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Archive for Field hockey

March 5, 2021 — Not a law yet

Yesterday, I was tuning into a pair of Virginia High School League games, and both played out very much alike when it came to the result.

These were two derby matches — Yorktown Grafton (Va.) vs. Yorktown Tabb (Va.), and Fredericksburg Stafford (Va.) vs. Stafford North Stafford (Va.). They unfolded about the same way, in that one team seemingly had an athletic and territorial advantage over the other, but the goalkeepers of the teams which were on the back foot were making a number of amazing saves to keep their opponents off the board.

Now, in my observations on scholastic field hockey over the years, I have posited that it takes longer for defenses to jell over the course of a season than offenses. But we haven’t codified this in one of our laws of field hockey (which you can read here). I think one reason why is that goalkeepers in the modern game have become so much better at not only shot-stopping, but taking control of the striking circle. I think this goes double in this Fall 2 field hockey season, as a number of players starting this week have just come off of the National Indoor Tournament, and goalies, especially, are in prime shape.

As it happens, Tabb beat Grafton by a 4-0 count, and Stafford took care of North Stafford 7-0. But I want to give the Grafton and North Stafford goalkeepers a shout-out because of their ability to frustrate their high-caliber opposition.

March 2, 2021 — Top 10 field hockey teams for games played through Feb. 28

With the start of spring field hockey this past week in California, followed by play in up to six other states, we start seeing some action amongst our Top 10 field hockey teams. There are also going to be a number of crucial matches on both coasts in the first half of March, so we’ll see who comes out ahead when our next rankings come out the first Tuesday in April. i

Our RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Month is St. Louis University. The Billikens were a program shattered when former coach Maria Whitehead died 14 years ago. But lo, the team has won its first three games, giving them confidence for when they hit the heart of their Atlantic 10 schedule later this month. Head coach Zoe Adkins, the British Columbia native, has gotten the team playing well.

1. Delmar (Del.) 15-0
Season complete: Wildcats beat Bear Caravel Academy (Del.) 4-1 to win their fifth consecutive state championship. The stateliners yielded exactly two goals during the season whilst crafting a number of artful goals on the attack end

2. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 14-0
Season complete: Vikings got by Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.Y.) 9-0 to win NJSIAA Southwest D sectional championship

3. Emmaus (Pa.) 11-0
Season complete: Solid team effort gave the Hornets a 4-0 state championship win against Harrisburg Central Dauphin in the PIAA AAA final

4. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 14-0-1
Season complete: Beat Summit Kent Place (N.J.) 3-0 in NJSIAA Central-East E sectional final

5. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 17-0
Season complete: Beat Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 3-0 to win PIAA Class A final

6. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 0-0
Season complete:
 Sacred Heart has finished its playdays and did not have a timed, scored, and umpired game during the open week of competition in November

7. St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) 14-0
Season complete: 
Won Midwest Field Hockey Association championship with a 1-0 overtime win over St. Louis John Burroughs (Mo.) on a backhand golazo by Taryn Tkachuk

8. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 0-0
Falcons open the season with Virginia Beach Ocean Lakes (Va.), then have Virginia Beach Kempsville (Va.) on Thursday; the March 11th match against First Colonial may be the fulcrum on which the entire season balances

9. San Diego Serra (Calif.) 0-0
The Conquistadores travel to San Diego Bishop’s School (Calif.) tomorrow, before Friday’s home tilt against Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.)

10. Cohasset (Mass.) 13-0
Season complete: Dominated all comers in the South Shore League; it’s an open question how they would have done in the MIAA state tournament bracket

11. St. Louis University 3-0
Season complete: Billikens have not conceded a goal this season, but a two-game set against Miami will test their resolve

And bear in mind:  San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 0-0, Glastonbury (Conn.) 14-0, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 0-0, Longmeadow (Mass.) 6-0, Walpole (Mass.) 8-0-1, Franklin (Mass.) 11-0-2, Andover (Mass.) 6-0, Dexter (Mich.) 16-0-1, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 12-0-1, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 13-1, Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) 12-0, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 7-1, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 18-3, Palmyra (Pa.) 15-2, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.) 16-2, Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 6-0, East Greenwich (R.I.) 9-0, Langley (Va.) 0-0, Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) 0-0

March 1, 2021 — The field hockey season opens in Los Angeles — for only two days

Remember this?

Well, late last week, a judge in Vista, Calif. ruled that youth sports, including high-school sports, could resume in the CIF San Diego Section “as long as the(y) follow the same or similar COVID-19 protocols imposed for competition in professional and/or collegiate sports,” according to text of the order.

This puts San Diego County on par with field hockey and lacrosse teams in most of the Bay Area and in greater Los Angeles, some of whom are already having varsity matches.

This brings up a Kafka-esque situation for Los Angeles County. Last Friday, for example, Huntington Beach (Calif.) took on Newport Beach (Calif.) in the season-opener for both teams. However, the reopening of the sports calendar in California does not allow the CIF Southern Section to extend the field hockey season, which was scheduled to be on Saturday.

A two-day season? Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Feb. 28, 2021 — The Final Third, Remix Edition

Please join us shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern time for whiparound coverage on what we call The Final Third. We may be found here; make sure you give us a like and share when you find us.

Today, in a year like no other, we’ll be doing something we’ve never done before: provide coverage of two different sports at the same time.

This could be real interesting or an absolute trainwreck. Join us, would you?

Feb. 26, 2021 — One more time, together

The end of the domestic indoor field hockey season comes this weekend with USA Field Hockey national tournament being held in Richmond and at Spooky Nook. While the Nook will be holding tournaments for U-10 and U-12 divisions, the Richmond Convention Center will be holding the U-19 championship, which will see many of the best scholastic field hockey players in the U.S.

Chief among them is the constellation of players on the U-19 WC Eagles Diamonds team, which is the favorite in Pool A. The team includes the two leading goal-scorers from the fall scholastic season, Hope Rose (90) and Ryleigh Heck (76) as well as the the player with the third-most goals amongst active scorers, Annika Herbine (141).

Also of note are Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) players Kelly Smith, Ashley Sessa, and Macy Szukics, as well as Mount St. Joseph Academy (Pa.), U.S.junior indoor national team member Megan Maransky, and future Duke player Alaina McVeigh, late of Gwynedd-Mercy Academy.

Look out also for a couple of great stories on the roster, neither of whom played a single varsity match last fall. The skilled Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) standout Elizabeth Yeager did not play because of the shutdown of New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Council play. Instead, SHA played a series of friendlies and playdays last fall. Also, watch out for goalkeeper Kylie Walbert, whose high school, Ashburn Virginia Academy (Va.) does not have a varsity field hockey program.

Collectively, this team may be the single best indoor field hockey side at a National Indoor Tournament since the Thoroughbreds team from the 1998 tournament, which had the likes of Abbey Woolley and Abby Martin as part of a group which had every single player sign with a Division I college.

The regrettable thing is that COVID-19 and restrictions on crowds will deprive many folks from watching this team and the others participating in these tournaments. Here’s hoping that this won’t be the case next winter.

Feb. 24, 2021 — Californius interruptus

Yesterday, updated numbers were published by the California Department of Health, delineating the adjusted case rate for COVID-19 for the purpose of allowing many high-school sports to start as early as this Friday in the Golden State.

Not every county with a field hockey or lacrosse program made the cut, however. Chief amongst the counties that fell short is San Diego County, one of the great incubators of scholastic field hockey talent in America. The county had slightly more than 15 new cases for every 100,000 citizens, meaning that, while practices can continue, actual games cannot be played until Feb. 5th at the earliest.

Also falling short is Monterey County, which has a significant portion of the Pacific Coast Athletic League. Schools like Salinas (Calif.) and North Salinas (Calif.) are going to have to wait until the county’s adjusted rate goes below its current figure of 18.2 per 100,000.

Now, the failure of some counties to meet the standard is not going to affect girls’ lacrosse, yet. Games aren’t scheduled for California schools for several weeks yet, and the numbers are, thankfully, trending downward.

We’ll keep an eye on those metrics.

Feb. 21, 2021 — Bolstering the middle, by degrees

This week, it was announced that Maryville University, a small university located just outside of the circular highway enveloping the St. Louis metropolitan area, was going to start offering varsity field hockey at the NCAA Division II level beginning in the fall of 2022.

The new field hockey program is the latest in a number of changes made to the map of collegiate field hockey in the Midwest. In the last decade, have seen plans made by Bellarmine to move to Division I, the start of field hockey at Lindenwood, Rhodes, and Hendrix, and the regrettable dropping of the sport by Missouri State.

“Field hockey is the latest in our ongoing efforts to increase opportunities for female student-athletes,” Maryville athletic director Lonnie Folks said in a prepared statement. “The sport has a large presence in the St. Louis area, and Maryville is responding to the interest by local high school student-athletes in playing at the collegiate level.”

While Maryville is just the second Great Lakes Valley Conference team playing field hockey, it does create an instant rivalry with Lindenwood, which plays in nearby St. Charles.

One of the knocks on field hockey development since the 1982 recession is the number of teams from the center of the country to drop the sport, never to return. This includes big-time athletic schools like Minnesota and Kansas, and mid-majors like Dayton, Valparaiso and Toledo. But what was really disheartening is the number of schools in Missouri to drop the sport, like the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State, Central Missouri, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Hopefully, Maryville’s addition can help in reversing this long-term trend coming out of the COVID-19 contagion and the effect it is having on college sports.

Feb. 20, 2021 — What the California decree means, and what it doesn’t

Yesterday, California governor Gavin Newsom issued updated guidelines for youth and some adult sports for the state, all of which fall under state and local health department guidelines as to the number and frequency of positive cases.

The changes go in a positive direction when it comes to the restart of CIF athletics, which were supposed to have started a month ago for fall teams which have seen their original schedules postponed, then postponed again because of December’s update in the face of a rapid spread of COVID-19 cases, especially in the three areas where field hockey is played — the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

For the purposes of this blog, we’re focusing on girls’ lacrosse and field hockey, which are red-tiered activities, meaning that these are outdoor sports with moderate contact. These sports and others may be played with a number of caveats and requirements. The first and most important condition is that the county in which the school is present must have had a positive COVID rate of under 14 per 100,000 people. As of yesterday, only 19 out of 58 California counties meet that standard.

However, we’ll know more on Tuesday, when new numbers on countywide COVID-19 testing rates are revealed. It is possible that, given a substantial lowering of coronavirus numbers in the last six weeks, that high-school sports may start up in many more counties as soon as this Friday.

Once games start up, there will be a handful of changes. While players won’t be wearing masks on the pitch, they will be required on the sidelines and in the stands for spectators.

In addition, the COVID-19 rules allow only very limited competition amongst teams from other parts of the state. Teams cannot cross a county border to play another team unless that county’s schools are in the permissible level of positive Coronavirus cases, and out-of-state competition is prohibited.

Moreover, multi-team tournaments are prohibited, and teams are not allowed to play more than one contest in a day, which effectively cancels the 2020 Serra Invitational, one of the longest running in-season field hockey tournaments in the country.

There is one other proviso for play, however. As is the case in at least one other location, parents are being asked to sign consent forms in order to allow their children to play.

One interesting wrinkle to this situation is this proviso: once a county shows a positivity rate of under 14 per 100,000 residents, and a team starts its season, that season is not required to be interrupted or cancelled if the positivity rate goes higher than that threshold.

So, I guess we’ll be waiting until Tuesday to see who gets to play high-school sports, and where.

Feb. 19, 2021 — Monthly field hockey Statwatch for games played through Dec. 19

Well, about that Fall 2 season … turns out that nobody has started playing games yet. This especially goes for California, which is still seeing a high COVID transmission rate, meaning that all that is happening is that teams are starting to practice. Hopefully, we’ll have some scholastic field hockey games with statistics to add to what is below.

We bring to you our usual gumbo of American scholastic field hockey statistics from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media. Once we get information from the upcoming Fall 2 and Spring field hockey seasons in six states, we’ll be adding those figures to these.

We have a true affinity for 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
90 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
74 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
49 Olivia Fraticelli, Toms River (N.J.) North
47 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
37 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.)
37 Courtney Farren, Woodbury Heights Gateway (N.J.)
34 Alaina McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwenedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
34 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
33 Kierra Ettere, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
33 Rylie Wollerson, Gibsonia Pine-Richland (Pa.)
33 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
32 Julianne Kopec, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic
32 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
32 Brynn Crouse, Dillsburg Northern York (Pa.)
32 Marita Johnson, Hudson (Ohio)
31 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
30 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
30 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)

ASSISTS
35 Dylan Breier, Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.)
28 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
28 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
27 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
25 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
25 Gianna Puorro, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
23 Grace Hughes, Oletangy Liberty (Ohio)
22 Kayla Kiwak, Exeter Wyoming Area (Pa.)
21 Alexis Kociban, Emmaus (Pa.)
21 Maddie Epke, Guilford (Conn.)
21 Kathrine McLean, Glen Gardner Voorhees (N.J.)
20 Carli Servis, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
233 Hope Rose, Harrisburg Central Dauphin (Pa.)
198 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
141 Ava Borkowski, Plymouth-Whitemarsh (Pa.)
141 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
135 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
131 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
115 Courtney Farren, Woodbury Heights Gateway (N.J.)
108** Elizabeth Yeager, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.)
105 Abby Hartwell, Franklinville Delsea (N.J.)
102 Kate Herlihy, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
102 Alaina McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
**–five-year total

CAREER ASSISTS
132 Cami Crook, Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
110 Annika Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
91 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

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

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
77 Delmar (Del.)
58 North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)
44 Richmond Trinity Episcopal (Va.)
42 Somerset-Berkley (Mass.)
41 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

This is where you all can help. If you see a figure or total that needs an addition or correction, 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 dropping in, and we expect to have some (hopefully) post-pandemic field hockey statistical action next month.

Feb. 16, 2021 — Could The First State have the first HBCU with field hockey?

In 1918, a college prep school in Dover, Del. named the Wilmington Conference Academy extended itself into conferring two-year degrees, calling itself the Wesley Collegiate Institute. Six decades later, as Wesley College, the school offered its first four-year degrees.

With many small colleges hitting financial difficulties since the start of the 2008 financial collapse, plus COVID-19, Wesley College had announced plans to seek either a sale or merger by 2021. It had been announced in the summer of 2020 that Wesley, a Methodist school, would be acquired by Delaware State University, a historically Black college which has been around since 1891.

The merger allows Delaware State to acquire all of Wesley College’s buildings in the greater Dover area. In addition, Wesley students are reportedly being offered the option to transfer to Delaware State to complete their degrees.

Yesterday, one of the first signs of the merger was announced, and that was the complete shutdown of all sports at Wesley. This goes for nine women’s sports teams and eight men’s, and that shutdown is effective at the end of the year.

But the merger of the schools allows an opportunity for Delaware State to absorb Wesley’s athletics programs. This includes golf, lacrosse, and a field hockey team with a strong history in Division III. Over the last 25 years, head coach Tracey Short has done remarkable work. The Wolverines have made the NCAA Tournament on three occasions, and barely missed out on a fourth in 2018. On that occasion, the team won the Atlantic East postseason tournament, but finished with a record of 9-10. The team was put in the Pool B teams for the NCAA Division III Tournament Committee for a possible selection to the main bracket, but the Wolverines were not selected.

Question is, will the athletics program at Wesley — a Division III school — be fully absorbed into Delaware State, a Division I school that won’t have any competitors in its usual conference, the MEAC?

I think there is an opportunity here. It would take some effort from administrators, some donors, and the coaching staff in order to make a transition to the D-1 level, but I can see Del State becoming the first HBCU to field a fully-funded varsity field hockey program in the Title IX era.

How? First of all, Delaware is a hotbed for the game of field hockey. The finest scholastic team in the country last fall plays its hockey 50 miles due south on the border with Maryland, and the state has sent some key players go to Division I college, the U.S. women’s national team pool, and the Olympics.

Second, the acquisition of Wesley College by Del State means the acquisition of a football facility on the Wesley West campus — a prime opportunity to redevelop this pitch, or the original Del State stadium, into water-based hockey turf.

Finally, I think the incoming players from Delaware schools to a Delaware State team are likely to be the kinds of people who are more likely to want to participate in such an exciting and groundbreaking project. Field hockey players in Delaware go to a number of specialized schools — Roman Catholic, Christian, prep, charter, STEM, and military schools are part of the educational landscape of the First State. I therefore think the players who might choose to play field hockey at the merged Delaware State University are the kinds of people who don’t worry about the identity of their particular school. All they want to do is win.

I hope this opportunity to add diversity, equity, and inclusion to the sport in America is acted upon and given a chance to grow, unlike so many such efforts of the past.