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Nov. 15, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 13

Hi, everyone. With only a handful of championship games left in the domestic season, the statistical picture is, in spite of itself, rounding into some sort of shape.

Our most significant statistical oddity of the week is something that happened in the 11th minute of a PIAA quarterfinal matchup, when Oley (Pa.) Valley senior Sophia Gladieux pinged a backhand blast from about 15.9 yards into the goal cage being defended by New Hope-Solebury (Pa.). That continued Gladieux’s run over the 200-goal mark, but it also ended a 22-game shutout streak on the part of NHS, and the Lions would give up two more in the next 13 minutes in a 3-1 defeat.

What we have below is our weekly heaping helping of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, PhilaFieldHockey.com, The Washington Post, Long Island Newsday, The Boston Globe, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post.

We really like MaxPreps, because it is easy for the average coach, athletic director, or student manager 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.

GOALS
78 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
76 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
67 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)

66 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
63 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
56 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
56 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
52 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
48 Taryn Mayer, Huntingdon Valley Lower Moreland (Pa.)
48 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
48 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
47 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
45 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)

ASSISTS
38 Abby Periard, South Oldham (Ky.)
38 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
33 Ciana Riccardo, Downingtown (Pa.) West
32 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
30 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
30 Sarah Beers, Oley (Pa.) Valley
29 Amy Griffin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)

29 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
28 Hannah Berry, Holden Wachusett (Mass.)
28 Lilly Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
28 Annabella Mason, Alexandria West Potomac (Md.)
27 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
26 Kaitlyn Csensits, Emmaus (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
206 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
157 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
156* Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
135 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
134 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
133 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
131 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
117 Annie Grace Louthan, Chesterfield Matoaca (Va.)
116 Hannah Maxwell, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
115 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)
114 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
109 Lauren Parente, Wyoming (Pa.) Area
104 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
103 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
103 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
102 Rachel Bohn, Newport (Pa.)
102 Alex Wesneski, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)
100 Katie McLaughlin, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.)
*–injured

CAREER ASSISTS
123 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
113 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

GOALS SCORED, TEAM
221 Emmaus (Pa.)
199 Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
188 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
188 Gloucester (Va.)
163 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
156 Oley (Pa.) Valley

GAMES UNDEFEATED
128 Los Gatos (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
63 Delmar (Del.)
58 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)
42 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)
41 Somerset-Berkley (Calif.)

If you see a wrong number of if you feel we’re missing something, feel free 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 try to clean this up a bit for next week in time for the Connecticut state finals.

Nov. 14, 2019 — The Garden State Firm, Vol. 12: The Cold War

They’ll step onto the pitch one more time, these old, firm friends from Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.).

And like it always seems to be when playing a Friday prime-time matchup, the cold will be a factor as the forecast low for northern New Jersey will be around 29 degrees.

But the action will be hot as the nation’s two finest scholastic field hockey teams will battle it out for state and national honors.

This isn’t the first time that these teams have met for the ultimate prize; of the previous meetings, six (as denoted by an asterisk) were in the Tournament of Champions final:

EASTERN vs. OAK KNOLL
(Eastern leads series 6-4-1)
2007: Oak Knoll 3, Eastern 2 (OT)
2010*: Oak Knoll 4, Eastern 2
2013*: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 0
2014*: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 2
2015*: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 1
2016: Eastern 6, Oak Knoll 2
2017: Eastern 2, Oak Knoll 2 (tie)
2017*: Oak Knoll 2, Eastern 1 (OT)
2018: Eastern 5, Oak Knoll 3
2018*: Eastern 3, Oak Knoll 1
2019: Oak Knoll 4, Eastern 1

So, it’s time for brass tacks and a look at the two teams:

EASTERN
Record: 23-1
Championships won: Olympic Conference American Division; South Jersey Group IV; Group IV
Key wins in 2019: Defeated Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 3-0, defeated Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 7-0, defeated Downingtown (Pa.) West 13-1, defeated Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 9-0, defeated Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 7-4
Key players: Ryleigh Heck (so, f), Amanda Middleman (sr., f), Elise Pettisani (sr., m), Nina Santore (sr., g), Tara Somers (sr., m), Kendall Jung (sr., m). Kylie Zielinski (sr., d)
The skinny: Heck is the national scoring leader (as far as we can tell) with 78 goals on the season. Nobody else on the team has more than 20, and I think that’s what the Oak Knoll team picked up on when beating them in September. However, we have seen offense outlast defense during playoff time this year (witness the scoring of Katie McLaughlin and Sophia Gladieux in the last two weeks), meaning that Heck is an obvious fulcrum on which this game will turn.

OAK KNOLL
Record: 25-0
Championships won: Union County Tournament, Essex/Union Conference Red Division, Non-Public North; Non-Public
Key wins in 2019: Defeated Hershey (Pa.) 5-3, defeated Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) 3-0, defeated Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 5-0, defeated Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 6-2, defeated Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 5-0, defeated Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 3-0, defeated Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 4-1
Key players: Bridget Murphy (sr., f), Anabelle Brodeur (sr., f), Avery Donahue (sr., m), Colleen Quinn (jr., g), Jodi Porto (sr., d), Keely Comizio (jr., d), Emily Antunes (sr., d), Megan Joel (jr., f)
The skinny: Oak Knoll has always had good defense in penalty corners, but the second half of this season has seen Porto, Comizio, Antunes, and Quinn spin together one clean sheet after another. The Royals have shut out their last 10 opponents, and look like a difficult outfit to score on, especially with the athletic Colleen Quinn in goal. Murphy and Brodeur may get a lot of the headlines on the attack end, but I think Megan Joel will step up like she did in the regular-season matchup between these two sides.

Nov. 13, 2019 — Two hits for 6

This afternoon, wary eyes were on mobile phone screens in the state of New Jersey from Chatham down to Voorhees as the semifinals of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions took place.

The venues and start times of the games were altered because of predicted subfreezing temperatures, so yesterday’s games began at the customary state playoff starting time, which is 2 p.m,

Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) the No. 1 team in the TopOfTheCircle.com Top 10, and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), the No. 2 team, each scored six goals in their semifinal contests to get to Friday’s final.

For Oak Knoll, it was a four-goal display by senior Annanelle Brodeur as well as a Bridget Murphy brace, while Eastern got two goals each from Ryleigh Heck and Amanda Middleman.

Usually, this late in a field hockey season, you don’t see this kind of offensive output.

But then again, the 2010s are not your ordinary decade. Nor are Eastern and Oak Knoll your garden variety of sports team.

They are, in point of fact, two halves of a rivalry we’ve called The Garden State Firm. One school is public, one is private. One is from the northern half of the state, the other from the south.

Everything about these two sides is a mirror image of themselves, except their firm commitment to winning.

Which is why Friday should be incredibly fascinating. We’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Nov. 12, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of Nov. 10

With only a couple of weeks to go in the scholastic season, there are plenty of championships on offer this weekend in hockey-rich areas of the country such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York, and especially what could very well be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown on Friday between NJSIAA Non-Public champ Oak Knoll and Group IV champion Eastern in what could be the latest installment of The Garden State Firm, but both teams have to win their way in.

This week’s RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Penn State’s varsity team, which lost out on a chance to make the NCAA Division I tournament as champions of the Big Ten, but an overtime goal from Iowa’s Maddy Murphy ended the Nittany Lions’ season as the team had a sub-.500 record, making them ineligible for an at-large bid.

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 24-0
Royals will take on either West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) or Mullica Hill Clearview (N.J.) in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions tomorrow

2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 22-1
The Vikings won their 21st consecutive state championship and now play North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions tomorrow

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 26-0
The Hornets take on West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) in today’s PIAA Class AAA Tournament semifinal

4. Delmar (Del.) 17-0
Wildcats draw Wilmington Tatnall School (Del.) in the semifinal of the DIAA Division 2 Tournament

5. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 22-0
Raiders bested a testy Walpole (Mass.) outfit for their 41st straight win; will take on a tough Andover (Mass.) side this evening in the MIAA Division I semifinals

6. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 22-0-3
Falcons take on defending state champion Hershey (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals, in a rematch of last year’s final

7. Palmyra (Pa.) 21-3
Cougars take on Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) in the PIAA Class AA semifinals

8. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 18-1
Falcons take on Chesterfield Matoaca (Va.) and 100-goal scorer Annie Grace Louthan in the quarterfinal round of the VHSL Class 5A Tournament

9. Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.) 19-0
Season complete: The Titans got a 54th-minute goal to beat Richmond St. Catherine’s (Va.) to win the VISAA championship; current win streak now at 42 games

10. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 19-2-2
The current FAA champions go into the NEPSAC Class A Tournament as the second seed and play rival Lakeville Hotchkiss (Conn.) in a quarterfinal game tomorrow

11. Penn State 8-12
Nittany Lions played splended hockey after starting the season 0-7; will now look to take advantage of a stellar incoming recruiting class

Who’s out? Gloucester (Va.) 1-0 loss to Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox

And bear in mind:  San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 21-3-1, San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 20-3, San Diego Serra (Calif.) 20-2, Darien (Conn.) 17-1-1, Westport Staples (Conn.) 17-1-1; Newtown (Conn.) 16-0, Greenwich (Conn.) Sacred Heart 18-2, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 26-2-1, Assumption (Ky.) 17-10-1, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) 17-3-1, Oley (Pa.) Valley 24-1, Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 19-2-1, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 21-2, Hershey (Pa.) 18-6, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 19-1-1, Gloucester (Va.) 18-1

Nov. 11, 2019 — Swallowing the whistle

Yesterday, during our Final Third broadcast on our Facebook Live channel, we noted an uptick in physical play in some of the games we watched — physical play which often went unpunished via a penalty card.

I’ve noticed that there have been times during postseason play where umpires or other game officials in many sports tend to call games in elimination situations a little more loosely than in the regular season — letting the players decide the outcome rather than a striped shirt.

But just as often, I see players try to take advantage of a perceived reticence for game officials to call playoff games tightly, and it will often bite. Every other year or so, someone is thrown out of an NCAA women’s lacrosse Final Four game. It could either be a second yellow (more often than not) or a straight red (which has happened on a couple of occasions).

I want to focus on a situation that happened over the weekend that was captured on film and distributed on social media. In a field hockey game, a penalty corner unfolds, and a score was recorded on a shot which was from about two yards in front of goal. Seconds after the goal is signaled, the goalie takes a swing at the player with her blocker, and connects with the goal-scorer’s torso.

Friends, under most codes of conduct in sport — and not just high school — that’s a red card. I’ve seen goalkeepers get sent off before; I seem to remember an NCAA tournament game a couple of years ago when one team had to play about 60 percent of the game a player short because of indiscipline on the part of a goalie.

The punch was missed because the umpire on the play was in the midst of indicating that the goal was good.

Now, I don’t know whether there were conversations between the captains (one of whom was the player punched) and the umpire, but there was, on social media, a still shot of an official’s timeout during that same game where the umpire was discussing the situation with the team that was scored on, presumably to give the team time to calm down.

This, regrettably, put the umpire in the middle of the game, which is what game officials try to avoid. I’m hoping that everyone in this situation learns lessons from what happened, and the game can progress in spite of incidents like this.

Nov. 10, 2019 — The Final Third, Selection Sunday edition

Join us on Facebook Live for whiparound coverage of conference tournament championships on the final day before pairings are announced for the three national divisional championships. We’ll start everything off shortly before 11 a.m. Eastern and go all the way through to about 4 p.m., so we’ll have five hours of coverage for you.

Nov. 9, 2019 — Oley (Pa.) Valley 3, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) 1

WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The New Hope-Solebury field hockey team earned a 1-0 lead in the first seven minutes of a PIAA Class A quarterfinal match against an Oley (Pa.) Valley side that had scored 151 goals as a team this season.

The problem: there were 53 minutes to go.

“I had to tell them that there was a lot of game to play,” said OV head coach Tiffany Cappellano. “We just had to stick to the game plan and make it happen.”

Part of that game plan: make sure that senior Sophia Gladieux has the ball. Just three minutes after the Lions opened their account, Gladieux, one of only five scholastic field hockey players to ever score more than 200 goals in a career, made a curving run into the final third of the pitch and let the ball run ahead of her as it touched the yellow line of the striking circle.

Gladieux lanced at the ball with her backhand and it sliced into the back of the goal with a ping off the wooden backboard. Golazo!

It was an extraordinary gilt-edged strike, which was the first goal that New Hope-Solebury, the PIAA District 1-A champions, had conceded all season. That goal spurred a three-goal run for the Lynx in just about 13 minutes as Oley Valley advanced in the bracket with a 3-1 win.

“We knew they had a good skill level, considering they came into the game not giving up a goal all season,” Gladieux said. “So breaking that early in the game gave us confidence and motivation to keep going.”

“Our goal gave us a lift,” said New Hope-Solebury head coach Gwen Smith. “But it gave (Oley Valley) a lift, too.”

After Gladieux’s golazo, she knocked in a penalty stroke seven minutes later, then played decoy as teammate Sophia Mackrella banged in a 1-Up to make the halftime score 3-1.

“Knowing that those younger kids are looking to me to do those skills that Coach tells us to do make you want to put on a good show,” Gladieux said. “They look up to you.”

“Those are big goals,” Cappellano said. “Had we given up another goal (in the second half), it would have been a different ballgame.”

Oley Valley’s defense held in the second half, despite NHS’s best attempts to pull one back.

“What we take pride in is playing to our fullest potential,” said Cappellano. “It’s a collective decision that we make. The fact that they were able to buckle down and play good defense was huge.”

“We had our opportunities, but we didn’t make it happen,” Smith said. “We knew this was a team that was going to score, and we had to prepare for that.”

OLEY VALLEY (24-1) 3 0 — 3
NEW HOPE-SOLEBURY (22-1) 1 0 — 1
NHS: Erin Burke (Annelise Dahlin), pc, 8th
OV: Sophia Gladieux, fg, 11th
OV: Gladieux, ps, 18th
OV: Sophia Mackrell (Sarah Beers), pc, 24th
Shots — OV: 8; NHS: 4. Saves — OV: Cassidy Drobek 3; NHS: Lydia Eastburn 4, defensive 1


POSTGAME New Hope-Solebury got here thanks to an excellent defense, including a penalty corner defense unit which has been nothing short of extraordinary. Indeed, it took Oley a couple of trick plays, including ending corner criteria early, to score

POSTGAME While Gladieux was her usual excellent self, teammates Sophia Mackrella and Sarah Beers also stepped up

POSTGAME New Hope-Solebury hammered at the dam for a good three minutes early in the first half, getting the opening goal. However, Oley Valley struck back for three in 13 minutes to close out the half

FULL TIME And the siren goes with Oley Valley beating New Hope-Solebury 3-1

56:36 Timeout, NHS

54:00 NHS PC The Lions are in business but cannot get off a shot

51:32 Timeout, NHS

49:95 NHS PC Option right but the pass is way off target

46:33 NHS PC Flick is saved!

45:03 OV PC Gladieux is defensed

41:02 OV PC Duffed shot is cleared by the Lion defense

38:00 OV PC Option right is tackled by Carolyn Thistlewaite

36:22 Timeout, Oley Valley

34:00 NHS with a breakaway! But the resulting shot attempt is way wide!

32:30 NHS PC Shot is saved; rebound goes wide!

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME One observation: the turf at Whitehall has been replaced since last year. It is less bouncy and the field hockey arc is a bright yellow instead of the same white color as the soccer penalty arc

HALFTIME The early Lions goal gave them hope, but it only spurred on Oley, as they took advantage of their chances

HALFTIME The siren goes with the Lynx up 3-1

23:18 PV PC and GOAL Sophia Mackrella pounds a 1-up from Sarah Beers and OV leads 3-1

20:00 OV PC Gladieux is defensed; Lions ball

17:16 OV PS Gladieux puts it in and the Lynx lead 2-1

17:00 OV PC An option left is shot into the body of a NHS back; a stroke is called!

15:55 OV 1-up is saved!

15:20 OV PC Defensed!

14:08 OV PC A little overpassing leads to a foot

12:30 OV PC Option-left to Gladieux, whose backhander sizzles wide

10:06 That’s the first goal NHS has conceded this season!

10:06 OV GOAL Sophia Gladieux with a backhand at the top of the circle and it bangs in! Golazo! Game tied 1-1

7:18 NHS PC and GOAL Shot by Erin Burke deflects off an OV stick and goes in! 1-0 NHS

6:30 NHS Shot from an open area is saved! But will re-rack for danger

5;45 NHS Shot is blocked; will re-rack

5:15 NHS PC Option right is sniffed out

2:00 OV PC Shot blocked by the NHS defense

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Oley Valley is in the all-blue with white letters, NHS is in the white with blue numbers

PREGAME Something has to give, and it will interesting to see what happens when that “something” happens. Will the NHS defense collapse on Gladieux? Will NHS lose cohesion if they give up a goal?

PREGAME This is the ultimate confrontation between offense and defense. New Hope has not allowed a goal all season, while Oley Valley senior Sophia Gladieux has 201 career goals

PREGAME Hello and welcome to the Zephyr-Coplay Complex in Whitehall Township, Pa. for this PIAA Class A quarterfinal matchup between Oley (Pa.) Valley and New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)