TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Oct. 1, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 29

Heading into a week of derby matches as well as this weekend’s meeting of four sitting state champions in South Jersey, our Top 10 holds pretty much steady, but we’re expecting some movement in the next few weeks as the season ends for our southernmost teams at the end of this month.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Vassar College. The Brewers are 9-0 on the season, after beating Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 3-1 in its Liberty League opener last weekend.

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 12-0
Oak Knoll keeps on impressing against non-state competition, dominating Mamaroneck (N.Y.) last weekend 5-0. They’ll need more of that when the Royals take on Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) this Saturday morning at McAleer Stadium in Voorhees, N.J.

2. Oley (Pa.) Valley 11-0
Oley has Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.) and a good Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.) side later this week

3. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 9-1
Last week’s 13-1 win over Downingtown (Pa.) West — yep, the 2017 PIAA runner-up in Class AAA — is a major “uh-oh” for every other team on the Vikings’ schedule. This weekend, the Express will face Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

4. Emmaus (Pa.) 14-0
The Hornets have a noon showdown this Saturday against Swiftwater Pocono Mountain East (Pa.)

5. Gloucester (Va.) 6-0
Dukes have not allowed a goal this season and have Hampton Bethel (Va.) and Mechanicsville Atlee (Va.) this week

6. Delmar (Del.) 6-0
The Wildcats have also not let in a goal this season and sent a message across the Diamond State with a 4-0 shutout of Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.)

7. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 10-0
The Raiders have outscored their opponents 101-2 this season

8. West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 11-0
Bulldogs got 1-0 wins over Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.) and Manheim (Pa.) Township last week

9. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 12-0-2
After winning the Falcon Classic, Linda Kreiser’s squad draws Hershey tomorrow in yet another Rt. 422 derby match

10T. Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 9-0-2
Greenwood got a win over Susquenita (Pa.) and face Newport (Pa.) for what is likely to be the division championship this Thursday

10T. Newport (Pa.) 8-1-1
Buffaloes are looking for a second go-round with Greenwood after the drawn match only a few weeks ago

11. Vassar College 9-0
Grace Amell, Stephanie Palma, and Sam Kass lead Vassar in scoring with four goals apiece

Who’s out? Greenwich Academy (Conn.) 1-1 draw with Lakeville Hotchkiss School (Conn.)

And bear in mind:  San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 10-1, Darien (Conn.) 6-0, Newtown (Conn.) 7-0, Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 8-0-2, Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) 12-2-4, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 14-4, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 9-0, Hershey (Pa.) 11-3,  Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 6-1

Sept. 30, 2019 — The same cloth

Yesterday afternoon, about five minutes apart, a pair of collegiate players scored masterful goals in the run of play.

A player in a game in Indiana ducked around three players, freed her stick by stepping away from the ball, and fired past a fourth defender and the goalkeeper, finding the far corner. About 1,200 miles away in suburban Boston, another player was on a snowbird after a failed opposition corner, overlapping on the left wing. She dove at the ball, hit it with her backhand, and the ball sailed into the mesh.

But the goals turned out differently. The first goal, by Mackenzie Allessie, counted in Ohio State’s 6-2 win over Indiana. The second, by Kayla Walker of St. Joseph’s University, was overturned on a video referral for goalie interference.

Aside from these two events occurring within minutes of each other, they had something in common: the alma mater of the two players.

In the first autumn after Jessica Rose Shellenberger stepped away from coaching at Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), her influence is seemingly everywhere.

Remember last weekend at the National High School Invitational, where Langley (Va.) played even-up with Collegeville Perkiomen Valley (Pa.) and Cliftom Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.) for some 142 minutes? The coach of the Langley Saxons is none other than Katie Robinson, Donegal Class of 2010, and a former member of the United States U-19 national team.

Shellenberger did a lot for the town of Mount Joy and for field hockey in America over a decade and a half. But she’s still coaching in the Lancaster Youth Field Hockey League, teaching game play and fundamentals to dozens of youngsters in the shadows of Spooky Nook.

Somehow, I envision a number of good thinking players who are capable of outsized performances under pressure situations. Well, as long as the pesky referral system isn’t around …

Sept. 29, 2019 — The Final Third

Hi, everyone. Join us at noon on our Facebook Live page for whiparound coverage of NCAA field hockey from all three divisions, including a Top 10 matchup in Division I. We’ll have seven games at once for you, so tune in shortly before noon.

Sept. 28, 2019 — Indisputable influence

Yesterday’s Statwatch showed a player named Jordan Carr from Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.), who was tied for second place in goals scored (from available sources) with 30 on the season.

Yesterday afternoon, she rang up five goals on Manchester (N.J.) in a 6-0 win. And I’m not so sure these events aren’t somehow related.

I don’t know whether people in Point Pleasant, a seaside resort about eight miles south of Asbury Park (the place where Bruce Springsteen got his start) read this site with the same kind of relish that political types will read The Political Pulse, or NFL fans read Pro Football Weekly.

But what I do know is that folks tend to read this site, and sometimes, react to its contents.

The first time I saw how much influence I had was when the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a preview of the 2003 Eastern vs. Emmaus field hockey game, written by a woman who went to my college and is now a journalism professor in Illinois.

That same day, there were two-peg banners flying over the parking lot adjoining McAleer Stadium proclaiming “Field Hockey No. 1 In The Nation.”

I try to take my role as Founder of this site seriously. It’s easy for someone behind a keyboard, behind a tape recorder, behind a camera to develop a kind of “God Complex,” where someone thinks they have an inflated sense of infallibility, purpose, or privilege. I have seen quite a few people with this kind of mentality in a number of situations in my adult life. And that includes this site.

Instead of lording over the field hockey and lacrosse, I just try to nudge these sports in a positive direction, getting teams and individuals to play well, play fair, and, above all, not worry what other people think.

I hope that, years from now, that’s what they’ll remember about this small corner of cyberspace.

Sept. 27, 2019 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 25

Hi, all.

Welcome to the start of our weekly Friday Statwatch feature, a look at the numbers that define the sport of field hockey through the years.

We have a site-specific classification reserved for a special group of players: those who have reached triple digits in both goals and assists. This past Saturday, Lucas Crook, a senior for Somerset-Berkley (Mass.), reached the 100-100 mark. He is the ninth known player in the 100-100 Club, and the first male player:

G-A Name School ST Year
148-135* Chantae Miller Williamsville North NY 2003-2008
126-117 Chantae Miller Williamsville North NY 2005-2008
114-108 Alyssa Parker Glenelg MD 2008-2011
200-201 Haley Schleicher Virginia Beach First Colonial Va. 2012-2015
217-134 Meredith Sholder Emmaus PA 2013-2016
351-136 Mackenzie Allessie Mount Joy Donegal PA 2015-2018
104-104 Leah Crouse Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox VA 2014-2017
106-107 Gabby Andretta Summit Oak Knoll NJ 2014-2017
141-103 Emma DeBerdine Millersville Penn Manor PA 2015-2018
104-100 Lucas Crook Somerset-Berkley MA 2016-2019

*– six-year varsity numbers

As it turns out, Lucas’ sister, Cami Crook, also crossed the 100-assist barrier this season, which makes it the first time two players from the same family have ever breached the 100-assist barrier.

This year, we’re really going to have to work in the shoe leather and work the phones in order to get good statistics for field hockey, since a newspaper conglomarate with a reach of about 40 percent of field hockey teams in the United States has decided not to keep automated statistics this season. This first week’s list is going to be plumb awful, but we hope that the numbers get better over the course of the season.

This is why I encourage you to start entering your team’s stats through the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com website. 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.

What you see below is a sub-optimal compilation from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, PhilaFieldHockey.com, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Denver Post.

GOALS
31 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
30 Jordan Carr, Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.)
30 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

30 Lily Santi, West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.)
26 Elizabeth Agatucci, East Chapel Hill (N.C.)
26 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
25 Lauren Wadas, Palmyra (Pa.)

24 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
24 Kate Herlihy, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)

23 Liz Mazzella, Emmaus (Pa.)
23 Lilly Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)

22 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
22 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

22 Jacey Wittel, Swiftwater Pocono Mountain East (Pa.)
21 Molly Reed, East Chapel Hill (N.C.)
20 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

20 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)

ASSISTS
18 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
16 Callie Hummel, Ballwin Parkway West (Pa.)
16 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
13 Embry Jane Imorde, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.)
13 Lilly Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)

12 Izzy Zaleski, Lewisburg (Pa.)
12 Jenna McCrudden, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
12 Mia Simpson, St. Louis Lafayette (Mo.)
12 Gigi Edwards, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
12 Carly Hynd, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)

11 Suzy Keefer, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
11 Annika Kerbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
11 Anna Gwiazdzinski, Souderton (Pa.)

11 Reagan Underwood, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
162 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
156* Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
105 Bridget Murphy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
104 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
*–injured

CAREER ASSISTS
103 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
100 Lucas Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)

GAMES UNDEFEATED
105 Los Gatos (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
48 Delmar (Del.)
44 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)

Given the shrinking number of sources we have, this list is anything but perfect. And here is where you come in. If you see something missing, 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 do better next week.

Sept. 26, 2019 — A compilation of many influences

Last weekend, this site spent three days at the National High School Invitational, live-streaming with whiparound coverage of as many as three games as we witnessed them from the upper lounge at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa.

I’m not the best broadcast journalist. I’m just a writer and blogger who occasionally does video features like The Final Third.

I like to think I’m a throwback to when newspaper reporters were first brought into the new media called “wireless.” The first sports broadcaster on radio was a journalist who reported what was going on at a baseball game through a teletype machine on KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pa. Instead of watching the actual game, he was reading a paper tape.

I’ve watched a lot of sports television in my lifetime. I’d like to think I’ve taken little bits from several people I’ve seen over the years:

Martin Tyler: The great English soccer announcer likes to let the action come to him with an economy of words instead of the rat-a-tat pace of most announcers who were trained in radio.

Mike Emrick: The hockey announcer has an enormous vocabulary when it comes to the action. A simple pass can be “pitchforked,” “scaled,” “slipped,” “feathered,” or “skimmed,” depending on the situation.

Pablo Ramirez: The soccer announcer gave us the word “golazo” years ago, and whenever someone scores a goal borne of exceptional skill or teamwork, I’ll use the term like I did when Beth Yeager scored a 15.9-yard backhand laser in Sacred Heart Greenwich’s win over Dexter.

Verne Lundquist: Whenever a player or team makes a physical or mental error, the former SEC on CBS play-by-play man never got on a player personally for the mistake, but would show empathy — especially the time when Jackie Smith dropped a pass in the end zone that could have won Super Bowl XIII for Dallas.

Scott Hanson: The announcer for NFL Red Zone is somehow able to juggle seven or sometimes eight games’ worth of action simultaneously, and it’s awesome.

I also seem to have picked up on cable news, in which everything seems to be an “alert.” The phrase “penalty corner alert” seems to be my go-to whenever a team earns the short-corner play.

But at the end of it all, I’ll add a grace note from the late Philadelphia Flyers announcer Gene Hart, who ended his broadcasts with the same four words: “Good night, good hockey.”

Sept. 25, 2019 — A different emphasis

The decade of the 2010s is not only going to be dotted with stories of record-breaking performers in scholastic field hockey, but of individual students opting out.

While there have been players who have decided to train full-time with club teams or the U.S. women’s national team while attending their high school, there have been players who have trained while being home-schooled.

Meet Ashley and Bethany Dykema, siblings from the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. They played for the Saints club team from Virginia while being home-schooled, and both are playing for Division I Liberty University.