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Feb. 25, 2020 — The national preseason Top 10

Our yearly annual back-of-the-envelope preseason Top 10 is back for the spring, as we try to divine what is going to happen with the national girls’ lacrosse season.

The teams will scramble between now and when we do our first weekly Top 10 in late March, once most teams start their seasons.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 21-0

2. Manhasset (N.Y.) 15-3

3. Darien (Conn.) 21-2

4. Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 25-2

5. Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 17-6

6. Severna Park (Md.) 19-1

7. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 20-2

8. South Huntington St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) 17-1

9. Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 18-0

10. Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) 20-2

And bear in mind: Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) 19-0, New Fairfield (Conn.) 21-1, Delray American Heritage (Fla.) 22-2, Sykesville South Carroll (Md.) 16-1, Westminster (Md.) 14-6, Walpole (Mass.) 20-2, Moorestown (N.J.) 19-5, Ridgewood (N.J.) 21-1, Northport (N.Y.) 18-1, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) 17-2, Eastport-South Manor (N.Y.) 18-2, Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) 11-6, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 17-1, Harriton (Pa.) 24-2

 

Feb. 24, 2020 — A mouthful of history

If you tuned into our Facebook Live broadcast last Saturday (archived here), you would have heard me giving you updates on the Division III women’s lacrosse matchup between Franklin & Marshall College and Washington and Lee University.

(And yes, one is a college and one a university, and one has an ampersand and the other does not).

Over the course of the afternoon, the verbiage got to be a little much and I was thinking about a way to shorten the five-syllable names of the schools. If you heard, I wound up lapsing into team nicknames, the Diplomats and the Generals.

Sports announcing is a difficult job, having to deal with a soup of team designations and player names, all while the action is happening right in front of you.

It’s even more difficult with six screens going on at once. But it’s fun testing your vocal dexterity with cumbersome names.

Feb. 23, 2020 — An historic result

In April 1976, three guys got together in a garage in Cupertino, Calif. to design the internal workings of a kit, to be assembled by a customer, which would, through input from a typewriter-like keyboard, execute functions on demand.

The men were Ronald Wayne, Steve Wozniak, and Steve Jobs, and the company they created is now the second-largest company in the world, Apple.

You have to go back all the way to the dawn of the home technology era to compare what happened yesterday to what happened to the Maryland women’s lacrosse team. Yesterday’s 19-6 defeat was the most lopsided for the Terrapins since a 16-2 loss to West Chester University on April 13, 1976.

Back then, there was no NCAA championship for lacrosse or any sport played by women; the sanctioning of women’s sports was done by the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

The sticks were wooden, a team could hold onto the ball for an unlimited period of time, and there was no boundary for either gameplay or coaching. Teams would send coaches to both ends of the field for encouragement and coaching, and nearby trees, football goalposts, long-jump pits, and other occasional obstacles were sometimes in play.

Admittedly, Maryland was not an elite team in 1976. The team finished with five wins and seven defeats, three of which were 10-goal defeats. This included a 19-3 loss to Ursinus, which stands at the worst defeat in Maryland history.

I can imagine the coach at the time, Sue Tyler, getting together with her lacrosse players sometime between the end of the 1976 season and the beginning of the 1977 campaign, and making a mutual goal to not experience the kinds of heavy losses that were administered by the likes of West Chester, Ursinus, and Penn State.

That’s because the Terrapin program, beginning in 1977, transitioned to elite status. The opening game, March 27, 1977, was a 23-0 shutout of Georgetown. Four years later, the Terps won the AIAW national championship. Sue Tyler was inducted into the IWLCA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Indeed, since that 1976 season, no Maryland women’s lacrosse team has ever finished below .500. Despite yesterday’s historic loss, I don’t think Maryland is going to break that streak. The individuals on the roster are too good, and I think there’s enough coaching acumen to snap out of the longest losing streak in Cathy Reese’s career at Maryland.

That’s two games.

I think the Maryland program will do just fine, with an adjustment or two.

Feb. 22, 2020 — The Final Third

Join us today shortly before 1 p.m. Eastern time for a raft of great matches on our answer to whiparound coverage on other networks that we call The Final Third.

We’ll be featuring the Division I matchups of UNC-Maryland and Princeton-Virginia, as well as the Division III matchup between Franklin & Marshall and Washington & Lee. We’ll also be cutting into several games around the country to bring you the best women’s lacrosse action in our unique narrative style.

Join us on Facebook Live, won’t you?

Feb. 21, 2020 — A change in role

When Barbara Longstreth, the former U.S. international in both field hockey and women’s lacrosse, started selling field hockey sticks out of the trunk of her car back in 1977, she tapped into a market that was, just four years into Title IX, cresting an economic wave.

She built a field hockey, lacrosse, and softball equipment business out of a small barn not so far away from Valley Forge, Pa. beginning in 1986 and turned it into a reknowned location not only for buying equipment, but receiving personal service in finding the right stick, pad, or bat for the job.

Yesterday, it was announced that BSN Sports, a company from Texas, would be acquiring part of Longstreth’s business — specifically, the arms of the company selling lacrosse and softball equipment parts as well as outfitting teams in those sports as well as field hockey.

Longstreth, Inc. will still have a presence in its brick-and-mortar store for field hockey equipment, apparel and footwear, as well as via catalog sales and on the Web. It would also appear as though that company will be hyper-focused on the ancient ritual.

Notably, when you look at BSN Sports’ website, there are individual catalogs for many athletic endeavors such as football, baseball, both genders of lacrosse, and softball. But not field hockey.

Wonder if that may change soon, given businesspeoples’ penchant for mergers and acquisitions?

Feb. 20, 2020 — The oddest end of a sports career, unless you’ve been paying attention

Alex Danson, a member of the England and Team GB field hockey teams who seemed to have some of her best efforts against the United States in world competitions, announced her retirement early today.

Danson had an international career that began in 2001 as a 16-year-old, and ended with, oddly, a joke. She was on holiday with her husband in 2018 when he told her a funny tale. Danson, according to reports, laughed, lost her balance and hit her head on a brick wall. The resulting post-concussion symptoms lasted nine months, and she could not deal with bright lights or noise.

If you’ve been following news stories over the past decade and a half, from pro football players committing suicide to hockey and soccer players having to retire early, to some athletes having died on the field of play, you know that what Danson had was not a one-off event. I’m certain Danson had a number of closed-head injuries over the course of her 300-game international career, and that this one accidental bump against a wall was just one more bruise that her brain took.

When it comes to brain injuries, they are often fickle. Your Founder is sitting not so far away from the site one of the most written-about traumas in sports history, but for a different reason from Danson’s retirement.

In 1997, a football quarterback named Gus Frerotte celebrated a score for his team by hitting his head against a padded wall at his home stadium. He got a concussion, sprained his neck, and didn’t play another game that season.

Oddly enough, Frerotte, played 10 more seasons in the brutal confines of the NFL without another concussion (that we know of), and eventually helped run a Pennsylvania startup company that uses cloud computing to monitor brain performance.

Danson, it must be said, left field hockey better than when she found it. In a country with more active players than any other on the globe, she helped with moving the game from an amateur sport to one where one could draw a reasonable salary.

“When I was at school, I never dreamt to be a full-time hockey player because they didn’t exist,” she tells The Guardian. “One of the proudest things is I’ve seen hockey transcend from amateur to a professional game.”

And when England Hockey put their minds to it, the fortunes of the national team changed. Before Danson was on the national team, the previous world tournament won by either England or Great Britain was the 1975 International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations Tournament in Edinburgh, Scotland.

After Danson’s arrival, England won bronze in the 2010 Women’s World Cup and Champions Trophy and in the 2013 World League. As Team GB, they won bronze in the 2012 Olympics, silver in the 2012 Champions Trophy, and gold at Rio 2016.

It’s an awesome legacy, and I hope she will wind up giving back to the game.

Feb. 19, 2020 — A reprieve (for now) in Kentucky

Remember this?

Today, this happened.

Immediately, USA Field Hockey took to Twitter, offering to try to expand the reach of the game in the Bluegrass State. “USA Field Hockey is working with leaders in Kentucky to fuel new programs, and has starter packages available,” the social media post said.

With new leadership elected at the US Field Hockey Foundation, I’ll be interested to see the degree to which the sport spreads, seeing as the game of girls’ lacrosse has grown to the point where last year’s national scoring leader comes from a town of about 8,500 located about five miles due west of Lexington.