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Sept. 24, 2017 — No. 1 Connecticut 1, No. 6 Delaware 0 (OT)

POSTGAME That’s all for now; good day and good hockey

POSTGAME There is sure to be a lot of soul-searching within the Delaware team the next few days as the defending champions have three defeats on the year

POSTGAME After all that defense played throughout regulation and overtime, it took a poacher’s goal in order to win the game. Vietner’s attempt was a diving, blind shot that somehow got through Delaware defensive captain Kayla Devlin without the ball hitting her feet, and without Vietner’s stick clashing with Devlin’s

82:55 UCONN GOAL Amanda Collins bloops a shot off the UConn defense, and Veitner (who else?) is there to pick up the goodies; Connecticut wins the game 1-0

80:30 UCONN PC The Huskies with an option right, but on the return left Lotte DeKoning is able to make the tackle for Delaware

78:45 Nauck with some space, heading into the circle, but a block tackle by Casey Umstead!

77:25 TIMEOUT, DELAWARE Is this tactical? What will Rolf van der Kerkhof do here?

75:00 A clash of sticks in the midfield: whose ball is it? The umpires seem to disagree

71:45 Nauck with a fancy air-dribble; the Connecticut defense clears

71:00 Delaware with a free hit in a promising position

70:00 We’re on with extra time

FULL TIME Next goal wins; up to two periods of 7-on-7 overtime will ensue. If nobody scores, we’ll play the FIH penalty shootout

FULL TIME If there’s one factor that is going to lead to a result here, I think, it’s conditioning. When UConn was taking penalty corners, there was absolutely no urgency. The players were walking to their positions. Delaware had some elementary errors in execution on a series of penalty corners with under five to go. The temperature is now hovering somewhere around 87, and the humidity from the wet turf makes the air more difficult to breathe

FULL TIME And the whistle goes; we are still at 0-0 and headed to overtime!

69:30 UDEL PC Pass to Nauck is slow; the UConn flyer is able to make a play, although Nauck was able to somehow get off a shot attempt

68:25 UDEL PC A bad set for Delaware; the execution isn’t there at the critical time for the defending champs

67:30 UDEL PC Blown insert is rescued, but a Connecticut foul leads to a re-rack

66:50 Entry pass by Nauck from the right wing is mishandled by UConn and we’ll have a late corner!

65:00 Five to go; who has what it takes to win it?

64:30 UCONN PC Reverse shot goes wide; but the ball never left the circle on the insert anyway. Delaware’s ball on the free out

64:00 Wow; how did that not go in for UConn? They do get a penalty corner out of their surge up the right wing

61:00 UConn now surges, but Delaware has been picking up Connecticut players at the 23-meter line and are doing a fine job of keeping them out

56:30 Delaware throws in a surge, attacking from the middle and getting a Lauren Crudele shot out of it

55:30 UDEL GREEN Lisa Glezeman is off for two minutes

53:35 OFFICIAL TIMEOUT for a water break

53:35 UDEL PC The ball gets through but the save is made by Klein!

53:00 UDEL PC Dragflick hits a UConn player on the foot; will re-rack

50:00 Tactically, I haven’t seen much change from either side this half; is this headed to overtime?

46:17 UCONN PC Huskies’ passing play is broken down and Delaware sends it to the other end of the pitch!

44:45 UCONN PC Shot is saved by Oltmans! Rebound sent wide!

43:40 Veitner earns a corner after being triple-teamed in the circle

42:05 UCONN PC The insert is stopped inside the circle, and the diagonal pass is knocked in; the goal is rightly waved off

41:30 UCONN PC Shot swept off a Delaware foot; will re-rack

40:30 UCONN PC Hi-lo to Veitner as the inserter is sticked wide by Delaware; free in for the Huskies

38:30 UDEL PC Nauck’s dragflick goes wide

36:30 UConn with a free hit in a dangerous position, but choosing to keep the ball and passing it in the midfield and making Delaware chase

35:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME The teams are also seemingly paralleling each others’ playbooks, so it is hard to know whose game the teams are playing at any given moment. But here in the first term, the defenses are definitely ahead of the offenses

HALFTIME The sides are very even territorially, though it seems as though Veitner is getting open much more often than Nauck

HALFTIME The whistle goes with the sides level at 0-0

34:59 Delaware is playing to the horn; a deep run into the circle leads to a shot that sizzles wide by Femke Strein!

34:30 Ball goes to the doorstep, where Svea Boker hits the post; that could have been the opener for UConn!

33:30 UDEL GREEN Horgan with a block tackle in the midfield; I think it’s more of the context of how the play got to her rather than the severity of the tackle

30:55 Veitner tries to find space on the left wing, and her backhander is high, wide, and handsome

30:05 UConn with a free hit in a promising position, but Delaware uses the sideline as an extra defender

28:20 Veitner with a backhand shot, but Horgan defenses the opportuniy

23:30 UConn again enters the circle, but Sarah Horgan with an immense clear! She has been rock-solid thus far for the Hens

22:04 Veitner with an enterprising chance for Connecticut, but Oltmans is equal for Delaware

19:10 Delaware is buzzing around the left wing but the Huskies playing excellent bend-but-don’t-break defese

17:46 Timeout, UConn

17:30 Delaware with a free hit in a promising position, but the ball is squeezed over the end line

14:30 UCONN PC Dragflick broken down in front; ball goes in but off a UConn foot

11:10 Delaware attacks the right side and has space, but the pass goes over the end line for a UConn free out

7:20 Connecticut attacking the left side of the circle, but the Delaware defense holds strong

6:05 Charlotte Veitner attacks the space with speed and misses the cage; a chance wasted

4:15 UCONN PC Dragflick zings wide of the post

0:35 Delaware attacking the left baseline and almost gets free for a scoring chance, but a stick obstruction nullifies the play

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Delaware is in the royal blue with gold trim; Connecticut is in the all-white with blue numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up under bright sunshine with temperatures around 85; it shouldn’t budge much from this level, which might bring water breaks into the equation

PREGAME Seven foreign players are on the Delaware roster, including goalie Emelie Oltmans and scoring ace Greta Nauck. Connecticut has six, including its scoring leader, Charlotte Veitner

PREGAME This game is also going to be an interesting study as to the foreign influence in American college field hockey. Both of these schools have relied heavily on international talent the last half-decade

PREGAME This is a matchup of the two universities with three out of the last four NCAA Division I championships. As such, this will be a bellweather game for how the rest of the season will play out

PREGAME Two days ago, Delaware had its 16-game home winning streak snapped by Albany. Connecticut, who beat Temple on Friday evening, doesn’t want that to happen to them

PREGAME Delaware, your defending national champion, is 6-2 on the season. Connecticut, the No. 1 ranked team in the latest NFHCA poll, is 8-0 on the season

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to Rullo Stadium on the campus of the University of Delaware for this interconference field hockey match between Connecticut and Delaware

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Sept. 23, 2017 — Riding the ragged edge

Today feels like the end of the field hockey season and not the first month. Such is the nature of the competition that the nation’s elite teams is finding.

Just today, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) needed an overtime goal from Amanda Beck to beat a very good Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) side by a 3-2 scoreline. Down the road at Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.), the Comets beat a competition-hardened Hershey (Pa.) team 2-1.

In Connecticut, Mamaroneck (Pa.) went into Wilton (Conn.) and stole a 3-2 overtime win. The game was seemingly going to go Wilton’s way until a penalty stroke at the death. Sophie Brill coolly disposed of the stroke, and subsequently won the game with a goal 42 seconds into extra time.

It doesn’t get any easier this week, and the fulcrum to this week’s destiny lies a few miles east of Pennsylvania’s state capitol. For it is Hummelstown Lower Dauphin who this week will take on Penn Manor, then play its own invitational tournament at the gleaming Kreiser-Hallman complex.

In the field? Donegal.

Should be another thrill-a-minute week in the game of field hockey.

Sept. 22, 2017 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 20

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another year of Statwatch, our little look into the numbers that define field hockey.

Of course, we’ll also try to point up an accomplishment or two when warranted. And certainly, this week warrants an enormous shoutout to two of the finest coaches the game has known at the scholastic level.

For it was within a few hours of each other, and within about 140 miles of each other on the map, that a pair of green-clad teams named Hornets gave their respective coaches their latest coaching milestones.

Sharon Sarsen, who won her 600th game on Saturday, is the head coach of Shrub Oak Lakeland. The Hornets are in the midst of trying to win a ninth consecutive state championship, and have all the talent in the world to try to achieve that feat.

Sarsen has coached her share of star players, including the Bozek sisters and current U.S. women’s national team captain Melissa Gonzalez.

Not to be outdone, Susan Butz-Stavin earned her 900th all-time coaching win with an overtime victory over Allentown Parkland (Pa.). Butz-Stavin has coached her share of high-performance players including Cindy Werley, Autumn Welsh, and Kristen McCann. And recent alumna Meredith Sholder, the second-leading goal-scorer in the history of the National Federation, has plied her trade for the national indoor team program.

That’s a lot of wins from two legendary coaches, and each should be lauded for their teams’ successes.

This week, we start compiling numbers from various sources around the Internet universe. Of course, we’d like to plug the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com website. I encourage readers to contact their coaches, athletic directors, and student managers so that they may register for and use the MaxPreps.com 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.

So, here’s what we have thus far, thanks to, amongst others, MaxPreps, Advance Media, PennLive.com, LancSports.com, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PhilaFieldHockey.com, and the Washington Post:

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
29 Katie Dixon, Cary (N.C.) Christian
27 Nicole Buckley, Cary (N.C.) Christian
26 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
25 Leah Zellner, Emmaus (Pa.)
21 Katie Schneider, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
20 Ellie Decker, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
20 Suzy Keefer, St. Louis Villa Duchesne
19 Brianna Roskey, Oakhurst Ocean Township (N.J.)
19 Sarah Wilson, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
18 Morgan Mullen, Allentown Northampton (Pa.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
27 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
14 Nicole Buckley, Cary (N.C.) Christian
13 Katie Dixon, Cary (N.C.) Christian
13 Olivia Perrone, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
13 Mackenzie Cyr, Blairstown North Warren (N.J.)
12 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
12 Kacie Patton, Emmaus (Pa.)
12 Cate Camenzind, St. Louis Lafayette (Mo.)
11 Molly Christopher, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
11 Marie Thompson, Cary (N.C.) Christian

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
162 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
137 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
127 Lily Croddick, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.)
117 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
115 Regan Dougherty, Haddon Township (N.J.)
113 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
93 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
87 Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)*
* — inactive for 2016-17 season

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
82 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
75 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
64 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
62 Greer Gill, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
60 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
57 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy

GAMES UNDEFEATED
100 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
77 Los Gatos (Calif.)
64 Emmaus (Pa.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
77 Los Gatos (Calif.)
64 Emmaus (Pa.)

This being mid-September, these aren’t meant to be authoritative. If you see a number or statistic or even some statistical oddity that you’d like to bring to our attention, please feel to send us an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. 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 do this against next week.

Sept. 21, 2017 — A refugee crisis with a significant twist

Over the last month, enormous hurricanes have criss-crossed the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, leaving death and destruction in their collective wake.

When it comes to the Caribbean islands alone, it’s estimated that the devastation could affect 12 million people. That’s about the size of the dislocation of the Syrian refugee crisis the last couple of years.

Except it’s happening right at our doorstep.

And with donor organizations stretched to their limits, and with understandable donor fatigue settling in, the American response to this crisis needs to be something more than just filling sandbags, more than just a photo opportunity.

This is the kind of relief that should rival The Marshall Plan in terms of resources and people. National Guard, Coast Guard, you name it. It is going to demand a significant response not only from the government and industry, but people.

This is going to require an increase in blood donations, permanent repairs and hardening of electrical infrastructure, and, frankly, the sense that Americans’ capacity to give is not out of a sense of weakness, but of strength.

And I think it will also take a realization that people fleeing from the storm aren’t just islanders, but a significant number — namely Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders — are American citizens, with all of the rights and privileges thereto, save for being able to have voting representation in Congress.

Last night, I set up a Facebook chat between members of my family, who are in communication with cousins who are in Puerto Rico during the storm. My aunt, is, thankfully, inland and on high ground. My cousins are scattered all over the place, but we did get some good reports about their condition and whereabouts.

And then, the conversation turned to what our family could do in the aftermath of the storm. Offers of lodging were made; if necessary, our cousins could come to one of several of my family members here on the Continental U.S. and stay until they can get back on their feet.

I was proud to read the tone of the conversation.

Because this kind of generosity is who we are as Puerto Ricans; nay, as Americans.

And I hope politicians in Washington realize the same.

Sept. 20, 2017 — Thoughts on a retirement

I didn’t want to go too far along in the fall field hockey season without recognizing an excellent coach for whom this is her first year out of the game since the fall of 1972.

Judy Lee retired over the offseason, leaving an indelible mark as field hockey coach at Martinsville Pingry School (N.J.). She had previously coached at Roselle Park (N.J.), but it was at Pingry where she truly made a name for herself and her team.

Pingry is a college preparatory school which has, in the last few years, led a parallel existence between the state’s public and private schools. It joined with a public-school league for most of its athletic pursuits, sometimes participating in the state tournament in the private school ranks.

In field hockey, Lee was part of a trend which made the NJSIAA rewrite an entire section of its manual. Between 2000 and 2004, Pingry won four of five Group I titles. A decade later, fellow private schools Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.) were also winning state titles.

By 2013, the NJSIAA had instituted a Non-Public state championship bracket for the various private and parochial schools whose field hockey teams were starting to rival the public schools for top honors year over year.

Lee finished with more than 500 career victories in field hockey.

But the thing is, it wasn’t her most impactful sport. Lee was the swim coach not only for Pingry (both boys’and girls’ teams), but also lent her summers to the recreational program in Westfield, N.J. for four decades.

Westfield, a community about 15 miles northeast of Martinsville, is a place where swimming runs deep in the community and in the soul of those who practice and compete, even the U-8s who dogpaddle a crooked line towards a wall that never seems to come quick enough.

Thousands of swimmers were under Lee’s influence over the years, and went on to varying degrees of success as state champions in their own right.

Lee’s effects on her students and athletes is undeniable. She will be missed.

Sept. 19, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 17

Wow.

A lot has happened in the weeks since our Preseason Top 10 was introduced. I’d venture to say it has been the busiest first fortnight in many years. Part of this, I think, is the fact that many states that didn’t get underway until now have pushed their start dates back to Labor Day Weekend. But I also believe that there are a number of coaches and athletic directors who are unafraid of scheduling early matches against powerhouse teams to give coaches and players concepts to work on the rest of the year.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com honorary No. 11 team of the week is the junior varsity team at Clifton Park Shenendehowa Central (N.Y.). An early-season win over Latham Shaker (N.Y.) gave the JV side a 100-game unbeaten streak, and it was on Sept. 6th against Bethlehem when the Plainswomen’s streak got to 100 wins with three draws. The team did have a goalless draw with Burnt Hills (N.Y.) last week, but their unbeaten streak reached 106 games last week with an 8-0 win over Guilderland (N.Y.).

1. Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 5-0

Indians will have an interesting game Saturday at home against Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.), a team which could contend for state honors out of District 2

2. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 6-0

Knights will have a game this Saturday against Ocean City (N.J.) which could wind up being another bellweather for the Tournament of Champions

3. Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 4-0

The Tigers will have a road trip this Saturday to Wilton (Conn.) for a showdown at high noon

4. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 7-0

The Conquistadors sent an early message with a 4-0 win over Encinitas Torrey Pines (Calif.); major test to come with fixture congestion having to do with the Serra Invitational

5. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 5-0

Sharon Sarsen earned her 600th win over the weekend and played Wilton (Conn.) yesterday

6. Emmaus (Pa.) 7-0

The Hornets steamrolled their first six opponents of the season, but perhaps feeling the pressure of the occasion, they squeaked by Allentown Parkland (Pa.) 2-1 in overtime of their Cedar Crest Boulevard derby match

7. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 8-0

Don’t look now, but the Comets have outscored their opponents 60-1 to begin the season. Gabby Bitts has been on the receiving end of many a good pass

8T. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 4-0-1

The Vikings had a splendid effort in climbing back twice from second-half deficits, nearly winning it with the last action of extra time

8T. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 3-0-1

The Royals used their maturity and senior leadership to hold down Eastern for the first half, and had every chance to win. Could set up an interesting rematch in the Tournament of Champions if both teams get there

10. Norfolk (Va.) Academy (Va.) 6-0

The Bulldogs have significant wins over Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.), playing a smart, opportunistic brand of hockey. NA will have its greatest test in the Ring of Honor invitational against Louisville Assumption (Ky.) the first weekend of October

11.  Clifton Park Shenendehowa Central (N.Y.) JV 102-0-4

The feeder team for the current Class A state champions, JV coach Julie Parsons has been around for this entire run of good form

Who’s out: Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1-0 loss to Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.); Watertown (Mass.) 3-0 loss to Winchester (Mass.); Oley (Pa.) Valley 3-2 loss to Reading Exeter (Pa.)

And bear in mind: Monument Palmer Ridge (Colo.) 4-0-1, Darien (Conn.) 3-0-1, Wilton (Conn.) 2-1, Delmar (Del.) 4-0, Greenwich (Conn.) 3-0, Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) 12-2-2, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 5-2, Wrentham King Philip Regional (Mass.) 4-0, Belmont (Mass.) 4-0, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 3-1, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 7-0, Oley (Pa.) Valley 7-1, Wilkes-Barre Holy Redeemer (Pa.) 3-0, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 6-2; Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 6-0, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 4-0, Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 9-0

Sept. 18, 2017 — A pair of significant weekend results

While this site was concentrating on the interstate match between Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) and Norfolk (Va.) Academy, there were two more significant occurrences in the field hockey world on Saturday.

One was the rematch of a pretty significant match from a year ago, but this year, the in-season confrontation between Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) was to take place at Montclair State University.

The last two times these state powerhouses have met, it was Eastern coming out on the front foot and taking the initiative, winning both contests. But Saturday, it was Oak Knoll who got the first goal in the 43rd minute off the stick of Gabby Andretta.

Eastern, to its credit leveled the score four minutes later. Oak Knoll then took the lead again in the 48th, leaving it up to the Vikings to try to even the score. The Royals’ defense were pounded for the next eight minutes before Kara Heck, last year’s leading goal scorer for Eastern, tied it up. The score remained 2-2 through 10 minutes of overtime, but not before a final scare. Eastern’s Izzy Sinibaldi, a promising player who has been gaining more playing time over the years on such a loaded attacking side, had a late breakaway but had her shot stopped by Oak Knoll goalie Jordan McGinley.

About 100 miles west of this game, history was being made in the Lehigh Valley. But for Emmaus (Pa.), the quest for getting head coach Susan Butz-Stavin her 900th career victory was not made easy by their guests, Allentown Parkland (Pa.).

Indeed, this game went into overtime. But it took senior Leah Zellner to finish off a one-timer from the wing to give the Green Hornets a 2-1 win.

These games represent their own varieties of a “gut check.” Eastern, in its last 17-plus years of dominance, was staring at an early loss for the first time; usually, it is late in the season when the Vikings fall short in any particular game.

And for Emmaus, the entire season surrounds one problem: how to deal with talent that is no longer on the team. Graduating an all-time great such as Meredith Sholder, the Emmaus attack has been looking for its own identity, and the overtime result certainly represents an enormous mental hurdle for the players on the current roster.

But overall, one cannot help but pay respect to Butz-Stavin, who has coached some of the finest players and teams of all time, including last year’s No. 1 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Final Top 50.

And yesterday’s grit and determination not to lose against Parkland was a testament to her methods. A hearty “Well-played!” from this corner.