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Archive for May, 2022

May 31, 2022 — Top 10 for the week of May 29

It will be interesting to see where teams like No. 2 Victor (N.Y.) and No. 3 New Canaan (Conn.), and whether they can not only overcome their competitions, but the expectations placed upon them. There is plenty of lacrosse action as the scholastic season ends in June, and I think this goes especially for Massachusetts, where a number of teams could topple No. 4 Westwood (Mass.) in the state tournament.

1. Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) 17-1
Season complete: Took everything that Glenelg Country gave them in a 20-7 regular-season loss and dished it right back out to win the IAAM “A” final 15-7

2. Victor (N.Y.) 17-1
Blue Devils meet up with Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy in the championship final of the NYSPHSAA Section V Class B tournament tomorrow evening

3. New Canaan (Conn.) 17-2
The Rams won their third all-time FCIAC title with a 10-8 win over Darien (Conn.); the state tournament is up next

4. Westwood (Mass.) 19-0
Fresh off coaching the Massachusetts-Rhode Island team to the USA Lacrosse National Tournament championship, head coach Margot Spatola takes charge of the Wolverines for the last regular-season game tomorrow against Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.)

5. Glenelg (Md.) Country School 17-2
Season complete: Dragons gave a great account of themselves all season but dropped the final to St. Paul’s

6. Northport (N.Y.) 17-1
Tigers got past East Setauket Ward Melville (N.Y.) last week to take the NYSPHSAA Section XI Class A title

7. Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 20-0
Carroll takes on Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) today in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament

8. Sykesville Century (Md.) 19-0
Season complete: Knights beat Parkton Hereford (Md.) 16-6 in the MPSSAA Class 3A state final at Loyola University

9. Darien (Conn.) 18-1
The Blue Wave are the top seeds in the CIAC Class L Tournament and take on Fairfield Ludlowe (Conn.) in the octofinal round today

10. Bronxville (N.Y.) 18-1
Beat Bardonia Albertus Magnus (N.Y.) last week for the New York Section 1 Class D championship; the Broncos await the winner of tomorrow’s Highlands Fall James I. O’Neill (N.Y.)-Schuylerville (N.Y.) playoff game to see who they need to play to make the state semifinals

Who’s out: Severna Park (Md.) 11-10 loss to Marriottsville Marriott’s Ridge (Md.).

And bear in mind: Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 18-2, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 15-3, Ridgewood (N.J.) 19-3, Summit (N.J.) 19-2, Canandaigua (N.Y.) Academy 14-3, South Huntington St. Anthony (N.Y.) 15-2, Massapequa (N.Y.) 12-4

May 30, 2022 — Some needed ironing-out

The rules changes that have occurred over the last 20 or so years in women’s lacrosse are legion. They have changed a 16th Century pastoral wargame into a 21st Century battle of speed and technology.

And it’s a battle that, frankly, is being lost on the part of rulesmakers and the umpires trained to interpret and enforce the rules.

The 2022 Final Four matches were on a knife edge, and the teams knew that, in order to win, it would sometimes be necessary to stretch or bend the rules in order to gain an extra possession or a better free position, or to manipulate the ratio between the possession and the game clocks to gain advantage.

I think it’s time that the NCAA Rules Committee needs to meet up soon and consider the following rules changes:

  1. CLOCK LOCK. At no time should the game clock, possession clock, and penalty clock not be all running at the same time or stopped at the same time. Allowing one to run with the others stopped causes any amount of confusion not only on the part of the spectators, but the players and on-field officials.
  2. THE LAST TWO. One thing that made women’s lacrosse great was the fact that the clock stopped on dead-ball situations in the last two minutes of each half. This eliminates time-wasting while one team or the other sets up for the next restart and it leaves the opportunity to add two or three phases of play to the half.
  3. RE-DRAWS. Right now, each draw is given only one chance to succeed. If a draw is flubbed because both players may have not pulled up correctly, the umpire looks at the table and awards the ball to one team or the other based on alternate possession. Late in the game, this gives the team with the AP arrow an incentive to flub the draw to get the ball. Instead, there should be a second chance at a draw, and have the third opportunity be a “jump toss” like it used to be.
  4. #VARNOW. For obvious reasons.
  5. D3 EQUITY. When you look a the schedules for NCAA Division I, II, and III field hockey and lacrosse tournaments, there’s one difference when it comes to game patterns. Whereas, in Division I and II, there’s a full day’s rest between rounds of the tournament, that doesn’t happen in Division III. Teams are expected to play back-to-back, something which gives the winner of the second game in a semifinal a distinct disadvantage because of the lack of recovery hours in comparison to the winner of the first semifinal. That needs to change.

May 29, 2022 — Inside the Final Four, part 3

BOSTON COLLEGE vs. NORTH CAROLINA

The obvious: A rematch of a 2021 NCAA semifinal contest, which saw BC winning 11-10. The Eagles held the lead for the last 40 minutes but UNC almost closed the gap, scoring four goals in the final quarter.

The not-so-obvious: Boston College has been to the Final Four six straight years when the national semifinals have been played; remember, it all started for BC in 2017, the year of Kenzie Kent’s sensational late-season run leading the Eagles to the title game. Indeed, since the day Kent played her first game during 2017, North Carolina leads the series 6-4. But it wasn’t always that way; before Kent’s first game with BC, UNC led the series 14-2.

Key players: UNC: Jamie Ortega, gr, f; Ally Mastroianni, gr., c; Emma Trenchard, sr., d; Scottie Rose Growney, sr., M; Sam Geiersbach, gr., a; Andie Aldave, gr., aw. BC: Charlotte North, gr., c, Jenn Medjid, sr., f., Rachel Hall, sr., g; Belle Smith, so., m; Hollie Schleicher, jr., d., Cassidy Weeks, gr., aw

UNC wins this game if: the Heels’ coaching staff is able to find that one player with the hot hand. Head coach Jenny Levy found Geiersbach just in time, and kept her in for the last six minutes as she had the last five goals of that epic comeback semifinal win over Northwestern. But could it be someone else like a Caitlyn Wurzburger or a Melissa Sconone?

BC wins this game if: if someone other than Charlotte North is able to get the attention of Emma Trenchard and the UNC defense. I think Medjid is going to have to have an immense game for the Eagles to win. But like UNC, BC could find someone in the depth chart (say, Mallory Hasselbeck?) to unlock the UNC defense

The skinny: Both teams came back from sizable fourth-quarter deficits to win their respective semifinal matches. Thing is, the last time we saw a late comeback like this (2007), the winner of that game (Virginia), found itself down 7-2 in the first half against Northwestern and couldn’t find a way back. Which team is going to show the defensive hangover in the early going?

The unanswered questions: If there has been a theme in this NCAA Tournament, it’s the fact that no lead is safe. What are we going to see in this game from the defensive coordinators of these two sides?

May 28, 2022 — History repeating itself, again

In the games of field hockey and lacrosse, it’s amazing how many times over the last few years that events in each sport seem to parallel each other.

Take, for example, what is going on when it comes to the all-time coaching wins in both sports. For the last several years, Kathy Jenkins of Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) and Susan Butz-Stavin of Emmaus (Pa.) have broken their respective career goals records repeatedly upon becoming their respective sport’s all-time leaders in wins.

Both broke the existing record only a few months apart, during the same academic year of 2015-16. Butz-Stavin was the first, breaking Nancy Williams’ career record on Sept. 9, 2015, while the following April 8, Jenkins surpassed Angela Tammaro’s all-time best for girls’ lacrosse.

When it comes to all-time win streaks, I find it interesting that the Watertown (Mass.) field hockey team saw its record streak of 124 games snapped the same academic year (the 2017-18 year) that Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) saw its 198-game lacrosse win streak end in the IAAM final in April 2018.

The events of the past week also are a parallel, as last November, Ryleigh Heck scored 125 goals for the Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) field hockey team, and Fran Frieri scored her 192nd goal for the Lockport (Ill.) girls’ lacrosse team, both all-time records.

You can find all sorts of statistical and other parallels between the two sports if you look. When you look at the women’s lacrosse Final Four of this weekend, you see four highly successful colleges — Northwestern, North Carolina, Boston College, and Maryland — who have also made Final Fours in field hockey in the last few years. Indeed, Northwestern is your defending national champion in field hockey.

And one other interesting parallel can be seen on the field, wearing a striped shirt. One of the umpires in the pool for the Division I women’s lacrosse Final Four is Judy Strong, who is a member of the 1984 Olympic field hockey team in Los Angeles, and is a highly-rated field hockey umpire.

Despite the silos that the two sports are in now, compared to 25 years ago, the two sports are likely to maintain these kinds of parallels going forward.

BULLETIN: May 27, 2022 — The all-time four-year scoring record has fallen, and with it, an unreachable star has been reached

This evening, Fran Frieri tried to will Lockport (Ill.) to the IHSA quarterfinals for the first time in the Porters’ history. But New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.) managed to escape with an 18-14 win in the Washington Regional final.

Frieri, for the game, put in eight goals, which gives her a career total of 545, which is more than any other girls’ lacrosse player in the recorded history of girls’ varsity lacrosse. Indeed, the only player who has scored more goals, Sophia Turchetta, did it in a six-year varsity career. Frieri passed Turchetta’s four-year mark of 540 this evening.

It is, of course, mind-boggling that Frieri, in a mere 61 varsity lacrosse games, put together a total that approaches a player who wound up with a six-year playing career because Massachusetts allows middle-schoolers to participate in varsity sports.

Frieri, to cap off her career, also did something that no other scholastic lacrosse player — male or female — has ever done. And that’s score 200 goals in a season.

These numbers, like it or not, will put outsized expectations on Frieri as she matriculates to Notre Dame this fall.

May 27, 2022 — Hot takes from an epic semifinal

The 2022 NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse semifinal between North Carolina and Northwestern was an epic matchup with an epic Wildcat start in the first quarter, an epic Heels comeback in the fourth quarter, and an epic finish, with UNC winning 15-14.

Here a few thoughts about what went on in between the lines at Homewood Field:

1. This was the biggest collapse by one team in a Final Four game since 2007, when Virginia managed to overcome an 11-goal deficit to beat Duke in the national semifinals in Philadelphia. On that occasion, Duke tried to take the air out of the ball with a stall.

2. A few days ago, when an NBA Western Conference game was delayed a few minutes because of a leak in the roof of Dallas’ arena, the NBA on TNT crew postulated that delays tend to favor the team that was behind at the time of the delay. While that didn’t happen earlier this week, the lightning delay today did stop Northwestern at the point of a 6-0 run.

3. Sam Geiersbach had a dream of a final six minutes. She had five goals in that time span to help vault the Tar Heels past Northwestern. Everything seemed to go in for her.

4. Indeed, Geiersbach was the only player who seemed to have not been hexed by Northwestern goalie Madison Doucette. The first half, she was amazing, stopping the best shots of the North Carolina offense and allowing her goalposts to help out.

5. The Northwestern coaching staff won’t admit it, but the Wildcats’ defense was not the same once defensive midfielder Kendall Halpern got her second yellow card in the 47th minute of play. Indeed, once that foul was called, UNC outscored Northwestern 11-2 in just 18 minutes.

6. The biggest goat-to-hero scenario happened in the final 40 seconds of the game. On a late clearing attempt by UNC goalie Taylor Moreno, she underthrew the ball right to the one person you didn’t want to throw it to: Lauren Gilbert, who had five goals in the game. Gilbert raced to goal and had an open shot on Moreno, who was racing to cage as Gilbert was closing down. Moreno, somehow, came up with the save, and Northwestern never saw the ball again.

For me, that sequence was the wildest phase of play I’ve seen in any of the Final Fours I have witnessed since 1989.

And to think: there’s another semifinal to come.

May 27, 2022 — Friday Statwatch for games played through May 25

Welcome back to Statwatch, our home for statistical stories as well as analyze historical records as they happen.

Take, for example, this afternoon. On a lacrosse pitch in Washington, Ill., a senior will be looking to make history twice over. Fran Frieri is only four goals away from becoming the all-time leading scorer for a four-year career in the last 96 years of scholastic lacrosse as she and her Lockport (Ill.) Porters take on New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.).

One bonus: Frieri is just eight goals away from the 200-goal mark, an absolutely magical mark for a complete season. Here’s how magical it is: in a century of boys’ scholastic lacrosse, the most a male player has ever scored in one season is 109 by Jace Conley of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (Mich.) in 2018. He finished his college career at Albion College as one of the all-time greats in the Britons’ program.

The figures in red below are compiled from available sources across the nation. I encourage you to keep convincing your teams, your schools, leagues, or state governing bodies to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
192 Fran Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
144 Sara Williams, Winter Haven All Saints Academy (Fla.)
144 Kayleen Favreau, Holly Springs (N.C.)
139 Sienha Chirieleison, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
137 Cassidy Jones, Memphis White Station (Tenn.)
132 Hayden Head, Lewisville Forsyth Country Day School (Ga.)
130 Caroline Ling, Springboro (Ohio)
122 Annabelle Biggar, Lafayette Dawson School (Colo.)
121 Caroline Gage, Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian (Ohio)
121 Brooklyn Suttlemyre, Syracuse (Utah)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
105 Riley Nee, Hampstead Topsail (N.C.)
105 Ryann Banks, Peachtree McIntosh (Ga.)
94 Kayla Conroy, Marin (Calif.) Catholic
90 Evelyn Guyer, Durham (N.C.) Academy
85 Grace Mattimore, Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (Ohio)
75 Morgan Coleman, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
70 Taylor Santos, Scotts Valley (Calif.)
69 Taylor McGovern, Parkland Margery Stoneman Douglas (Fla.)
68 Emily Philips, Wake Forest (N.C.)
66 Elise Grissett, Holly Springs (N.C.)
65 Taylor Santos, Scotts Valley (Calif.)

CAREER GOALS
537 Fran Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
406 Reagan O’Brien, Boston (Mass.) Latin

COACHING WINS
832 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

We know that these aren’t the best stats; we need some help from you. If you see something that needs a correction, please send an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the needed changes.

We thank you for reading and, lacrosse gods willing, we’ll come out with more next week.

May 26, 2022 — Inside the 2022 NCAA Final Four, part 2

MARYLAND vs. BOSTON COLLEGE

The obvious: A rematch of the 2019 NCAA final, also held at Homewood Field … Maryland has been to the semifinal round 12 of the last 13 years

The not-so-obvious: Boston College comes into the game as a defending champion, but have taken every other team’s best shot in order to get back to the semifinal round … Two out of BC’s three losses have been to North Carolina, and the Eagles would love a third go at them

Key players: UMD: Aurora Cordingley, gr., f; Abby Bosco, gr., d; Libby May, jr., f; Shaylan Ahearn, jr., c; Hannah Leubecker, jr., f; Emily Sterling, jr., g. BC: Charlotte North, gr., f, Jenn Medjid,sr., f., Rachel Hall, sr., g; Belle Smith, so., m; Hollie Schleicher, jr., d.

UMD wins this game if: Aurora Cordingley gets six or more combined goals or assists; she is the straw that stirs the Terps’ drink. I think if Sterling is able to get more than 10 saves (including some of the “How the heck did she do that?” variety), the Terps will win. Maryland is also a team with the mentality to not let the moment get too big for them. There is so much institutional experience from past trips to the Final Four that the team should be comfortable under the dome of pressure that comes with it.

BC wins this game if: the Rachel Hall that shows up for this Final Four is the same one that denied UNC and Syracuse over and over again in last year’s Final Four. I also think BC needs to remain a balanced offense and not have everything go through Charlotte North. Then again, she’s scored so many individually brilliant goals this year, it may not matter. If she gets loose, one of her goals could very well be a Tewaaraton moment.

The skinny: Boston College managed to get to the national semifinal with a defense that allows more 65 percent of shots on frame to go into the goal. That won’t cut it once you get to the national semis, but we’ll see what Hall does between the pipes.

The unanswered questions: As one of our laws of lacrosse states, “Goalies sometime have an outsized effect on games the deeper you get into a tournament.” Is Emily Sterling ready to have a Megan Taylor moment, similar to the 2019 final?

BULLETIN: May 25, 2022 — The single-season goal-scoring mark has fallen, again

Well, Fran Frieri is nothing if not consistent.

This afternoon, the senior attacker for Lockport (Ill.) Township scored 10 goals in a third-round IHSA playoff game to give her 192 goals for the season, breaking her own national record of 191, set a year ago.

Frieri, a jet-quick sprinter with a good shooting eye, has 537 career goals in just three years of varsity lacrosse, having lost her sophomore season due to the Coronavirus.

Frieri stands just three goals short of the all-time four-year varsity record for goals scored, just behind Sophia Turchetta, late of Dartmouth. Turchetta scored an all-time record of 654 goals in a six-year varsity career (Massachusetts allows middle-school athletes to participate on varsity).

The Porters’ next game in the IHSA Tournament is Friday against New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.) in the championship of the IHSA Washington Sectional. It is a rematch of a May 11th game which saw Lockport fall behind by six goals in the first half, only to come back and win 20-19.

Tomorrow’s game is the de facto Round of 16 for the state of Illinois; the winner faces either Chicago Marist (Ill.) or Chicago St. Ignatius College Prep (Ill.) to make the state semifinals.

May 25, 2022 — Inside the 2022 NCAA Final Four, part 1

NORTH CAROLINA vs. NORTHWESTERN

The obvious: A rematch of the 2009 NCAA Division I final, one which featured a large group of supporters in purple and light-blue tie-dye T-shirts, supporting both of the Donahoe sisters: Casey (Northwestern) and Amanda (UNC) … Teams met March 6 with UNC winning 20-9, the eighth straight win for the Heels in this rivalry … Carolina leads the all-time series between these two sides, 12-11

The not-so-obvious: Northwestern has to be thinking it is playing with house money. Nobody thought the Wildcats would be at this juncture after injuries ended the season of Izzy Scane, but the balance of the team has been playing splendidly without her. North Carolina, after losing the national semifinal a year ago, is wary of being too overconfident after falling at the penultimate hurdle year ago

Key players: UNC: Jamie Ortega, gr, f; Ally Mastroianni, gr., c; Taylor Moreno, gr., g; Scottie Rose Growney, sr., M; Olivia Dirks, sr., m; Andie Aldave, gr., f. NU: Lauren Gilbert, gr., f; Erin Coykendall, jr., f; Jill Girardi, gr., m; Madison Doucette, sr., g

UNC wins this game if: Ortega or Aldave get four goals or more. Another good sign would be if Mastroianni is able to win more than 50 percent of draws.

NU wins this game if: The defense can find a way to keep the ball away from Aldave and Ortega. I think you’re going to be seeing some kind of shut-off employed in this game, but can the Wildcat defense also account for everyone else in the attack formation?

The skinny: One year ago, North Carolina found itself staring at Boston College, and lost the game thanks to an offensive conniption. In last year’s national semifinal, the team shot a mere 10-for-25 from the field. The weight of expectations, with the amount of talent on that roster, loom large on the Carolina team.

The unanswered question: Northwestern has been playing extremely well on defense in recent weeks, having held a high-octane Syracuse offense to four goals in the quarterfinal round. Can the Wildcats do it again?