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Archive for Field hockey

March 7, 2019 — A retirement in New England, hardly noticed except for her players

A few blocks north of Brown University sits Providence Moses Brown (R.I.), the eighth-oldest college preparatory school in the United States.

Moses Brown has also had a heck of a run in the last few years when it comes to field hockey. This past year, the Quakers finished 15-2, including a win over public-school power Walpole (Mass.), and finished a win short of a seventh state championship under head coach Leslie Caito-Jones.

Caito-Jones, nominated the last two seasons for this sites United States Coach of the Year award, has announced her retirement.

“I can never say never because it’s not how I am, but I don’t plan to go anywhere else,” Caito-Jones tells The Providence Journal. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else in Rhode Island to coach high school field hockey.”

Caito-Jones will be spending at least the next three years watching her daughter Kennedy playing field hockey for Moses Brown, not coaching her.

“It’s time for me to allow my daughter to have her time at Moses Brown and for it to be about her and not about her being the daughter of the coach,” Caito-Jones tells the Journal. ”I’m just so happy and grateful I spent a year with her.”

March 5, 2019 — A waystation, or a retirement?

Ever since the “new look” U.S. women’s national field hockey team was announced a month before the start of training for FIH Pro League play, there has been one surname missing from the team pool.

That name is “Vittese,” shared by three sisters who have played for the United States.

Carissa (25 caps) had been on spot duty for the U.S. women’s national team, while Tara (14 caps) had been expected for many years to become an impact player on the world stage.

But the memorable figure over the last eight years is Michelle Vittese, whose international career began in 2011 with an enormous performance at the Pan American Games, where she and teammate Katelyn Falgowski denied Argentina space to attack the goal, holding an attack featuring eight-time FIH World Player of the Year Luciana Aymar off the scoresheet. Meanwhile, Vittese’s goal in the final two minutes of play capped off a 4-2 upset of the then-World Cup champions.

Vittese often came up with big goals in big games, such as what she did at the 2015 Pan American Games, scoring twice in beating Argentina for the second time running and winning outright Olympic qualification in Toronto.

She also was part of the U.S. side that won the country’s first major trophy in the USFHA’s 94-year history upon winning the 2014 Champions’ Challenge.

Michelle Vittese today was named as an assistant coach at Temple University, and she is joining sister Carissa within the organization of the team.

It’s a sign that Michelle Vittese, despite her skills, ability to raising her level of play, and the knack for coming through in the clutch, is likely done with international hockey.

Which is a shame; she is one of the best overall players the nation has yet produced, and is a certain Hall of Famer when she becomes eligible.

March 4, 2019 — Predictable overreaction ahead?

Today, in a social media post, Alex Danson, the 33-year-old captain of the Team GB women’s field hockey side that won the gold medal at Rio, detailed her ordeal from post-concussion syndrome.

“Six months ago whilst on holiday, I hit the back of my head,” she posted. “I knew straight away something wasn’t right, but as a typical athlete, I waved it away and tried to pretend I was OK. Six weeks later I was rushed into hospital with a suspected bleed, being violently sick and having seizures.”

There are two perspectives that need to be given here. One is that there have been a rash of head injuries that have befallen veteran members of the national team pool that will feed into the Home Nations’ unified side for Tokyo 2020. Aside from the gifted forward Danson, teammates Nicola White and Shona McCallin also suffered head injuries that kept them out of last year’s World Cup as well as Champions’ Trophy play.

Second, Danson’s holiday accident was the second known concussion that she has suffered in less than a year, having taken a shoulder from an Argentine player to the head during the preliminary rounds of the last Champions’ Trophy. It’s not known exactly how many more blows to the head she has taken in the last few years, either for club of country.

But, as more and more protective equipment is being used by players in penalty corner situations, and with certain raised balls not being whistled down for danger, there is a spectre looming over the sport: a helmet mandate.

There is hardly a day that goes by that a story about the global field hockey market for helmets is trumpeted for the near future, even though there is not a nation on earth that mandates them.



March 2, 2019 — Leads, and points, lost

The U.S. women’s national field hockey team has, in the first halves of each of its three FIH Pro League matches, have played better on the road than at home.

Following on from the opener at Argentina when the States took a 2-0 lead by halftime, the U.S. this morning held a 1-0 lead on the road against Australia.

Alas, the Americans yielded two fourth-quarter goals and let the Hockeyroos take all three points with a 2-1 score line. The Americans have no wins in three FIHPL games, but have a critical road point at Argentina, which could be valuable with the States’ home Pro League schedule in the spring and summer.

The contest did show that the Americans have more than just one young attacking weapon, as Danielle Grega, late of Old Dominion, had her second goal in only her fifth international appearance.

But long-term, this game may yet be known as the coming-out party for Syracuse graduate Jess Jecko. She is a goalkeeper who, when in form, is a difficult opponent to solve because of her anticipation and toughness.

Jecko was named Player of the Match by the FIH, and I think if she is able to find the same kind of form that got her to consecutive NCAA title matches, she can help the States steal a road point or two during Pro League play.

Feb. 26, 2019 — An incremental step into the Deep South

About 20 years ago, there were a pair of teams who participated in the independent league encompassing field hockey teams in the Carolinas.

But there’s been an effort to resurrect field hockey in the Palmetto State. Read this story from the Daniel Island News.

Feb. 23, 2019 — NGB jitters, political instability … and rain

Ever since the FIH Pro League was announced in 2017, there have been all sorts of obstacles which have been bedeviling the world field hockey governing body in its attempt to truly professionalize and grow the worldwide game by having Test matches being played in each individual participating nation, rather than hosting qualifying tournaments in one or two places around the globe.

As such, the FIH has now been tasked with exporting its brand to the participating nations of the Pro League, ensuring that FIH officials oversee a match taking place at an FIH-compliant site in each individual country.

As such, the teething problems started early, with India’s men’s and women’s teams opting to qualify for Tokyo 2020 through the FIH Open Series, and with Pakistan’s men pulling out of the Open Series citing a lack of backing from its national governing body.

But last night, a men’s Test between Germany and Argentina — the second game of a doubleheader in Buenos Aires — was cancelled due to heavy rain and lightning, even after the two countries’ women’s teams played to a shootout won by the Albicelestes.

You may be wondering how this happened. Well, it’s a league regulation that if a game cannot be played on the day on which it is schedule, the game is cancelled outright and the points shared in the standings.

An outright cancellation is something that would never — NEVER — happen in any other outdoor game at the international level. One example: the U.S. men’s soccer team, in 2014, beat Costa Rica in a snowstorm in Denver.

The FIH, relying on its regulations, chose to close up shop early because of the rain instead of making the effort to get the men’s game in, either by waiting out the storm, or by playing the next day.

Yep, an elegant solution; problem solved.



Feb. 22, 2019 — A couple of notable retirements

Late today, a pair of coaches who made unusual coaching history in their respective careers announced their retirements.

Brenda Beckwith, one of only a handful of coaches ever to have an undefeated and unscored-upon team when she guided Winslow (Maine) to the 1998 Maine Principals Association title, has left her position with the girls’ basketball team in order to follow her daughter at nearby Simmons College in Boston. She had long since given up her position on the field hockey sideline, where she had won four state titles between 1993 and 2000.

It was the 1998 title which saw the Black Raiders complete the season with a goalless draw and the rest of the season with clean sheets.

GA School State Year
0 Los Gatos CA 2017
0 Watertown MA 2014
0 Garden City NY 1998
0 Winslow ME 1998
0 Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes VA 1995
0 Pocomoke MD 1993
0 Stowe VT 1983
0 Philadelphia Archbishop Wood PA 1973
0 Springfield (Delaware County) PA 1968

Also, Jaye Stuart, one of only three known field hockey coaches to have won state championships in more than one state, retired from Washington Shepaug Valley (Conn.) after four decades and two Connecticut public school titles. She had previously won a championship with Duxbury Harwood Union (Vt.) in 1979, her first year of coaching.

Stuart is in the same two-state category alongside Jodi Burd Hollamon, winner of a state title with Salisbury Parkside (Md.) and a four-time state champion with Delmar (Del.), and Daan Polders, who won state championships with Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) and Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.).

The depth and knowledge of the American scholastic field hockey coaching corps has definitely taken a hit today. It has also lost some of its uniqueness.