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March 15, 2019 — Preseason Statwatch for 2019

Hi, all. This year, we’re continuing our tradition of compiling girls’ lacrosse statistics from across the nation with a feature called Statwatch.

As you can see below, however, we have only a skeleton’s worth of returning players because last year’s tallies were very much senior-laden. That will change when the weekly compilations start getting published once most of the nation starts their seasons.

Statwatch is a weekly compilation of girls’ lacrosse statistics from various sources including, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch,, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage all coaches, managers, athletic directors, and any influencers out there to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to adopt the easy-to-use platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

305 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)

337 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)

38 Upper Arlington (Ohio)
29 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

772 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

Thanks for reading, and we’ll be publishing Statwatch weekly very soon.

March 14, 2019 — And how many more?

You’ll notice that we led off yesterday’s blog entry with two seemingly isolated stories.

This is the one regarding admissions fraud at LSU, and this is the one at the University of Pennsylvania. Taken together with yesterday’s indictment of 50 administrators, coaches and parents, that’s enough to make you think there’s a problem.

But William Singer, the man behind the admissions fraud and broker between parents and universities, has admitted to 761 fraudulent admissions — 20 times what were documented in yesterday’s charging documents.

Now, that’s remarkable enough, the damage that one man has done to the higher education system in the United States.

The question is, how many other self-styled education brokers, go-betweens, and hangers on are there? And we’re not just talking about the cesspool of intercollegiate football and men’s basketball. We know that there are plenty of Sonny Vaccaros, Lonnie Balls, and Curtis Malones out there trading favors for athletic talent.

But how many other side-door deals have there been made over the years? Hundreds? Thousands? Every time a name goes up on a building on one of America’s 5,300 colleges, universities, and trade schools, should you assume that the only reason was that money changed hands?

I’d like to think that certain kinds of naming are as memorials to great people in the past; two of the main buildings at my old high school were named for bishops in the Episcopal Church. The third, however, was named for a wealthy donor who, frankly, saved the school two decades ago.

But now that Harvard Medical School has the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University has the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has the Zuckerberg School of Health Sciences, it’s hard to know where the university ends and the benefactor begins.

March 13, 2019 — A once-in-a-generation scandal

A couple of decades ago, I first got wind of a group of chemists and bodybuilders who had hit upon a so-called “designer drug” that would be untraceable by the technologies of the time. My first thought was that the ramifications of such a discovery — and its use — was going to be enormous.

The BALCO scandal resulted in the indictment and imprisonment of dozens of professional and amateur athletes and their handlers, as well as the ruination of a number of athletic competitions, including pro cycling and baseball. It also resulted in a very soft ban on the entire Russian Olympic delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics last year.

Which brings us to this past weekend. This site noticed a couple of news items, one at Louisiana State and one at the University of Pennsylvania, which involved bribery and dealmaking in order to get student-athletes admitted to a particular college. Of course, given the cesspool of college athletics these days and the recent removal of Rick Pitino as head basketball coach at Louisville under sordid circumstances, this was to be expected.

But yesterday, there was an indictment involving non-student-athletes. In Boston, an indictment was unsealed in Federal court. The indictment names some 50 people indicted on charges of mail fraud and other types of corruptive conspiracies involving college admissions, including the facilitation of admission for student-athletes, many of whom would never have survived a few days’ worth of practice, much less a season.

In one situation outlined in the charging documents, one parent arranged for his daughter to apply to the University of Southern California with a fake athletic profile showing her as a good lacrosse player. The broker in the deal facilitated the payment of some $55,000 to the university, a sum of money that resulted in an IRS audit about a month after the last payment. The indictment is silent as to whether the student was ever admitted, but it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the student never got onto the lacrosse team, one of the top up-and-coming programs in the country.

Southern California is one of a number of schools which have been implicated in this scheme. Others include the University of San Diego, Yale, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, and UCLA.

A number of college coaches have been named in the indictment. Mind you, there aren’t any household names in the group like Pitino, but the majority of the coaches named do have a couple of things in common. One was the prevalence of the fraud amongst women’s sports. Also, these were sports like soccer and tennis, ones which student and local media, the general public, and the student body widely ignored, meaning that there would not be scrutiny.

In a couple of instances, the team mentioned is women’s rowing — a sport that has grown rapidly over the last 20 years because it is an expensive sport requiring an enormous investment in equipment and infrastructure, plus sizable rosters that can balance out the lavish spending afforded big-time college football teams.

But that’s not even the most damning part of the indictment. The eye-opener here is the background of the 35 people who engineered the acceptances of their children into these universities on a student-athlete pretense.

Though the media has been fixated on two Hollywood actresses, the rest of the defendants are people of wealth and privilege. There are several entrepreneurs, a couple of professional investors, equity fund managers, investment firm founders, real estate investors, and the co-chairman of a law firm. These are the 1% of American wealth, people who are very casual with other people’s money.

It kind of reminds you of the scandals involving rich and powerful parents who give millions of dollars to universities. Elizabeth Paige Laurie, an heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, was forced to give back a degree from the University of Southern California when it was proven that she bribed other people to write term papers for her. At the same time, the University of Missouri had put her name on an on-campus sports arena, an arrangement that was withdrawn after the scandal at USC.

And then, there was the story of Charles Kushner, who, after schmoozing with a part of U.S. Senators, gained an audience with the director of admissions at Harvard. That meeting, plus a donation of $2.5 million, resulted in the matriculation of a student that, according to the guidance counselor at his school, was not Harvard material.

That student, Jared Kushner, now has a top-secret security clearance and is married to the daughter of the President of the United States.

And so it goes.

March 12, 2019 — The national preseason Top 10

Hi, all.

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for our weekly look at the Top 10 girls’ scholastic lacrosse teams in the country. It’s an interesting time for being in the higher echelon of teams, since many will be meeting this coming weekend in Florida for a series of games against one another, but I think the regular season hinges on an early April game when Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) travels to Manhasset (N.Y.).

So, here’s our back-of-the-envelope look at what we think is going to happen by the end of the season, with last year’s won-loss records:

1. Delray American Heritage (Fla.) 23-1
2. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 21-1
3. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 18-2
4. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 17-4
5. Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) 19-2
6. Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 26-4
7, Manhasset (N.Y.) 18-1
8. Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 18-3
9. Moorestown (N.J.) 23-2
10. Upper Arlington (Ohio) 23-0

We’ll publish our weekly Top 10 when most of the country starts up, which is usually around the second week of April.

March 10, 2019 — The ragged edge of disaster, Part 2

For the second consecutive weekend, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team was taken into overtime by a Top 10 opponent.

Yesterday, it was Syracuse who battled and fought the Terrapins’ skilled attack before losing in double-overtime on a goal by junior Kali Hartshorn.

For all of Maryland’s championship heritage, the team has not found the going easy this season. And frankly, it shouldn’t, having graduated some of its all-time best players the last few seasons.

But with all of these close results the first three weeks of the 2019 season, a picture has emerged of the national Top 10, and we figured it would be just like it is now. Boston College as a clear No. 1, and throw a blanket over the next seven or eight teams because they are so equal.

Indeed, it is going to take increased emphasis on things like goalkeeping and draw controls to win close matches. But I’m also seeing a couple of new wrinkles when it comes to strategy with the new rules:

  1. Race to the endline. I’m seeing more and more defenses gaining possession off of opposing shots than ever before, whereas before, teammates could be counted on to back up an errant shot 95 times out of 100. Why is this? Free movement. Defenders can now slough back towards the endline to chase the ball and
  2. Set plays off the 8-meter. Also with free movement by the defense, you’re seeing shooters having to pull out of direct shot attempts because defenses now occupy the hashmarks immediately to the left and right of the attacker. And that’s what happened on the winning goal in the Maryland-Syracuse game; attacking midfielder Hannah Warther was on the right hashmark, but saw that Hartshorn was going to be wide open for a hi-lo pass, and the play worked.

I think these, along with the continuing epidemic of dangerous-shot cards, are going to be the trends to watch the rest of the year.

March 9, 2019 — The ragged edge of disaster, Part 1

It was pretty well known even before this morning’s 3-1 loss to New Zealand that the U.S. women’s national field hockey team was going to have its work cut out in order to advance to the last four of the FIH Hockey Pro League.

And with three defeats and a shootout loss to Argentina, the States are at the bottom of the table with a point out of four matches.

With a rebuilding team after losing the entire backbone of its team from Rio 2016, this was always going to be a work in progress. That work starts in earnest this week, as the States prepare for home matches against Belgium and Team GB at Lancaster before having four more home matches.

That leads into the final six matches of Pro League, where the Americans have five home games and can do themselves a world of good.

That is, if the Americans can get the full six points later this month.

March 8, 2019 — A matter of timing

Today is International Women’s Day.

And I find it interesting that the entire 28-member roster of the U.S. women’s national soccer team has joined a lawsuit accusing the United States Soccer Federation of long-term and systemic gender discrimination.

Interestingly, the U.S. men’s national team released a statement today joining with their sisters, the current World Cup holders, in support. One interesting sentence jumps out: “An equal division of revenue attributable to the MNT and WNT programs is our primary pursuit as we engage with the US Soccer Federation in collective bargaining.”

In other words, the men get it. They have seen the U.S. women having to play more matches to make less money, and to play in some substandard facilities with artificial grass rather than natural turf.

It’s as if though the cleat, such as it is, is on the other foot when it comes to gender inequity in sports. A lot of the profits made by the U.S. women fund the plurality of the operating budget for the USSF, and the Mia Hamms and Carli Lloyds of the world are tired of it.

And with just five friendlies to play before the Americans open up the defense of their World Cup in France this summer, I hope that the team has the full attention of the USSF.