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Archive for Field hockey

Apr. 24, 2017 — An unusual announcement

There was a dispatch written in yesterday about a male field hockey player making a commitment to a Division I college.

There have been occasions, especially in light-contact sports such as basketball, when male practice players have been brought in to provide competition for a women’s athletic team on campus. Many Division I women’s basketball teams have gotten better by playing against men during practice sessions, getting used to a different level of speed and strength.

Field hockey clubs near college teams are often invited to play friendlies, to show different skill levels, and to generally swap bits of knowledge about the game to get better.

But for Christian DeAngelis, the Doylestown Central Bucks West (Pa.) senior, his path is much different from the one that David Schmoyer took a quarter of a century ago. Schmoyer also played for C.B. West before taking his talents to the U.S. men’s national team in the early 2000s.

Back then, the role of men in developing women’s athletic teams was receiving a certain amount of scrutiny because of their widespread use in basketball. There was a movement in 2007 to ban the practice, but instead the language was clarified as to eligibility and benefits.

I’m surprised that, with the seemingly annual controversies about boys playing field hockey in high school on girls’ teams, that some university hadn’t decided on assembling a formal scrimmage team before now.

Might this be the start? Stay tuned.

Apr. 19, 2017 — Seeking new partners

Since the United States Field Hockey Association partnered with the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women to host a national collegiate championship in 1975, the field hockey Final Four has been a movable feast. The tournament used to range from Princeton, N.J. to Chico, Calif., though more recently, the national semifinals and finals have settled into a somewhat predictable group of sites.

And the tournament has almost invariably been held on a college campus.

Yesterday’s announcement of more than 600 NCAA tournament sites in 84 sports may have made news because of the partial repeal of HB2 in the State of North Carolina, but deep in the agate for tournament sites was a two-year period for Division III field hockey that had a new and unusual name attached to it.

The name is Spooky Nook.

The Home of Hockey, which opened in 2013, has been the home training ground for the U.S. women’s national team for nine months out of the year as well as the site of maybe four collegiate games and a handful of international matches.

Aside from these and USFHA events, however, the two turfs at the Nook lay fallow. But beginning in the fall of 2018, the best of the non-scholarship NCAA field hockey teams will meet there to crown a champion.

It is the first time that the NCAA has hosted its championship at a facility operated by the national governing body of the sport. It’s also the first time a national field hockey championship has been played away from a college campus since the Division II festival in Pensacola, Fla., in 2006. That year, the field hockey championship was held at Ashton Brosnaham Park, a soccer and softball complex.

It’s an interesting development, one which does little to dispel the notion that history tends to repeat itself between the worlds of lacrosse and field hockey in the United States. Women’s lacrosse, this spring, is playing its NCAA Division I semifinals and final at a site not owned by a college or university: Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots football team.

The Division III tournament also has another interesting future home: in the fall of 2021, the site will be Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

The people running Division II women’s lacrosse have a similar kind of geographic notion in bringing the tournament to unconventional sites. In 2019, the tournament will be held in Allendale, Mich., home of Grand Valley State University. And in the spring of 2020 and 2022, the tournament semifinals and final will be held in St. Charles, Mo., at Lindenwood University.

In comparison, the Division I women’s lacrosse committee seems to love holding its tournament in Maryland. After the previously announced 2018 tournament at Stony Brook University, the tournament will spend three out of the next four years at Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University. The lone interruption is a short detour up Charles Street to Towson University for the spring of 2021.

The next five years in field hockey sees Louisville hosting the Division I and III tournament in 2017, but only the Division I Final Four returns for 2018, followed by appearances at Wake Forest, Old Dominion, and Michigan.

In Division II field hockey, Millersville also gets two future tournaments in 2019 and 2021, with Bloomsburg in 2020. But in 2018, the Division II tournament will be part of a Division II festival centered in Pittsburgh. While the host of the field hockey tournament will be Slippery Rock, it’s unknown whether the campus, a mere 55 miles due north of the Steel City, will be the site of competition.

The hosting opportunity for Slippery Rock is an enormous boost for a program which was on the chopping block 11 years ago.

Apr. 17, 2017 — Pulling a dandelion

Today in a court in Polk County, Iowa, opening arguments take place in the lawsuit filed by former senior University of Iowa senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer are scheduled to take place.

Meyer’s lawsuit is over her termination in the wake of the firing of field hockey coach Tracey Greisbaum only days before the start of the 2014 season.

The witness list in this trial is going to include a number of prominent figures in University of Iowa athletics, including Iowa athletic director Gary Barta. His role in the Greisbaum firing is going to receive the greatest scrutiny in this trial, and it’s going to be interesting what kind of tone is set by the defense.

After all, there are two more lawsuits upcoming; Greisbaum’s lawsuit against Iowa is scheduled to go to trial in early June, and Meyer has filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit in recent months.

This could be a bumpy, and damaging, ride for many people.

Apr. 10, 2017 — Youth (and age) being served

The United States women’s national field hockey team placed fourth and last at the Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand, which concluded over the weekend.

But with a pair of chances for the U.S. to qualify for the 2018 FIH World Cup later this year, all eyes will be on head coach Janneke Schopmann’s player choices coming off this tournament.

First-timers such as Ashley Hoffman, Amanda DiNunzio, Erin Matson and Alyssa Parker had goals during this tournament. Veterans Kat Sharkey, Jill Witmer, and Michelle Vittese also had major impacts for the Applebees.

But it’s fine the differences between teams — especially teams of the quality of Australia and New Zealand — that could have been the difference in the Americans’ effort in Hawke’s Bay. The States won one game, drew one, and lost five. Only one of the defeats was by more than one goal.

With so many caps left home, however, this is an encouraging series of results. How good could this team get with the right mix of players?

Apr. 5, 2017 — Another field hockey legacy team fades into the sunset

“Cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
June bug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we’d never see an end to it all.”

— Smashing Pumpkins

In the fall of 1979, a multi-ring field hockey circus took place on the grass pitches on Princeton University and some of the area surrounding the south end of campus.

The event was the 1979 Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national tournament. For the first time, the competitors were split into three divisions, allowing more teams a chance to have their one shining moment.

It was pretty well known that West Chester State University, winners of the previous four AIAW crowns, would not be as much of a contender in the fall of 1979. Head coach Vonnie Gros and a number of members of those powerful teams were together training for the inaugural women’s field hockey event at the 1980 Olympics.

That opened the way for other teams, such as Division I champion Long Beach State and Division III champion Shippensburg. While Shippensburg remains as a championship-caliber varsity program to this day (the Mauraders having won two of the last three NCAA Division II titles), Long Beach State ended its program in the 1980s.

The Division II winner, Southwest Missouri State, persisted, even as many neighboring teams — Kansas State, Southern Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, and Central Missouri State — dropped their field hockey programs.

But the persistence ended Monday, as a budget shortfall of an estimated $1 million forced the hand of the university to cut the school’s field hockey team.

It’s the latest in a number of cuts — Rhode Island, Philadelphia University, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Philadelphia Biblical University — that have a number of members of the American field hockey community on edge. There have also been threatened cuts at Lock Haven and at the University of California, Berkeley. It was posited that the long and drawn-out controversy at Berkeley regarding the team’s home ground could have been a pretense for dropping the program entirely.

The dissolution of the Missouri State program, to me, is troubling. It’s a direct affront against the field hockey community within Missouri and southern Illinois. Plenty of talent comes from these schools, and one school, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) invested in an on-campus hockey-specific stadium with short-pile water-based turf and a watering system.

If an all-girls’ school can invest in field hockey, what is preventing Missouri State University from doing the same?

Mar. 31, 2017 — A breakthrough for the Boys in Blue?

Last night, the U.S. men’s field hockey team had to deal with one final twist in its World League Round 2 quarterfinal against Trinidad & Tobago.

The organizers exercised the option of moving the times of the quarterfinals for the benefit of the host nation. What this did was to move the USA-T&T quarterfinal from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to allow more supporters to come to Tacarigua, a town eight miles inland from Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad.

It was certainly a loud crowd, and it was even louder when the hosts took a 2-0 lead on a Dylan Francis extra-man goal with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. With that much time remaining in the States’ hopes for a World League Semifinal berth, the Americans pressed. Michael Barminski responded with a goal from the left baseline that went into the top corner on a near-impossible angle over the head of T&T goalie Kwasi Emmanuel.

That important proximity goal gave the U.S. some momentum heading into the final 15 minutes. With time ticking down, and with the U.S. having pulled goalie Brandon Karess for an 11th outfielder, Adam Miller sent a diagonal smash into the circle from the left side of the midfield. Patrick Harris, one of the few U.S. players to play semiprofessionally in Europe, got his stick on it to put the match on level terms.

In the resulting penalty shootout, the States managed to get the early advantage through Harris, but it was tied 2-2 when Tyler Sundeen managed to fake down Emmanuel deep into the eight-second limit, providing the margin of victory with a turnaround shot.

The U.S. now goes into the semifinal round against Japan tomorrow, needing one win to make into the Hockey World League semifinals, something the Boys in Blue have never done before.


Mar. 24, 2017 — A new contender in Florida

The last few years, the story in scholastic lacrosse in the state of Florida has been the rise of the Vero Beach (Fla.) program, which has been willing to host all comers. And there was also the rise of Naples Barron G. Collier (Fla.), which beat Vero Beach for the state title a year ago.

Collier is undefeated on the season in its road back to the state title. But there’s another undefeated side that could break through into championship contention.

Orlando Dr. Philip Phillips (Fla.) has a 12-0 record heading into the Panthers’ last two games of the regular season. The Dr. Phillips have been playing extremely well the last month, averaging more than 20 goals a game and giving up 10 or fewer in all seven of these games.

Dr. Phillips has had a few long runs in the state playoffs, but for four years straight (2012-15), the Panthers fell out of the state tournament against Orlando Timber Creek (Fla.).

Head coach Tim Morse, currently in his second season at the helm, has been looking to improve the team’s fortunes. The Panthers lost in the first round of the postseason a year ago, but are very much on track for a high seed in the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Tournament.

“We were hurt last year; we were missing our whole midfield line,” Morse tells The West Orange Times and Observer. “I knew going into the fall, we’d started having a lot of success against a lot of the good teams in Central Florida. We definitely thought we would be in this situation.”

But the Panthers need to beat Ocoee (Fla.) and Lake Mary (Fla.) next week to guarantee a top-of-the-top seed in the state tournament.

Indeed, this year’s FHSAA tournament could feature a number of outstanding games towards the end; there are talented players all over the state, and they are making contributions to their high-school teams.