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Archive for July, 2022

June 22, 2022 — The Final Top 50 for 2022

Whew! We were able to get these Top 50 rankings together thanks to the growing number of intersectional matches played in the 2022 season. Here’s who we think were the 50 best scholastic teams this spring:

1. Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) 17-1
2. Westwood (Mass.) 25-0
3. Victor (N.Y.) 21-1
4. New Canaan (Conn.) 21-2
5. Glenelg (Md.) Country School 17-2
6. Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 24-0
7. Sykesville Century (Md.) 19-0
8. Bronxville (N.Y.) 19-1
9. Darien (Conn.) 20-1
10. Summit (N.J.) 23-2
11. Northport (N.Y.) 19-2
12. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 15-3
13. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 18-2
14. Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) 11-4
15. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 21-5
16. Santa Ana Foothill (Calif.) 21-1
17. Morristown (N.J.) 17-4
18. Hingham Notre Dame Academy (Mass.) 21-4
19. Manhasset (N.Y.) 16-2
20. Sykesville Century (Md.) 19-0
21. Charlottesville St. Anne’s-Belfield (Va.) 22-2
22. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 9-0-1
23. Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 23-2
24. South Huntington St. Anthony (N.Y.) 15-2
25. Bronxville (N.Y.) 21-1
26. Queensbury (N.Y.) 17-1
27. Delray American Heritage (Fla.) 18-3
28. Baldwinsville (N.Y.) 18-2
29. Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 24-1
30. Dallas Hockaday (Tex.) 20-1
31. New Albany (Ohio) 21-2
32. Northport (N.Y.) 20-2
33. Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 13-4
34. Sterling Paul VI (Va.) 18-5
35. La Jolla (Calif.) 15-4
36. Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 18-1
37. Upper Arlington (Ohio) 22-1
38. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 24-2
39. St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 15-5
40. Annapolis Broadneck (Md.) 17-3
41. Glenelg (Md.) 15-1
42. San Francisco St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.) 19-2
43. Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 20-2
44. Noblesville Guerin Catholic (Ind.) 20-0
45. Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 17-1
46. Louisville Kentucky Counry Day (Ky.) 24-3
47. Mercer Island (Wash.) 15-1
48. Lakeville (Minn.) South 18-1
49. Charleston Bishop England (S.C.) 18-0
50. St. Alban’s Bellows Free Academy (Vt.) 15-2

BULLETIN: July 21, 2022 — A long-overdue addition to women’s lacrosse coming next year

The game of women’s lacrosse used to be reasonably easy to umpire without an outer boundary, without restraining lines, and with wooden sticks which propelled the rubber ball with a much lower velocity as is done today.

Several incidents in women’s lacrosse over the last five years, however, have exposed the fact that the game has started to get beyond the capacity for even highly-trained umpires to judge lines, goals, and shooting space.

Next spring, NCAA women’s lacrosse will finally adopt a video assistant referee on an experimental basis. Of course, the scope of replay is wholly dependent on whether or not a game is televised. And, frankly, it will also depend on how many cameras get used during the course of a game. A Big Ten Network game, for example, is likely to have many more cameras on site rather than interconference games involving teams from one-bid conferences.

I’ve watched more of the latter than I care to admit, and I can’t see any way for any umpiring crew to be able to use a camera angle from midfield to judge a crease violation or whether a ball has gone over the goal line.

Now, there are some quirks to this VAR system. It is somewhat of a hybrid of the NFL’s two-challenge system and FIH’s rechargeable challenge system. The proposed rule will allow coaches two renewable challenges per game. In other words, if a team is able to win every challenge but one over the course of a contest, the game will finishes with the team still able to make a video challenge.

In addition, like in field hockey, there is a provision for an umpire referral if the on-field game officials want to take a second look at a play.

The system will only apply in these situations:

  • Clock errors (both game clock and possession clock)
  • Determination of crease violations
  • Status of the ball at the goal line
  • Judging shot release at the end of a quarter to see if the release occurred before the horn
  • Determining whether a shot at goal deflects off the body of an attacking player

Of course, you’re going to see this VAR system implemented in two places: the ACC and the Big Ten, since they’ve had video referrals in field hockey for years. I think you’re also going to see it in many more places this spring, especially given the number of controversial calls (or non-calls) last spring. There could be an outlay for a referral system only because of the perception that one or two referral calls could change the course of an entire season.

Let’s see what happens next year.

June 21, 2022 — A quiet beginning

This week, the Nexus Senior Championship is being contested at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach. About 130 field hockey hopefuls have come to Landstown Road to play a week’s worth of games.

The reward is a little different: the current U.S. braintrust of selectors are looking to form the basis of what could very well become the 2028 Olympic team.

Current members of the national team pool, including Danielle Grega, Erin Matson, Kealsie Robles, and Amanda Magadan, are joined with promising younger players with caps such as Mackenzie Allessie, Lauren Wadas, Olivia Bent-Cole and Beth Yeager. Also included within the Nexus rosters are some of the players this site has been tracking over the last few years, such as Hope Rose, Ryleigh Heck, Maci Bradford, and Sophia Gladieux.

As it happens, tomorrow’s championship final will feature a pair of unbeaten sides. Salt Lake City (one win, two draws) will have Kathryn Peterson, late of the University of Michigan. It also has a pair of players who prepped at Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.), Avery Donahue and Caroline Ramsey. Opposing SLC is Team Paris, which has a lot of offensive firepower. Not only do you have Wadas, a member of your defending national champions from Northwestern, but Heck, who is coming off a record-setting senior season. Also playing some eye-popping hockey are the smooth Yeager as well as Abigail Tamer.

I hope you get to watch the final tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. on USA Field Hockey’s YouTube presence. It’s going to be a look into the future for the game in the U.S. — not only on the field, but off it. You see, I find it interesting that the Nexus Senior tournament concludes one day after the start of Athletes Unlimited lacrosse. You see, it’s a pool of players like the ones on display which could form an AU league for field hockey, something for which we have repeatedly advocated.

Friends, if you can tomorrow, put this link onto a social media post: I don’t care whether it goes on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok, or any of the many fine social media outlets in the world. I’d like there to be enough eyes on this game so that people like Geico, Nike, Progressive, and others who sponsor the pro lacrosse leagues will take a flyer on an AU field hockey promotion.

How about it?

July 20, 2022 — Soccer … and then everyone else

The U.S. women’s soccer team this week dispatched with all of the preliminaries and drama, winning the CONCACAF W championship 1-0 over Canada in the final. Over the course of the tournament, the States won outright berths to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

And gave up no goals in the process.

As we were discussing a few days ago, the United States has, in women’s team sports, developed some pretty intense rivalries with Canadian national sides.

But within CONCACAF competition, the United States has not yielded a goal in any confederation tournament in more than 12 years. It’s been complete and utter dominance on the part of the Stars and Stripes.

Which brings up a question: what has led to this young U.S. women’s national soccer team’s dominance now, and possibly for years to come with young stars like Midge Purce, Caterina Macario, Sophia Smith, Sofia Huerta, and Mallory Pugh?

Let’s face it: many of these players have chosen soccer over other athletic pursuits — some much earlier than others. Indeed, I’d wager that you can’t find a player in the greater player pool in the U.S. women’s national soccer team who was a multi-sport athlete in high school. Indeed, most of the current players are products of the year-round “pay to play” system.

Want some examples? Pugh gave up a scholarship at UCLA to play pro soccer with the Washington Spirit. Lindsey Horan did not play with her high school team, instead playing with the Colorado Rush club side, then spurning an offer from the University of North Carolina to play with Paris-Saint Germain.

There are lots more young female soccer players who are turning pro as early as age 15 to join NWSL club sides. Olivia Moultrie joined up with the Portland Thorns at that age. A couple of weeks ago, the San Diego Wave announced the signing of 17-year-old Jaedyn Shaw.

It seems to me that this new (and younger) third wave of women’s soccer talent is coming into being at a time when clubs and sponsors around the world are clamoring for their services. And I think this is helping shrink the player pool for other athletic pursuits.

July 19, 2022 — Final Statwatch for 2022

It’s been yet another record-setting year in girls’ high school lacrosse. This year, two players — Fran Frieri of Lockport (Ill.) and Reagan O’Brien of Boston (Mass.) Latin got to the rarefied area of the 500-goal plateau. Frieri got there with a record 200-goal season. Look for both on Division I pitches in 2023 and beyond, as Frieri is headed to Notre Dame and O’Brien is going to Johns Hopkins.

In the red type below is a panoply of American scholastic lacrosse statistics. We’d like to try to get most of these compiled together in one place; chiefly, MaxPreps. 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
200 Fran Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
154 Isabella Caporuscio, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.)
147 Maddie Wright, Mattapoisett Old Rochester (Mass.)
145 Haley Hamilton, South Hamilton Hamilton-Wenham (Mass.)
144 Sara Williams, Winter Haven All Saints Academy (Fla.)
144 Kayleen Favreau, Holly Springs (N.C.)
141 Reagan O’Brien, Boston (Mass.) Latin
139 Sienna Chirieleison, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
137 Cassidy Jones, Memphis White Station (Tenn.)
137 Erika Ho, New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.)
132 Hayden Head, Lewisville Forsyth Country Day School (Ga.)
130 Caroline Ling, Springboro (Ohio)
126 Sydney Hannes, Tyngsboro (Mass.)

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
88 Grace Mattimore, Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (Ohio)
77 Harmony Hall, Simi Valley Royal (Calif.)
75 Morgan Coleman, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
75 Eva Pronti ,Victor (N.Y.)
70 Taylor Santos, Scotts Valley (Calif.)
70 Riley Mathews, Hinsdale (Ill.) Central
70 Kara O’Shea, South Hamilton Hamilton-Wenham (Mass.)
70 Kelsey Neary, Arlington Heights Hersey (Ill.)

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

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

We think we have these right (finally), but you know where to find me; just send an email to us at TopOfTheCircle.com. Thanks for reading Statwatch; we’ll be back in a few weeks with field hockey stats.

July 18, 2022 — An appreciation: Belen Succi, goalkeeper, Argentina

One in an occasional series.

Back in July 2008, Gabriel Minadeo had a problem. His Argentina women’s national field hockey team had lost three or four matches to the United States in a Test series in Chula Vista, Calif. He made an interesting choice heading into the Beijing Olympics: carrying both Paola Vukojcic and a promising 22-year-old named Belen Succi.

The problem is that carrying both of them on the active roster for the 2008 Olympics took away 1/5th of the usual bench strength for an Olympic women’s hockey team.

Argentina needn’t have worried. Succi’s inclusion in the side was a master stroke for the Albicelestes, as she would embark on a 15-year national team career, one which ended last Sunday with a silver medal in the FIH Women’s World Cup.

Succi was, for me, the first of today’s modern, physical goalies. She could fearlessly stop killer blasts from the edge of the circle, scramble from wing to win to snuff out scoring opportunities, and was a master at sprawling her frame to block the lower sector of the goal cage.

More importantly, Succi had all of the physical gifts needed to win penalty shootouts. But the thing is, the Leonas were always so good in regulation time, there was often no need to call on Succi to defend penalties.

Succi had legendary players in front of her. It is easy to forget that she had to defend shots from legends like Luciana Aymar, Noel Barrionuevo, Soledad Garcia, Delfina Merino, Carla Rebecchi, and Agustina Gorzelany every day in practice.

Of all of the world tournaments that have concluded thus far this month, and all of the careers which have ended, watching Succi walk off the pitch for the last time is one of the most heart-rending. She’s been a great servant to the game, and she will be missed.

July 17, 2022 — Inside the FIH Women’s World Cup final

This afternoon, the current Olympic champion Holland will meet Argentina in a rematch of last August’s Olympic final. As such, there is an expectation that the Albicelestes may have a better chance to win today’s game because of lessons learned from last year’s 3-1 defeat.

Here’s our worm’s-eye view of the final:

ARGENTINA: Key players: Belen Succi, g; Agustina Gorzelany, d; Rocio Sanchez Moccia, m; Maria Jose Granatto, f; Delfina Thome

HOLLAND: Marloes Keetels, m; Frederique Matla, f; Freeke Moes, f; Eva de Goede, m; Lidewij Welten, f

ARGENTINA WINS THIS GAME IF: They can recover quickly from their semifinal shootout win over Germany. Mind you, it’s not like soccer, where a shootout comes only after 30 minutes of extra time; they haven’t played overtime in world hockey in a decade

HOLLAND WINS THIS GAME IF: They are not too overconfident. This is the seventh consecutive FIH World Cup final the Dutch have appeared in; you can pretty much count on your hotel reservations for the final if Holland is in a tournament

THE SKINNY: Argentina has scored more goals coming into the final than Holland has. And that’s even with the retirements of Carla Rebecchi and Noel Barrionuevo in the last few years. Both teams have prominent players who will exit the international stage after today’s final, as Belen Succi and Marloes Keetels have announced their impending retirements.

July 16, 2022 — A matter of rest

This evening the United States takes on Canada in the gold-medal match of the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala.

Both of these teams will, by the end of tonight’s play, have played five games in five days. Now, this is all the U.S. team has played this month. But a number of Canada’s players, including the likes of Dana Dobbie, Aurora Cordingley, Erica Evans, and Brooklyn Walker-Welch, also competed in the World Championships, which finished out just a week ago in Towson, Md.

During the World Championships, Canada played a total of eight full-field games in 11 days. This would mean that, if Canada was to win the World Games, it would be doing so with a substantial portion of the roster playing 13 games in 18 games.

That’s a lot of lacrosse.

And a lot of people within the NCAA are, for better or worse, noticing either a surplus of rest periods between games, or a distinct lack thereof. For years, the people who run NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse and field hockey have scheduled match weekends for Saturdays and Sundays — either the octofinal and quarterfinal rounds, or the semifinal round and the grand final.

In Division I and Division II, the schedule has been to have games on Friday and Sunday — with a day’s rest in between the semis and the final. Division I used to have a Saturday-Sunday format until 1996 for the semis and final. Oddly enough, Division I did not put a day’s rest between the octofinal and quarterfinal rounds until 2018.

It’s been much the same in lacrosse, although there has always been a week between the octofinal and quarterfinal round (the Division I women’s schedule was altered in 2022 for television).

Now, we have been hearing activism from the Division III women’s lacrosse community for a day’s rest between rounds of the tournament. We’re not sure whether this will have a flow-through to field hockey, but it would be a notable change in the postseason schedule for both sports if the change went through.

Of course, rest is something not lost on the veteran members of Team Canada’s women’s lacrosse, who have attained two major world finals in less than three weeks, which is a remarkable achievement given the workload on the players who were in both the World Championship and the World Games.

July 15, 2022 — Games of the Year, 2022

10. Glenelg (Md.) Country School 20, Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) 7
April 27, 2022
Regular-season game

This game result, as well as the margin of victory, turned the conversation of who was the best team in the nation’s best conference, completely on its head. Oh, sure, it’s been open season on the IAAM Class “A” title since the win streak of Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) was snapped, but there were at least five teams in the conversation this year. Glenelg’s runaway win was a statement win, though St. Paul’s would eventually win the title match two weeks later

9. Radnor Archbisop Carroll (Pa.) 10, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 8
June 11, 2022
PIAA Class AA final

Archbishop Carroll, the defending Class AA champion, was able to win this year’s final, but not without a fight from finals debutant Twin Valley. The Raiders, having won the Class AA field hockey title last fall, were looking to become the first Berks County team to win a state lacrosse championship in either gender of lacrosse. But the team from the town of just 1,225 came up just a little short

8. New Canaan (Conn.) 12, Northport (N.Y.) 8
April 23, 2022
Gains for Brains Showcase

Northport came into the 2022 season with the nation’s longest winning streak, and were hoping to develop towards winning the state championship denied them because of the global pandemic in 2021. But New Canaan had other ideas. The Rams suffered a foul in the final minute of the first half which was a bookable offense. They took advantage and scored three goals on this one power play, turning the game completely around

7. Lakeville (Minn.) South 14, Rosemount (Minn.) 13, 2 OT
June 16, 2022
MSHSL semifinals

One year ago, Lakeville South was the state runner-up, and were looking to get past a Rosemount side which had a splendid run in the 2022 state tournament, including defeats of longtime powers Edina (Minn.) and Savage Prior Lake (Minn.). Rosemount built a six-goal lead midway through the second half, mainly because of a yellow card assessed to goalie Lindsay Wirfs. Rosemount scored three goals on the power play, and one more upon Wirfs’ re-entry into the contest. Lakeville South’s Lauren Sheets keyed a second-half comeback, scoring five goals in the game to achieve the tie, then Emily Moes won the game in extra time

6. Baltimore Bryn Mawr 17, Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 10
April 29, 2022
Regular-season game

The TopOfTheCircle.com Sixth Law states that, at the highest level of competition, you often see things that you never see before, including situations that require umpires to consult a rulebook. In this game, the Spalding coaching staff pointed out the officials that Bryn Mawr goalie J.J. Suriano wasn’t wearing thigh pads. Now, in the post Erin O’Neill era of women’s lacrosse goalies, most goalies at levels up and down the sport have dispatched with hip pads and shinguards, supremely confident that they can catch any opposing shot with the goalstick. However, National Federation rules do state that thigh pads are mandatory. Not having pads on hand, the Mawrtians opted to play the last 13 minutes with 12 outfielders and no goalie, and still won the game

5. Ridgewood (N.J.) 11, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 10
April 30, 2022
Regular-season game

Three-time NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner Oak Knoll took on the two-time T of C trophyholders from Ridgewood in what was seen as a likely precursor to the 2022 postseason. Oak Knoll held a 9-5 lead in the second half, but the Maroons, led by attacking midfielder Lindsey Devir, who had three goals and four assists, helped mount a comeback. Merrill Klein scored two late goals 11 seconds apart to turn a 10-9 deficit into the 11-10 victory

4. Darien (Conn.) 10, Victor (N.Y.) 9
April 9, 2022
Regular-season game

The roots of this game came from a meeting at last summer’s Girls High School Lacrosse National Championship. The two teams met in the final, with Darien winning 6-4 in a nationally televised game. Victor was able to get closer in this varsity contest, but it was still Darien goalie Shea Dolce playing an a key role in the outcome, stopping the necessary shots for the win

3. Weston (Mass.) 9, West Newbury Pentucket (Mass.) 8
June 15, 2022
MIAA Division 3 quarterfinal

Pentucket, a school whose field hockey team advanced to within one goal of making the state championship final, carried over that winning form to girls’ lacrosse. But it took a supreme effort by Weston’s Neta Leschly on a free-position goal in the final second of play to provide the final margin. Perhaps Weston was inspired by none other than two-time Tewaaraton Trophy-winner Charlotte North, who was in attendance at the game

2. North Branford (Conn.) 11, Tolland (Conn.) 10
May 31, 2022
CIAC Class S octofinal

Tolland held the lead in the final minute before sophomore Keana Criscuolo made a difference — a huge difference. She scored a pair of goals at the death — one with 22.7 seconds left, and the other with 0.7 seconds on the clock. Criscuolo and teammate Braeden LeBeau had four goals each

1. Lockport (Ill.) Township 20, New Lenox Lincoln-Way (Ill.) 19
May 11, 2022
Regular-season game

This was a battle of two tremendous scorers — Erika Ho of Lincoln-Way and Fran Frieri of Lockport — whose teams often have found themselves in the same bracket in the state tournament. This year, the Porters had won their first 19 games before traveling to Lincoln-Way for this late-season matchup. Lockport fell behind at the interval and were down as many as six goals before the Porters mounted a comeback. Freshman Gianna Frieri scored the game winner with four seconds left to end this game, which shows how much this era has become “The Score-O Era” in scholastic girls’ lacrosse

July 14, 2022 — +1

Today’s release of the 2022 Athletes Unlimited roster is pretty much as expected, with the current set of college draftees coming in, and a group of 20 players dropping out, including names like Katrina Dowd, Kayla Treanor, Holly McGarvie Reilly, Keayla Treanor, Emily Parros, and inaugural Athletes Unlimited and current World Lacrosse MVP Taylor Cummings.

But the roster does add one player which we didn’t see when the returnees were first listed a couple of months ago. That player is Kenzie Kent, who lit the lacrosse world afire in 2017 when she joined Boston College after leading the women’s ice hockey team to the Final Four. In just 12 games, she had 39 goals and 38 assists.

It all started on April 1, when she had three goals and five assists in her first ACC league contest of the season, as well as her first start. After just five regular-season games, she helped Boston College during a memorable postseason run, culminating in a national-title tilt against Maryland. In that game, Kent had five goals and five assists.

She took a year off from lacrosse her senior year at Boston College, trying to focus on ice hockey. But the love of lacrosse brought her back in 2019. She had a season for the ages, scoring 52 goals and setting up 75 more while playing alongside Tewaaraton Trophy-winner Sam Apuzzo.

Kent has been coaching the last couple of years during the pandemic, but she did compete in not only the first year of Athletes Unlimited, but she was an alternate for the U.S. team in last month’s World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship.

I’m glad she’s back with AU.