated with the appearance of these two-state games on the schedule; they are unique in America when it comes to field hockey and lacrosse; no other state associations have all-star challenge games like this.

Hopefully, in a year’s time, the Vermont-New Hampshire field hockey will be held again.

June 19, 2021 — Just one more

Today on the national girls’ lacrosse docket of games are a few state title games, the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, and four matches in New York which aren’t being held anywhere else across the state.

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association has cancelled the state tournament, which was supposed to have been held at SUNY-Cortland. This meant that the sectional title games were as far as you could go in terms of achievement.

Or so we thought.

Athletic directors in New York’s Section XI (Suffolk County) and Section VIII (Nassau County) saw an opportunity to give its best spring sports teams in lacrosse, baseball, and softball, a terminal championship by playing the games which would have been the first round in the state tournament. Traditionally, winners in these two sections start off the state tournament against each other before meeting up against teams in other segments of the state over the proceeding weeks.

What this means is that there are four tremendous games scheduled for today at Bethpage (N.Y.). In Class A, you have our No. 1 team, Northport (N.Y.) taking on Massapequa (N.Y.) in the Class A game, followed by West Babylon (N.Y.) playing Garden City (N.Y.) in Class B.

The quadrupleheader finishes with Class C finalists Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) against Manhasset (N.Y.), and finishing with Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) against Center Moriches (N.Y.) in the small-school D final.

Now, I realize that, with 50 states and six non-voting territories in the country, there are many, many different ways of choosing a champion. I think it’s great to see Long Island choosing its champions in this way since travel is a relatively easy option.

Thing is, up the coast in Massachusetts, they’re just ramping up their state public-school tournament, which will go into the final week of June, if not beyond.

Why isn’t New York doing the same?

June 18, 2021 — Final field hockey Statwatch for 2020-21

It’s been a wild and unprecedented domestic field hockey season. It lasted all the way from the first hockey balls struck in Ohio last August, and ended with a home-and-home series which finished, fittingly, less than 200 yards from where Constance Applebee was a field hockey coach and instructor for six decades.

As such, we’ve had to monitor a lot of games outside of the normal calendar, and we’ve also had to keep track of limited statistics, given the short seasons that many teams played. But we have taken note of players who have excelled, people like Hope Rose and Ryleigh Heck and Cami Crook, all of whom dominated their opponents during the 2020-21 academic year.

Below is a collection of American scholastic field hockey statistics from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media. We rely quite a bit on MaxPreps, which we believe is an easy platform for people to record their team’s data — so much so that it is now becoming a standard tool for playoff seeding in at least three states. I encourage coaches and managers 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
90 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
76 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
49 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
47 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
44 Elle Murray, Worcester Doherty (Mass.)
37 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.)
37 Courtney Farren, Woodbury Heights Gateway (N.J.)
34 Alaina McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwenedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
34 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
33 Kierra Ettere, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
33 Rylie Wollerson, Gibsonia Pine-Richland (Pa.)
33 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
32 Julianne Kopec, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic
32 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
32 Brynn Crouse, Dillsburg Northern York (Pa.)
32 Marita Johnson, Hudson (Ohio)
31 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
30 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
30 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)

ASSISTS
35 Dylan Breier, Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.)
34 Pasleigh Atwood, Warren Quaboag Regional (Mass.)
28 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
28 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
27 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
25 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
25 Gianna Puorro, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
23 Molly Stephens, Cohasset (Mass.)
23 Grace Hughes, Oletangy Liberty (Ohio)
22 Kayla Kiwak, Exeter Wyoming Area (Pa.)
21 Alexis Kociban, Emmaus (Pa.)
21 Maddie Epke, Guilford (Conn.)
21 Kathrine McLean, Glen Gardner Voorhees (N.J.)
20 Carli Servis, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
20 Zella Bailey, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
20 Jaden Rae, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)

CAREER GOALS
233 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
198 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
141 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
141 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
135 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
131 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
124 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
115 Courtney Farren, Woodbury Heights Gateway (N.J.)
108** Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)
105 Abby Hartwell, Franklinville Delsea (N.J.)
105 Chloe Ward, Warwick (Va.)
102 Kate Herlihy, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
102 Alaina McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
102 Stevie Drum, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
101 Elle Murray, Worcester Doherty (Mass.)
**–five-year total

CAREER ASSISTS
153 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
110 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
91 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
77 Delmar (Del.)
55 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
44 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
77 Delmar (Del.)
55 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
44 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)
44 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

Friends, here is where you come in. If you see a figure or total that needs an addition or correction, 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 dropping in for this season like no other. We’ll continue our work this fall as field hockey enters the post-COVID era.

June 17, 2021 — Striking a balance

If there’s one major trend when it comes to the expansion of collegiate women’s lacrosse at the Division I level the last couple of decades, it’s the fact that many of the newer schools — Arizona State, Oregon, Southern California, Florida, Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan, and Colorado among them — spend an awful lot of their athletics budget on football. Lacrosse is an easy sport to add, logic dictates, to create a Title IX balance.

So, I find it interesting that a football school from the Atlantic Coast Conference — a conference that has had a representative in the Division I women’s lacrosse title game the last eight times of asking — announced its intention to field a women’s lacrosse team.

But the school isn’t Miami, which had set off a seismic quake in the collegiate universe when an announcement — since rescinded — was made in 2004 for a 2007 start.

Instead, it is Clemson, a school which has been in the top four each of the last six years in football.

Of course, the top question on everyone’s mind in the lacrosse community is the degree to which the school will devote resources to the team in order to help them succeed.

And the thing about Clemson is that it is located in the heart of Southern scholastic lacrosse excellence. The school can attract players from top programs such as Milton (Ga.), Delray American Heritage (Fla.), and Myers Park (N.C.) as well as state Class AAAA champion Daniel Island Bishop England (S.C.).

Now, the first thing that the athletic department has to do is to find a coach. And given the coaching moves around Division I since Memorial Day Weekend, I’ll be interested to see just who is chosen to navigate this nascent program.

June 16, 2021 — The medicine game ascends again at Salmon River

Five years ago, the documentary “Keepers of the Game” made its debut in repertory theater across the United States. The story surrounded the girls’ lacrosse team at Fort Covington Salmon River (N.Y.) as it progressed through the NYSPHSAA state tournament, ultimately losing out to Skaneateles (N.Y.) in the regionals back in 2015.

Since that year, Salmon River, located on the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory straddling the U.S.-Canada border, has been an annual contender for Section X and state tournament championships. All the while, the team has been battling financial and cultural obstacles to play a game seen as being reserved for men and boys.

The latest triumph for Salmon River was yesterday’s 21-1 win over Potsdam (N.Y.) in the sectional semifinal round, bringing the Shamrocks’ record to 21-1 on the season.

With the win, Salmon River will have a chance to end its season with a championship tomorrow against Canton (N.Y.). That’s because New York decided to cancel state tournament play and teams are only playing towards sectional championships.

Salmon River High School will have a chance to do a gender double tomorrow as both the girls’ and boys’ lacrosse teams are scheduled for the Section X final tomorrow afternoon.

Should be an interesting doubleheader to watch.

June 15, 2021 — Field hockey: Games of the Year, 2020-21

This list of games for the field hockey season just past was one which had a smaller number of games overall, reflecting the shortened schedules of individual teams. But you’ll notice that a number of games on this list turned on individual brilliance from top players coming through for their teams in key situations.

10. Kingston Wyoming Seminary 1, Exeter Wyoming Area 0, 2 OT
Nov. 2, 2020
PIAA District 2 Class A final
District 2 has been a great incubator of PIAA state champions over the years, but what was known during this COVID-19 season was that only one 2-A team could make the state bracket. It took a double-overtime goal from sophomore Ella Barbacci to decide this game, sending the Blue Knights to a tournament which they would win three weeks later

9. Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.) 1, Haddon Township (N.J.) 0, OT
Nov. 21, 2020
NJSIAA Southwest Class A final
Middle Township, whose home hockey ground overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, has been in the headwaters for state championship honors for some time. But in 2021, the team was able to finally win a terminal contest (albeit for a sectional title) thanks to a goal from Hannah Urbaczewski in overtime

8. Palmyra (Pa.) 2, Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 1, OT
Nov. 21, 2020
PIAA Class AA final
Palmyra, one of the finest programs out of central Pennsylvania, had it all to do against Carroll, the first District 12 school ever to make into the PIAA field hockey final. The Cougars were able to put all of their guile and experience to good use to win in extra time

7. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 1, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 0
Apr. 12, 2021
VHSL Region 5A quarterfinal
In any other year, Cox and First Colonial would likely have been placed at opposite ends of the bracket, which would have given both teams an opportunity to advance to an eight-team state tournament. But with the VHSL making its field hockey tournament a single-elimination event and with restrictions on travel in place, this latest edition of the Mill Dam Creek Classic was put in the first round of the regional tournament. Nevertheless, the game lived up to its billing. It took a Quin Braithwaite goal in the third quarter to put Cox through to the semifinal round

6. Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 4, East Chapel Hill (N.C.) 3, OT
Dec. 17, 2019
NCHSAA fall final
In a truncated state championship tournament featuring teams from the East Region, a dramatic game was ended by an equally dramatic goal. In the third minute of overtime, attacking midfielder Elle Freedman curled into the circle, spun, then cracked a backhander into the goal

5. Fredericksburg Stafford (Va.) 3, Leesburg Riverside 2, 2 OT
Apr. 20, 2021
VHSL Class 5 semifinal
Stafford, a school which has tasted state championship glory before, was down two to Riverside before two fourth-quarter goals leveled the match. A thrill-a-minute overtime period ensued, one which ended less than three minutes from time

4. East Greenwich (R.I.) 1, Providence La Salle Academy (R.I.) 0, OT
Nov. 21, 2021
RIIL Division 1 final
La Salle was able to bottle up East Greenwich, the defending state champions, for 60 minutes of regulation. But when reduced-side overtime began, it gave a lot of openings for attack-minded players. Players such as Alexandra Mega, the sophomore who showed an amazing array of skills throughout regulation. She saved her best effort for last, running 65 yards through the La Salle defense and depositing the ball over the goal line

3. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 1, St. Louis John Burroughs (Mo.) 0, OT
Nov. 2, 2020
Midwest Tournament final
Villa Duchesne found its heroine in its best player, Taryn Tkachuk. Her backhander under the crossbar in overtime provided the Saints with the championship despite having to play with a wrapped hamstring

2. Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.) 2, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1, OT
Nov. 12, 2020
PIAA District 3 Class AAA final
In terms of history, these two schools, located about nine miles apart, are as different as chalk and cheese. Lower Dauphin, a team with a Hall-of-Fame coach as well as several state titles, was a state finalist as recently as 2019, losing in a penalty shootout. Central Dauphin, for its part, had never won a District 3 title. But the team had a once-in-a-generation scorer named Hope Rose. She had both goals in the District final which put the Rams into the state tournament bracket. Her game-winner in overtime was a thundering 60-yard run which culminated in an angled shot that went in

1. Concord Bishop Brady (N.H.) 2, Canaan Mascoma Valley (N.H.) 1, OT
Oct. 29, 2020
NHISAA Division III semifinal/final
The drama in this contest comes directly from the title of this game. Mascoma Valley had the lead in the final minute of a semifinal match against Bishop Brady, but the Giants would tie the game on an untimed corner at the end of regulation. During the five-minute period between regulation and overtime, word spread to the teams of a circumstance that could only occur during this global pandemic. That same afternoon, a player from the winning Berlin (N.H.) team on the other semifinal match in Division III tested positive for COVID-19. This meant that the entire Berlin team would have to quarantine for several days, meaning that Berlin would not be able to participate in the state final scheduled for that week. That made the Mascoma Valley-Bishop Brady game the de facto state final. This put an enormous amount of importance on the overtime, which Hallie Laramie ended five minutes into the extra session

June 14, 2021 — A seismic shift

Remember this?

Well, in the last few days, this subhead appeared on the social media account of the leading field hockey goal scorer in the National Federation, someone who just happens to be the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year:

After two award-winning seasons at Ohio State, Mackenzie Allessie has chosen to change college teams and has transferred to Penn State.

Penn State’s athletic department confirmed this development with a story today naming Allessie and former Camp Hill (Pa.) and Virginia player Gery Schnarrs as those coming through the transfer portal. They join a star-studded team including leading scorer Sophia Gladieux, who, like Allessie, has scored more than 200 goals in a scholastic field hockey career.

When you look at recent history, there are plenty of transfer stories in field hockey and lacrosse. Austyn Cuneo transferred from North Carolina to Rutgers after just two years. Caitlyn Wurzburger decomitted from Syracuse women’s lacrosse team and committed to North Carolina while still in high school. And, of course, there’s current Tewaaraton Award winner Charlotte North, who transferred from Duke to Boston College and won an NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse title this year.

As I mentioned in the blog entry two weeks ago, student-athletes have made the term “transfer portal” part of the ordinary discourse of college sports in the last few years, especially when you have had a global pandemic which has given players an extra “Covid” year of eligibility.

And so it continues.