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Archive for September, 2021

Sept. 30, 2021 — UPDATE: Another NWSL coach sacked for past actions

UPDATE: The North Carolina Courage has terminated Paul Riley from his head coaching position as of 3:30 this afternoon. He is the third coach within the National Women’s Soccer League to have been terminated for cause this year.

In what could be an unprecedented move. the NWSL has referred Riley’s case to the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, a body which investigates and disciplines head coaches within sports under the umbrella of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The #MeToo Movement has, apparently, deepened in North American women’s sports circles.

After a number of scandals surrounding former Washington Spirit head coach Richie Burke led to the suspension of the club from league business decisions, reports this morning have put the head coach of the North Carolina Courage, one of the NWSL’s most well-followed and successful clubs, on the hot seat.

Paul Riley has been a head coach for many women’s teams in the U.S., including Philadelphia Independence FC of WPS, the New York Fury of the WPSL, and the Portland Thorns of the NWSL before taking his current job with the Courage.

However, since 2010, according to reporting from The Athletic, Riley has engaged in sexual coercion with numerous players from coast to coast. Indeed, the Thorns had initiated an investigation into Riley as early as 2015, but was allowed to change jobs within the league.

These are allegations Riley has denied this morning, but the NWSL players’ union has weighed on on this, calling for an immediate investigation into the current charges, the Portland Thorns investigation, as well as immediate suspension of coaches and staff who have run afoul of the league’s anti-harassment policy.

Immediate condemnation and messages of support for the accusing players have come from elite players, supporters’ groups, and even the current Carolina Courage co-owner, Sara Toussaint. She said, in a tweet, “We cannot thrive as a league without facing truths, taking accountability, & making changes.”

This is a developing story, one which could foment enormous and uncomfortable change within not only the NWSL, but for the nascent business of women’s sports. I think a lot of organizations, including the national governing bodies of Olympic sports, should be looking over their shoulders because this could wind up being a tidal wave of change.

Sept. 29, 2021 — It’s not just about the shoes for Talia Schenck

LAWRENCE, N.J. — You can always tell when Talia Schenck is playing a field hockey game. Just look for the shoes.

Schenck’s traffic-cone orange Adidas shoes are visible if you watch her on the NFHS Network or if you see her live playing for Lawrence (N.J.).

“They’re new this year,” she says, indicating that her shoes and matching orange gloves are in homage to Princeton University, where she will be attending next year.

And the senior forward has got plenty of game to warrant such visible footwear. Coming into this week, Schenck is leading the nation in goal scoring, with 51 goals at the close of play on Monday. She had all six goals for the Cardinals as they came back from an early deficit against their neighborhood rival Lawrence Notre Dame (N.J.) in a 6-3 win.

Her single-season total is the highest ever recorded for a field hockey player from not only Lawrence’s league (the Colonial Valley Conference), but from the county (Mercer). Not only that, she has the 10th highest goal-scoring total in the 112-year history of scholastic field hockey in America, with 182.

Schenck is a multi-tool player. She can beat you off the dribble, strike the ball with accuracy in the midfield to open teammates, and shoot on goal with remarkable aplomb. In the Notre Dame game, she had a pair of backhand shots that she cannonned expertly into the mesh, scored on a penalty stroke, and caused all manner of trouble on self-starts. On several occasions she cantered through the Irish defensive third and accelerated into the critical scoring area, sometimes appearing to melt through defenders.

It’s this kind of all-around play that she learned at a young age, refining it in middle school and with the Princeton Field Hockey Club.

“By the time I got serious, I was 10 or 11,” she said. “When I was 13, Carla Tagliente and Mike Pallister brought me up to the U-19s, and that’s when my game took off. It changed everything for me.”

When Schenck was in junior high, she built a resume and reputation that got the notice of the Lawrence coaching staff.

“Here’s the thing,” says Lawrence coach Megan Errico. “My JV coach, Caroline Bartosik, was on the team when they were starting to get winning records, and when she graduated in 2018, Talia was in eighth grade. We knew she was coming, and we got really lucky. Coaching her has been phenomenal.”

But for Schenck, success is a product of the dedication and devotion to the sport.

“I hope people realize the work we put into the game,” Schenck says. “That’s something I try to work on every game. You don’t have to be the best-skilled player if you have the drive.”

“There’s a book by Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), about doing something for 10,000 hours, and that’s why Mozart was so good — and she does that,” Errico says. “You’re only lucky to be in the presence of greatness a few times in your life. I’m in the presence of greatness; that doesn’t always happen.”

Schenck has been the national leader in goals before leader before. She had a great start to her sophomore season and was the leader in goals at the close of play Sept. 25, 2019. But days later, she suffered a broken ankle and was lost to the Cardinals for the season.

In 2020, the team played a COVID-shortened season which had a statement victory in November. During a 7-1 win over local rival Princeton, Schenck scored all seven goals even as the Cardinals were outshot. She exhibited a similar game generalship Monday afternoon.

“In that game,” Schenck said of the 2020 win over Princeton, “we came out a lot stronger. Here, we were on our heels in the first quarter before we came back.”

At the end of the 2020 COVID-shortened season, Lawrence finished its season in the Central/West Class “A” championship final against Glen Gardner Voorhees (N.J.). The Cardinals, a successful but long-suffering program in the CVC, fell short of winning its first major trophy in field hockey, dropping a 4-2 decision.

That loss has fueled Schenck’s fire this season. She is not only using her considerable talent to move to goal, but to get teammates involved, drawing the pictures in the attack end and making hard passes to the front for her wingers to latch onto.

“I’m trying to get my teammates to move more, and sometime when I’m back (behind the 50), I try to get them more passes,” Schenck says. “I think it’s something we still need to work on, but we’re getting the movement better. Hopefully, we’re getting there.”

Schenck’s numbers say that she is the highest-scoring player in the history of the New Jersey capital region. But she is hoping to bring Lawrence a state championship, something no CVC-member team has done since 1984.

“We need to work more in the offseason, but last year we had a really good run,” Schenck says. “I do see more girls have more dedication to the sport. It’s starting.”

“I’ve been lucky to have had her in class (at Lawrence),” Errico says. “Sometimes, it’s hard to say that I coach her. I can put people around her and I can make sure I can find ways to support her, but she’s so phenomenal that she coaches me, in a sense. This year is her year.”

A year from now, she will be matriculating to Princeton University to play under Tagliente, who coaches the Tiger varsity as well as Princeton FHC. The program is just two years removed from making the national title match, but with a good roster of junior national team athletes in place already, she could help the Tigers contend for a third national championship.

“I think the main factor (in the decision to attend Princeton) is the coaching staff,” Schenck says. “They are the greatest people and role models for me.”

Sept. 28, 2021 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 26

Well, how about that?

With all sorts of intersectional matches taking place across the country this past weekend, such as the National High School Invitational and the Serra/Canyon Hills Invitational, this Top 10 has been shaken.

At the heart of the listing, we have a situation where three teams have played each other over the last two weeks in our Top 10, and have beaten each other — No. 4 Villa Maria, No. 6 Eastern, and No. 7 Episcopal Academy. As per usual, you can throw a blanket over these teams, but we’ve gone with the most recent of the results in our listing, and I think all three of these teams are likely title-winners in their respective state tournaments come November.

Our No. 11 Team of the Week is Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.). Kingsway, a team which has never won a state championship in its history, acquitted itself well this past weekend at the NHSI, taking a 1-0 win over Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) and a 2-1 win over Severna Park (Md.).

1. Delmar (Del.) 6-0
The Wildcats have a neutral-site test with Dagsboro Indian Hills (Md.), the team they beat to win the DIAA Division 2 championship a couple of years ago

2. Emmaus (Pa.) 8-0
The Hornets have four matches this week and should be shooting for head coach Susan Butz-Stavin’s 1000th win a week from today against Dingman’s Ferry East Stroudsburg North (Pa.)

3. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 8-0
After last weekend’s NHSI matches, Oak Knoll now has victories over teams from Connecticut, Illinois, and Pennsylvania

4. Malvern Villa Maria Academy (Pa.) 8-1
Full marks to Katie Evans’ Hurricanes, which swept their NHSI matches against Louisville Assumption (Ky.), Gambrills Arundel (Md.), and especially a 3-0 win over Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

5. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 4-0
Zella Bailey has been tearing it up for the Falcons, scoring 10 goals to lead the way

6. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 7-1
The Vikings had a remarkable comeback last weekend at the NHSI. Less than 24 hours after losing 3-0 to Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.), Eastern beat Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 3-1

7. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 7-1
Churchwomen were able to beat Villa Maria two weeks ago, but lost to Eastern last Saturday night. A trip to Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) looms next weekend

8. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 5-0
The Knights will have a home match against Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) this Saturday

9. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 4-0
Hornets have an enormous game this Saturday against Mamaroneck (N.Y.)

10T. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 9-0
Falcons will have reverse fixtures this week against Palmyra (Pa.) and Hershey (Pa.) in the latest installments of the Rt. 422 rivalries

10T. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 5-0
Knights swept their games at the NHSI, beating Brooklandville Garrison Forest (Md.) and Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.)

11. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.) 6-0
Kingsway stands alongside the likes of West Essex, Oak Knoll, Wyoming Seminary, Emmaus, Sacred Heart, and now Villa Maria as teams which have gotten at least a draw off Eastern since 1999

Who’s out: Worcester Doherty (Mass.) 2-0 loss to Holden Watchusett (Mass.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 10-0-1, Darien (Conn.) 5-0, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 15-1, Walpole (Mass.) 4-0, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.) 10-0, Northport (N.Y.) 7-0, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 8-0-1, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio) 10-0-1, Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 6-1, Kincaid School (Texas) 8-1

Sept. 27, 2021 — Inside a 17-hour turnaround

Last Friday night, the Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) field hockey team shuffled off Field 1 of the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa. an ashen, unhappy group. For only the 15th time in the last 23 years, the Vikings had lost a field hockey game, a 3-0 defeat to Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.).

Eastern head coach Kerry Heck, who has had plenty of coaching experience in her lifetime, her family, and her current household, knew she had to do something in the 17 hours between the end of that game and a showdown with a highly-touted Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) side with several youth and indoor national team players on the roster.

The first thing she did was to pick the right motivational quote.

“New day, new team, new game,” she said. “And, we went from there.”

Did they ever.

Eastern, behind two Ryleigh Heck goals and an angled missile from Izzy Bianco, came away with a 3-1 win. The win came primarily through Eastern’s ability to make connective passes in the middle third of the pitch, something which was lacking the night before.

“We had to move the ball, we had to play our game, we had to make passes, we had to pick up the intensity, and we had to help create opportunities for each other,” Heck said. “And that’s what they did.”

Eastern was extremely solid in the defensive midfield with Kylie Dawson, Riley Hudson, and Tess Herman (three assists) making completions, knifing in for interceptions or tackles, and flummoxing the Churchwomen’s attack.

“We talked about improving our connections,” Heck said. “The kids realized that they were off their game last night. But I have to give kudos to Villa Maria. They beat us to the ball, and made their passes. They were awesome.”

The Saturday game had been talked about for two weeks, ever since the schedule for the National High School Invitational was finalized. But the matchup Saturday was imperfect. Because of the Friday game, the EA-Eastern game was no longer a match of unbeatens. Too, Episcopal did not have the services of U.S. indoor and outdoor national teamer Ashley Sessa.

For Eastern going forward, the weekend was an object lesson in resilience. The recent history of the Vikings once saw the team drop both games during their 2016 weekend with Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) and Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.), which was their only two-game losing streak during the Danyle Heilig Era at the school.

And with Eastern, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) all gaining prominent wins at the 2021 NHSI, it is going to make for a dandy November for field hockey in the Garden State.

Sept. 24-26, 2021 — The Final Third, NHSI Edition

Hi, everyone.

We’re taking the weekend off from the blog so that we can focus on the National High School Invitational with live whip around coverage.

Join us for The Final Third on our Facebook Live presence ( this weekend. Interact with us, give us a like and share, and enjoy this important weekend of field hockey.

Sept. 24, 2021 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 22

Here we are, on Friday, which means it’s time for Statwatch, that part of our coverage which ties together the game through the years and from coast to coast.

We have had a couple of statistical milestones in the last few weeks that we don’t want to overlook. Delmar (Del.) is now tied for 11th for the longest winning streak in National Federation history. This Wildcats team has outscored their opponents 44-0 in four matches, and has not even given up a shot on goal this season.

Too, Emmaus (Pa.) head coach Susan Butz-Stavin is sitting just five victories short of 1,000 in her illustrious career. In addition, Watertown (Mass.) head coach Eileen Donahue has vaulted into eighth place in the all-time coaching wins list.

Below is our usual weekly jambalaya of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media.

We would like to get MaxPreps going as a statistical bible for the sport nationwide. It is easy for the average coach, athletic director, or student manager to register for the 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. It is a valuable resource, given the dismemberment of some newsgathering operations over the years.

42 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
32 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

28 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
27 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
23 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
22 Sydney Stumpf, Louisville Eastern (Ky.)
20 Katherine Malloy, Lake Forest (Ill.)
20 Gigi Edwards, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
19 Olivia Petrie, Louisville Highlands Latin (Ky.)
19 Alaina McVeigh, Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)

20 Emily Williams, Louisville Ballard (Ky.)
19 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
17 Georgia Leary, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
16 Sammie Goin, Ashburn Independence (Va.)
14 Dylan Breier, Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.)

230 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
173 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
121 Alaina McVeigh, Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
105 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
104 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
99 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
97 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
80 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
79 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)

94 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)

81 Delmar (Del.)

81 Delmar (Del.)
50 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

Now, here is where you come in. If you see something out of place or missing, feel free to send us an email at Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the adjustment.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you after a very busy weekend. Come join me on Facebook Live if you want to know what is going on at the NHSI.

Sept. 24, 2021 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 3

Today, we take a final look at this weekend’s National High School Invitational with the last three match windows, spanning 13 games.

Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) vs. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.): This is the showcase game of the weekend, and for good reason. Players like Ashley Sessa, Macy Szukics, Izzy Bianco, and Ryleigh Heck may be on your U.S. women’s Olympic team one day. Sessa, a current member of the U.S. national team pool, was selected as the most outstanding player of the Pan American Indoor Tournament. Heck, like Sessa, is going to North Carolina next year. Heck is already the fourth-leading goal scorer in the history of the National Federation. These two schools have played before, an 8-0 Eastern win in October 2014. Expect a closer matchup this time around.
Severna Park (Md.) vs. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.): Severna Park has won 24 state championships in field hockey, the last in 2019. Kingsway has three sectional titles in its history, but has never been in an NJSIAA state final.
Louisville Ballard (Ky.) vs. Moorestown (N.J.): Ballard has had field hockey for its female students since the school opened in 1968. Moorestown has had varsity field hockey since 1909, and has 18 state titles to its name, the last in 2018.
Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.) vs. Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.): Dylan Breier (six goals, 14 assists) paces the Crimsons’ attack. Cape Henry coach Kim Dooren is one of a dwindling number of field hockey coaches who also coach girls’ lacrosse at the same school.
Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) vs. Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.): GA’s season started with a 1-0 defeat against Radnor Archbishop Carroll, a team which made it to the PIAA Class A final last fall. Providence Day’s only defeat was to Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) on Sept. 12.

10 a.m. SUNDAY
Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) vs. Norfolk (Va.) Academy: Episcopal is coached by Stephanie Fee, the former Duke University and U.S. women’s national team player. Norfolk Academy coach Mary Werkheiser has been at the helm since 1989, and in 2017, she won United States Coach of the Year honors from this site.
Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) vs. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.): Providence Day is 4-1 entering this week of play, while Sacred Heart was 3-0 entering this week.
Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) vs. Houston Kincaid School (Tex.): Cape Henry is your defending VISAA Division 2 champion, while Kincaid is looking to win its first Southern Preparatory Conference championship since 2017.
Guilderland (N.Y.) Central vs. Louisville Ballard (Ky.): Ballard has been one of the mainstays of public-school field hockey in Jefferson County for five decades, but has yet to win a state championship. Guilderland, similarly, has not won a state championship in field hockey, but they have been contenders recently in girls’ lacrosse.
Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.) vs. Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.): Shawn Eggleston, Shen’s former JV coach, has taken over at the helm for the Plainsmen after the retirement of longtime coach Jeanne Frevola. Manual head coach Brittany Vencil had to miss out on the 2019 NHSI because of the birth of a child.

12 noon SUNDAY
Owings Mills Garrison Forest (Md.) vs. Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.): Garrison Forest was the dominant program in the IAAM after 2005, as the team won five championships in a six-year span to close out the decade of the 2000s. Conestoga has made the field hockey state championship game once, losing to Lititz Warwick (Pa.) in 1987.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (N.Y.) vs. Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.): The Spartans have only tasted state championship glory once; winning the 1987 NYSPHSAA Class “A” title. Bishop Eustace has won four state championships and could have had more if not for having to play the likes of West Essex and Oak Knoll in the state final.
Marlton Cherokee (N.J.) vs. Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.): Cherokee is one of four schools in the heart of Burlington County named for the Native American tribes who have inhabited the region (Shawnee, Lenape, and Seneca are the others.) Germantown Academy is a team which has given its fellow InterAc teams absolute fits in the PAISAA playoffs, notably in a 2018 game against Episcopal Academy which went to a penalty shootout.

Sept. 23, 2021 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 2

Today, we get a second look at the National High School Invitational, which takes place starting tomorrow at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa. This preview is for the first four match windows on Saturday:

Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) vs. Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.): Sacred Heart will be playing its third game in less than 24 hours. The opponent for this game is Providence Day School, which went 12-0 last year and won its first NCISAA title, beating long-time powers Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day School and Durham (N.C.) Academy in the last four.
Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.) vs. Louisville Assumption (Ky.): Eustace has been a good team in South Jersey hockey for decades, sending alumna Kelli James to the 1996 Olympics. The team has been ably coached by Danielle Senior, whose daughter Alex is on the team. Assumption head coach Jody Schaefer has been with the Assumption program since 1990, but has only been the head coach since 2018. But in her second year, the Rockets won the KHSAA state title.
Louisville Ballard (Ky.) vs. Houston St. John’s (Tex.): Ballard has won nine straight matches coming into this week after going 0-3 in the Apple Tournament. St. John’s was 3-1 heading into this week, including a statement win over Dallas Hockaday (Tex.).
Greenwich (Conn.) Academy vs. Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.): Greenwich Academy is looking for its first NEPSAC championship since 2017. Cape Henry is looking to repeat as VISAA Division 2 champions.

11 a.m. SATURDAY
Houston Kincaid School (Tex.) vs. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.): This may be one of the marquee matches of the weekend. Kincaid is a team very much on the rise this year, as is Hill, and these two are going to be amongst the better teams in their end-of-season competitions.
Severna Park (Md.) vs. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.): Severna Park is a team which has won more than 20 state championships in its history. New Trier is looking to win the Illinois Field Hockey Association championship for the third straight time on offer after a COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) vs. Villanova Academy of Notre Dame (Pa.): These teams have had tremendous players in their pasts, but it will be interesting to see what the current iterations will bring to this game. Sacred Heart graduated Elizabeth Yeager last spring, and Notre Dame graduated goalie Page Kieft; imagine if this game had been played in 2020!
Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.) vs. Gambrills Arundel (Md.): Manual is a history-maker as one of the only charter schools to have ever won a field hockey state championship. The Crimsons, however, have struggled this season and are hanging around the .500 mark. Arundel is struggling as well, having dropped its first two matches of the season.

Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) vs. Louisville Assumption (Ky.): Villa Maria, coached by former U.S. women’s national teamer Katie Evans, is 4-0 this season. Assumption was 9-1-1 coming into this week.
Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) vs. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.): The Pioneers won their first four games of the 2021 season, while Oak Knoll has also come out strong with wins in their first six matches, the last two by shutout.
Norfolk (Va.) Academy vs. Houston St. John’s (Tex.): This is another game where it can be said that the major commonality between the two schools are their home pitches. Both schools are amongst the very few which play their home matches on water-based AstroTurf pitches.

North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) vs. Owings Mills Garrison Forest (Md.): West Essex is a team which has already beaten the likes of Moorestown (N.J.) this year on the way to a 5-0 start; Garrison Forest’s only defeat in its first four matches was to Severna Park (Md.)
Collegeville Perkiomen Valley (Pa.) vs. Clifton Park Shenendahowa (N.Y.): Perkiomen Valley has won its first five matches of the 2021 season in the always-tough PAC-10 Conference. Shenendahowa has been in a hard stretch of games, including a game yesterday against Guilderland (N.Y.) Central.
Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) vs. Gambrills Arundel (Md.): This could be a tough match for Villa Maria, as they are playing back-to-back, but Arundel will be playing after their match only two hours after their game in the 11 a.m. window. Fitness will be a key in this matchup.

Sept. 22, 2021 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 1

This weekend in Conshohocken, Pa., the second National High School Invitational takes place at The Proving Grounds. After a year’s absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be 38 games played amongst the 31 invited teams over the course of the weekend.

I think the best way to consume the schedule is to break it down into three parts. There are four match windows on Friday, five on Saturday, and two on Sunday. Today, we’ll look at Friday’s schedule:

3:30 p.m. FRIDAY
Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) vs. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.): New Trier was the “discovery” team of the inaugural NHSI, as it came up with an overtime win over Academy of Notre Dame. But the thing is, thie Trevians team had record 76-goal scorer Katie McLaughlin. Despite her matriculation, New Trier has a number of impressive wins this year, including a three-game sweep at the Gateway Invitational. Oak Knoll may have graduated many of its athletes from the 2019 season when they were the finest team in the country, but will definitely have the best corner defensive unit of all the teams here. They have been impressive thus far in the first two weeks of New Jersey’s season.
Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) vs. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.): Sacred Heart, winners of the 2021 Apple Tournament, bring a quick team against a West Essex side which was ranked No. 1 in the state by NJ Advance Media. Both of these teams have the kind of attack which is difficult to stop because the ball doesn’t go through one player; West Essex is led by senior Cait Lutz and junior Cielle McEnerney, while Sacred Heart Academy is led by Dorothy Woodward and Sloane Wearren. Head coach Jill Cosse is just coming off her 500th career victory.

5:30 p.m. FRIDAY
Houston St. John’s (Tex.) vs. Sacred Heart Greenwich (Conn.): This is what can be called an “infrastructure” game, as these two teams are amongst the rare schools that have an on-campus water-based AstroTurf surface. No surprise: this game is being held on the water-based pitch where Villanova University plays its home matches.
Owings Mills Garrison Forest (Md.) vs. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.): Garrison Forest had been knocking on the door of ultimate success for several seasons before winning the IAAM Class “A” title in 2019. Hill has been doing the same in the PAISAA, and this is a game which is likely to be played with a postseason level of intensity.
Louisville Assumption (Ky.) vs. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy: Assumption is 9-1-2 on the season, and is having itself a memorable campaign, having come off a 4-0 shutout of The Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.). Greenwich Academy is 1-1 in the 2021 season, with the loss to Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.).

6 p.m. FRIDAY
Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (N.Y.): BH-BL, winners of every sectional championship between 2012-2019, makes its debut in the NHSI. They’ll be taking on a Sacred Heart team which will have just gotten off the field after playing West Essex.

7:30 p.m. FRIDAY
Houston Kincaid (Tex.) vs. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.): Not to be outdone, New Trier is also playing its second game of the day. The opponent is The Kincaid School, which is grading out to be the favorites to win the Southern Preparatory Conference, mainly thanks to head coach Jackie Ciconte, who once scored a game-winning goal in an NCAA Division I field hockey title match.
Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) vs. Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.): Since 2004, Eastern has not been shy about crossing the Delaware River to meet good Pennsylvania teams. The Vikings have met Emmaus (Pa.), Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.), Downingtown (Pa.) West, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), and Oley (Pa.) Valley in their history. Villa Maria is a team with championship heritage, having won state title games in 1993, 1994, 2014, and 2017.
Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) vs. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.): Kingsway is a school which is an obscure entry in a prestigious category: one of the only schools to have gotten at least a draw against Eastern during their 21-year run of state championships. Notre Dame currently boasts a 4-1 record, the only defeat being to Pottstown Hill School (Pa.).
Marlton Cherokee (N.J.) vs. Guilderland (N.Y.) Central: Cherokee has had one shining moment in its field hockey history, playing for the state Group IV title in 1997. It was, however, a Morristown Morris Knolls (N.J.) team which had suffered a horrendous winless streak a few years earlier that had denied the Chiefs the ultimate prize. Guilderland finished 7-5 a year ago in a COVID-shortened fall season.
Moorestown (N.J.) vs. Collegeville Perkiomen Valley (Pa.): Moorestown brings a lot of history into this matchup. Moorestown was the first organized scholastic field hockey team in the country, having played its first game in 1909. Perkiomen Valley was organized as a school in 1969 with the merger of Schwenksville and Collegeville-Trappe.

Sept. 21, 2021 — Top Ten for the week of Sept. 19

There has been just a fluttering around the edges of our Top Tens this year, but this week could see significant changes. The National High School Invitational (NHSI) takes place this weekend in Conshohocken, Pa., and will see a number of top teams. Not to be outdone, however, there are going to be a number of non-league games this weekend such as the Emmaus-Hershey game, which should also be a top-notch contest.

Our No. 11 Team of the Week is the Pinnacle Field Hockey Club of Ann Arbor, Mich. The club recently received the No. 1 ranking in the U-16 Division through USA Field Hockey, which may mean that you’ll be seeing a lot more Michiganders in the top levels of scholastic field hockey in the coming years. Full marks to director Nancy Cox for this honor.

1. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 5-0
The Vikings have two significant opponents this weekend at the NHSI, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.)

2. Delmar (Del.) 3-0
The Wildcats have outshot their three opponents this season 93-0 and outscored them 31-0; will make up their Bi-State Challenge with Pocomoke (Md.) this Saturday

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 5-0
The Hornets will have an enormous game this Saturday at Hershey (Pa.)

4. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 2-0
The Royals take on Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) at the NHSI this weekend

5. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 2-0
Falcons beat Norfolk (Va.) Academy 3-0 this week

6. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 2-0
Sem started with two wins in weather-shortened games; Saturday’s game against Flourtown Mount St. Joseph’s Academy (Pa.) was postponed

7. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 4-0
Lakeland has been good, though not as dominant; Hornets’ defense has allowed four goals this season

8. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 4-0
The Churchwomen have a tricky week with Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.), Norfolk Academy (Va.) and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

9. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 3-0
Falcons bested Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 2-0 on Saturday

10. Worcester Doherty Memorial (Mass.) 5-0
The Highlanders have scored at least seven goals in every game this season; could this team win its first state championship this fall?

11. Pinnacle FHC 473.8 points
Though Pinnacle finished eighth in the recent national club championship, the team was able to finish first because the formula takes into account several events and past seasons

Who’s out: San Diego Canyon Hills (Calif.), 1-0 loss to San Diego Canyon Crest Academy (Calif.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Canyon Hills (Calif.) 7-1, Darien (Conn.) 3-0, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 12-0, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.) 8-0, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 5-0, Northport (N.Y.) 6-0, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 6-0-1, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio) 8-0-1, Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 4-1, Kincaid School (Texas) 5-0