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Archive for July, 2022

July 13, 2022 — What is Canada doing right?

Yesterday, at the gold-medal final of the World Games men’s sixes lacrosse tournament, Canada defeated the United States by a score of 23-9.

For most of you who follow the game, this isn’t entirely unexpected. Six-a-side lacrosse, especially played on a rink or court, is practically religion in Canada. Box lacrosse is played from coast to coast and is especially popular amongst Native Americans on both sides of the border.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the women’s side of world championship play in team sports, you’d see what’s coming.

In soccer, Canada is the current Olympic champion, having won the gold in Tokyo last year. In ice hockey, Canada is also the Olympic champion, having won gold in Beijing in February.

In field hockey, Canada is the current top cheese in North America, as they are playing in the World Cup while the United States failed to qualify.

In field lacrosse last week, Canada got to within three goals of the United States in the gold-medal match.

Compare this to what the world of women’s sports was like in 1998, the year this site started.

The U.S. had won the Nagano Olympics in women’s ice hockey. The States also held the Atlanta Olympics gold medal.

In field hockey, the U.S. had finished in eighth place at the FIH World Cup, whilst Canada didn’t qualify.

And in field lacrosse, the States held the 1997 FIL World Cup, with Canada finishing fifth.

Canada, a nation with 1/10th the population of the United States, is catching up to (if not already surpassed) a number of high-dollar, well-funded team sports throughout the athletic universe.

And that’s not all. In the current FIBA rankings, the Canadian women’s basketball team is ranked fourth in the world. And that’s in a sport the United States has outright owned since the 1932 Olympics on the men’s side, and since the 1953 FIBA World Cup on the women’s.

Makes you wonder what Canada is doing right.

July 12, 2022 — United States Coach of the Year, the nominees

The United States Coach of the Year Award is given to a head coach or co-head coaches who made a noticeable difference in the performance of a scholastic lacrosse team in a particular season. The coaching performance is not limited to progress made in the year which the award is given.

Here are this year’s nominees:

Allie Ferrera, Morristown (N.J.): Steered the Colonials through a murderous North Jersey Group IV bracket and won the state championship in the group. Only losses were to national powers Oak Knoll, Summit, and Chatham

Mary Gagnon, Brooklandville St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.): It wasn’t the fact that the Gators were able to come out of the COVID years a winner in 2022, it’s just the fact that the team has had great and consistent winning form in the country’s finest lacrosse conference

Becky Groves, Sykesville Century (Md.): Steered the Knights to a state championship and the second unbeaten season in program history. Century handled Parkton Hereford (Md.) 15-6 to win the Class 2A state championship.

John Kroah, Massilon Jackson (Ohio): Came close to winning a first state championship against established powers

Savannah Porter, Canton Creekview (Ga.): Almost upended an established power, Milton (Ga.) in the state final, but lost a late lead

Laura Sandbloom, Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.): In her final year as head coach, she was able to best Highlands Ranch Valor Christian (Colo.) 13-9 in the Class 5A final for the team’s seventh straight championship

Olivia Smart, Huntington Beach Edison (Calif.): In five years, this team has become a true contender for postseason honors. Edison won its first Sunset League title and qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation’s Southern Section Division 1 Tournament

Jill Thomas, Princeton (N.J.) Day School: The veteran coach had a memorable final season as coach, a s she made her first season in the public-school ranks equally memorable. Weeks after the Panthers took home the NJISAA Prep “B” title, they took the NJSIAA Non-Public “B” title in its first time of asking, gaining a ticket to the Tournament of Champions. It was the first time a team from the New Jersey capital region won a public-school girls’ lacrosse championship since 1985

Paige Walton, Glenelg (Md.) Country School: The veteran coach has won titles at the IAAM “C” Division and the “B” Division, and made a memorable run at a first “A” Division championship

Kristin Woods, New Canaan (Conn.): Playing a tough league schedule, the Rams were able to get past county rival Darien (Conn.) when it counted, the state championship final after each team split previous matches

The recipient will be announced July 26.

July 11, 2022 — From one championship to another

Tomorrow begins pool play for the women’s lacrosse event at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Ala.

The eight-team event, like the one played five years ago in Poland, will be played with reduced sides. But this tournament will instead feature the Lacrosse Sixes format, the proposed format for the 2028 Olympics. Unlike five years ago, the United States has opted to go with a completely new team. Yep, there is zero overlap between the newly-minted world champions and this young roster which seemingly will have a smooth takeover for the next world-level tournament as veteran senior national teamers retire.

The Sixes side will have four players who won gold for the U.S. at the U-19 World Cup three years ago: Kasey Choma, Madison Doucette, Belle Smith and Caitlyn Wurzburger. The team will also have Sam Swart, who will drop her lacrosse stick once the competition is done and play field hockey at Syracuse.

While the States have gone for a full roster turnover for the World Games, other teams will bring over some of their all-stars from Towson. Australia will have former Maryland stars Theo Kwas and Sarah Mollison. Great Britain will have Laura Merrifield and Megan Whittle. Israel retains the likes of Lindsey McKone and Sammy Jo Tracy.

Canada, with all-star players Aurora Cordingley, Kaylin Morrissette, Brooklyn Walker-Welch, Erica Evans, and Dana Dobbie, will be an extremely formidable side in this competition. I think this team, having learned individual lessons from losing the World Championships on Saturday, has a great chance at gold by the time the week is out.

But with a talent wave on the American side including the 1,000-point scorer in Wurzburger, I wouldn’t be surprised if the States come up with a special effort.

July 10, 2022 — An appreciation: Dana Dobbie, center, Canada

One in an occasional series.

Dana Dobbie, who may have played her last international match for Canada yesterday, is one of those rarities in sport: a person who grades out better than she was in her collegiate years.

For Dobbie, that takes something. By the time she finished her college eligibility at the University of Maryland after the 2008 season, she was the sport’s all-time leader in draw controls, with 334.

But when the concept of professional women’s lacrosse was hatched in the U.S. with the start of the UWLX in 2016, she came back showing a game which was much more than winning draws.

She played with the Baltimore Ride of the inaugural UWLX then smoothly transitioned to the Baltimore Brave of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League. During that time, she didn’t just score: she would craft plays and execute shots which were dreamlike in their power and bravura.

An over-the-head shot to get around a tall defender? She had that. Behind the back goals? She had that. A backhander facing away from goal? Shoot, she had that too.

Dobbie brought all that, and more, to international play with Team Canada. She was in excellent form during the 2022 WorldLacrosse Women’s World Championship, scoring some absolute golazos from different angles and using her unusual array of stick tricks.

Canada did extremely well during the competition, winning all of its pool matches outside of the opener against the United States, then marched through the championship bracket, only to run into the U.S. side again in the final yesterday afternoon.

Though the U.S. took an early lead, Canada did not do what it did four years ago: allow the States to run out to a 9-0 lead in the first 28 minutes of the final. The Leafs fought hard through Dobbie and teammates Erica Evans and Aurora Cordingley, plus the team got great defense from goalie Kam Halsall and close defender Brooklyn Walker-Welch.

Though Dobbie and Canada lost on the day, Dobbie was the recipient of the Wes Patterson Award by WorldLacrosse, an award given to the player who embodies the spirit of the game of lacrosse, showing sportsmanship, team cooperation and contribution, unselfish play, fairness and generosity.

It’s fitting, given what she has given to the game of lacrosse over the years.

July 9, 2022 — Is Canada poised to win the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship?

At high noon today in Towson, Md., the 11th world title in women’s lacrosse will be awarded.

The two foes will be the same two teams that started this journey a couple of weeks ago — the host team United States, and our neighbors to the north, Canada. That opener saw the United States win the game 16-11.

I don’t think it’s going to be the same this time around. In fact, I think Canada is a threat to win this title. Here’s a few reasons why:

USA OFFENSE vs. CANADA DEFENSE: The American attack has run through opponents like Magic Johnson running Showtime during the 1980s in the NBA. The stylish and inventive finishing and passing movements have made highlights packages the last two weeks, whether it is Taylor Cummings or Kylie Ohlmiller or Ally Kennedy or Marie McCool or Charlotte North or Ally Mastroianni or Kayla Treanor. The thing is, can Canada’s defense, led by defenders Emily Boissoneault and Brooklyn Walker-Welch in front of goalie Kam Halsall, figure the right people to shut off to give them a chance?

CANADA OFFENSE vs. USA DEFENSE: Not to be outdone, Canada’s Dana Dobbie, Aurora Cordingley, and Erica Evans have been able to make highlight-reel goals of their own. This is going to force the U.S. defense of Becca Block, Emma Trenchard, Megan Douty, and Alice Mercer into trying to figure out how to be aggressive without losing one of them due to a yellow card.

DRAWS: Some dream draw combos are possible today: Taylor Cummings vs. Dana Dobbie. Ally Mastroienni vs. Aurora Cordingley. Emily Parros vs. Marie McCool. But remember: the one player of these six with the most draw controls thus far is Morrisette, with 56.

GOALKEEEPING: Halsall was money for Canada during the semifinal game with England, stopping seven 11-meter free position shots. On the other side, the U.S. has split Liz Hogan and Caylee Waters in the goal frame. That is, until the quarterfinal round. Since then, Hogan has played seven quarters, Waters just one. Is the U.S. coaching staff tipping its hand here?

USA COACHING: Last year, Jenny Levy, the U.S. coach, learned a hard lesson in lacrosse. No matter how many good players you may have, there’s only one ball. Somehow, the North Carolina team which had been No. 1 all season long fell at the penultimate hurdle in the Division I tournament. I have a feeling that much the same process of learning and feedback from the first games of this tournament are being processed by the U.S. coaching staff. With all of the talent that the States have, there is only one rubber ball out there, and the individuals will have to trust that one player with the ball to make the necessary play.

CANADA COACHING: The one person to bear in mind here is Gary Gait, the Canada assistant who is one of the greatest figures in the history of men’s and women’s lacrosse. Gait, when he was an assistant at Maryland and the head coach for Syracuse’s women, was a master of discerning which pace and rhythm would work best for his teams. In the pre-possession clock era, Gait would sometimes sidle up to the attack end (note: there were no coaching boxes until sometime in the 2000s), have a conversation with one or two of his players, then the Terps, after holding the ball for two or three minutes (sometimes more), would suddenly attack the goal. At Syracuse, there were games when his teams would play like their uniforms were on fire. For the Orangewomen, even before the possession clock, Gait’s offense would score 20 goals a game with ease. In this game, if you see Canada pull out of its offense and shorten the game to keep the hosts frustrated, that’s straight from the Gary Gait/Cindy Timchal playbook.

USA HISTORY: The United States has previously hosted this championship on home soil twice. Once was at Swarthmore College in 1986, the other was at the Naval Academy in 2005. The U.S. has never won a World Championship at home.

CANADA HISTORY: In 2015, the U-19 World Cup was held in Scotland. A Canadian team featuring current Team Canada members Aurora Cordingley, Kam Halsall, Brenna Shanahan, and Erica Evans beat the United States 9-8 for the title. And the head coach for that U-19 team is current Canada coach Scott Teeter.

INTANGIBLES: I would not be surprised to see some sort of deus ex machina event decide this game, whether it is a call made by the table umpire; a goal disallowed because the scorer did not do exactly what is called for in the stick drop; a problem with a self-start; or a weather-related issue.

It’s predicted to be a 70 percent chance of showers at gametime. Buckle up. This should be a good one.

July 8, 2022 — The State of Lacrosse, 2022

The biggest development in domestic lacrosse in the last year was the flow-through from the college rules when it came to free movement in the game. In all levels now, the game is a free-flowing contest without the umpires having to play traffic cop as to where players are on a dead whistle.

But a close second had to have been the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse. The teams played six weeks’ worth of games at the South Germantown Soccerplex in Boyds, Md. A number of players such as Kayla Treanor, Sam Apuzzo, Kylie Ohlmiller, and Taylor Cummings, as expected, did very well in the league. Other players, such as defender Kayla Wood and goalies Caylee Waters, Kady Glynn, and Britt Read, were able to find out ways to take advantage of the points system that was used to determine a single overall winner.

That winner was Cummings. But she and a number of World Cup players decided not to play the second season of AU Lacrosse, allowing a new generation of athlete to join up.

As expected, Charlotte North, the two-time Tewaaraton Award-winner, joined AU. So did Canada’s Aurora Cordingley and Honda Award-winner Jamie Ortega of UNC. But a couple of non-recent collegians joined the AU pool: Molly Wolf and Kerrigan Miller. The next AU season starts later this month at U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md.

The 2022 collegiate lacrosse season, as you might expect, came down to Ortega’s UNC Tar Heels and North’s BC Eagles. The two sides were very much different sides of the lacrosse coin. North Carolina relied on precision and tactics, while Boston College used its physical prowess.

North, in winning her second Tewaaraton award, scored goals which were artful in their buildup as well as their execution. During an early-season game against Northwestern, she scored a pair of goals when she evaded triple- and quadruple-teaming in order to find net. Her teammates, such as Jenn Medjid, followed her lead as the Eagles made the NCAA final for a fifth straight season.

On the other sideline for the final was none other than Ortega, the Honda Award winner. But key to UNC’s ultimate win over Boston College in the final were a number of grad-school transfers, such as former Notre Dame midfielder Andie Aldave and former Richmond attacker Sam Geiersbach, each of whom chipped in key goals for the Heels. Geiersbach was particularly magnificent in the NCAA semifinal win over Northwestern, scoring five goals in an eight-goal rally in the final 10 minutes of play.

UNC was not the only team benefitting from the post-COVID rules regarding grad-student play and the transfer portal. The University of Maryland were able to get Cordingley from nearby Johns Hopkins and Abby Bosco from the University of Pennsylvania and turned themselves into an instant contender.

Pittsburgh also did well for itself in its startup season in Division I, getting former Virginia Tech sniper Paige Petty through the transfer portal.

Aside from UNC winning the Division I title, it was Indianapolis winning NCAA Division II, Middlebury winning DIvision III, and Benedictine College winning the NAIA title.

The U.S. collegiate scene may have graduated a number of good players, but the coaching ranks are suffering significant losses in the offseason. Chris Paradis is retiring after 27 years at Amherst, Carol Cantele is leaving after 30 years at Gettysburg, Janine Tucker is leaving Johns Hopkins after 28 years, and Chris Sailer is leaving Princeton after 36 years. That’s just four coaches, but they are leaving a void of more than a century and a quarter of coaching experience.

Other coaches have been making moves in the last year. Mindy McCord, who spent more than a decade in north Florida building Jacksonville into a good mid-major team, will be looking to take the University of South Florida into Division I. Also, Allison Kwolek is prepping Clemson for its inaugural Division I season, and the current coaching staffs of Bellarmine and Lindenwood are preparing their teams for the jump from Division II.

In the schools, major attention was focused on New York, an area which did not see state championships a year ago, but only regional titles. One major midseason event for schools in the Empire State was the Gains for Brains Showcase on Long Island, which featured seven intersectional games. The first of them was a most memorable one, as Northport, the No. 1 team in last year’s TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10, met up with New Canaan (Conn.).

In the game, Northport was about to take a lead into the halftime break, but suffered a yellow card in the final minute. Not only did that one rash challenge alter the team talk, it altered the entire course of the contest.

Under NFHS regulations, yellow cards are non-releaseable. This allowed New Canaan to score three goals during the penalty, taking the lead. New Canaan, upon seizing the momentum, went on to seize the ball, holding onto it for the first nine minutes of the second half as the Rams ran out winners on the day.

New Canaan had three memorable games with Route 124 rival, Darien (Conn.). They met in the regular season, in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament, and in the state Class “L” final in an unforgettable trio of games. New Canaan won two of three from their county rivals, winning the state title.

Two other rivals also managed a trio of derby matches for the ages. Summit (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) met in the regular season, for the Union County Tournament, and in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final. Summit was able to win two of three in winning the final T of C for girls’ lacrosse.

But the greatest competition that occurred during the 2022 season was in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland. Now, the IAAM has always been one of the top leagues in the country for talent alone, but the league also became the singular experimental league for the NCAA’s 90-second possession clock. It was used in all “A” and “B”-Division matches.

During the 2022 season, the teams in the “A” Division were competitive and brought the best attributes out of each other. League fixtures were a happening, and oftentimes brought out situations where umpires had to scramble to the scorer’s table for the rulebook. This happened in a late-season contest between the first American scholastic team, Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) and Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.).

During the game, the Spalding coaching staff noticed that the Bryn Mawr goalie was not wearing hip pads, which are a specific requirement in the rulebook. Bryn Mawr didn’t have any hip padding available for its goalkeeper, so the team, holding on to a 10-goal lead at the time of the discovery, chose to use 12 outfielders the rest of the way and still won by seven.

The keen competition continued into the season-ending tournament. In the final, Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) was able to win draws, hold onto the ball, and outlast Glenelg (Md.) Country School 15-7 in the title match.

The world of girls’ lacrosse was able to stretch and grow in this post-pandemic season. More and more teams traveled longer distances for road games and for tournaments like the St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes Spring Fling and the Gains for Brains Showcase, although the schedule lost out on the Katie Samson Festival, which was discontinued.

In addition, there are now competing organizations to try to identify a national high school girls’ lacrosse championship. As was the case last year, there were two tournaments, one held in Elkridge, Md. and one in Farmington, Conn.

One record-setting player managed to do something that no other lacrosse player — male or female — has done. During the 2022 season, senior Fran Frieri scored exactly 200 goals in leading Lockport (Ill.) to its deepest Illinois state championship run in history.

Frieri, who broke the single-season goal-scoring record last year, managed to exceed the greatest goal-scoring total for a four-year varsity career (540, by Soph Turchetta). The kicker is that she was able to do this in just three seasons, since she lost her sophomore season to the global pandemic. You’ll get to see her at the University of Notre Dame this coming year.

In addition, a second player, Reagan O’Brien of Boston (Mass.) Latin, exceeded the rarefied air of 500 goals and 700 combined goals and assists. She and Corinne Wessels, Sophia Turchetta, and Caitlyn Wurzburger are the only four scholastic players who have figured in the scoring of 700 varsity tallies during their careers. O’Brien helped the Latin side to an 11-8 record in 2022.

Not far behind in terms of scoring excellence was Emma Murphy, who scored 173 goals in her senior season at Midland H.H. Dowd. And, as it happens, Murphy and Frieri are matriculating to Notre Dame this coming fall.

The world of lacrosse has had some cultural issues in the last couple of years. First off, of course, was the role that a number of universities with women’s lacrosse programs had in the college admissions scandal. There was also a large story, which has since undergone a retraction, about the lengths to which some parents went in order to get players exposed to coaches in the club lacrosse system. That story, in The Atlantic, had plenty of grains of truth despite its eventual retraction.

The world of collegiate women’s lacrosse was roiled by two incidents of racial bias directed against women’s teams from historically-black colleges. In one incident, fraternity hangers-on directed racial epithets at the Howard University team as they were playing Presbyterian College. In another, Georgia law enforcement stopped and searched the Delaware State University team bus as it was traveling from a road trip. This incident has spurred a civil rights lawsuit.

But rising from those incidents has been not only a conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion in lacrosse. There has been a lot of talk, but the 2022 United States women’s lacrosse team had no persons of color in the lineup.

There has been action elsewhere, however. The Nations United lacrosse team won two pools at the U.S. Lacrosse National Championships in Bel Air, Md. this past May. Also, the Sound On crew of Tari Kandemiri and Amari Powell were the halftime talent on the NCAA semifinals and finals. This duo of former players has added a lot of knowledge and a bit of sass to lacrosse announcing.

And speaking of inclusion, the rights-holder of the NCAA Tournament, ESPN, listened to criticism and gave discrete broadcast windows to the four quarterfinal matches in the Division I tournament, and even broadcast the national final on ESPN, generating record ratings. The network also gained the rights to Athletes Unlimited and the FIL Women’s World Cup, cornering the market on top women’s lacrosse content.

There is one interesting development that could have great bounty in the future. Investors and the NXT Level television network put together a six-week spring competition amongst historically black colleges, with the men’s teams from Delaware State, Lincoln, Morgan State, Coppin State, Bowie State, and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore playing under the Lacrosse Sixes format.

There’s no women’s league yet. But that could change.

July 7, 2022 — How to choose a zone-winner

In many world team sports, there are sometimes radically different ways to choose the teams which advance from the continental championships to the world tournament or tournaments. They change by sport, by region, and even by gender.

In soccer, American men had two different paths to the World Cup and the Olympics. The senior men’s national team had to qualify for the World Cup through a league which saw the Americans play seven home games and seven road games at each of the CONCACAF rivals. The U.S. team had to endure the humidity of Honduras, the heat of Jamaica, the altitude of Mexico, and the cold of Canada.

Meanwhile, the men’s U-20 team needed only to play in one two-week tournament in Honduras in order to qualify for both the U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The same can be said for the U.S. women’s national team, which is competing in the Concacaf W championship in Mexico. With just two wins, the United States, the dominant power in the sport since the inaugural Women’s World Championship in 1991, qualified for the 2023 World Cup in Australia & New Zealand.

Yep, just like that — with a 3-0 win over Haiti and a 5-0 win over Jamaica, the States became one of the four CONCACAF sides who will be in the tournament next year.

There is further gold down the road. If the States are able to win the tournament final, they’ll qualify automatically for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. If not, however, there is a playoff between the silver- and bronze-medal finalists which is slated for September of 2023. This means that the team that loses the final of this tournament (likely the U.S. or Canada) has to wait for more than a year to beat the third-place team for that final continental berth.

Somehow that doesn’t seem right.

July 6, 2022 — Another one of the greats to hang up her whistle

Until about 10 years ago, the top 10 to 20 coaches in terms of field hockey coaching victories had one thing in common: they were all active.

Then, starting in 2013, came the retirements of Nancy Williams, Elvetta Gemski, and Angela Tammaro. More recently, Matt Soto, Bob Derr, Karen Doxey, Claudia McCarthy, and Laurie Berger, all of whom are 600-win coaches, also decided to retire from coaching scholastic field hockey.

Joining them in retirement, starting at the end of the 2022 fall field hockey season, will be Karen Klassner of Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.).

Klassner has coached Wyoming Seminary for the last 49 years, adding to an illustrious history of the sport which can be traced all the way back to 1919. But since Wyoming Seminary joined the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1986, the Blue Knights’ program has set a standard for excellence which is rivaled by few other schools in America.

Here’s how good Wyoming Seminary has been in the last five years: the Knights have made the PIAA Class A state final the last five years, winning four consecutive titles. This is in a commonwealth in which no team had ever won three straight state titles before Sem did it in 2020.

Sure, you can chalk this up to the fact that the PIAA went from two classifications to three in 2016, but the road to a state title is still no less difficult: you have to get through your district tournament in order to get to the state tournament, which is loaded with other district champions and some pretty good second- or third-place winners. And in each classification, you have nearly 100 teams clamoring for the medals in the state final.

Klassner has put together some unforgettable teams over the years. There was the 2006 team which knocked off Selinsgrove (Pa.) in the semifinal thanks to three high-school all-Americans, including future senior national-teamers Kat Sharkey and Kelsey Kolojejchick. There was the 2010 team which had a male player, Cornelius Tietze, whose presence re-kindled the debate about the presence of males in scholastic field hockey.

And there was also the 2004 team which lost the “Did Sem Score?” game, where videotape viewed on the Pennsylvania Cable Network machinery in the press box appeared to show a Wyoming Seminary player touching a through pass which went into the Crestwood goal cage less than two minutes before the Comets ended the most gripping of 40 years’ worth of I-81 Derby matches with the overtime victory.

This fall, with the likes of Emma Watchilla and Ella Barbacci in the side, Wyoming Seminary is an odds-on favorite to win another state title and send Klassner off in grand style.

July 5, 2022 — Region of the Year

This award is given to a part of the nation whose lacrosse had either exceptional competition or exceptional improvement in 2022.

First off, we’d like to shout out the city of Summit, N.J. as well as Fairfield County, Conn. for their levels of competition allowing teams like Summit, Oak Knoll, Darien, and New Canaan to have outstanding rivalry games.

But in 2022, there were outstanding games up and down this one league’s fixture list. It seemed as though the top teams in this one league were knocking off each other over the course of the schedule, None of the teams in this league finished undefeated on the season, and the top half of the league scored more than 200 goals in their seasons.

The winner of our Region of the Year award is the “A” Division of the Independent Athletic Association of Maryland, a league which has teams and players of exceptional quality.

Sure, we can reserve the majority of plaudits for the likes of St. Paul’s School for Girls, McDonogh, Notre Dame Prep, and Glenelg Country School. And there were times that Archbishop Carroll was playing world-beating lacrosse, but were outlasted late.

You can’t forget the original girls’ lacrosse team in America, The Bryn Mawr School, or its age-old rival, Roland Park. Maryvale scored an invite to the National High School Lacrosse Showcase — and that team was in sixth place in the league.

Such was the depth of the league in 2022.

Region of the Year
2022: IAAM “A” Conference
2021: Radnor, Pa.
2020: No award
2019: Massachusetts
2018: Florida
2017: Dallas, Tex.
2016: New York

July 4, 2022 — Pool “A” dominance and the 2028 Olympics

The United States, for the fourth World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in a row, has gone through pool play undefeated.

And the American side, demonstrating stick skills and deception which is the envy of the other 28 teams in the tournament, has had only a pair of games which were reasonably close: a 16-11 tournament opener over Canada, and today’s 15-9 win over England.

Having such a dominant side, as I said five years ago, may not bode well for the sport’s inclusion in the 2028 Olympics. I’ve never thought the IOC was terribly friendly towards the inclusion of baseball and softball into the Olympic program because it would simply represent one more gold medal for the United States.

Too, when baseball and softball were added to the Olympics in the 80s and 90s, the IOC ignored its own rules when it came to geographic diversity. Mind you, when it comes to lacrosse, there are more teams in more places than ever before, and I think more teams in Africa and in South America are an absolute must for the game to be a permanent part of the Olympics.

Now, baseball and softball have had a checkered past in the Olympic program. They were on the docket from 1992 to 2008, then suffered a decade and a half of drought before coming back in for Tokyo 2021. However, the IOC voted to re-revoke baseball and softball for 2024, but are expected to re-instate the games for 2028 in Los Angeles.

Given this, I do wonder if the IOC is looking at this tournament and asking itself whether the Olympic tournament in 2028 will be competitive. There will obviously be another data point available at the World Games, but given the competitive excellence of the U.S. team, it makes you wonder if lacrosse is going to be voted in at the next time of asking.