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Archive for Field hockey

Jan. 28, 2018 — The search for cohesion

It’s been four years since the U.S. women’s field hockey team won its first world-level trophy in its 98-year existence while making a memorable run in the FIH Women’s World Cup.

The road back to the World Cup has not been an easy one; the States’ new-look lineup has struggled in the first three games of a four-match Test series against world No. 1 Holland, held at the Varsity Turf at Stanford University.

The scores: 4-0, 7-2, and 7-1.

Holland has been a constant thorn in the Americans’ paw since the 1950s, so these results, seen as a continuum, are not a surprise. But one can hope that, through finding the right players to work together in the right areas on the field, the United States can once again find the front foot.

As we’re only 173 days from the first hit-back from London, it’s now a race against time.

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Jan. 23, 2018 — Expansion and opportunity

This week, it was announced that Wagner College was going to put the pieces in place to begin an ascendancy into an NCAA Division I varsity program by the fall of 2019.

According to sources, the college will have a club program this coming fall before becoming the 80th member of Division I.

And it will also be the fifth new field hockey team in the greater New York metropolitan area since Columbia University started its program in 2004. Since then, LIU-Brooklyn, Adelphi, Pace, and Molloy have begun varsity play.

All of this brings up an interesting opportunity when it comes to one of the nation’s great population centers.

If you look at a map of New York, Wagner College is located on Staten Island, which is actually about six miles, straight as the crow flies, from Lower Manhattan. It is the southernmost place anybody is going to have a field hockey-specific surface (assuming the college installs one) in the Empire State.

What does this mean? Just ask about anyone in a New York public school who has had to play tournament field hockey the third week of November with an orange ball in the midst of a snowstorm.

Memo to the members of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association: you now have your assignment. Get to it.

Jan. 21, 2018 — The field hockey celebrity

A number of current and recent field hockey players have used their success in the game to leverage their degree of celebrity in their home countries. Fatima Moreira de Melo, for example, is a world-class poker player as well as a player who wore the Oranje 191 times.

But there are a number of famous women in recent times for whom field hockey is somewhat secondary. Actress Emma Watson actually took the time from her studies at Brown University to play for the Bears’ club side in the NFHL, but she has kept on with her acting chops to play roles such as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

And Kate Middleton, the Dutchess of Cambridge, was a field hockey player of some reknown at St. Andrew’s School of Pangbourne, Berkshire, a town located about 35 miles due west of London.

This weekend, news has hit that superstar singer Ed Sheeran is engaged to former Duke field hockey player Cherry Seaborn, who helped the Blue Devils to the NCAA final back in 2013 as a graduate student. She had won a pair of collegiate championships with Durham University’s team and helped the Durham Ladies to runner-up finishes in the English Women’s Hockey League North Conference.

Seaborn, after her Duke days both on the hockey pitch and at the Fuqua School of Business, has been in the business world, working in London with accounting form Deloitte. According to at least one source, she is also still keeping up with her hockey with a London club side.


 

You’ve probably noticed that everyone I’ve mentioned in this story is from the United Kingdom. That’s because the States’ crossover stories are somewhat fewer. Indeed, I think perhaps the two most prominent former field hockey players in our society are model Hilary Rhoda and former U.S. women’s soccer captain Christie Rampone.

Rhoda played field hockey for Kensington Holy Cross (Md.) for three years before being discovered as a model, while Rampone was a three-sport athlete at Point Pleasant Boro (N.J.) before concentrating on soccer beginning in college.

If you’ve got any others, hit me up below.

Jan. 20, 2018 — A tale of two pitches

On Saturday, February 17 (weather permitting, of course), there will be the first of some 40 public lacrosse events held at Tierney Field at the new U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md.

The first game will be a men’s game between St. Mary’s College and Dickinson, but the next day will be an NCAA Division I women’s tilt between James Madison and Connecticut.

The schedule includes the inaugural WPLL championship game in July as well as regular-season tilts between Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) and Philadelphia Penn Charter (Pa.) as well as Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) and Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.).

The schedule is a symbol of how U.S. Lacrosse is helping to grow the game by hosting this large amount of games on the very surface on which the senior men’s and women’s national teams practice and play.

There’s a similar setup about an hour north of Tierney Field. But aside from a college tournament in August and the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Division III Final Fours, you don’t see Spooky Nook opening its doors to neutral-site games to inspire the local playing population.

Of course, there’s a big reason why. While the U.S. Lacrosse team doesn’t keep its player pool in a residency program for long parts of the calendar, USA Field Hockey does. The coaching staff sets aside the time the players have on the field for drills, small-games, and scrimmages, and it’s not the best setup for frequent use of the indoor or the outdoor pitch by local teams.

Still, it would be nice if the occasional contest (oh, I don’t know … the Lancaster-Lebanon finals?) could be scheduled there.

Jan. 14, 2018 — Important changes in the U.S. indoor lineup

Four days ago, the final roster for the U.S. women’s indoor World Cup team was named. There were three changes in the main roster from the qualifying team that won the Pan American Hockey Federation’s Indoor Cup last fall for the first time.

Into the side comes high-school phenom Abby Pitcairn, who missed the entire varsity season with a lower-body injury. Also added to the team were Stanford freshmen Corinne Zanolli and Sarah Johnson.

These three additions are going to have to go some in order to match the efforts of their teammates, your current continental champions. However, I think Pitcairn is going to be the major X-factor, an extra piece of the puzzle that hasn’t been scouted by the opposition.

The States begin pool play Feb. 7th against Belarus. The Americans may be ranked the lowest of all of the World Cup teams at the tournament, but think of this: the States made the top 12 despite being ranked 20th in the world. Any result in this tournament is a bonus over and above what was accomplished in the Pan American Cup. Still, with a touch of luck, the United States could finish in the top four of the pool and qualify for the quarterfinals.

 

Jan. 12, 2018 — A Connecticut legend exits the stage on her own terms

After 41 years, 10 state championships, and almost 600 coaching wins, Cathy McGuirk is retiring from the field hockey coaching position at Branford (Conn.), a village about two miles east of Yale University.

McGuirk’s early successes as a goalkeeper at Southern Connecticut State University may have been a precursor to her future success as a coach; she went undefeated and unscored-upon during her collegiate career in the cage.

She took over the head coaching position at Branford only after a decade’s worth of mentoring by the then-head coach, Virginia Moessmang. It took McGuirk eight seasons to win her first state championship, then would win it again the next year. She would then make the state final in a higher enrollment class the next year.

Keeping her grounded during this whirlwind of success was her husband John. The two coached together on the sidelines for 38 years, and John also received one of the earliest known (1996) field hockey awards specifically designated for assistant coaches.

Cathy McGuirk, with 558 wins, retires as the all-time coaching wins leader for Connecticut public schools. And if there was a category for the number of lives touched, she has to be high on that list as well.

 

 

 

Jan. 10, 2018 — Another field hockey star chooses the Big Ten

Sophia Gladieux, the Oley Valley (Pa.) field hockey attacker who made an immediate impact with three points in her first varsity half of play, following it up with a 50-goal season in 2017, will be playing her collegiate field hockey at Penn State.

Gladieux is the latest in a wave of commitments to Big Ten schools, following the likes of Emma DeBerdine (Maryland) and Mackenzie Allessie (Ohio State).

This infusion of American talent is likely to reshape the entire conference, bringing it up to par with the Atlantic Coast Conference.