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May 23, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of May 21

More playoffs are under way this week, and a number of states or commonwealths finish out play. This includes the three public-school divisions in Maryland, which means that Glenelg (Md.) is attempting to finish off an undefeated season this afternoon.

Our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week is the girls’ lacrosse team at Windsor (Calif.). The program suffered through a rough first couple of seasons — somewhat rougher than most. The Jaguars not only did not win a single game in 2015 and 2016, the team scored one goal or fewer on at least 13 occasions. But head coaches Aaron and Kristin Piotter got their team to believe in what they were doing, and completely turned their fortunes around. The Jaguars had a good enough record to qualify for the North Coast Section Division II tournament, which is a tremendous victory in and of itself.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 22-0

Season complete: Beat Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 12-9 in IAAM Class “A” championship game; win streak now at 177 games

2. Ridgewood (N.J.) 19-0

Outscored three opponents last week by a combined score of 70-8; Maroons face Basking Ridge Ridge (N.J.) in Group IV North 2 semifinal today

3. Glenelg (Md.) 19-0

Gladiators take on Bel Air C. Milton Wright (Md.) in MPSSAA Class 3A/2A final this afternoon at Stevenson University

4. East Setauket Ward Melville (N.Y.) 16-0

Patriots played West Islip (N.Y.) yesterday for a chance to go to the NYSPHSAA Section XI Class A semifinal on May 24th

5. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 11-2

Mustangs meet winner of Westhampton (N.Y.) and Sayville (N.Y.) in NYSPHSAA Section XI Class C semifinal on May 25th

6. San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 23-0

Season complete: Beat a very good Poway (Calif.) side in the CIF San Diego Open Division championship

7. Brighton (N.Y.) 14-0

Barons play Rochester Irondequoit (N.Y.) in the NYSPHSAA Section V Class B quarterfinals

8. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 17-2

Season complete: Blazers had momentum in the first half and the lead until McDonogh went on a 7-0 run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 10-4 lead

9. Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.) 18-5

Met Pottstown Hill School (Pa.) in PAISAA quarterfinals yesterday

10. Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 19-5

Cardinals got the ball in overtime and overcame a late comeback in the VISL title match against Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

11. Windsor (Calif.) 9-5

Jaguars got an early lead on San Francisco Lick-Wilmderding (Calif.) but could not sustain the scoring as they lost 11-3

Who’s out: Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 9-8 OT loss to Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)

And bear in mind: Darien (Conn.) 13-3, Orlando Bishop Moore (Fla.) 20-4, Milton (Ga.) 19-4, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 17-4, Moorestown (N.J.) 17-2, Fayettteville-Manlius (N.Y.) 13-3, Camillus West Genesee (N.Y.) 13-3, Newfield Middle Country (N.Y.) 13-3, Garden City (N.Y.) 15-1, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 18-2, Massilon Jackson (Ohio) 19-0, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 18-2, Wilson West Lawn (Pa.) 21-1, Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 18-1, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 27-2

May 21, 2017 — Four-for-four

With this afternoon’s 14-12 win over Princeton, the Penn State women’s lacrosse team returns to the Final Four in an attempt to win its first national championship since 1989.

The Nittany Lions also helped fill out an interesting coaching backstory for this season’s championship, as Missy Doherty — like fellow coaches Acacia Walker and Cathy Reese — played for Navy head coach Cindy Timchal while at Maryland.

Timchal’s coaching tree is indeed impressive, and especially with the three coaches alongside her at this year’s national semifinals. Just look at the number of national titles each have:

Cindy Timchal
Coach: Naval Academy
Number of national championships: Eight (head coach)

Missy Doherty
Coach: Penn State
Number of national championships: Three (player); two (assistant coach)

Acacia Walker
Coach: Boston College
Number of national championships: Three (assistant coach)

Cathy Reese
Coach: Maryland
Number of national championships: Four (player), two (assistant coach), three (head coach)

Should be an interesting week; wonder what it’s going to be like if the four of them meet up either before or after the weekend.

May 20, 2017 — The old order, upset

Women’s lacrosse, for all of its attempts at sociological and geographical diversity, still has had only five different schools win an NCAA Division I championship since Harvard won the title in 1990.

There have been a number of teams which have tried to place themselves in the role of contender: Syracuse, Florida, Colorado, and this year’s dark horse, Southern California. But the game was still ruled by a small handful of teams; the last four years, three of the national finals featured both North Carolina and Maryland.

Today, in the wildest quarterfinal round since the tournament expanded from six teams some 20 years ago, that reality was substantially upended.

There will be a new national champion, as North Carolina was downed 16-14 by the United States Naval Academy. The Midshipmen are going to meet Boston College, a 20-14 winner over Southern Cal, in the national semifinals. This means that a first-time Final Four participant is guaranteed to be in the title match.

Stony Brook, which has been improving in the decade since Joe Spallina moved from Division II Adelphi, almost joined Navy and Boston College in the Final Four. But Maryland rallied back from a four-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes of play to take a 13-12 win.

Stony Brook did what it needed to do to win the game. It gave the ball to U.S. national teamer Kylie Ohlmiller, who was magnificent this season. She had an all-time season on the statistical end, scoring 78 goals and assisting on a record 86 others.

But the Seawolves lost seven of the last nine draws of the game and barely saw the ball in the final ten minutes. In that time span, the game’s key players — Taylor Hensh, Jen Giles, and Caroline Steele got the goals against a very aggressive Stony Brook defense.

How aggressive? The team recorded 57 fouls, which, in the held-whistle era of college lacrosse, is unheard of. Most importantly, Stony Brook was shown yellow on five occasions. It was the last one that allowed Steele a man-up chance on a free position that tied the game.

If there was one thread that unified the three results, it was the Cindy Timchal coaching tree. Timchal, with her win as head of the Naval Academy team, is back in the national semifinals for the first time since 2003.

Two of her proteges join her in Foxboro next week. Cathy (Nelson) Reese, an All-America attacking midfielder and multiple championship winner at Maryland, has been the coach in College Park since 2006. Boston College’s head coach is Acacia Walker, who played for Timchal in the early 2000s.

A third could join tomorrow: Missy (Holmes) Doherty played at Maryland from 1994-97, winning three NCAA titles as a defender. She coaches a Penn State team which, oddly enough, was the school that won the national championship a year before Harvard in 1990, the start of the current closed hegemony of women’s lacrosse.

It’s a hegemony which could burst wide open next week.

May 19, 2017 — Friday Statwatch for games played through May 17

Greetings, and we’re opening up the Statwatch window, allowing you a look at national girls’ lacrosse statistics as we interpret them and see what is going on.

As players from cold-weather areas are catching up to competitors in other states, we’re seeing some great seasons from players all across the country. Let’s give a call this week to Jill Girardi, a senior from Watertown (N.Y.). This past week, she crossed the 400-point plateau in this her fifth varsity season, and she has just kept on scoring as Watertown is advancing on a berth in the Class B sectionals.

What you see below are compiled from, amongst others, 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.

To make lists like these better in the future, I encouraging you 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. Indeed, this past week, the Florida High School Athletic Association agreed to terms with MaxPreps, so that’s an important cog on board.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
151 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
119 Camryn Rogers, Somerville (N.J.)
111 Jordan Shugrue, Laurel St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.)
111 Zoe Belodeau, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
107 Elizabeth Murphy, Centreville (Va.)
106 Kaitlin Mead, Sparta (N.J.)
105 Abigail Daigle, Millville (N.J.)
104 Ryann Doyle, Seymour (Tenn.)
103 Mary Markwordt, Roswell Blessed Trinity (Ga.)
102 Tess Meurling, Apex (N.C.)
102 Hennessey Evans, Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills (Calif.)
101 Kiersen Foust, Greensboro Southeast Guilford (N.C.)
100 Hailey Carroll, Fulton (N.Y.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
92 Victoria Tucci, North Brunswick (N.J.)
82 Sydney Hogan, Branford (Conn.)
81 Madison Dunk, Durham (N.C.) Academy
80 Lea Cox, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
73 Allison Hunter, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
70 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
68 KateReagan Costello, Gulf Breeze (Fla.)
68 Sydney Roderick, Adams South Jefferson (N.Y.)
68 Madeline Hooks, Santa Ana Mater Dei (Calif.)
67 Allie Level, Novato (Calif.)

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, CAREER
460 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
385 Jamie Ortega, Newfield Middle Country Central (N.Y.)
365 Danielle Van Calcar, Ramapo (N.J.)
347 Paige Petty, Bernards (N.J.)
329 Ally Mastroianni, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.)
313 Zoe Belodeau, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
312 Charlie Rudy, Novato (Calif.)
305 Abigail Daigle, Millville (N.J.)
301 Lindsay Gerrato, Berkeley Heights Governor Livingston (N.J.)
263 Jillian Girardi, Watertown (N.Y.)
258 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)

250 Peyton Hornung, Fort Myers Canterbury (Fla.)
239 Gabrielle Fornia, Medford Lenape (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, CAREER
293 Allison Hunter, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)

INDIVIDUAL POINTS (COMBINED GOALS AND ASSISTS), CAREER
587 Bridget Ruskey, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
555 Jamie Ortega, Newfield Middle Country Central (N.Y.)
552 Danielle Van Calcar, Ramapo (N.J.)
528 Ally Mastroianni, Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.)
524 Zoe Belodeau, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)
509 Allison Hunter, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
462 Gabrielle Fornia, Medford Lenape (N.J.)
419 Paige Petty, Bernards (N.J.)
414 Jillian Girardi, Watertown (N.Y.)
381 Jenna Herlihy, Cape May Courthouse Middle Township (N.J.)
374 Abigail Daigle, Millville (N.J.)
371 Lindsay Gerrato, Berkeley Heights Governor Livingston (N.J.)
362 Braelie Kempney, Carthage (N.Y.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
177 Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.)

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

If you see something missing or wrong, feel free 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 in seven days.

May 17, 2017 — Preliminary metrics applied to the possession clock

The folks at Anonymous Eagle have put together an interesting treatise on how the pace of play has changed in women’s lacrosse during the transition into the possession clock era.

It is an incomplete picture, of course. If you wanted to do a scientific study, you’d want to take a pretty good sized sample — say, about 10 percent of Division I teams, spanning the gamut from teams that play good defense (Duke, Colorado) to the attack-minded (Maryland, Syracuse). You would need teams that play a lot of games in the snow, and others that play almost exclusively in the temperate zone. You would need teams both below and above .500 on the season.

Also, when designing a study, you cannot compare only the 2017 season to the several seasons previous to it. I’d think you would like to have up to three years’ worth of data per team on either side of the imposition of the 90-second clock in order to get a true sense of how the game has changed.

Were we to look only at Marquette’s data as a model for the entirety of NCAA Division I, we would wind up with a skewed picture, because the Warriors were a quicker and more high-scoring team in 2016 than they were in 2015. In the final year without the clock, they scored, as a team, 50 more goals and had nearly five more offensive possessions per game than the previous season.

Taken as a continuum, Marquette’s 2015 to 2017 improvement was staggering. The number of goals scored nearly doubled, and the number of attack-zone possessions rose by a third.

I think some more data gathering would be appropriate, no?

 

May 16, 2017 — Top 10 for the week of May 14

With some seasons being completed, the story of the 2017 girls’ lacrosse season is starting to come to a close in some places. With about a month left until all state tournaments are completed, one of the most important championships was finished off last Saturday.

That came in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, which saw its “A” title being won, for the ninth straight season, by Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.). It is a team which is quick on its feet and quick in its mind, knowing what it has to do even before some of its fans do. The team’s winning streak is at 177 games despite the slings and arrows of teams from Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and even the superprep team from Hill Academy.

Who will fill in behind McDonogh? Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks.

Our honorary No. 11 Team of the Week is Lindenwood University, which this week plays in the NCAA Division II Final Four for the fourth straight season. The catch is that the Lady Lions have to go up against the defending national champions from Florida Southern.

1. Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) 22-0

Season complete: Beat Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 12-9 in IAAM Class “A” championship game; win streak now at 177 games

2. Ridgewood (N.J.) 16-0

Maroons toughed out a 10-8 win over Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) in a likely preview of the Tournament of Champions

3. Glenelg (Md.) 16-0

Gladiators played yesterday against Marriotsville Marriotts Ridge (Md.) in MPSSAA Class 3A/2A South semifinal

4. East Setauket Ward Melville (N.Y.) 16-0

Patriots will meet the winner of Dix Hills Half Hollow Hills (N.Y.) and West Islip (N.Y.) in NYSPHSAA Section XI Class A quarterfinal on May 22nd

5. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 11-2

Mustangs meet winner of Westhampton (N.Y.) and Sayville (N.Y.) in NYSPHSAA Section XI Class C semifinal on May 25th

6. San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) 23-0

Season complete: Beat a very good Poway (Calif.) side in the CIF San Diego Open Division championship

7. Brighton (N.Y.) 14-0

Barons start NYSPHSAA Section V play this Saturday and is a hot favorite to win Class B honors

8. Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) 17-2

Season complete: Blazers had momentum in the first half and the lead until McDonogh went on a 7-0 run to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 10-4 lead

9. Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) 23-1

Saints start VISL play with a home game tomorrow against Charlottesville St. Anne’s-Belfield (Va.)

10. Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 16-0

Carroll bested Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 11-6 last week; they await a play-in opponent for their Philadelphia Catholic League tournament opener May 18th

11. Lindenwood 21-1

Lions managed a top-four seed despite losing in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference final to Regis University

Who’s out: None

And bear in mind: Darien (Conn.) 12-4, Orlando Bishop Moore (Fla.) 20-4, Milton (Ga.) 15-4, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) 14-4, Moorestown (N.J.) 15-2, Fayettteville-Manlius (N.Y.) 12-3, Camillus West Genesee (N.Y.) 11-3, Newfield Middle Country (N.Y.) 12-2, Garden City (N.Y.) 14-1, Rosemont Agnes Irwin (Pa.) 15-5, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.) 18-2, Massilon Jackson (Ohio) 17-0, Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.) 16-2, Wilson West Lawn (Pa.) 20-1, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.) 16-5

May 14, 2017 — The game, unrecognizable

Bill Tierney, who brought Princeton and Denver University to NCAA championships and the United States to the FIL World Cup in 1998, always coached to his strengths and several principles. One of them: you don’t have to score more than 19 goals in a game.

But when you look at the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse bracket, you notice something which, admittedly, could be a result of the possession clock: a scoring bonanza.

This year, teams have exceeded the 20-goal barrier seven times. That’s nearly 39 percent of playoff games. The tournament is supposed to be a place where competition is supposed to be closer.

But as we wrote last fall about the fact that nine PIAA field hockey tournament matches went to the mercy rule in 2016 alone, it’s hard to know whether the fault lies in the possession clock, the rules written to favor the offense, or players who are coached to be relentless even in runaway games.

I think the possession clock does make a difference, especially for teams who try to blunt a faster team by holding onto the ball for minutes at a time. It has taken the late-game stall out of the game except for the last two minutes of play. I think it’s more than that, however.

The possession clock is the topper on several rules which have changed the game from a flowing game of speed into basketball on turf. Players who get the ball and take it to the goal without so much as a look at open teammates are no longer of value at the next level. As a result, the interpassing in the attack end is better than it has ever been.

And, I guess, with good team play, the goals are coming. It’s a new age.