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Nov. 27, 2021 — The blowouts of Bhubaneswar

The second day of the FIH Junior Men’s World Cup saw five fixtures.

And the closest game of the day was six goals:

France 7:1 Poland
Argentina 14:0 Egypt
Spain 17:0 USA
India 13:1 Canada
Netherlands 12:5 Korea

The Junior World Cups have been riven with uncertainty, even since the start of qualification. On the men’s side, Poland, Canada, and the United States had failed to qualify for the competition through their continental competitions.

The reason these three sides are in the Junior World Cup is that England, New Zealand, and Australia had to pull their junior national teams because of strict COVID-19 rules.

Now, I get the storyline that teams which may have failed to qualify for a world tournament will try to make the most of a second chance if a team or two drops out.

But the crucible of competition is, regrettably, the reality of the situation.

BULLETIN: Nov. 26, 2021 — Women’s Junior World Cup put on hold because of new Coronavirus variant

While the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup has been taking place in India, a new variant of the COVID-19 virus, has been spreading in South Africa, where the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup is supposed to start in early December.

As a result of the new variant, which is reported to have more than 50 mutations, FIH has postponed the start of the Women’s Junior World Cup, which was supposed to have been contested at the North-West University of Potchefstroom. No information on an alternate site was immediately announced.

While we don’t know exactly how many people in the immediate area surrounding Potchefstroom have come down with the virus, we do know that the variant has spread to Botswana, Israel, Hong Kong, and Belgium.

The women’s competition has already had to adapt, with Australia, New Zealand, and China having pulled out of the tournament, and Korea, Ireland, and Argentina being added as wild cards.

Yep, Argentina, a team which had to put together an all-star team of club players when their senior team was kept out of the Pan Am tournament because of contact tracing.

The United States team, having been hastily rushed together after the end of the U.S. college season, now has some extra time to gel as a team. The current roster includes nine players who just competed in the NCAA Division I Final Four, including Maryland’s Hope Rose, Liberty’s Reagan Underwood, and Northwestern’s Maddie Zimmer and Lauren Wadas.

Nov. 26, 2021 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 21

Last year was a field hockey year like no other, with games being played from August clear through to May.

This year, the Score-O attitude continued, with at least 13 players breaching the 50-goal barrier, led by a pair of players from New Jersey. Ryleigh Heck, the senior from Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) scored 125 goals this season, including a hat trick in the Tournament of Champions final against Summit Oak Knoll.

In addition, Natali Foster of Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) became only the second player in National Federation history to score 50 goals and assist on 50 others in the same season.

In addition, we have seen a lot of team achievements, not the least of which is Delmar (Del.), which ran its winning streak to 96 matches, which is within shouting distance of the current record of 124 by Watertown (Mass.).

In the red type below is our usual weekly panoply of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media.

We would like to get as many coaches and other field hockey people to register for 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. 

SEASON GOALS
125 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
113 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
71 Alana McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
65 Caitlin Nicholls, Haddonfield Haddon Heights (N.J.)
64 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
56 Finley Payne, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)
56 Rylie Wollerton, Gibsonia Pine-Richland (Pa)
55 Ava Zerfass, Emmaus (Pa.)
53 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
53 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
52 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
52 Cait Lutz, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
50 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
48 Brenna Bough, Whitney Point (N.Y.)
46 Lauren Masters, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.)
46 Ella Barbacci, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
45 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)

SEASON ASSISTS
52 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
51 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
43 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
39 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
38 Dylan Breier, Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.)
38 Emma Winther, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
35 Macey Vice, Lawrence (N.J.)
32 Alexis Kociban, Emmaus (Pa.)
32 Hope Haynes, Houston Kincaid (Tex.)
32 Sammie Goin, Ashburn Independence (Va.)

CAREER GOALS
323 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
244 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
173 Alaina McVeigh, Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
140 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
139 Rylie Wollerton, Chesapeake Western Branch (Va.) and Gibsonia Pine-Richland (Pa)
134 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
129 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
129 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
126 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
123 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
117 Victoria Griffiths, Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.)
117 Cait Lutz, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
109 Caitlin Nicholls, Haddonfield Haddon Heights (N.J.)
105 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
103 Brynn Crouse, Dillsburg Northern York (Pa.)
102 Lauren Masters, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.)
92 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)
86 Megan Normile, Plumstead New Egypt (N.J.)

CAREER ASSISTS
126 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
106 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
93 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
91 Dylan Breier, Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.)
85 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
83 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
82 Gianna Puorro, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
78 Hope Haynes, Houston Kincaid (Tex.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
96 Delmar (Del.)
42 Emmaus (Pa.)

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
96 Delmar (Del.)
42 Emmaus (Pa.)

So, here is where you come in. If you see something that needs correction, feel free to send an email at TopOfTheCircle.com. Give us a name or a bit of documentation (a website will do) so that we can make the needed changes.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll have our Final Statwatch next month.

Nov. 25, 2021 — Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

We’ve spotlighted student-athletes in this space who have great reason to give thanks this holiday season. One is Molly Katzman, a field hockey player from Ladue Horton Watkins (Mo.), who was born with a rare genetic defect.

You can read and view a story on the senior from KSDK-TV in St. Louis by clicking here.

Nov. 24, 2021 — It’s making sense, now

It was in early 2020, right at the start of the global pandemic, that a number of prominent American women’s soccer players decided to leave their National Women’s Soccer League clubs and go off to European clubs like Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Paris-St. Germain.

Over the last few months, however, one of the big reasons for the exodus has been exposed. A culture of disrespect and abuse of professional players, making an average of about $33,000 a year, has led to a diminishing of not only the league, but of the performance of the U.S. women’s soccer team.

I cannot help but posit that the USA’s third-place performance at the Tokyo Olympics is a consequence of the abusive environment, which was aided and abetted by certain owners of NWSL teams, and the United States Soccer Federation, which had a major ownership state in the league when it launched in 2013.

Just this week, Rory Dames, the head coach of the second-place Chicago Red Stars, resigned under a cloud of suspicion regarding his behavior towards his players.

This means that, since the start of the 2021 season, nine out of the 10 head coaches in the league resigned for one reason or another. Six of them left under fire from their own players for abusive or coercive behavior.

That is a remarkably poor record for any professional league, in any sport.

As the NWSL becomes the first USSF Division I women’s pro soccer league to surpass 10 teams, there are still existential questions about the league and the various entities surrounding it. There is open revolt against the ownership of the league’s most popular team (Portland) as well as the current league champion (Washington). There are also questions going right up to the top levels of U.S. Soccer — the kinds of questions which are reserved for a Watergate-type investigation.

I don’t think this is going to go well for the people who run women’s soccer in America.

Nov. 23, 2021 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 21

What a weekend! After 14 weeks of action starting in Kentucky, the field hockey season had some tremendous games in the weekend leading up to the final three scholastic games in Boston last Sunday.

What is below is our last “back of the envelope” Top 10s of the 2021 season. It is the template for our well-researched Top 50, which will be published in December. The Top 10 are not guaranteed to be in this order for that list.

The RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Teams of the Week are the college club teams from Northeastern University and James Madison. Northeastern won the National Field Hockey League Fall Championship, while James Madison won the NFHL Challenge Cup over the weekend at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach.

1. Delmar (Del.) 19-0
Season complete:
Won DIAA Division 2 championship with a comprehensive 8-0 win over Newark (Del.) Charter

2. Emmaus (Pa.) 28-0
Season complete:
Hornets won PIAA Class AAA Tournament with 1-0 win over Hummelstown Lower Dauphin

3. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 19-0
Season complete: 
Falcons won VHSL Class 5 title with a 1-0 win over Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.)

4. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 21-1
Season complete: Churchwomen won the PAISAA final against Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) on an Ashley Sessa golazo in the final minute

5. Northport (N.Y.) 21-0
Season complete: 
Tigers beat Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.) 1-0 in NYSPHSAA final

6. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 16-1
Season complete: 
Hill had an amazing season, one which saw the team drop the PAISAA final to Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.)

7. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 21-2
Season complete: 
Blue Knights became the first PIAA team to win a fourth consecutive state championship with a 6-0 win over Oley (Pa.) Valley in the Class A title match

8. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 25-2
Season complete: Vikings won the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions with a 4-3 win over Summit Oak Knoll. Senior Ryleigh Heck capped off an amazing week with with a last-second goal in the title game. lifting her individual goals total to 125 for the season

9. Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) 27-2
Season complete: Won PIAA Class AA final with a 3-2 win over Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.); senior Natali Foster is one of only two players to have more than 50 goals and 50 assists in the same season

10. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 22-4
Season complete: Royals are the best four-loss team in America; gave Eastern a titanic fight before a last-second goal settled the latest installment of The Garden State Firm

11. Northeastern University Club 13-0; James Madison Club 7-3-2
Season complete: Huskies never gave up more than one goal in any game this season; James Madison fought its way from third place in pool play to win the Challenge Cup

Who’s out: Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) 3-2 loss to Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.); Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 1-0 loss to Emmaus (Pa.)

And bear in mind: Encinitas Torrey Pines (Calif.) 24-3, Los Gatos (Calif.) 16-1, Huntington Beach (Calif.) 14-2, Aurora Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 16-0-1, New Canaan (Conn,) 20-0, Guilford (Conn.) 19-1, North Branford (Conn.) 16-2-2, Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) 17-2, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 21-6-1, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 24-3, Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 15-1, Severna Park (Md.) 17-2, Gambrills Arundel (Md.) 11-8, Glenelg (Md.) 16-1; Watertown (Mass.) 23-0, Andover (Mass.) 21-0-1, Westwood (Mass.) 18-1-2, Andover Phillips Academy (Mass.) 18-0-1, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 20-2-2, Ann Arbor Skyline (Mich.) 16-2-1, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 23-3, Clinton North Hunterdon (N.J.) 22-2, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) 25-2, Whitney Point (N.Y.) 18-0, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (N.Y.) 16-2, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 19-0-1, Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 23-1-1, Lower Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) 20-3-1, East Greenwich (R.I.) 16-1-1, Houston Kincaid School (Texas) 17-1, Yorktown Tabb (Va.) 22-0, Arlington Yorktown (Va.) 21-1, Chesapeake Great Bridge (Va.) 19-3, Norfolk (Va.) Academy 21-2, University School of Milwaukee (Wisc.) 14-0-1

Nov. 22, 2021 — Turning a trope on its head

The trophy ceremony at the end of a championship match is sometimes hard to watch. It’s not because of the climactic trophy lift, but because first, there is a ceremony for the runners-up.

I’ve seen many a teary, red-faced athlete step away from that ceremony extremely unhappy. Sometimes, players who are given silver medals take them off right away, as if finishing second was a shameful act.

Sure, the “second place is the first loser” ethic in our society has overtaken a lot of sporting endeavors. But nobody told that to the field hockey team at Newark (Del.) Charter.

Charter lost the Division 2 final to Delmar by a score of 8-0. Yet, when the captains received the second-place trophy from DIAA officials, the captains jumped and ran with the trophy with their teammates, and jumped up and down in celebration as if they had won the game.

Charter left the Dover field just happy to have had a 15-3 season which included 11 clean sheets. They weren’t sad because of the result, but happy to have had the experience as a team.

Kudos and a hearty “Well played!” to the Patriots and head coach Stacey Spiker. I think more runner-up teams should have this kind of positive attitude.

Nov. 21, 2021 — The Final Third, Trophy Lift Edition

Join me today on our Facebook Live presence for our unique whiparound coverage of all three national championship field hockey games beginning shortly before 1 p.m. You will get context and perspective you won’t get anywhere else.

Nov. 20, 2021 — The main course

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, you can find a movable feast of field hockey finals from Connecticut to California.

But as it turned out, the highlight of the proceedings — the main course, if you will — took place at 3 p.m. As it turned out, that’s when our No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10 played their respective championship games.

Delmar (Del.) and Emmaus (Pa.) may be two diametrically opposed teams in terms of community and school size, but are equal in determination and hockey-playing ability.

But in the first minutes of the game, the two teams were a bit jittery. Though Delmar put all sorts of pressure on debutante side Newark (Del.) Charter, the Wildcats had but one goal in the first 22 minutes. At the same time, a taut and tense game was being played in Whitehall, Pa. between Emmaus and Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.), with the game going goalless.

In the second half of the second quarter, Delmar not only was able to hammer at the dam, they knocked it over. The Wildcats scored four goals in about seven minutes to close the first half in order to take a 5-0 halftime lead, all but securing the result. By the halftime interval, junior Maci Bradford had a hat trick to take her season goals total to 52.

During this barrage, Emmaus’ leading goal-scorer Ava Zerfass put the Hornets on the board with her 54th goal of the season two minutes before the halftime break.

With 30 minutes to go in their respective seasons, it was up to Delmar to see out the last half of their championship season. Emmaus, however, had the task of holding onto a one-goal lead against Lower Dauphin.

The subtext in this game is the fact that the coaches in the PIAA Class AAA championship are amongst the finest in the craft. Between head coaches Susan Butz-Stavin and Linda Kreiser, there were nearly 1,900 coaching victories on the sidelines.

Eventually, Emmaus got that last victory, but not without an heroic performance by sophomore goalkeeper Emma Cari. As often happens late in a season, goalkeepers which may not have had a lot of shots against them in games the rest of the season will have benefitted from receiving the best shots from their teammates in practice.

Cari stood strong on the final minutes as Lower Dauphin circled the Emmaus attack zone and got off some telling shots. But the sophomore batted them away with confidence. The one sequence that will be etched in Emmaus lore forever will be Cari’s save and clear on a backhand shot by LD’s Avery Pollock.

In this year, “The Year Of The Backhand,” many of these shots have gone in. But Cari said “no.” It was enough for an Emmaus title, the 14th for the Hornets and Butz-Stavin.

And down the coast, Delmar saw out an 8-0 win, which was good enough for the Cats’ 96th consecutive win, third-longest in National Federation history.

BULLETIN: Nov. 19, 2021 — The single-season goal-scoring record has fallen in a most dramatic way

Ryleigh Heck is one of only three field hockey players in National Federation history to surpass the 100 goal barrier for a season and 300 in a career.

The senior for Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) also had to balance her prolific scoring ability with team goals, especially as the Vikings, a team with the stuff to continue its string of 23 sectional titles and 22 state championships, met up with a pair of titanic opponents in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

Just two days ago, Heck blasted in a bombazo from 15 yards in the final second of the third quarter, part of a four-goal effort to beat North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) in the T of C semifinals.

This evening, at Kean University, Heck saw her Vikings fall 3-0 behind in the opening 20 minutes, then hoisted them back with a brace in the first half to come within 3-2. After teammate Olivia White found net in a shorthanded situation with five minutes to go, it was up to Heck to make her mark on the game, the season, and on an extraordinary career.

In the final 30 seconds of regulation, Eastern earned a penalty corner. The play, run from the Brooklyn side of the cage, was a hi-lo to the inserter, who passed to an open Heck at the stroke mark, at which point the air horn sounded to signify the end of the quarter. But corner criteria was not over; Heck dribbled with three Oak Knoll tacklers coming in from behind, then slipped the ball into the goal cage from about seven yards to not only give Eastern a 4-3 win and the Tournament of Champions trophy, it also gave Heck her 125th goal of the season, breaking Mackenzie Allessie’s single-season mark.

And, given the fact that Allessie’s final goal back in 2018 also ended a game and won a tournament, I think the current Penn State student-athlete might approve.

The goal also gave her one of the best goals-per-game average in National Federation history, with 4.62.

STRIKE RATE
5.43 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2020
5.00 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.) 2020
4.91 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.) 2021
4.62 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2021
4.27 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 2018
3.92 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.) 2020
3.55 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2013
3.51 Austyn Cuneo, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2014
3.39 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2019
3.37 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) 2017
3.36 Maryanna Watson, Gloucester (N.J.) 1961
3.28 Tracey Fuchs, Centereach (N.Y.) 1983
3.21 Maryanna Watson, Gloucester (N.J.) 1962
3.12 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 2019
3.00 Michelle Vizzuso, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 1994
3.00 Megan Rodgers, San Diego Serra (Calif.), 2016
3.00 Carol Middough, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.Y.) 2016
3.00 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.) 2019