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Archive for Field hockey

Nov. 13, 2017 — A high-stakes game 108 years in the making

It was in early November 1909 when a group of young women hopped off their various carriages or other long-distance conveyances to gather together for a ritual only a very few women of any age were privileged to have known.

And that ritual was interscholastic athletic competition.

Those two schools, Haddonfield (N.J.) Memorial and Moorestown (N.J.) played a home-and-home series in field hockey — the first recorded instances of the sport interscholastically in America.

The teams have played each other over the years, either in the New Jersey Scholastic League or in interleague competition as Moorestown joined the Burlington County Scholastic League, and Haddonfield joined the Colonial Conference.

This evening, however, at Mount Holly Rancocas Valley (N.J.), the two teams meet for the highest stakes they have ever played for since Bess Taylor persuaded the principal at Haddonfield to allow girls to play sports more than a century ago.

For tonight, Haddonfield and Moorestown play in the opening round of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.

The T of C is something new for these two sides, despite the two programs’ championship heritage. Combined, Haddonfield and Moorestown have 26 titles between them, but the teams have had only once appearance each in the Tournament of Champions.

The winner of this game gets top-seeded Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), and whichever matchup occurs Wednesday night will be one rife with family conflict. Eastern graduate Lindsay Kocher is the head coach of Haddonfield. And Moorestown is not only Eastern coach Danyle Heilig’s alma mater, but its current field hockey team features a prominent player named Delaney Lawler — Heilig’s niece.

But that’s all for Wednesday. Enjoy tonight’s appetizer.

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Nov. 12, 2017 — Three Final Fours, but a 13th team to think about

Yesterday, the field for next week’s NCAA Division I, II, and III’s grand jamboree next weekend in Louisville, Ky. were set.

In Division III, the presence of The College of New Jersey looms large, since the program has won 11 titles. Messiah, the defending champion, is also back in the Final Four, along with two-time champion Middlebury and a Franklin & Marshall side which has not made it this far in the tournament since 1983.

In Division I, Maryland and Michigan represent a surging Big Ten when it comes to field hockey aptitude, while North Carolina and No. 1 UConn make up the other half. All four are proven winners, having won 17 out of the last 30 national titles.

Which brings us to Division II. Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, and Millersville have won the last four D-2 titles, while LIU-Post, a perennial player in women’s lacrosse, is seeing its first field hockey title after suffering three losses in the last four title matches.

But there is one team missing from the Division II bracket, in the humble opinions of many field hockey cogniscenti: West Chester. The Rams won the PSAC postseason tournament and were on a good run of form in the latter third of the season. Yet, when the tournament committee exited its deliberations on Selection Sunday, the Rams did not make the field.

I know that making the bracket for any NCAA championship — whether it is the 68 of men’s basketball, the 64 of soccer and women’s hoops, or the simple six of Division II field hockey — is not easy work.

For some committees, it’s a matter of trusting the “black box” of data and statistics the NCAA forwards committee members receive when making their decisions. Other committee members may have a healthy skepticism.

But the lack of an AQ in Division II field hockey for either the PSAC or Northeast-10 champs is very much a puzzle. And it still will be long after the tournament is a distant memory.

Nov. 11, 2017 — A day in Twitterverse

Today, we followed a number of field hockey games through social media. There were plenty of historical markers, overtime goals, and odd occurrences. Here’s a sample of what happened:

One toe short: The championship streak for Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) reached 19 seasons as the Vikings beat Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.) 8-0. It’s an outstanding achievement, given the competition that Eastern has had to go through, year on year, to make it through the Group IV bracket, composed of large New Jersey public schools.

Spare a thought: Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.) has a streak which is just as remarkable as Eastern’s, in my opinion. The Panthers have made the state championship final for 13 consecutive seasons, but without winning the big trophy.

I thought that B-R had a puncher’s chance at winning the state championship this year because of what happened last spring with the school’s girls’ lacrosse team, winners of the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. And since Alyssa Frazier coaches both teams, I thought there would be valuable lessons learned from last spring. This time, it wasn’t to be. As what has happened many times before, Eastern seized control of the game with a barrage of goals in a handful of minutes.

All day: Mackenzie Allessie figured in on all five goals as Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.) beat Manheim (Pa.) Central 5-1. Allessie, the junior, has now become the second player in the history of U.S. scholastic field hockey to break the 90-goal barrier for a season.

Spare a thought II: Credit Manheim Central for not backing off the Donegal challenge; the scoreline today was nothing like what happened when the teams met on Sept. 15, when the scoreline was 9-0 in favor of Donegal. And credit the coaching of Laura Gebhart, a product of the Donegal system.

The costly red: One hidden hazard of receiving a red card is that your team is obligated to play short the rest of the game. And it did not take the University of Michigan very long to take advantage of a 7-on-6 situation during overtime to win its quarterfinal match 1-0.

In the 51st minute of play, a red card was shown to Syracuse’s Elaine Carey after she swung her stick and hit Michigan Maggie Bettez in the shoe after a collision at the edge of the circle. It was a momentary rush of blood, but one which proved costly down the road, as the extra space was ruthlessly exploited in under three minutes.

The orange whammy: One year ago, Princeton scored perhaps the most dramatic goal you will ever see in a defeat of Virginia. On this occasion, Sophia Tornetta pinged in a goal in the final second of play. And the usual suspects were out today as Princeton beat Virginia in overtime. Tornetta almost had the game won for Princeton in regulation, but her 67th-minute penalty corner goal was ruled out for danger.

Instead, the heroine on the day was Ryan McCarthy, who two years ago beat Penn in overtime in what was the de facto Ivy League championship. Her goal in the 92nd minute was the difference and sent Virginia home short of the Final Four for the seventh straight season.

 

BULLETIN: Nov. 10, 2017 — Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) breaks a streak lasting a third of a century

There are some streaks in the sport of field hockey which set outside the usual bounds of what counts as a record. This year, for example West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) won its league championship, the Shore Conference “B” Central, with a 10-0 record. It is the 47th straight year that Shore has won its divisional championship.

There are some others of note; last week, Emmaus (Pa.) won its 29th consecutive District 11 championship. And tomorrow, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) goes for its unbelievable 20th state championship.

But this evening, a 33-year streak was snapped when Greenwich Sacred Heart (Conn.) defeated Greenwich (Conn.) Academy 2-1 in double-overtime to win the Fairchester Athletic Association tournament. On the play, junior forward Ryan Smith latched onto a pass from teammate Beth Yeager and it went into the goal cage.

“It was a team effort on that goal, I was just there close to the goal for the tip,” Smith said. “The first time we played then gave us confidence going into this game, because we played so well against them.”

That first game was a 3-2 Sacred Heart loss, a result which was a quantum leap forward for the program, which had been very much subservient to Greenwich Academy’s whims over the years. But no longer, and the school this year installed only the fourth known water-based artificial turf at a U.S. secondary school.

The FAA tournament is a warmup for teams before the New England Private Schools Athletic Council (NEPSAC) tournament begin next week.

Nov. 10, 2017 — Friday Statwatch for games played through Nov. 8

Hi, everyone. With only slightly more than a week to go for the domestic season, it’s going to be very hard to knock off Mackenzie Allessie off her perch for national scoring champion. Heck, the closest player to her with games remaining is 32 goals behind.

That’s 32 goals; a dream season for some. But that’s how dreamy a career this has been for the junior from Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.).

Below are a collection of national field hockey statistics from available sources. This includes, amongst others, amongst others, Advance Media, PennLive.com, LancSports.com, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PhilaFieldHockey.com, and the Washington Post. It also includes data from the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com reporting tool, and I encourage readers to contact their coaches, athletic directors, and student managers so that they may register for and use 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.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
87 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
67 Olivia Sahaydak, Bethlehem Liberty (Pa.)
55 Sarah Wilson, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.)
54 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
52 Leah Zellner, Emmaus (Pa.)

52 Alivia Klopp, Tulpehocken (Pa.)
49 Charlotte de Vries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)
48 Sophia Gladieux, Oley (Pa.) Valley
46 Morgan Carr, Walkill Valley (N.J.)
46 Kate Schneider, San Diego Serra (Calif.)
45 Riley Baughman, Emmaus (Pa.)

44 Lily Croddick, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.)
44 Regan Dougherty, Haddon Township (N.J.)
44 Jessica Maute, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
37 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
35 Julia Russo, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
33 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
32 Taryn Tkachuk, St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.)

32 Nicki McNamara, Chantilly Westfield (Va.)
31 Melissa Maynard, Falls Church George C. Marshall (Va.)
29 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

29 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
28 Ellie Decker, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
28 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
28 Natalie Nava, Edwardsville (Ill.)
27 Kara McClure, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
27 Olivia Perrone, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
223 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
159 Lily Croddick, Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.)
143 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
142 Regan Dougherty, Haddon Township (N.J.)
135 Sammy Popper, Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.)
130 Alivia Klopp, Tulpehocken (Pa.)
129 Charlotte de Vries, Virginia Beach Cape Henry Academy (Va.) and Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)*
127 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
125 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

114 Charlotte de Vries, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.)**
109 Kara Heck, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
108 Julia Russo, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)

107 Gianna Morganti, Hammonton St. Joseph’s (N.J.)
107 Leah Zellner, Emmaus (Pa.)
106 Jessica Maute, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
104 Alexis Rider, Delran (N.J.)

104 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
103 Riley Donnelly, Buckingham Central Bucks East (Pa.)

102 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
97 Hailey Couch, Easton (Pa.)

92 Ellie McIntyre, Easton (Pa.)
91 Olivia Sahaydak, Bethlehem Liberty (Pa.)
87 Erin Matson, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.)***
* — four-year varsity career
** — three-year varsity career
***— inactive for 2016-17 seasons

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
107 Mackenzie Allessie, Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.)
105 Leah Crouse, Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.)
104 Gabby Andretta, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
79 Julia Russo, North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.)
70 Kara McClure, Elverson Twin Valley (Pa.)
67 Elizabeth Romano, Madison (N.J.) Borough
64 Ali McCarthy, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)
62 Greer Gill, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
57 Riley Fulmer, Norfolk (Va.) Academy
57 Hailey Couch, Easton (Pa.)

GAMES UNDEFEATED
115 Shrub Oak Lakeland (N.Y.)
88 Los Gatos (Calif.)
80 Emmaus (Pa.)
75 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
88 Los Gatos (Calif.)
80 Emmaus (Pa.)
75 San Diego Serra (Calif.)

This is where you come in, gentle readers. If you see something that needs correction, please feel 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 reading, and we’ll talk again in a week.

Nov. 9, 2017 — The power of “what if”

Tuesday evening, a first round PIAA Class AAA first-round field hockey game was played featuring defending champion Emmaus (Pa.) and last year’s District 1-AAA champion, Kennett Square Unionville (Pa.).

The talent on the field was spectacular, with Unionville being able to unload nearly a dozen shots on the Emmaus cage in the first half, but it took a rebound goal off the stick of winger Emily Ingalls in the 42nd minute for the Hornets to take a 1-0 win.

But consider for a moment this fact: in each school’s student body is a field hockey player who is not on the current varsity team because they each helped the United States qualify for a field hockey World Cup.

For Unionville, the missing player was Erin Matson, the skilled forward with the calm demeanor who helped the States not only qualify for next year’s FIH World Cup, but won the World League semifinal tournament outright, an unprecedented achievement.

Also unprecedented was the U.S. women’s indoor national team winning its way into next winter’s FIH Indoor World Cup by winning the Pan American Hockey Federation qualifier. Part of the United States’ effort was the two goals scored by Madison Orobono of Emmaus.

Given the amazing skill in this generation of field hockey player, I guess it was inevitable that players would give up their high-school seasons in order to train full-time in pursuit of a dream.

And the fact that Matson and Orobono helped their U.S. teams in attaining that dream is something to be celebrated, not regretted.

Still, wouldn’t it have been something if both had been on the pitch Tuesday?

Nov. 8, 2017 — A rare opportunity

The field hockey team from Wexford North Allegheny (Pa.) had driven 225 miles to Spartan Stadium at Hershey Milton Hershey School (Pa.) to play Hummelstown Lower Dauphin (Pa.) yesterday in the first round of the PIAA Class AA Tournament.

Only the two teams found the stadium floor strewn with globules of snow and water and ice. It proved to be less than an ideal surface.

But then, an announcement came over the Lower Dauphin Twitter feed:

The field hockey game is being moved to Spooky Nook and will start at 7:45 p.m.

Spooky Nook? Heck, what’s another 16 miles?

“A lot of the girls were super excited when we told them we were going to play at the Olympic Training Center,” North Allegheny head coach Trish Herbert tells The Harrisburg Patriot-News.

With the U.S. women’s national field hockey team over in New Zealand preparing for the World League finals, the space was most definitely open and available.

But what also happened yesterday made a little history. It was the first PIAA state field hockey tournament game ever to be played indoors.

Yep, indoors. The Nook had offered the two teams and their supporters the indoor dome.

Now, I know there’s been at least one state tournament game which has been held indoors; it was in New York about a decade ago during the regional round.

Though the game started late, around 7:45 p.m., the atmosphere was electric: how many times are a pair of school-age teams given the opportunity to play on the same pitch as the finest players in the country?

Full marks, and a hearty “Well-played!” to the management of Spooky Nook for recognizing a need and providing it.