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Archive for November 16, 2021

BULLETIN: Sept. 16, 2021 — The end is nigh for one of the all-time winningest field hockey coaches

In the gloaming of a football stadium in the Tierrasanta neighborhood of San Diego, the markings on the competition surface still say “Serra,” with a large caricature of a conquistador, painted in brown and gold. This contrasts with the fact that the home team’s field hockey uniforms are trimmed in black and red, representing the renamed Rattlers of San Diego Canyon Hills (Calif.).

With a whistle and a whoop from visiting Poway (Calif.), Canyon Hills dropped its opening round match of the CIF San Diego Section Tournament.

What this also does is end the career of Canyon Hills head coach Laurie Berger, a true coaching legend in the sport. Berger has labored on the left coast for decades, winning 878 games and 17 sectional championships.

She has also helped promote the sport with a unique in-season tournament, the Canyon Hills/Serra Tournament. It is unique in that the competition is held over two consecutive weekends, with teams obligated to play three games in a day. The first weekend is group play with four teams in four groups each. The following weekend is knockout play, with the top two teams in each group filling out an eight-team bracket for a champion.

Nowhere in the rest of the U.S. field hockey calendar does such a tournament exist.

The winner of the Canyon Hills/Serra Tournament is usually the team that becomes the favorite to win the postseason, whether it is one sectional tournament, two (as it was for a few years), or the current three-bracket system, with an Open, Division I, and Division II tournament.

Canyon Hills lost the 2021 tournament to neighboring San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) by a 1-0 score, so Berger had to know that her team would have to extend itself in order to improve and make a deep run in this week’s tournament.

But in this year of change, one which saw a name change for the school and a shortened winter/spring field hockey season, it’s perhaps fitting that an unexpected challenger came out ahead on this evening.

Berger says she’ll still have her hand in the game, running the Canyon Hills/Serra Invitational after her retirement as coach.

“No one knows how to run my tournament,” she tells The San Diego Union-Tribune. “I just want people to know we have a good program and there was not just something in the water in Tierrasanta. The girls worked really hard to make this all happen.”

Truer words were never spoken. From Team USA’s Kris Fillat to Cal-Berkeley star Megan Rodgers, Berger has helped develop a number of tremendous players over the years. And she has fielded tremendous teams, which has sparked other teams in San Diego County to raise their game.

That, I think, is Laurie Berger’s greatest influence. Without Serra’s excellence, you wouldn’t have the current three-prong rivalry of Canyon Hills, Scripps Ranch, and San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.). Without Berger, you might not have seen the purple patch of form that Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.) had in the 1990s. Without the program pushing the boundaries, you wouldn’t have seen new teams make an impact like San Diego Canyon Crest Academy (Calif.).

And you might not have seen a sleeper team like Poway come through like it did tonight.

Nov. 16, 2021 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 14

There’s only a week to go in the domestic field hockey season, and, amazingly, our Top 10 went through last week — a week full of high-tension matches — undefeated.

Usually, there’s one week in November where losses take out a number of top teams, so this week of stability is highly unusual. We’ll know in a few days which teams are going to be the survivors in the several states.

The No. 11 Team of the Week is Ramapo College. The Roadrunners beat FDU-Florham 2-1 in the final of the ECAC Division III field hockey championship. It’s the first major trophy for Ramapo in program history.

1. Delmar (Del.) 17-0
Delmar will take on Georgetown Sussex Academy (Del.) tomorrow for a berth in the DIAA Division 2 championship game

2. Emmaus (Pa.) 26-0
Hornets have drawn an in-form Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) team in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament

3. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 19-0
Season complete:
Falcons won VHSL Class 5 title with a 1-0 win over Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)

4. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 20-1
Churchwomen take on Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) in the PAISAA final tomorrow at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.

5. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 16-1
Hill takes on Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) in the PAISAA final tomorrow at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.

6. Northport (N.Y.) 21-0
Season complete:
Tigers had two shutouts in the state semifinals and championship games this weekend; about the only obstacles the team faced was a tornado in the semifinal game and a no-show bus on the day of the title game

7. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 19-2
Knights’ high-powered attack goes against the Cinderella of the tournament, Herndon Line Mountain (Pa.) in the PIAA Class A semifinals today

8. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 22-2
Vikings, saving their best hockey for late in the season, are going to need it in the Tournament of Champions semifinals. There, they will have to meet North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.), who bested a good West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) side

9. Lower Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) 19-2-1
The District 1-AA champs will be playing Mechanicsburg (Pa.) this evening for a chance at the state final

10. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 22-0-1
Falcons play Central York (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AAA semifinal in a game played this evening at Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)

11. Ramapo College 15-7
Roadrunners’ record is not only the best in program history, it was only the third time the program has ever finished above .500 for the season

Who’s out: None

And bear in mind: San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 16-2-1, San Diego Canyon Hills (Calif.) 18-3, Encinitas Torrey Pines (Calif.) 21-3, Los Gatos (Calif.) 16-1, Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 16-0-1, Darien (Conn.) 17-1, New Canaan (Conn,) 18-0, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 19-3, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 15-2, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 21-6-1, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 24-3, Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 15-1, Watertown (Mass.) 21-0, Andover (Mass.) 19-0-1, Walpole (Mass.) 21-0, Boxford Masconomet (Mass.) 19-0-1, Franklin (Mass.) 20-1, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 20-2-2, Ann Arbor Skyline (Mich.) 16-2-1, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 21-3, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 22-2, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) 21-1, Whitney Point (N.Y.) 18-0, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (N.Y.) 16-2, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 19-0-1, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 22-1, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 25.2, East Greenwich (R.I.) 16-1-1, Yorktown Tabb (Va.) 22-0, Arlington Yorktown (Va.) 21-1, Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 19-3, Norfolk (Va.) Academy 21-2, University School of Milwaukee (Wisc.) 14-0-1, Houston Kincaid School (Texas) 17-1