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Oct. 8, 2021 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Oct. 6

Our Stat of the Week is an obvious one. We saw the first scholastic coach ever to get 1,000 wins in field hockey, as Susan Butz-Stavin not only earned that milestone, but got No. 1,001 a day later against Easton (Pa.).

But there is another statistical occurrence which is starting to come to a head this week. In perhaps the best version of “Can You Top This?” since the likes of Tracey Fuchs and Sharon Landau were the top scorers on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley of New York, there are two field hockey players who have both done some tremendous work in the attack end of the pitch.

In the last week, both Ryleigh Heck of Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Talia Schenck of Lawrence (N.J.) became part of a hallowed group of players to have ever scored as many as 10 goals in a field hockey game. Schenck, as of Wednesday, had 203 goals, which is amongst the Top 10 all time for a career. She leads the nation as of the close of play Wednesday with 72 goals.

Not so far behind is Ryleigh Heck, who not only was your national scoring champion two years ago as a sophomore, but had the greatest goals-per-game average ever recorded in field hockey a year ago. She has 64 goals this season, and 262 overall.

I’ve seen both players this year, and they have their own varied strengths in their respective games. They will bring a lot to their college programs next year: Heck to North Carolina, and Schenck to Princeton.

Below is our usual weekly compilation of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media.

We especially would like to get as many coaches and other field hockey people 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. 

SEASON GOALS
72 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
64 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
51 Alana McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
39 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
39 Ava Zerfass, Emmaus (Pa.)
35 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
32 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
29 Olivia Weir, Princeton (N.J.)
28 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
27 Reese Anetsberger, Glenbrook (Ill.) South
27 Hadley Kuzmicky, North Oldham (Ky.)

SEASON ASSISTS
31 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
29 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
25 Alexis Kociban, Emmaus (Pa.)
24 Hope Haynes, Houston Kincaid School (Tex.)
21 Emily Williams, Louisville Ballard (Ky.)
21 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
19 Sammie Goin, Ashburn Independence (Va.)
19 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)

CAREER GOALS
262 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
203 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
153 Alaina McVeigh, Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
116 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
111 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
105 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
103 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
97 Victoria Griffiths, Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.)
92 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
84 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)

CAREER ASSISTS
106 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
83 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
79 Dylan Breier, Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.)
73 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
71 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
85 Delmar (Del.)
30 Emmaus (Pa.)

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
85 Delmar (Del.)
30 Emmaus (Pa.)

If you see something missing or out of place, do 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 an adjustment; this is a great thing about the Web. We can make a change quickly, even on my mobile phone.

I thank you all for stopping by this corner of the blog, and we’ll try it all again next week.

BULLETIN: Oct. 5, 2021 — Emmaus’ Butz-Stavin earns her 1,000th coaching win

With a 12-0 win over Dingman’s Ferry East Stroudsburg North (Pa.), the Emmaus field hockey team not only went to 12-0 on the season, but head coach Susan Butz-Stavin won her 1,000th game on the sidelines.

We interviewed her 19 years ago, and the principles and maxims she talked about that day are still relevant today. Now, when this story was written, we were unacquainted with players like Allison Evans, Meredith Sholder, Rachel and Annika Herbine, and, especially, Tara, Rachel, and Erin Jennings. It was with the Jennings triplets when Emmaus won three championships in four seasons, and I think the triplets’ senior season of 2007 may have been the apex of the Hornets’ power.

But then again, it could also have been five years ago when Sholder, along with future UNC teammate Madison Orobono and future Iowa opponent Leah Zellner finished off a 27-0 season with an overtime win over Palmyra (Pa.).

Such is the excellence over which Butz-Stavin has presided over the years. While the game has changed, the fundamentals have not. While the faces have changed, the expectations have not.

Congratulations, Coach. What a tremendous honor borne of tremendous effort.

Oct. 5, 2021 — Top 10 for the week of Oct. 3

It’s getting harder and harder to gauge who belongs in this Top 10 week by week. Yes, the results speak for themselves, but there are so many variables which are coming into play, including travel and whether or not player are available for certain games.

Think of this, however: in the past two weeks, three of our preseason Top 10 teams — Eastern, Oak Knoll, and West Essex — have suffered shutout defeats. It’s complicated!

Our RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Assumption University. The Greyhounds are the No. 4 team in the most recent NCAA Division II poll, and are a team very much on the rise. The team went its first 42 seasons with two ECAC Division II championships to show for it. The 2019 season saw the team make its first NCAA tournament, but lost in the opening round 1-0 to East Stroudsburg. Assumption then went some 22 months without a competitive match because of the global pandemic, but have started very strong in 2021.

1. Delmar (Del.) 7-0
Thursday, the Wildcats will take on Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) in the closest thing Delaware has to a Tournament of Champions. Both hold their respective DIAA titles

2. Emmaus (Pa.) 11-0
This evening, this high-flying Hornet squad goes for head coach Susan Butz-Stavin’s 1000th win against Dingman’s Ferry East Stroudsburg North (Pa.)

3. Malvern Villa Maria Academy (Pa.) 11-1
Beat Merion (Pa.) Mercy Academy 5-2 to close out last week’s play; Hurricanes face a good Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.) side on Thursday

4. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 7-0
Beat Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) in the latest edition of the Mill Dam Creek Derby

5. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 10-1
The Vikings have started to knit together much better on the defensive end in recent matches, though there will be enormous tests this weekend with Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) and Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

6. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 9-1
EA will meet up with Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) on Thursday in what could be a bellweather game for InterAc and PAISAA honors this season

7. Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 7-1
After last weekend’s NHSI wins over Brooklandville Garrison Forest (Md.) and Houston Kinkaid School (Tex.), Hill had an impressive 4-0 win over North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)

8. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 10-0
Hornets beat Mamaroneck (N.Y.) 3-1 in an intersectional matchup on Saturday

9. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 7-1
This weekend, the Knights host Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) in the teams’ annual series of games

10. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 10-0-1
Falcons got a hard-fought win over Hershey (Pa.) and drew 1-1 against Palmyra (Pa.) during Rivalry Week

11. Assumption University (8-1)
Isabel Primack, Deirdre Burchill, and Mia Salah have been pacing the Greyhounds’ offense thus far

Who’s out: Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 4-0 loss to Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.); North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 4-0 loss to Pottstown Hill School (Pa.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 10-0-1, Darien (Conn.) 8-0, Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) 5-3, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 16-1, Walpole (Mass.) 7-0, Watertown (Mass.) 6-0, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.) 12-0, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 10-1, Northport (N.Y.) 9-0, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 12-0-1, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio) 12-0-1, Palmyra (Pa.) 10-1-1, Houston Kincaid School (Texas) 9-1

Oct. 4, 2021 — Multiple outlets, a good thing

This site hasn’t been affected at all by today’s outage of social media presences like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Indeed, the great thing about what we’ve done over the past 23 years on this site is to build in a measure of redundancy. For the blog, we designed this site to have a front and a side door; there are three ways to get to these words.

It’s much the same with our social media posts. Although our Unfiltered series is based on what we have on Instagram, you can access the post through Twitter or Facebook. Our TikTok videos can be found through Instagram.

So, we’re still here, still writing, and still listening to what is going on so that you, the readership, can be informed.

Oct. 1, 2021 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Sept. 29

Welcome back to Friday Statwatch, which aims to give you, the reader, a statistical perspective on field hockey nationwide.

This week, we welcome another member of the 100-goal, 100-assist club. That player is senior Natalie Foster of Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.). She attained that status with a three-goal, three assist effort against Robesonia Conrad Weiser (Pa.) this past Monday. Foster, the first Berks County player ever to join the 100-100 Club,

G-ANameSchoolSTYear
148-135*Chantae MillerWilliamsville NorthNY2003-2008
126-117Chantae MillerWilliamsville NorthNY2005-2008
114-108Alyssa ParkerGlenelgMD2008-2011
200-201Haley SchleicherVirginia Beach First ColonialVA2012-2015
217-134Meredith SholderEmmausPA2013-2016
104-104Leah CrouseVirginia Beach Frank W. CoxVA2014-2017
106-107Gabby AndrettaSummit Oak KnollNJ2014-2017
351-136Mackenzie AllessieMount Joy DonegalPA2015-2018
141-103Emma DeberdineMillersville Penn ManorPA2015-2018
142-122Lucas CrookSomerset-Berkley RegionalMA2016-2019
141-110Annika HerbineEmmausPA2017-2020
124-153Cami CrookSomerset-Berkley RegionalMA2017-2021
105-101Natali FosterElverson Twin ValleyPA2018-2021
*– six-year varsity numbers

We also wanted to point out a little something that we touched on Wednesday. Talia Schenck’s 2021 season represents the 97th time (that we know of) that a U.S. scholastic field hockey player to have breached the 50-goal mark for a season. Of those 97 occurrences, 83 of them have occurred in 2000 or later. It’s shown just how much today’s well-trained athlete, playing with space-age sticks and on artificial grass, have been able to find the goal cage.

Below is our usual weekly compilation of American scholastic field hockey statistics, culled from, amongst other sources, MaxPreps, Berks Game Day, the KHSAA, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Advance Media.

We especially would like to get as many coaches and other field hockey people 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. 

SEASON GOALS
51 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
47 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
40 Alana McVeigh, Upper Gwynedd Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
34 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
29 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
28 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
24 Casey Lynn Dewald, Fleetwood (Pa.)
22 Ava Zerfass, Emmaus (Pa.)
22 Sydney Stumpf, Louisville Eastern (Ky.)
22 Reese Anetsberger, Glenbrook (Ill.) South

SEASON ASSISTS
26 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
25 Alexis Kociban, Emmaus (Pa.)
21 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
21 Emily Williams, Louisville Ballard (Ky.)
17 Sammie Goin, Ashburn Independence (Va.)
17 Georgia Leary, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)
16 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
16 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

CAREER GOALS
245 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
182 Talia Schenck, Lawrence (N.J.)
142 Alaina McVeigh, Gwynedd Valley Gwynedd-Mercy Academy (Pa.)
116 Molly Catchpole, Watchung Mount St. Mary’s Academy (N.J.)
105 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
105 Julia Bressler, Reading Berks Catholic (Pa.)
98 Rachel Herbine, Emmaus (Pa.)
94 Victoria Griffiths, Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.)
87 Maci Bradford, Delmar (Del.)
80 Josie Hollamon, Delmar (Del.)

CAREER ASSISTS
101 Natali Foster, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
76 Izzy Bianco, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
70 Ryleigh Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
67 Riley Hudson, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
83 Delmar (Del.)

CONSECUTIVE UNBEATEN
83 Delmar (Del.)
51 Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

So, if you see something missing or out of place, I encourage you 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’ll see you next week.

Sept. 29, 2021 — It’s not just about the shoes for Talia Schenck

LAWRENCE, N.J. — You can always tell when Talia Schenck is playing a field hockey game. Just look for the shoes.

Schenck’s traffic-cone orange Adidas shoes are visible if you watch her on the NFHS Network or if you see her live playing for Lawrence (N.J.).

“They’re new this year,” she says, indicating that her shoes and matching orange gloves are in homage to Princeton University, where she will be attending next year.

And the senior forward has got plenty of game to warrant such visible footwear. Coming into this week, Schenck is leading the nation in goal scoring, with 51 goals at the close of play on Monday. She had all six goals for the Cardinals as they came back from an early deficit against their neighborhood rival Lawrence Notre Dame (N.J.) in a 6-3 win.

Her single-season total is the highest ever recorded for a field hockey player from not only Lawrence’s league (the Colonial Valley Conference), but from the county (Mercer). Not only that, she has the 10th highest goal-scoring total in the 112-year history of scholastic field hockey in America, with 182.

Schenck is a multi-tool player. She can beat you off the dribble, strike the ball with accuracy in the midfield to open teammates, and shoot on goal with remarkable aplomb. In the Notre Dame game, she had a pair of backhand shots that she cannonned expertly into the mesh, scored on a penalty stroke, and caused all manner of trouble on self-starts. On several occasions she cantered through the Irish defensive third and accelerated into the critical scoring area, sometimes appearing to melt through defenders.

It’s this kind of all-around play that she learned at a young age, refining it in middle school and with the Princeton Field Hockey Club.

“By the time I got serious, I was 10 or 11,” she said. “When I was 13, Carla Tagliente and Mike Pallister brought me up to the U-19s, and that’s when my game took off. It changed everything for me.”

When Schenck was in junior high, she built a resume and reputation that got the notice of the Lawrence coaching staff.

“Here’s the thing,” says Lawrence coach Megan Errico. “My JV coach, Caroline Bartosik, was on the team when they were starting to get winning records, and when she graduated in 2018, Talia was in eighth grade. We knew she was coming, and we got really lucky. Coaching her has been phenomenal.”

But for Schenck, success is a product of the dedication and devotion to the sport.

“I hope people realize the work we put into the game,” Schenck says. “That’s something I try to work on every game. You don’t have to be the best-skilled player if you have the drive.”

“There’s a book by Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), about doing something for 10,000 hours, and that’s why Mozart was so good — and she does that,” Errico says. “You’re only lucky to be in the presence of greatness a few times in your life. I’m in the presence of greatness; that doesn’t always happen.”

Schenck has been the national leader in goals before leader before. She had a great start to her sophomore season and was the leader in goals at the close of play Sept. 25, 2019. But days later, she suffered a broken ankle and was lost to the Cardinals for the season.

In 2020, the team played a COVID-shortened season which had a statement victory in November. During a 7-1 win over local rival Princeton, Schenck scored all seven goals even as the Cardinals were outshot. She exhibited a similar game generalship Monday afternoon.

“In that game,” Schenck said of the 2020 win over Princeton, “we came out a lot stronger. Here, we were on our heels in the first quarter before we came back.”

At the end of the 2020 COVID-shortened season, Lawrence finished its season in the Central/West Class “A” championship final against Glen Gardner Voorhees (N.J.). The Cardinals, a successful but long-suffering program in the CVC, fell short of winning its first major trophy in field hockey, dropping a 4-2 decision.

That loss has fueled Schenck’s fire this season. She is not only using her considerable talent to move to goal, but to get teammates involved, drawing the pictures in the attack end and making hard passes to the front for her wingers to latch onto.

“I’m trying to get my teammates to move more, and sometime when I’m back (behind the 50), I try to get them more passes,” Schenck says. “I think it’s something we still need to work on, but we’re getting the movement better. Hopefully, we’re getting there.”

Schenck’s numbers say that she is the highest-scoring player in the history of the New Jersey capital region. But she is hoping to bring Lawrence a state championship, something no CVC-member team has done since 1984.

“We need to work more in the offseason, but last year we had a really good run,” Schenck says. “I do see more girls have more dedication to the sport. It’s starting.”

“I’ve been lucky to have had her in class (at Lawrence),” Errico says. “Sometimes, it’s hard to say that I coach her. I can put people around her and I can make sure I can find ways to support her, but she’s so phenomenal that she coaches me, in a sense. This year is her year.”

A year from now, she will be matriculating to Princeton University to play under Tagliente, who coaches the Tiger varsity as well as Princeton FHC. The program is just two years removed from making the national title match, but with a good roster of junior national team athletes in place already, she could help the Tigers contend for a third national championship.

“I think the main factor (in the decision to attend Princeton) is the coaching staff,” Schenck says. “They are the greatest people and role models for me.”

Sept. 28, 2021 — Top 10 for the week of Sept. 26

Well, how about that?

With all sorts of intersectional matches taking place across the country this past weekend, such as the National High School Invitational and the Serra/Canyon Hills Invitational, this Top 10 has been shaken.

At the heart of the listing, we have a situation where three teams have played each other over the last two weeks in our Top 10, and have beaten each other — No. 4 Villa Maria, No. 6 Eastern, and No. 7 Episcopal Academy. As per usual, you can throw a blanket over these teams, but we’ve gone with the most recent of the results in our listing, and I think all three of these teams are likely title-winners in their respective state tournaments come November.

Our RightToRightIsRight.com No. 11 Team of the Week is Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.). Kingsway, a team which has never won a state championship in its history, acquitted itself well this past weekend at the NHSI, taking a 1-0 win over Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) and a 2-1 win over Severna Park (Md.).

1. Delmar (Del.) 6-0
The Wildcats have a neutral-site test with Dagsboro Indian Hills (Md.), the team they beat to win the DIAA Division 2 championship a couple of years ago

2. Emmaus (Pa.) 8-0
The Hornets have four matches this week and should be shooting for head coach Susan Butz-Stavin’s 1000th win a week from today against Dingman’s Ferry East Stroudsburg North (Pa.)

3. Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 8-0
After last weekend’s NHSI matches, Oak Knoll now has victories over teams from Connecticut, Illinois, and Pennsylvania

4. Malvern Villa Maria Academy (Pa.) 8-1
Full marks to Katie Evans’ Hurricanes, which swept their NHSI matches against Louisville Assumption (Ky.), Gambrills Arundel (Md.), and especially a 3-0 win over Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

5. Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) 4-0
Zella Bailey has been tearing it up for the Falcons, scoring 10 goals to lead the way

6. Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) 7-1
The Vikings had a remarkable comeback last weekend at the NHSI. Less than 24 hours after losing 3-0 to Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.), Eastern beat Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 3-1

7. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) 7-1
Churchwomen were able to beat Villa Maria two weeks ago, but lost to Eastern last Saturday night. A trip to Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) looms next weekend

8. Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 5-0
The Knights will have a home match against Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) this Saturday

9. Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.) 4-0
Hornets have an enormous game this Saturday against Mamaroneck (N.Y.)

10T. Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) 9-0
Falcons will have reverse fixtures this week against Palmyra (Pa.) and Hershey (Pa.) in the latest installments of the Rt. 422 rivalries

10T. North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) 5-0
Knights swept their games at the NHSI, beating Brooklandville Garrison Forest (Md.) and Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.)

11. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.) 6-0
Kingsway stands alongside the likes of West Essex, Oak Knoll, Wyoming Seminary, Emmaus, Sacred Heart, and now Villa Maria as teams which have gotten at least a draw off Eastern since 1999

Who’s out: Worcester Doherty (Mass.) 2-0 loss to Holden Watchusett (Mass.)

And bear in mind: San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) 10-0-1, Darien (Conn.) 5-0, Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) 15-1, Walpole (Mass.) 4-0, Ann Arbor Pioneer (Mich.) 10-0, Northport (N.Y.) 7-0, Columbus Bishop Watterson (Ohio) 8-0-1, Worthington Thomas Worthington (Ohio) 10-0-1, Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) 6-1, Kincaid School (Texas) 8-1

Sept. 27, 2021 — Inside a 17-hour turnaround

Last Friday night, the Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) field hockey team shuffled off Field 1 of the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken, Pa. an ashen, unhappy group. For only the 15th time in the last 23 years, the Vikings had lost a field hockey game, a 3-0 defeat to Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.).

Eastern head coach Kerry Heck, who has had plenty of coaching experience in her lifetime, her family, and her current household, knew she had to do something in the 17 hours between the end of that game and a showdown with a highly-touted Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) side with several youth and indoor national team players on the roster.

The first thing she did was to pick the right motivational quote.

“New day, new team, new game,” she said. “And, we went from there.”

Did they ever.

Eastern, behind two Ryleigh Heck goals and an angled missile from Izzy Bianco, came away with a 3-1 win. The win came primarily through Eastern’s ability to make connective passes in the middle third of the pitch, something which was lacking the night before.

“We had to move the ball, we had to play our game, we had to make passes, we had to pick up the intensity, and we had to help create opportunities for each other,” Heck said. “And that’s what they did.”

Eastern was extremely solid in the defensive midfield with Kylie Dawson, Riley Hudson, and Tess Herman (three assists) making completions, knifing in for interceptions or tackles, and flummoxing the Churchwomen’s attack.

“We talked about improving our connections,” Heck said. “The kids realized that they were off their game last night. But I have to give kudos to Villa Maria. They beat us to the ball, and made their passes. They were awesome.”

The Saturday game had been talked about for two weeks, ever since the schedule for the National High School Invitational was finalized. But the matchup Saturday was imperfect. Because of the Friday game, the EA-Eastern game was no longer a match of unbeatens. Too, Episcopal did not have the services of U.S. indoor and outdoor national teamer Ashley Sessa.

For Eastern going forward, the weekend was an object lesson in resilience. The recent history of the Vikings once saw the team drop both games during their 2016 weekend with Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) and Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.), which was their only two-game losing streak during the Danyle Heilig Era at the school.

And with Eastern, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) and North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) all gaining prominent wins at the 2021 NHSI, it is going to make for a dandy November for field hockey in the Garden State.

Sept. 24-26, 2021 — The Final Third, NHSI Edition

Hi, everyone.

We’re taking the weekend off from the blog so that we can focus on the National High School Invitational with live whip around coverage.

Join us for The Final Third on our Facebook Live presence (facebook.com/to.tc) this weekend. Interact with us, give us a like and share, and enjoy this important weekend of field hockey.

Sept. 24, 2021 — Inside the National High School Invitational, part 3

Today, we take a final look at this weekend’s National High School Invitational with the last three match windows, spanning 13 games.

5 p.m. SATURDAY
Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) vs. Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.): This is the showcase game of the weekend, and for good reason. Players like Ashley Sessa, Macy Szukics, Izzy Bianco, and Ryleigh Heck may be on your U.S. women’s Olympic team one day. Sessa, a current member of the U.S. national team pool, was selected as the most outstanding player of the Pan American Indoor Tournament. Heck, like Sessa, is going to North Carolina next year. Heck is already the fourth-leading goal scorer in the history of the National Federation. These two schools have played before, an 8-0 Eastern win in October 2014. Expect a closer matchup this time around.
Severna Park (Md.) vs. Woolwich Kingsway (N.J.): Severna Park has won 24 state championships in field hockey, the last in 2019. Kingsway has three sectional titles in its history, but has never been in an NJSIAA state final.
Louisville Ballard (Ky.) vs. Moorestown (N.J.): Ballard has had field hockey for its female students since the school opened in 1968. Moorestown has had varsity field hockey since 1909, and has 18 state titles to its name, the last in 2018.
Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.) vs. Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.): Dylan Breier (six goals, 14 assists) paces the Crimsons’ attack. Cape Henry coach Kim Dooren is one of a dwindling number of field hockey coaches who also coach girls’ lacrosse at the same school.
Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.) vs. Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.): GA’s season started with a 1-0 defeat against Radnor Archbishop Carroll, a team which made it to the PIAA Class A final last fall. Providence Day’s only defeat was to Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) on Sept. 12.

10 a.m. SUNDAY
Newtown Square Episcopal Academy (Pa.) vs. Norfolk (Va.) Academy: Episcopal is coached by Stephanie Fee, the former Duke University and U.S. women’s national team player. Norfolk Academy coach Mary Werkheiser has been at the helm since 1989, and in 2017, she won United States Coach of the Year honors from this site.
Charlotte Providence Day School (N.C.) vs. Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.): Providence Day is 4-1 entering this week of play, while Sacred Heart was 3-0 entering this week.
Norfolk Cape Henry Collegiate (Va.) vs. Houston Kincaid School (Tex.): Cape Henry is your defending VISAA Division 2 champion, while Kincaid is looking to win its first Southern Preparatory Conference championship since 2017.
Guilderland (N.Y.) Central vs. Louisville Ballard (Ky.): Ballard has been one of the mainstays of public-school field hockey in Jefferson County for five decades, but has yet to win a state championship. Guilderland, similarly, has not won a state championship in field hockey, but they have been contenders recently in girls’ lacrosse.
Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.) vs. Louisville duPont Manual (Ky.): Shawn Eggleston, Shen’s former JV coach, has taken over at the helm for the Plainsmen after the retirement of longtime coach Jeanne Frevola. Manual head coach Brittany Vencil had to miss out on the 2019 NHSI because of the birth of a child.

12 noon SUNDAY
Owings Mills Garrison Forest (Md.) vs. Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.): Garrison Forest was the dominant program in the IAAM after 2005, as the team won five championships in a six-year span to close out the decade of the 2000s. Conestoga has made the field hockey state championship game once, losing to Lititz Warwick (Pa.) in 1987.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (N.Y.) vs. Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.): The Spartans have only tasted state championship glory once; winning the 1987 NYSPHSAA Class “A” title. Bishop Eustace has won four state championships and could have had more if not for having to play the likes of West Essex and Oak Knoll in the state final.
Marlton Cherokee (N.J.) vs. Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.): Cherokee is one of four schools in the heart of Burlington County named for the Native American tribes who have inhabited the region (Shawnee, Lenape, and Seneca are the others.) Germantown Academy is a team which has given its fellow InterAc teams absolute fits in the PAISAA playoffs, notably in a 2018 game against Episcopal Academy which went to a penalty shootout.