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Archive for Lacrosse

Jan. 17, 2019 — Unequal treatment on TV, yet again

The Big East Conference has been scrambled and shaken over the last few years, owing to conference reconstruction particularly in men’s basketball.

These days, the Big East does have some good programs; on the men’s side, Denver University won an NCAA championship a few years back, and on the women’s, Georgetown made a pair of Final Fours at the inception of the 21st Century.

But when the television schedule for Big East lacrosse was released today, it was notable for only one thing: inequality.

The schedule has six men’s lacrosse games spread across the Fox and CBS Sports networks, while the women have just one.

One. And it isn’t even a conference matchup: instead, the only time any of the networks are willing to show a Big East women’s team is when Maryland makes the 12-mile drive to Georgetown University.

The student-athletes on the women’s lacrosse teams at Butler, Villanova, Denver, Marquette, and Old Dominion should be up in arms, as they won’t get a single minute of TV exposure in the network schedule.

This space certainly notices the discrimination.

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Jan. 2, 2019 — Additions to the sidelines?

There’s been a surfeit of game-changing players who have cantered through the NCAA Division I ranks the last few years. And yet, I haven’t seen a resulting flood of players joining coaching staffs at major U.S. colleges.

There have been a few top players joining Division I programs as assistants such as Gussie Johns (Georgetown), Megan Whittle (Dartmouth), and Kara Mupo (Stanford).

Where’s everybody else? A lot of the graduating seniors have signed with lacrosse companies and are coaching travel teams. That’s how three-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner Taylor Cummings trained up in order to be able to take over the dominant girls’ scholastic program of the 2010s, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.).

But because a lot of the talent in Division I last year was in the junior class, it will be a while before you see Selena Lasota, Sam Apuzzo, and (maybe) Kenzie Kent coaching somewhere.

Then again, Kent’s likely to be somewhere on a rink once her playing days are done at Boston College. The choices are going to be dizzying for this elite two-sport player.

 

Dec. 30, 2018 — Wishes for the new year

There’s been a lot going on in this space over the last year, and, while people are making resolutions for 2019, here are a few things we hope will happen:

I am hoping for the best for a very young U.S. women’s national field hockey side as they begin training for the 2019 FIH Pro League. I hope that the young players, especially Erin Matson and Mackenzie Allessie, show that they belong at this level.

I’m also hoping that the U.S. team finds a good holding midfielder as well as a drag-flick specialist (yep, it’s the age-old problem, but it’s still a going concern).

I hope that U.S. field hockey watchers remember a decade ago when goalkeeper Belen Succi had exactly two international caps when she joined Argentina at the 2008 Olympics, and is now seen as one the Albecelestes’ all-time greats.

I hope that girls’ lacrosse watchers, especially in Florida, are able to appreciate the freight train that is Caitlyn Wurzburger as she is threatening the all-time numbers for goals; she already had the assist mark as a sophomore, no less.

I hope that the Boston College women’s lacrosse team is able to handle all of the scrutiny that will follow silver-medal efforts  the last two years, choosing instead to focus on the next possession.

I hope that the NCAA doesn’t decide to make the women’s lacrosse draw identical to the men’s, making it a more physical endeavor than what it is now.

I hope that the NCAA women’s lacrosse and field hockey tournament committees make it a point to reward mid-major teams for how they do during the season and not create multi-year monopolies which are difficult to compete against.

I hope that Carli Lloyd will have a glimpse at final glory at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

I hope that a soccer player nobody heard of four years ago, such as an Abby Dahlkemper or Lynn Williams, makes an enormous impact in the U.S. team’s performance this summer.

I hope the tournament also become a great platform to show how good a player Tobin Heath is.

I hope both the WNBA and NWSL establish — and enforce — minimum standards for their teams so that you don’t have the greatest players in the world in their craft having to play in an building one step up from the local high school.

And I wish you, my readers, all the best in health and happiness for the New Year.

Dec. 26, 2018 — Return of a familiar name

The words “Samaras” and “Annapolis” are, together, synonymous with success in girls’ and women’s lacrosse.

Whether it was family matriarch Cathy Samaras running her lacrosse company Synapse Sports, or daughters Cory, Crista, and Stephy earning Division I All-America status after prepping at Annapolis (Md.), there has been a certain magic when it comes to the marriage of the two entities.

In the spring of 2019, there will be a return to the coaching box for Stephy Samaras, who has been the assistant coach for Annapolis for the last four years, but she’s assuming all of the responsibility this coming season. She has no illusions as to how difficult the task is, given the competitiveness in Anne Arundel County as well as the number of backyards rivals who have won championships. The last decade has seen Annapolis Broadneck (Md.), Severna Park (Md.), and Edgewater South River (Md.) win titles.

But Samaras has also noted that the balance of competition has shifted from the quality public-school programs to the schools in the Independent Athletic Association of Maryland, notably Towson Notre Dame Prep (Md.) and Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.).

“I think if you live in Annapolis and you have money, you don’t go to Annapolis High School,” Samaras told The Capital Gazette. “If everyone who lived in Annapolis went to the public high school, there wouldn’t be a conversation about what’s happened at Annapolis. The connection between Annapolis and the schools and programs that feed into it is lost.”

Finding it again is a mission which will take some time, but it will be fun to see how the program matures with her at the helm.

Dec. 17, 2018 — The biennial solution

A year ago, we wrote this.

Over the weekend, the CEO of FIH, Thierry Weil, told media that the international governing body would start holding Junior World Cup competitions on a biennial basis as early as 2021.

“We need to support youth in sport and give every generation a chance to participate in Junior World Cup,” Weil told media members assembled in India for the FIH men’s World Cup. “If we don’t, we lose a generation of players.”

Evidently, FIH is looking to other Olympic sports for inspiration. FIFA holds a U-20 World Cup every other year, and the IIHF holds its World Junior Championships ever single year.

It would appear as though the International Lacrosse Federation is next.

Dec. 8, 2018 — LAX 4 LA?

This past week, it was announced that the International Olympic Committee had recognized the international federations of kickboxing, the Russian combat sport called sambo, and lacrosse.

The people involved with the game of lacrosse have been overflowing with enthusiasm, believing that the sport is going to be a full Olympic participant by the time the Summer Olympics return to Los Angeles in 2028.

But count your Founder in the “wait and see” camp.

There are dozens of athletic and even semi-athletic competitive disciplines which have status with the International Olympic Committee that aren’t even close to being on the Olympic program, and are likely not to be without significant changes to the way the Olympics are contested.

Right now, there are caps on overall participation of athletes. An addition of a sport would result in the reduction in number of participants in other competitions. Note, for example, changes in the number of weight classes in boxing and weightlifting over the years as sports like tennis, golf, and rugby have been added.

But my skepticism about adding lacrosse to the Olympic program is mostly about the current hegemony in the sport worldwide. Let’s be honest: the Big Four medal contenders on both the men’s and women’s sides are the United States, Canada, Australia, and Team GB (the united team of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as they would be playing in an Olympics).

I do laud the powers-that-be in lacrosse for increasing the reach of the sport, especially through hosting the most recent FIL men’s World Cup in Israel.

But there are still large swaths of the globe — Central Asia, Africa, South America — which do not yet have the sport at a competitive level with The Big Four. I think lacrosse falls short of the criteria for inclusion because it is not played in enough countries.

In addition, there could be some unforeseen problems. In an Olympics, there would not be a presence for a Haudenosaunee team of Native Americans and First Nations players from Canada. That could be a major issue down the road.

Let’s see what happens.

Dec. 3, 2018 — BULLETIN: Pacific to fold its field hockey tent, a major setback for the sport out West

The state of California is the sixth largest economy in the world. Yet, somehow, it has trouble in this modern age supporting a competitive league for varsity collegiate field hockey.

Today, it was announced that the University of the Pacific would be discontinuing the sport to save a million dollars from its athletics programs. Field hockey, according to a press release sent out by the school, is the only sport which is being affected at the Stockton, Calif. campus.

There have been rumblings on social media for a couple weeks about this impending move, and there may yet be a successful fundraising campaign designed to keep the sport afloat.

But as we posited a few weeks ago, the road (and road trips) for both field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams west of the Mississippi are difficult ones. Without a major conference to back the participating teams, there is no automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, something which will be happening in 2019 with field hockey and 2021 with women’s lacrosse except for the fortunate sides which are in the Pac-12.

Truth be told, however, so much of what is going on with teams currently playing these two sports is completely dependent on the landscape of college conferences which have gone from regional to national footprints.

And, that being said, why is it that many of these schools can afford to send 85 football players and a large coaching staff to road games two time zones away, and yet can’t sustain a group of 20 women who want to play?