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Archive for Field hockey

Aug. 20, 2021 — Your scavenger hunt for the weekend

This weekend, we’re debuting four of our preseason lists as video presentations exclusively on our social media presences.

Yesterday, we posted our Division III Fearless 5ive on our Instagram presence. Today, we posted our Division II Fearless 5ive on Twitter. Tomorrow, we’ll post our Division I Fearless 5ive on Facebook, and our National Preseason Top 10 for high schools will be posted on TikTok.

If you want to see what we think will happen this fall, you can only access these video files through our social media presences, which are listed in the header of this site.

As per usual, these predictions for the season are fraught with uncertainty, but for Division II and III field hockey, even moreso given the number of teams who never picked up a stick in the 2020-21 academic year. There will be a lot of disagreement, and that’s OK.

See if you can find them, and when you do, please give them a like and share/retweet in order to expand engagement.

Aug. 19, 2021 — Or, back to abnormal?

Saturday, the Pan American Hockey Federation qualification tournament for the Junior World Cup is scheduled to begin. But leave it to the worldwide pandemic to throw a spanner — no, perhaps as many as three spanners — in the works when it comes to this tournament.

Thus far, at least two men’s field hockey teams are finding their travel plans altered. Argentina’s travails were written about this week, as a single player tested positive for the Coronavirus, meaning that the entirety of the group in which this player traveled has had to undergo quarantine. The Pan American Hockey Federation has flexed the schedule for the tournament, moving the Albicelestes’ first game to Monday.

The opponent that day is scheduled to be the United States. The Boys in Blue have had their own issues coming into Chile. The team reportedly flew in last Sunday, but for some reason, not all of the delegation had the requisite COVID test 72 hours before arrival. The team had, according to sources, relocated to Dallas for testing, then have arrived in country for 48 hours of quarantine before training for the tournament.

And now, there’s unconfirmed reports that the Trinidad & Tobago men’s team is also late in getting to Chile for the tournament for undisclosed reasons.

At this rate, this could be an ugly exercise.

Aug. 18, 2021 — Back to normal?

We’ve been keeping our ear to the ground, trying to figure out how the several states and the District of Columbia will be handling health and safety protocols for scholastic sports in the fall of 2021.

Interestingly, we haven’t heard very much that are keeping outdoor sports from returning to the way they were conducted in 2019 and earlier.

That is, except the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

While the sporting landscape is returning to pre-2019 rules (meaning that field hockey is going back to 11-v-11), the institution of mask rules is being delegated to the local level. That is to say, towns and individual school districts are being given the final say as to whether athletes will be masked.

Now, this mostly goes for outdoor activities; indoor sports (aside from swimming) are going to me almost universally masked up.

This is all occurring in a time when attention is being paid to the effects of the delta variant of the Coronavirus, a mutation which is said to be more lethal than previous iterations of the virus.

Thing is, there is now conflict brewing over whether schools should enforce mask mandates, even though some states have not opened vaccinations to those under the age of 16.

I think these various forces are not helping to flatten the COVID curve. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

Aug. 17, 2021 — And so it begins

Yesterday afternoon, with a whistle in Louisville, Ky., the domestic varsity field hockey season began as the first of roughly 15,000 scholastic field hockey games was contested between Louisville Collegiate School (Ky.) and Louisville Seneca (Ky.).

With KCD’s 15-0 win over Seneca, the four-month road to identify the best team in the country has begun as the first of some 23 states and the District of Columbia will be hosting matches.

For the record, senior Finley Lowe, with her hat trick, is, for the moment, the nation’s leading scorer. And there will be plenty of people chasing her at the top of the goal-scoring leaderboard.

There will be many more games as action starts up in California, Ohio, and Kentucky this week. And, of course, there’s the 49th Annual Apple Tournament which is a traditional reference point for early-season field hockey.

In this tournament, the highlight of pool play will be Sunday when the protagonists of last year’s state final, host Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.) and the Christian Academy of Louisville (Ky.) meet at Horton Field at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Rarely has such an important contest come so early in a season.

Aug. 15, 2021 — Saying what everyone is thinking

The American scholastic field hockey season begins in earnest this week with a handful of games in Kentucky as well as the start of play in the annual Apple Tournament. But it also is still in the midst of a wave of COVID-19 illnesses due to the presence of the Delta variant.

Today, the New Haven Register published an article which asks the prime question that many people, not just scholastic sports people, are thinking: “Can High School Sports Be Played Safely With COVID?”

It’s worth a read and some critical thinking.

Aug. 12, 2021 — What Major League Baseball could teach the Olympics

This evening, there is going to be a baseball game being held in Dyersburg, Iowa, the home of the original Field of Dreams movie. Workers chopped out a second baseball diamond on the same cornfield used for the haunted field where farmer Ray Kinsella encountered the ghosts of baseball past.

That construction, including stands, a scoreboard, and a clubhouse, are all temporary and much of it is likely to be disassembled after the game. While the new field, irrigation system, dugouts, and benches remain, the disassembly of the bleachers and lights will take place in the next week.

Now, we’re in the midst of a four-year cycle of Olympic and Paralympic competitions, where cities and national governments are obligated to build sports facilities which often regrettably fall into disuse afterwards.

These “white elephants” range from a skating rink in Sarajevo to the field hockey facility in Athens to the ski jump ramps in Sochi to a number of unused venues in Rio. What all of these facilities have in common is that they were all assumed to be permanent structures for legacy use by athletes in those countries. But as we have seen, there have never been long-range plans to boost, say, the Brazilian field hockey program, the Greek baseball program, or the Italian ice hockey team.

The MLB game this evening is one of many sporting events which use temporary structures to hold the event, then are quickly disassembled after it is over. Other sporting events, such as auto races on street circuits (such as the Monaco Grand Prix), extreme sports (the X Games or the Dew Tour), or events like the NHL Winter Classic, are held so that, once the finish line is crossed, the last medals awarded, or the final horn sounds, the workers can start on disassembling the ramps, grandstands, or the rink so that it leaves little trace that anything had ever happened.

It’s amazing and mind-boggling that the International Olympic Committee has not committed to this model, leaving the host organizing committees to plan the infrastructure needed to have an Olympics. Some Olympics have been more successful than others when it comes to building for the long term; London, for example, repurposed almost every one of its new facilities after 2012, including a teardown of the Riverbank field hockey complex at Olympic Park.

I have this vision of a bolt-together field hockey complex, including drainage of the artificial pitch (no matter what kind of turf is chosen by FIH in the future), seating, locker rooms, and press box, which could travel around Europe, Asia, and the world to host FIH world-level competitions.

The way I see it, if beverage companies and major cable TV networks can design temporary facilities, so can the IOC.

Aug. 6, 2021 — An “unpoach” for another prominent hire

A couple of days ago, Michelle Vittese assumed the duties of coaching the Temple University field hockey program.

It’s a move necessitated by the resignation of Susan Ciufo-Bennett, but for me, Vittese’s hire is a wistful one. That’s because if things had been different, Vittese would still be an elite field hockey athlete in the high-performance pool. Had she continued her career after 2018, I think she and a few of the veterans from the Rio 2016 team could have made an enormous difference in Olympic qualifying team against an India team which won its way into the Final Four for the Tokyo Olympics.

Vittese has played with distinction in her high-performance career, first winning gold in the U-14 division of the National Futures Tournament, then playing on several incredibly successful U.S. teams. She was on teams that won two consecutive Pan American Games gold medals and helped bring the United States its first major trophy in the 94-year history of international play.

I think this is the start of something great in Philadelphia.

Aug. 4, 2021 — An Olympic final, realized

It took 95 seconds for India to get on the board against Argentina in the semifinals of the women’s field hockey tournament at Tokyo 2020.

There was one problem: India still had 58 1/2 minutes of defense to play.

Argentina, as is its wont, found a pair of goals from the penalty-corner arc from all-time leading scorer Noel Barrionuevo in a 2-1 win to send the Albicelestes to the gold-medal match.

While Argentina was able to play to the kind of form in which they have won numerous FIH world tournaments in the past, India seemed to forget what brought them to the early goal as well as the quarterfinal victory over Australia. India wasn’t playing free in the attacking third, and were seemingly chasing the game after Gurjit Kaur’s dragflick. India did have its chances for the equalizer, but these chances were infrequent.

Argentina, seeking its first Olympic title, take on the Netherlands, who took a 4-0 lead on the way to dispatching the defending champions from Team GB by a 5-1 final.

Aug. 3, 2021 — What they’re wearing at Oi Stadium

UniWatch is a long-running journalistic presence, starting with Paul Lukas’ occasional column in the independent weekly Village Voice to writing for ESPN and Facebook’s new Bulletin platform. He and a group of writers compile a daily blog on all things surrounding the sports uniform (and, occasionally, other uniforms, coats of arms, and vexillology).

Today, correspondent Jamie Rathjen has compiled a look at the field hockey uniforms that the 24 participating teams have been wearing at the Olympics.

It’s a good read.

Aug. 1, 2021 — A pivot, and some housekeeping

Hi, all. This being August 1, we start looking forward to the start of the domestic field hockey season with scholastic games starting as early as Aug. 17th in Kentucky. We’ll have our Fearless 5ive previews for NCAA Division I, II, and III, and we’ll also have our back-of-the-envelope preseason Top 10 towards the end of the month.

Now, you’ll note that, in the Chasing History lists to the right of this space, we’ve changed the colors of the graduated seniors to black, and the two current players amongst the top scorers in their respective sports — Ryleigh Heck in field hockey and Fran Frieri in lacrosse — are listed in red.

Unlike in previous years, however, we’re keeping both the field hockey and lacrosse lists on the site rather than swapping out the field hockey list in January and the lacrosse list in August.

Mind you, we’ll still be keeping an eye on lacrosse during this month, with the inaugural season of Athletes Unlimited heading into the homestretch and with rosters for the 2022 FIL Women’s World Cup and 2023 U-19 World Cup being determined in the next few weeks.

Best of luck to the competitors, no matter what the sport.