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April 21, 2018 — A change in recruitment, but is it the right one?

This week, the NCAA Division I Council voted to change a very important date in the recruitment calendar of high-school athletes.

The day is Sept. 1 of a potential student-athlete’s junior year of high school. That’s the first day that a player may make an official visit to a university campus, and the first day of permissible contact between a coaching staff and a recruit.

The vote, made during meetings of the Council last Tuesday and Wednesday, was spun by the NCAA as some sort of major initiative:

[M]ost prospective student-athletes will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college … The new recruiting model allows potential student-athletes more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school.

The rules were written for every NCAA sport except for football and men’s and women’s basketball. A few sports, like softball, see the rules as necessary given the number of 8th-10th grade commitments that have become the norm, especially amongst mid-major softball programs.

It must, however, be pointed out that there have been more than enough sophomore, freshman, and even middle-school commitments which have hit the news in both field hockey and girls’ lacrosse the last three years.

Indeed, when Syracuse announced that it had landed Caitlyn Wurzburger, an attacker now playing for Florida powerhouse Delray American Heritage (Fla.), a vote one year ago this week amongst NCAA lacrosse coaches put a ban on certain kinds of contact before Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior season.

Sound familiar?

That’s pretty much the same legislation that was passed by the NCAA Council this week to cover most of the rest of Division I scholarship programs, albeit the Division I softball coaches have put down more severe strictures in a separate vote.

Now, it’s dubious what the long-term impact is going to be. In field hockey, a number of players have already escaped before the barn door closed. Carly Hynd, a freshman from Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.), committed a few weeks ago to the University of Maryland. And rising senior Sammy Popper, who contributed to the United States senior women’s indoor national team a few months ago, had committed to Princeton during her freshman year at Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.).

I do not know how many more freshmen or sophomores will be precluded from making verbal commitments or early decisions. I guess it’s the hope that the NCAA Council’s vote will give parents more time to make a good decision about their child’s future, or whether the Council will adopt softball’s stronger rules governing phone contact between coaches and recruits.

But given the national-team, professional, or Olympic dreams of some of these players and the single-mindedness of some to do whatever it takes to pick the right college, there will still be a handful of very elite players who will take an early plunge, sometimes just to get the decision over with.

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April 21, 2018 — Fulcrum Week, Part 1: Duke vs. UNC

Game time: 3 p.m. today

Location: Fetzer Field, UNC

The records: Duke 7-7, 22nd ranked in polls, UNC 11-3, 5th ranked in polls

Key players: UNC: Marie McCool (sr., c), Ela Hazar (sr., f), Naomi Lerner (sr., d). Duke: Olivia Jenner (so., c), Callie Humphrey (jr., d), Charlotte North (fr., f)

Key matchup: McCool vs. Jenner on the center draw. Note who wins the initial touch on the draw but who may lose it on a stick check and never get a chance to get it into the attack zone

The skinny: This game could very well be Duke’s season. Here’s why: if the Blue Devils lose this game, it will be 7-8 on the season heading into the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament. If Duke loses that quarterfinal as well, it will be 7-9 and that last pickup game against East Carolina will not be able to save them from being ineligible for the Division I tournament

Note: Go to Instagram (@totc) after the game is over for my Unfiltered perspective on the contest.

April 20, 2018 — Friday Statwatch for games played through April 18

Hi, all. We’re back with Statwatch, a feature of this site which tries to tie together the present and the past when it comes to girls’ high school lacrosse.

Today, we’ll point up the fact that last year’s national scoring leader, Charlie Rudy from Novato (Calif.), is ascending the all-time charts (sitting to the right of this column if you are reading this on a computer, below if you are on a mobile device).

Rudy needs a mere 18 goals to crack the Top 10 for goals scored in a four-year varsity career, and she needs just five goals or assists to crack the Top 10 for combined goals and assists, which I think is even more impressive.

Below is a compilation of girls’ lacrosse statistics from various sources including MaxPreps.com, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage you — coach, manager, athletic director, or thought leader — to convince your team, your school, league, or state governing body to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
96 Hannah Carolan, Jacksonville Stanton (Fla.)
86 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
84 Chelsea Smith, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
83 Hailey Carroll, Christian Academy of Knoxville (Tenn.)
83 Stela Chepenik, Episcopal School of Jacksonville (Fla.)
81 Meghan George, Merritt Island Edgewood (Fla.)
78 Rebekah Hartnett, El Cajon Granite Hills (Calif.)
78 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
65 Megan Davis, Neptune Beach Fletcher (Fla.)
62 Samantha Douglass, Estero (Fla.)
52 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
52 Logan Dougherty, Fairfax W. T. Woodson (Va.)
47 Gwenna Gentle, Shallotte West Brunswick (N.C.)

44 Emma Pizzo, Charleston Bishop England (S.C.)
43 Hali Sabilia, Greenwood Village Cherry Creek (Colo.)
43 Christie Coulter, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

41 Zoe Katz, Fort Mill (S.C.)
40 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

 

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
417 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
350 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
284 Camryn Rogers, Somerville (N.J.)
234 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
176 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)
165 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
135 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
190 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)

COACHING WINS
760 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
542 Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (N.J.)

So, this is just the start of the journey. If you see something missing, 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 dropping in; see you in six days.

April 19, 2018 — Bracketology, 2018

We’re only a couple of weeks from Selection Sunday, and the Syracuse fansite Troy Nunes Is A Magician has an excellent primer for the contenders for the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament field.

And, as I posited during last Saturday’s tournament, a number of prominent teams are in serious trouble. This includes Syracuse, Duke, and whoever finishes third in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Compare this to Lacrosse Magazine’s bracketology column from yesterday. Both show that the growth of the game nationwide is causing a number of prominent programs some problems when it comes to making the postseason.

April 17, 2018 — Top 10 for the week of April 15

There are a number of great showdowns on tap for this week, not the least of which was No. 1 McDonogh traveling to Alexandria, Va. to face Bishop Ireton yesterday (the result of which won’t figure here because the Top 10 runs through the end of play on Sunday). There is also going to be an amazing public-school tilt when Marriotts Ridge takes on South River, in what could be a bellweather game for state championship honors for public schools.

For our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week, let’s give a call to Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.). The Crusaders are unbeaten in the state of North Carolina this year, only losing to Milton (Ga.), Springfield (Pa.), and Washington Georgetown Visitation (D.C.). The two-time defending state champions are looking to add a third.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 11-0

Eagles have a Wednesday showdown hosting Olney Good Counsel (Md.) on Friday before the meat of its IAAM schedule starting on Friday

2. Pittsford (N.Y.) 4-0

Panthers have been fighting wintry weather as well as a tough slate of opponents; they may not have a tested opponent for another month because of the postponements

3. Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 8-1

Cardinals will have three games on three consecutive days later this week

4. Novato (Calif.) 12-1

Hornets dominated Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) on Saturday, albeit it was the Trevians’ second game of the day

5. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 6-0

Mustangs have a Friday test against Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.)

6. Edgewater South River (Md.) 8-0

Seahawks won all five of their midseason road games and have a showdown today against Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.)

7. Glenelg (Md.) 6-2

Early-season rough patch has benefitted this Gladiator side, especially in beating Marriotts Ridge (Md.) by five last time out

8. Marriottsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.) 7-1

Mustangs lost last time out to Glenelg (Md.) and will be looking to rebound against South River

9. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 7-3

Blazers got quality wins over Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) and Vaughn Hill Academy (Ont.) last week

10. Delray American Heritage (Fla.) 14-1

After crushing Orlando Lake Highland (Fla.) 22-9, Stallions await playoff seedings

11. Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 10-3

The Crusaders had statement wins in their sweep of their Charlotte road trip, beating Charlotte Country Day School and Charlotte Latin

And bear in mind: Darien (Conn.) 4-0, Ellicott City Glenelg Country School (Md.) 6-2, Moorestown (N.J.) 7-1, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.) 5-2, Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) 5-1, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 13-2

April 16, 2018 — Seeing double, moreover

A quarter of a century ago, the field hockey team at Florence (N.J.) Memorial boasted three sets of twins — the Luybers, the Correntis, and the Careys, whose niece Lexi Smith would eventually break the National Federation record for career field hockey goals.

This year, another team in the capital region of New Jersey has a similar story, but it is a girls’ lacrosse team. Read Joe O’Gorman’s notes about the four (yes, four) sets of twins at Lawrence Notre Dame (N.J.).

April 15, 2018 — Road lessons

A pair of prominent girls’ lacrosse teams have been embarking on multi-game road trips this weekend.

Winnetka New Trier (Ill.), the Illinois state champions in 2015 and perennial powerhouse in greater Chicagoland, played three games in the San Francisco Bay Area, while Vaughn Hill Academy (Calif.) has been on a three-game swing in Maryland against three of the tougher IAAM Flight “A” sides.

Both touring teams are learning lessons about travel, preparation, and management of both individual health and team dynamics, as well as what it takes to win in an unfamiliar environment.

New Trier started off its road trip with a 14-11 win over San Francisco St. Ignatius (Calif.), then won a 14-8 decision over Concord Carondelet (Calif.) in a match when the Trevians had to play a quarter of the game down at least one player because of an accumulation of yellow cards.

The Carondelet game was one of two games New Trier played yesterday, as the afternoon match was against CIF North Coast champion Novato (Calif.). Novato roared out to a 12-1 halftime lead on the way to a 20-6 victory.

Hill Academy, one of only a handful of superprep girls’ lacrosse teams in North America, started its road trip with a 12-7 loss to Brooklandville Maryvale Prep (Md.), then lost 12-10 today to Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) in a game moved to early morning to avoid torrential rainstorms projected for the mid-Atlantic.

We don’t know whether Hill will be able to get in tomorrow’s match against Ellicott City Glenelg Country School (Md.) tomorrow, given the fact that at least an inch and a half of rain is projected to fall. But we know Hill has played some of its fall lacrosse tournament matches in snowy conditions, so I don’t think rain will play a factor here unless the rain completely overwhelms the multi-use turf pitch on the Glenelg Country School campus.

But then it goes to show you that part of the educational system should perhaps involve meteorology.