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Nov. 23, 2017 — Giving thanks

Last weekend, the Darien (Conn.) field hockey team may have lost the Class L state championship to Westport Staples (Conn.), but there is a deserved winner on the Wave.

Meet cancer survivor Catherine Vogt.

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Nov. 22, 2017 — A strong move at Louisville

It was announced on Monday that Scott Teeter, who had coached both Canisius and the Canadian women’s national team in recent years, would be the replacement for the embattled Kellie Young at Louisville.

In Teeter, Louisville is now able to tap into someone who managed to get Canisius from an also-ran into a three-time champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

But in addition, he assembled the U-19 team that beat the United States at the 2015 World Cup, bringing the names of Selena Lasota and Danita Stroup into everyday conversation. Teeter subsequently took on the job of coaching the senior women’s national team, and won silver at the FIL World Cup and at the IWGA World Games last summer.

“Scott is an amazing coach that gets the most out of his players,” said Gary Gait, who now goes from fellow Team Canada coach to ACC rival at Syracuse. “Winning the world U-19 championship for Canada solidified his ability to coach players to their maximum potential. He is destined to have a great coaching career at Louisville, competing at the highest level in the ACC.”

The price of poker has just gone up in the ACC, it seems.

Nov. 21, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 19

With the end of the scholastic field hockey season last weekend, we present this week’s back-of-the-envelope Top 10. This will be the last one before our better-researched Final Top 50 comes out in December. The Top 10 in that list are not guaranteed to be in the same order as below, but the top few are pretty well set.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com honorary No. 11 team of the week is Virginia Tech. Yep, that’s right, Virginia Tech. Though there has been no varsity field hockey in Blacksburg since 1988, there has been a group of women and men who annually compete in order to show not only their skills, but to demonstrate interest in reviving the varsity program. This fall, Tech played tremendous hockey, ending its season on an 18-game win streak, holding high the trophy at the Regional Training Center in Virginia Beach.

1. Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 28-0

Season complete: The Comets beat Downingtown (Pa.) West 2-0 in final of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament

2. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 26-0

Season complete: Conquistadores beat Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.) 3-0 to win CIF San Diego Section Open Division Tournament

3. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 25-0-1

Season complete: Royals beat Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2-1 in a thrilling final of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions

4. Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 23-1

Season complete: Hurricanes beat Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 2-1 in the final of the PIAA Class AA Tournament

5. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 22-0

Season complete: Hornets won ninth straight NYSPHSAA title with 5-0 win over Vestal (N.Y.)

6. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 24-1-1

Season complete: Vikings edged 2-1 in overtime of NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final

7. Norfolk (Va.) Academy (Va.) 25-0

Season complete: Bulldogs beat Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) in VISAA Division I final

8. Delmar (Del.) 18-0

Season complete: Won second straight state title, beating Wilmington Tower Hill (Del.) 3-2 in the final of the DIAA Division II tournament

9. Greenwood (Pa.) 22-5

Season complete: Beat Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 2-1 to win PIAA Class A final

10. Chantilly Westfield (Va.) 25-0

Season complete: Defeated Virginia Beach First Colonial 2-1 to win VHSL Class 6A final

11.  Virginia Tech 18–0-2

Hokies beat Northeastern 3-0 in the final, the fourth of six clean sheets for the Hokies during the NFHL Tournament

Who’s out: Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 1-0 loss to Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.); Emmaus (Pa.) 3-1 loss to Downingtown (Pa.) West; Oley Valley (Pa.) 2-0 loss to Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

And bear in mind: Los Gatos (Calif.) 17-0-1, San Jose Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) 20-1-1, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) 20-0, Monument Palmer Ridge (Colo.) 16-1-1, Westfield Staples (Conn.) 15-3, Madison Daniel Hand (Conn.) 17-1-2, North Branford (Conn.) 19-0-1, Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 19-1, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 17-3, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 16-2, Lake Forest (Ill.) 22-2, Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) 22-5-2, Louisville Assumption (Ky.) 19-7, Skowhegan (Maine) Area 17-1, Pittsfield Maine Central Institute (14-3-1), Lewiston Saint Dominic Academy (Maine) 18-0, Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 18-0, Pasadena Chesapeake (Md.) 15-4, Edgewater South River (Md.) 13-6, Lusby Patuxent (Md.) 16-1, Glenelg (Md.) 12-4, Watertown (Mass.) 22-1, Andover (Mass.) 22-0-1, Andover Phillips Academy (Mass.) 17-2, Ann Arbor Huron (Mich.) 18-0-1, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 27-2, Plaistow Timberlane Regional (N.H.) 16-2, Windham (N.H.) 15-1-1, Bristol Newfound (N.H.) 17-0, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.) 21-3-1, Moorestown (N.J.) 19-4, Haddonfield (N.J.) Memorial 22-4, East Setauket Ward Melville (N.Y.) 22-0, Whitney Point (N.Y.) 21-1, Charlotte (N.C.) Latin 21-0, Charlotte Myers Park (N.C.) 17-2, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio), Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 21-3, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 22-3, Downingtown (Pa.) West 25-1,  Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) 22-1, North Kingstown (R.I.), 14-5-1, Providence Wheeler School (R.I.) 18-1, Houston Kinkaid (Tex.) 13-3, South Burlington (Vt.) 16-1, Bellows Falls (Vt.) Union 17-0, Lyndon (Vt.) Institute 12-5, Stafford Mountain View (Va.) 24-0, Fredericksburg James Monroe (Va.) 22-2, Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 20-2

Nov. 21, 2017 — Goodbye, Danica

With an eruption of flames coming from under her tube-framed race machine made to look like a Ford Fusion, Danica Patrick’s full-time racing career is, for the moment, in hiatus.

She still will be running a car for next February’s Daytona 500 and will jump into a Champ Car for the Indianapolis 500, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Patrick has been lauded since her entree into big-time American motorsports as a marketer’s dream. She led her first Indy 500 deep into the race, won an oval race at Twin Ring Motegi in 2008, and even held the pole at Daytona for her first race as a NASCAR full-time driver in the top series.

But even with a recognizable face, thousands of fans across the country, and those always nebulous “Q” ratings, she did not have a major corporate backer heading into 2018.

She is not alone.

Next year, top-level motorsports in this country will be without Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Casey Mears, and Helio Castroneves.

Think about that. And it’s about time we ask why this is going on.

Nov. 20, 2017 — The commonality amongst all three PIAA finals

So, coming out of the Saturday tripleheader for the most prominent of field hockey playing states, did anyone notice a commonality?

It was a pretty obvious one: the head coach for all three winning teams was male.

It must be said, however, that the gender of the winning coaches is not nearly the only reason why the winning teams were able to do so this year. Matt Soto, Daan Polders, and Kent Houser have worked over the course of decades to get where they are, learning subtleties about this most subtle and archaic of games in order to become successful.

If you need an example of the kinds of lessons a coach can offer, take the final 10 minutes of the Greenwood-Wyoming Seminary match. There was a collision between Greenwood star player Paityn Wirth and a Wyoming Seminary midfielder right in front of the scorer’s table. It was a bit of a late challenge on the part of the U.S. indoor national team player, and she helped up her opponent with a pat on the back just as the umpire produced a green card.

With a one-goal lead and fewer than seven minutes remaining on the clock, Greenwood had a dilemma: what do you do without your best player?

Fortunately, the Wildcats had that lesson already: it was during a period of a couple of weeks when they did not have Wirth, who was away helping the United States win an FIH Indoor Women’s World Cup berth.

While Wirth was away, the Wildcats were able to beat State College (Pa.) 5-0.

“I think that did wonders for all the other kids and for their confidence, without Paityn on the field,” Houser said.

In the overall debate over the role of male coaches in the current realm of women’s sports, what happened yesterday is something that should be of concern for those aspiring to be good coaches.

However, it is also noticeable that, in this collegiate offseason, there was a change in coaches at Ohio University as Neil MacMillan was let go and replaced by Ali Johnstone. It was a rare occurrence, given the flood of male coaches taking Division I jobs the last 15 years or so.

Nov. 19, 2017 — Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) 2, Downingtown (Pa.) West 0

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Emma DeBerdine was already being seen as a superstar player last year when she and her sister Brooke (now at the University of Maryland) were making their way through the PIAA Class AAA bracket, only to fall short by a goal to Emmaus (Pa.).

Emma has worked extremely hard since Brooke went off to college, and today all of that hard work led to the Comets bringing home the PIAA Class AAA title with a 2-0 win over Downington (Pa.) West.

The younder DeBerdine sister had two assists, setting up Alyssa Schriver and Briana Harsh with cutting diagonals across the face of goal. But it was her skill and field generalship, in such a big game, which was truly outstanding.

“Katie (Bam) has been working with Brooke at Maryland,” said Emma DeBerdine. “I think I’ve been picking up on it a little bit just by watching.”

On one second-half corner, she took the ball from the top of the circle all the way to the right while her teammates cleared to the left. Absent a double-team, she jabbed and went in on goal while getting fouled to re-rack the corner.

The Downingtown West supporters were strangely silent. Could she do that every time? they seemed to be thinking.

Not to be outdone, Harsh was effective on the left wing, probing the strong side of the Downingtown West defense looking for seams.

“Each game, we determine which side we want to go to,” Harsh said. “We worked really hard.”

Downington West, playing its first field hockey final since the school district split in two in 2003, did not have the answers on the day, allowing Penn Manor, the No. 1 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10, to complete a perfect season.

“This year, we’ve seemed to be able to gain momentum after having been tripped up the last couple of years,” said head coach Matt Soto. “This year’s group is a bunch of good teammates. Sure, we get competitive during practice, but when it’s over, they’re hugging each other.”

DOWNINGTOWN WEST (25-1) 0 0 — 0
PENN MANOR (28-0) 2 0 — 2
PM: Alyssa Schriver (Emma DeBerdine), pc, 4th minute
PM: Briana Harsh (DeBerdine), fg, 30th
Shots — DW: 0; PM: 4. Saves — DW: Caitlin Coker 2; PM: Britt Hook 0.


FULL TIME The whistle goes with Penn Manor winning 2-0

58:52 PM PC Comets content to possess the ball instead of going for a goal

58:45 PM PC DeBerdine shoved to the ground; will rerack

57:00 Penn Manor content to take it to the corner flag

56:32 Timeout, Penn Manor

56:32 DWHS YELLOW Celina Ricciardo off for the barge

55:15 DWPC Ends on a bad set

53:30 Gabby Bitts almost gets Penn Manor’s third but for a sprawling goalie save

46:59 DWHS PC Whistled for danger on the shot

45:14 Timeout, Downingtown West

44:00 PM PC DeBerdine flubs the pass and the Whippets clear

43:00 PM PC Another around-the-horn gets to the doorstep but is cleared

37:01 PM PC Ball goes around the horn to Harsh, but is cleared

36:29 PM PC DeBerdine receives and goes right, where her teammates clear. She makes a crossover move and the defender obstructs; will rerack

32:25 DW GREEN The Whippets play short for two minutes

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME The horn goes with Penn Manor leading 2-0

29:20 PM GOAL Briana Harsh, who has been a pest on the left wing, latches onto a DeBerdine cross and it’s 2-0 Penn Manor!

25:40 PM PC An option-left is sniffed out

23:00 PM PC Tackle by Celina Ricciardo

20:30 PM PC First shot is hip-high; the Comets need to convert these chances

18:30 PM PC A fancy three-way pass play does not lead to a goal shot

15:00 Starting to rain here in Whitehall

10:10 PM PC Hannah Brown’s cross pass cannot find a teammate

7:20 PM PC Hannah Brown defensed by Romea Ricciardo

6:59 PM PC DeBerdine feeds left and Schriver is tackled; rerack for the stick foul

3:50 PM PC and GOAL DeBerdine, on pretty much the same play, finds Alyssa Schriver for the putaway! Penn Manor leads 1-0

3:19 PM PC Emma DeBerdine receives and withdraws, trying to eliminate a player before pushing forward; the resulting cross is popped into the air; will rerack for danger

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Penn Manor is in the white tops and navy kilts; Downingtown is the blue tops with black kilts

PREGAME The teams are warming up under cloudy skies, temperatures around 45

PREGAME The teams are a study in contrast, and so are the coaches. Matt Soto has put three decades into coaching and is one of the few male coaches with more than 500 career victories. Elizabeth Bradley is from the coaching incubator that is West Chester University, which has given us everyone from Vonnie Gros to Maurene Polley

PREGAME Penn Manor has expected to be here from Day One of training camp. As good as Penn Manor has been, however, the Comets have been in the title games five times in the past 11 years, but only has one championship to show for it; Downington West has never been in the state title game since the Downingtown school district’s split into two high schools back in 2003. The unified school district won the field hockey state title in 1988

PREGAME Penn Manor is lead by forwards Gabby Bitts and Emma DeBerdine, who are two of four 20-goal scorers for the Comets; Downington West is led by Romea and Ciana Riccardo, who are headed to North Carolina

PREGAME Penn Manor, the District 3 champion, is 27-0; Downingtown West, the District 1 champion, is 25-0

PREGAME We are coming back to you from the Zephyr Complex at Allentown Whitehall (Pa.) for the PIAA Class AAA final between Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) and Downingtown (Pa.) West

Nov. 19, 2017 — Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 2, Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) 1

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — There are certain moments, frozen in time, that define a player, a team, a season, a march to a championship. Such was the drive to goal made by Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) junior Hannah Miller in the 36th minute of play.

On the play, she came into the circle, spun off the tackle from Madison Woods, and spun the ball past the goalkeeper, the winning goal in the Hurricanes’ 2-1 win in the PIAA Class AA championship game over a game Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) side.

“We came in with fire in our hearts, and we had to carry though what we had to do today,” Miller said. “We just had to stay focused.”

Part of that focus was the routine that head coach Daan Polders had established.

“We did the same thing we always have during practice, warmup, and we tried to keep everything the same,” Polders said, “And it reflected in the way we played. Overall, we were prepared to play for the championship today.”

Polders, one of only two known coaches to have won state championships to win state titles in more than one state, has an embarrassment of riches going into 2018 including Miller and midfielder Adele Iacobucci, who played a quiet but solid game in keeping Wyoming Valley West from building attacks in the midfield.

The Spartans, indeed, had come off an splendid two-way effort in beating defending state champion Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) on Tuesday, but could not find the same reward in the state final.

“They were just a very talented team, and they were relentless,” said Woods, the Spartans’ talismanic leader. “But we are a skilled team as well.”

VILLA MARIA (23-1) 1 1 — 2
WYOMING VALLEY WEST (21-3) 1 0 — 1
VMA: Hannah Miller (Erin Finley), fg, 2nd minute
WVW: Karline Stelma (Foto Tsioles), pc, 29th
VMA: Miller, pc, 36th
Shots — VMA: 3; WVW: 11. Saves — VMA: Nikki Hartzel 5, Sydney Rusnock 4; WVW: Danielle Acuna 2.


FULL TIME The horn sounds with Villa Maria taking a 2-1 win

58:50 WVW YELLOW Mercedes Jasterzenski is off

58:40 West is content to take it to the corner flag

57:00 WVW PC Whistled down for an offensive foul

55:00 Villa Maria has been playing to absorb the Spartans’ pressure; how long can they afford to do this?

48:45 Timeout, WVW

47:47 WVW YELLOW A hard challenge sends Stelma off for five minutes; not what you want when you are chasing the game

37:29 VMA PC Dickinson tries to spin past Woods and she is not having any of it

35:04 VMA GOAL Miller takes it into the circle, eliminates Woods, and buries it! Villa leads 2-1

32:00 VMA PC Ball goes left to Iacobucci but her ball is raised

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME Villa Maria has had territorial mastery thus far but has only managed a tie; the 29th-minute penalty corner was the only shot on goal for WVW this half

HALFTIME The horn goes off with the game tied 1-1

28:15 WVW PC and GOAL An innocuous shot is rebounded by Karline Stelma! Game tied 1-1!

26:05 VMA PC Option right again; they are going to keep running it until they get it right

25:19 VMA PC Option right; same play as about eight minutes ago, but shot is stuffed

25:00 Timeout, Villa Maria

20:00 Spartans are shooting themselves in the foot with midfield giveaways just as they are building attacks

17:57 Timeout, Wyoming Valley West

17:39 VMA PC Dickinson works it to the right but no shot ensues

16:00 VMA PC Lindsay Dickinson’s shot is saved by Nikki Hartzel

13:29 VMA PC Option-left to Adele Iacobucci, who cranks it wide and high

8:09 VMA PC A bit too long in developing, and Madison Woods with the defense

5:39 VMA PC Whistled down for a dangerous shot

1:57 VMA GOAL Hannah Miller gets the Hurricanes off to a great start; 1-0 Villa Maria

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Wyoming Valley West is in the white with maroon kilts and gold trim; Villa Maria is in the navy with light blue numbers

PREGAME The teams are warming up under a cold rain; temps around 43 degrees

PREGAME For WVW head coach Linda Fithian, it’s been a while since she’s been at the state final; 14 years, to be exact. For Daan Polders and Villa Maria, it’s his third state title game with the Hurricanes after a successful stint with Denver (Colo.) Academy

PREGAME For the Hurricanes, watch for U-17 national team member Hannah Miller. WVW will counter with Madison Woods, who started her scholastic career as a scorer, but who marked out Mackenzie Allessie last time out. Bonus: she scored the game-winner against Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) with 3.3 seconds remaining

PREGAME Villa Maria, the District 1 champion, is 23-1 on the season. Wyoming Valley West is 20-2

PREGAME Back now at the Zephyr Coplay Complex for the PIAA Class AA final between Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa) against Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.)