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Sept. 20-22, 2019 — ADVISORY: The Final Third

This weekend, for the National High School Invitational, we will bring you coverage of several games in our whiparound style.

Please go on over to and watch our coverage on Facebook Live.

Sept. 20, 2019 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 3

The last couple of days, we’ve created some bite-sized analyses of games in the inaugural National High School Invitational in Conshohocken, Pa. We’re doing three “match windows” per day, so today is all about the late Saturday and Sunday games:

Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa). vs. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.): Both of these varsity teams have been bolstered by the play of several players from local club programs. Notre Dame has players from both the WC Eagles and XCalibur, while New Trier has a number of athletes who have trained with the Windy City club side.
Gambrills Arundel (Md.) vs. Greene (N.Y.): Greene hails from Section 4 in New York, which has won at least one state championship in field hockey 22 out of the last 30 years. Last year, Greene and Maine-Endwell (N.Y.) won state titles, and Greene beat M-E twice. Arundel is part of an Anne Arundel County region that has sent Pasadena Chesapeake (Md.), Severna Park (Md.), and Edgewater South River (Md.) to state championships.
Dexter (Mich.) vs. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.): Dexter has had a strong start to its season, winning its first six games by shutout before drawing Saline (Mich.) 1-1. Sacred Heart is the only scholastic field hockey team in the country with blue artificial turf; it is the team’s two-year-old water-based pitch.

10 a.m. SUNDAY
Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) vs. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.): Cape Henry won its first three matches of the season via shutout, including a 4-0 win over Yorktown Tabb (Va.). Sacred Heart won its first two matches by way of shutout, outscoring their opposition 15-0.
Blairstown Blair Academy (N.J.) vs. Clifford Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.): Blair Academy was founded in 1848 as a co-educational institution, but went all-boys from 1915 to 1970. Blair Academy has found mixed success in the NJISAA, but last year had its best won-loss record. Shenendehowa’s centralized school district was formed in 1950, and is the largest school district in Saratoga County.
Dexter (Mich.) vs. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.): A player to watch for Dexter is Abigail Tanner, who committed to Michigan while in her ninth-grade season. Lakeland’s players to watch are senior Jenna McCrudden and junior Emma Fon.
Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) vs. Garden City (N.Y.): It’s hard to know who to key on for Manual, as five players have at least three goals on the season. Garden City is having to retool after heavy graduation losses, but has won the Nassau County title (New York’s Section 8) 24 out of the last 25 seasons.
Owings Mills McDonogh School (Md.) vs. South Hamilton Pingree School (Mass.): Potential that showed in an opening-day 5-3 win over the legendary Severna Park (Md.) and a win over Sykesville Century (Md.) has ebbed a little with consecutive defeats to Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.). Pingree has had a strong start to its season with two consecutive shutouts.

Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) vs. Malvern Villa Maria Academy (Pa.): This should be an absolute doozy of a game to finish off this weekend’s games. Oak Knoll is now the No. 1 team in the land, and has an offensive juggernaut to match its excellence on the defensive end. Villa Maria, which has always had good attacking talent, is looking to right the ship after consecutive defeats to Flourtown Mount St. Joseph Academy (Pa.), Merion (Pa.) Mercy, and Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.).
Owings Mills Garrison Forest School (Md.) vs. Greenwich (Conn.) Academy (CT): One week ago, Garrison Forest beat an interstate prep-school team in Richmond St. Catherine’s (Va.). Its education has continued during this weekend’s games and concludes with Greenwich Academy before heading back into IAAM action in the week ahead.
Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) vs. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.): These are two more schools which better known for a sport other than field hockey. Germantown Academy has been one of the country’s strongest swimming schools in the last four decades, and Notre Dame Prep is a girls’ lacrosse powerhouse which cemented its place in history two years ago when it ended McDonogh’s 198-game lacrosse win streak.
Greene (N.Y.) vs. Mount Holly Rancocas Valley (N.J.): Greene has had a rough start to its 2019 season with a pair of early defeats, and is looking to mount a comeback against Rancocas Valley, which also has a pair of early defeats.

Sept. 19, 2019 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 2

Following up on yesterday’s blog entry, we’re giving you more micro-previews of games at the National High School Invitational, sorting by match window. Today, we’ll take a look at the six hours’ worth of competition mid-day Saturday:

11 a.m. SATURDAY
Hershey (Pa.) vs. Malvern Villa Maria Academy (Pa.): This ought to be a good one, since Hershey is your defending PIAA Class AAA champion and Villa Maria is coming off a stretch of seasons in which they won two titles in four years.
Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) vs. Winnetka New Trier (Ill.): A battle of two sitting state champions with similar styles of play: get on top early and dominate. It will be an interesting battle in the between Eastern attacker Ryleigh Heck and New Trier defender Hillary Cox.
Gambrills Arundel (Md.) vs. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.): 
Arundel may not have the history of some of the teams in Anne Arundel County such as Severna Park and South River, but the Wildcats achieved its first foray into its Class 4A region championship in 35 years. Arundel also has an enormous win this season over West Essex has won 18 NJSIAA state titles, including two out of the last three. The Knights have a 7-2 win over long-time state power Ocean City this year, and have a game later this year against Pottstown Hill School (Pa.).
Dexter (Mich.) vs. Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.): 
Dexter, the 2014 Division 2 state champions from Michigan, were in the running for the Division I title but lost by a goal to Saline (Mich.). Germantown Academy, the runners-up in last year’s PAISAA championship, lie in wait.

Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) vs. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.): Put two former members of the U.S. national team behind the benches, and what do you get? A meeting of two of the best private-school teams in the nation. Cape Henry is coached by former U.S. captain Kate (Barber) Kinnear, and the Dolphins are your defending VISAA Division 2 champions. Episcopal, coached by former U.S. national-teamer Gina Buggy, is the current champions of the PAISAA.
Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) vs. Garden City (N.Y.): Garden City is a team that has won seven state championships, and bracketed Lakeland’s run of nine consecutive titles. But just as impressively, Garden City once spun a 32-game string of games (both regular-season and tournament) in which the Trojans did not give up a goal. Both Garden City and Cox are sitting state champions, and this should be an excellent matchup. 
Louisville Assumption (Ky.) vs. Owings Mills Garrison Forest (Md.):
Both of these schools fell short of their 2018 tournament goals, as Assumption fell to Kentucky Country Day School in the KHSAA semifinals, while Garrison forest was stopped by rival Notre Dame Prep in the IAAM Class A final.
Greenwich (Conn.) Academy vs. Houston St. John’s (Tex.): Both of these schools, as mentioned yesterday, are as well known for their fields as well as their performance on them. Whether it’s GA’s turfed-over acreage behind the gym that stretches nearly three acres, or St. John’s water-based turf, both schools have invested a lot in their field hockey programs.
Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) vs. Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.): Both of these schools have had high-achieving teams in sports other than field hockey. Notre Dame Prep was the finest team in girls’ lacrosse in 2018, while Sacred Heart has been ranked in basketball and girls’ soccer. Oh, and SHA was the top team in field hockey in 2008.

Hershey (Pa.) vs. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.): It will be interesting to see how Hershey’s talismanic midfielder Maddie Zimmer controls play with the swiftness of Oak Knoll’s attack, which seemingly has multiple options depending on the situation.
Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) vs. Blairstown Blair Academy (N.J.): These two schools are, oddly enough, known for other sports than field hockey. The history of McDonogh on the lacrosse pitch is well-known, but Blair Academy has been an Eastern wrestling powerhouse, winning 31 National Prep Tournament championships in a row between 1981 and 2012.
Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) vs. South Hamilton Pingree School (Mass.): Both of these sides know what its like to be one game short of reaching their postseason tournament final, as Spalding lost 1-0 to Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) in IAAM “A”, and Pingree lost 2-1 to Boston Winsor School (Mass.) in NEPSAC “C.”
Biddeford (Maine) vs. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.): Biddeford comes into this weekend as a state champion. Oddly enough, Lakeland isn’t, but the Hornets have won nine titles in the previous nine years, the program has won 12 championships overall
Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) vs. Flemington Hunterdon Central (N.J.): Manual’s last major trophy was this year’s Apple Tournament, while Hunterdon Central’s last major piece of hardware was the 2016 Hunterdon-Warren-Sussex championship, the only New Jersey county tournament that covers three counties.
Langley (Va.) vs. Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.): Shenendehowa has won state championships in 2013 and 2016, and has shown incredible ability and firepower, shutting out its first five opponents of the season. Langley has already had a 5-0 win over Chantilly Westfield (Va.) to open the 2019 season, and spun two more clean sheets in their next two games.

Sept. 18, 2019 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 1

This weekend in Conshohocken, Pa., a scant five miles from where Constance Applebee coached field hockey and physical education as early as 1904, there will be a gathering of 36 high-level scholastic teams playing 41 matches over the course of three days.

I think the best way to break this all down is by looking at the schedule via the match window, where a number of games are scheduled to begin and end pretty much simultaneously; there are two windows of competition on Friday, five on Saturday, and two on Sunday.

Today, we’ll take a look at the games in the first three match windows:

5 p.m. FRIDAY
Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) vs. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox: A definite highlight of this weekend, and the Battle of the Dynasties. Cox held the National Federation record for most consecutive state titles when they won seven straight from 1985 to 1992. That is until a number of schools, including Eastern, broke through that mark. Eastern’s current state title streak is at an astounding 20.
Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) vs. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
This is a matchup of two excellent coaches and tacticians in Adele Williams and Jill Cosse. West Essex has won two of the last three New Jersey Group II championships, and Notre Dame has won two of the last three PAISAA championships for Pennsylvania independent schools.
Louisville Assumption (Ky.) vs. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.)
Assumption has won 10 state championships in field hockey, and is under the tutelage of Jody Schaefer, who was an assistant to Debbie Judd for a quarter-century. Episcopal Academy is your current PAISAA champion and is coached by legendary head coach Gina Buggy.
Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) vs. Louisville Sacred Heart Academy (Ky.)
This is another tilt between two state champions, as New Trier beat Lake Forest (Ill.) to win last year’s Illinois championship, while Sacred Heart topped Louisville Kentucky Country Day (Ky.) to win the KHSAA title.
Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) vs Houston St. John’s (Tex.)
Hill has been dominant in its league, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League, but has not yet won a PAISAA title. But the team has already gotten wins over both PAISAA finalists from a year ago. St. John’s is the alma mater of U.S. women’s goalie Kelsey Bing, and is one of the few schools to have a hockey-specific water-based turf.

7 p.m. FRIDAY
Owings Mills Garrison Forest (MD) vs. Fort Washington Germantown Academy (PA)
Garrison Forest is currently the top-ranked team in the greater Baltimore area, especially with their 4-1 win over Spalding. Germantown Academy made the finals of the PAISAA championship tournament, but will be hard-pressed to keep that level of form with the graduation of Sammy Popper (Princeton University).
Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) vs. Mount Holly Rancocas Valley (N.J.)
Spalding has graduated some immensely talented players over the last few years, including Louisville’s Margot Lawn and Maryland’s Kyler Greenwalt. Rancocas Valley’s team may not have the recent history or resume of some of its counterparts, but one alumna, Melanie Vasofski, was the last known NCAA Division III player to score an invite to a U.S. women’s national team camp.
Greenwich (Conn.) Academy vs. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.)

These are two legendary programs in terms of not only coaching, but, of all things, infrastructure named for their legendary coaches. A decade and a half ago, Greenwich Academy turfed over its entire back 2 1/2 acre ground and it became the model for all other private schools (and some public schools) to follow and named it after legendary coach Angela Tammaro, who won more than 700 games in field hockey. In recent years, Lower Dauphin moved its field hockey games to an intimate turf complex at the middle school, and named it after Bea Hallman and Linda Kreiser, the only field hockey coaches the school has ever known. Both rate as amongst the best places in America to watch a field hockey game.
Flemington Hunterdon Central (N.J.) vs. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)
Hunterdon Central won three NJSIAA Group IV championships in the mid-1990s and sent alumna Robyn Kenney to the U.S. women’s national field hockey team. McDonogh is school more known for lacrosse; it has won nine of the last 10 IAAM Class “A” women’s lacrosse titles and sent alumna Taylor Cummings to the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team.
Langley (Va.) vs. Collegeville Perkiomen Valley (Pa.)
With the move of some powerful Beach District teams from 6A to 5A this fall, Langley, a team which made the state Final Four in 6A without a senior, is suddenly a favorite to win this year’s state title. Perkiomen Valley has 12 seniors, a 23-3 record from a year ago, and some unfinished business in the postseason.

Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) vs. Louisville Assumption (Ky.)
Located just off Runway 29 at the Westchester County Airport, Sacred Heart has been the closest rival to Greenwich Academy in Fairchester Athletic Association play the last four decades. It was the Tigers who snapped GA’s 33-year postseason title streak in 2017. Assumption won the state championship two out of the first four times the postseason tournament was sanctioned by the KHSAA.
Biddeford (Maine) vs. Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.)
Biddeford is the Maine Principals’ Association Class A champions, and they had to beat all-time great Skowhegan (Maine) in the final to win its first state title since 1990. Manual is the first known magnet school to win a field hockey state championship; the school specializes in art, music, drama, and journalism.
South Hamilton Pingree School (Mass.) vs. Houston St. John’s (Tex.)
Pingree, in the last two seasons, has made the Final Four of NEPSAC Class C, a division for smaller New England college-prep schools. When the Tigers got to the semifinal round in 2017, it was the first time since 2011 that the team qualified. St. John’s has won five Southern Prep Conference postseason tournaments this decade, including three of the last four
Louisville Sacred Heart Academy (Ky.) vs. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.)
Sacred Heart is the host of the 47th Apple Tournament, which traditionally opens the U.S. scholastic season. But Heart is in an unusual position of not being the team holding the title. Hill is entering its 20th year as a coeducational institution, and its field hockey team may be the best it has ever put on the pitch.

Sept. 17, 2019 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 15

It was National Field Hockey Day last Saturday, and my goodness, what a series of important games. This included Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) winning its Garden State Firm match 4-1 over Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), Hershey (Pa.) beating Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.) by a goal, and a late 2-2 draw between Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) and Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.).

Many of the teams in our Top 10 are participating in the National High School Invitational this weekend, and it is certain to jumble teams like letter cubes in a game of Boggle.

Our No. 11 Team of the Week is Lehigh University, a team which started its season 2-0 for the first time since 2002. The team has 10 first-year undergrads who have given the team a sense of purpose and energy.

1. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 5-0
We’ve known for a decade and a half that the hallmark of Ali Good’s teams is good team and corner defense. But this year’s team has outscored the opposition 33-1. They have back-to-back games early this week against Clark A.I. Johnson (N.J.) and Montclair (N.J.) before meeting up with Hershey (Pa.) and Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.) at the National High School Invitational

2. Oley (Pa.) Valley 6-0
Sophia Gladieux (12 goals) and Sarah Beers (eight) form a great 1-2 punch for the Lynx

3. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 4-0
Falcons play Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) today before their matches at the National High School Invitational against Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Garden City (N.Y.)

4. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 3-1
Vikings have three consecutive road weekends, beginning with back-to-back matches against Virginia state champion Cox and Illinois state champion New Trier in the National High School Invitational

5. Emmaus (Pa.) 7-0
The only times the Hornets have been headed this year is a 5-3 win over state title contender Downington (Pa.) West

6. Gloucester (Va.) 5-0
Dukes have Suffolk Nansemond River (Va.) later this week

7. Delmar (Del.) 3-0
Wildcats’ lone game this week is a rescheduled tilt against Edgewater South River (Md.)

8. Somerset-Berkley (Mass.) 4-0
Cami Crook picked up two more assists in a 6-0 win over Cohasset in her personal march to 100 career assists

9T. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 3-0-1
Falcons got a goal on an untimed corner at the end of regulation to forge a 2-2 draw with Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.); the Falcons participate in the National High School Invitational this weekend against Greenwich (Conn.) Academy

9T. Millerstown Greenwood (Pa.) 6-0-1
Cori Davis had a brace for Greenwood in a 2-2 draw with Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.)

11. Lehigh University 2-1
The Mountain Hawks are looking to finish above .500 for the first time in the last 30 years

And bear in mind:  San Diego Serra (Calif.) 7-0, Westport Staples (Conn.) 0-0, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) 11-0, Louisville DuPont Manual (Ky.) 8-1-2, Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 6-0, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 5-0, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) 8-0, Palmyra (Pa.) 6-2, Hershey (Pa.) 5-2,  Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 3-1

Sept. 16, 2019 — A conflict, resolved?

Yesterday, the ACC Network, a new digital channel for the conference’s sports which is funded in partnership with ESPN, showed its fourth field hockey game of the season.

During a lull in the action, analyst Leah Secondo, who has been calling games since ACC was partnering with Raycom and Fox, came out with a bit of news.

She said that Erin Matson of North Carolina would be missing about three games with UNC when the U.S. women’s national team is traveling to India for the two-game qualifier against India.

In other words, no matter what the results of the friendlies later this month against Canada, Matson is going to be on the plane to Bhubaneswar.

Secondo also intimated that Duke undergraduate Margaux Paolino was also going to be missing action late in the ACC regular season as she and the rest of the Applebees prepare to play for an Olympic berth.

We discussed yesterday the “club vs. country” conflicts within international sport, and the fact that FIH doesn’t really have a hard-and-fast rule regarding the role an international coach has in terms of callups.

In world soccer, clubs are expected to release players for national team duty if the games are in a FIFA international match window. This includes World Cup and continental qualifiers and friendlies scheduled during those time periods.

In the U.S., it appears that the four undergraduate players who were on the roster for the 2019 Pan American Games — Matson, Paolino, Kelsey Bing, and Mackenzie Allessie — are going to be in the side for the matches at India.

That would tell us that NCAA coaches are heeding the need of the national team for the long-term gain in the sport. A loss in the qualifiers against India would mean an Olympic/Paralympic Committee funding cut for USA Field Hockey, which would be a detriment to the sport nationwide.

Sept. 15, 2019 — College vs. country

The U.S. womens’ national field hockey team, knowing its opponent (India) for the two-game all-or-nothing FIH Olympic qualifier series, has scheduled friendlies at Spooky Nook against Canada later this month.

The roster for these games is an expanded one, including a number of players who were not on the Pan American Games roster.

Mind you, this is to be expected, as the coaching staff would like to get a look at as many players as possible before the Nov. 1 and 2 matches at Bhubaneswar, India.

The thing is, the Olympic qualifiers take place two weeks before the start of the NCAA Division I Tournament — during the final week of conference fixtures and a week before conference tournament play.

This puts the four college players from the Pan-American Games — Mackenzie Allessie (Ohio State), Kelsey Bing (Stanford), Erin Matson (North Carolina), and Margaux Paolino (Duke) in a club-vs.-country situation not of their own making.

Now, in other sports, the world governing body usually has the foresight to schedule a major tournament in a window of time away from a domestic competition. That’s something FIBA failed to do with the 2019 World Cup, which was held just this month, a scant six weeks before the start of the NBA season.

That robbed the tournament of many American stars who skipped out on the World Cup tournament. An elite player participating in the World Cup, followed by the NBA preseason and regular season, followed by the playoffs, then the 2020 Olympics, could wind up playing as many as 130 games in 340 days.

FIH has had a number of conflicting tournaments that have affected the availability of players for NCAA competitions. Back in 1997, the Junior World Cup was held in early September, and coaches held out their college players for the tournament. As a result, the U.S. pretty much sent a high-school team to South Korea, and wound up finishing 12th and last.

FIH, in its infinite wisdom, scheduled its major qualifiers right in the middle of the U.S. domestic season — and, frankly, the domestic seasons of a number of other countries such as England and Australia, who also will now have some club vs. country conflicts.

In a 120-minute tournament where the U.S. cannot afford to finish second-best, it is an open question what the U.S. roster will look like. Will the roster be made completely of post-grad players? Can the States afford to be without four of its key players?

Let’s remind you that Paolino and Matson were the only two U.S. players to score goals in the 2018 World Cup, that Kelsey Bing was the Player of the Match in more than one FIH Pro League fixture, and that Allessie has scored more goals at the scholastic level than anyone else.

I have a feeling, given the way the schedule falls, that these four will be called in for the qualifiers, but only days before they occur. Though the resulting team won’t have trained together for long, the collegians will be top form, having trained with their teams since August.

That being said, the players that head coach Janneke Schopmann have brought in may yet yield a gem or two who could figure into future Olympic plans.