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August 3, 2019 — U19 World Cup: USA 12, Australia 4

As you might have expected, Caitlin Wurzburger, the leading point-scorer in the history of the National Federation, got two of the United States’ first three goals in just under five minutes in its pool-play opener against Australia. Wurzburger would also contribute four assists in the match for the Stars and Stripes.

Isabelle Scane also came up big for the States, scoring three goals and adding three assists, and Megan Carney also had a hat trick for the Americans.

But the reason the U.S. was able to develop such an advantage over the Koalas in this opener was dominance on the draw control circle. Duke rising sophomore Maddie Jenner, Northwestern’s Greta Stahl, and Vanderbilt’s Bri Gross were magnificent; Jenner and Stahl in winning the ball to themselves, and Gross using her speed and cunning to scoop up the goodies. Their proficiency led to 12 more American possessions than Australia would get, and it was far too much for the Green and Gold to overcome, though Madison Copeland would get a hat trick.

The U.S. team will take on another medal favorite, England, this evening before the Sunday showdown with defending gold medal-winner Canada.

July 29, 2019 — Bravely waging the good Fight

The WPLL Fight, a team which had posted an undefeated regular season thanks to all-star players such as Tewaaraton Trophy winners Taylor Cummings and Megan Taylor, had just taken a 12-9 lead in the championship final yesterday in the heat of the day at U.S. Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Md.

But the WPLL Brave, the team that lost last year’s WPLL title match, had it all come together. Thanks to the Brave winning 14 of 17 draws in the second half, the team scored four consecutive goals to close out a 13-12 win.

Amanda Johansen, late of USC, had three of the four goals, the last of which came with about two minutes to go. Dempsey Arsenault of Boston College was named game MVP with a four-goal effort.

But as you might expect, it was the third member of the Brave’s midfield unit, Marie McCool, who was the key cog in the team’s comeback effort. McCool took almost all of the draws in the second term and gave the team more attack zone possessions.

July 26, 2019 — United States Coach of the Year: Chris Robinson, Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.)

On January 17, 2018, Chris Robinson made an announcement that stunned the world of girls’ high school lacrosse in America.

He left an Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) program that he built into a national powerhouse, winning 177 consecutive games and eight straight championships in the IAAM “A” Division, the nation’s toughest conference, and moved to Florida to coach Orlando Lake Highland Prep.

On May 11, 2019, Robinson’s decision bore fruit. He had guided an Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) side to a state championship win.

But just the fact of winning a state title is not enough to justify Robinson’s choice as the TopOfTheCircle.com United States Coach of the Year for 2019.

After all, Florida is now the area of the United States with the most growth potential in girls’ scholastic lacrosse. Yes, there are about 350 scholastic programs in New York and another 100 or so in Maryland, but Florida is now a place where teams from all over the country come and play scrimmages or early-season league matches.

In addition, Florida is now the home of rising senior and U-19 national teamer Caitlyn Wurzburger, who has scored 100 goals and assisted on 100 others each of the last four years, a feat that may never be repeated.

It was Wurzburger who provided an acid test for Lake Highland the second game of Robinson’s tenure at the school, and it was her Delray American Heritage (Fla.) side which won the game by a 17-8 score.

Lake Highland wouldn’t be that outclassed again the entire season. The Highlanders took on all comers, including a good Brooklandville St. Paul’s (Md.) team which fell in overtime in this year’s IAAM “A” final, as well as Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.), Ellicott City Glenelg Country School (Md.), and assorted teams from North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

But the time the regular-season ended, the Lake Highland team had very much bought into Robinson’s system: win the draws, take good shots, value the ball, and play good defense.

The state championship win means that Robinson, in his coaching career, has a mark of 386 wins, 20 defeats, and one draw. That is a 95 percent winning percentage, which puts him alongside the likes of Danyle Heilig in field hockey, Anson Dorrance in collegiate women’s soccer, Sharon Pfluger in women’s college lacrosse, and Clair Bee in men’s college basketball, all of which are 90 percent or greater.

Also considered:

Lauren Benner, Highlands Ranch Valor Christian (Colo.): Team made its first state final, only to fall to Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

Peter Collins, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.): Led the Trevians to their first Illinois High School Association state title, and the program’s first state title of any kind since 2008

Taylor Cummings, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.): Didn’t fiddle too much with the formula that has made this program so dominant this decade. The Eagles ran the table in the nation’s best lacrosse conference, showing a lot of intangibles in coming back from a two-goal deficit in the IAAM final

David Gibson, Fenton Rockwood Summit (Mo.): Embraced its underdog status all season in winning the first state championship for a public-school team since 2000

Leslie Klenk, Auburn Saint Dominic Academy (Maine): While avenging last year’s 10-goal loss to Naples Lake Country (Maine), the Saints were able to do it with no substitutes because of injury and players unavailable due to trips

Rachel Lasda, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.): While the story of the 2019 season may have surrounded the coaches who left rivals Moorestown and Ridgewood, she led the Royals to the Group I and the Tournament of Champions titles

Brigid Scanlon, Sykesville South Carroll (Md.): Team took a 10-goal loss to crosstown rival Century and turned that motivation into the school’s first state championship in girls’ lacrosse

Michele Uhlfelder, San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.): National Lacrosse Hall-of-Famer had a splendid season as coach, and the team had a dominant run through the CIF San Diego Section Open Tournament

Xan Zimatore, Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.): Though a number of other teams in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association may have had gaudier out-of-conference schedules, Zimatore kept focus on the job ahead and guided the team to a win in the state final for private schools

July 25, 2019 — A detente, perhaps?

A month from now, there is going to be a two-hour event held in Sparks, Md. at the home of U.S. Lacrosse.

It’s a small youth clinic, limited to about 100 people from the ages of 5 to 14, and it is meant to show the interrelation between lacrosse and field hockey.

The relationships between the two sports have been as deep as they are obvious. The sports came over from the United Kingdom, where their founders (Constance Applebee and Rosabelle Sinclair) were born. They were nurtured in part at single-sex schools; Applebee at Radcliffe College, Sinclair at Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.).

Over the years, the two sports have often been run as one. The same group of young women who play field hockey in fall are almost the exact same group that play spring lacrosse. You can still find uniforms with a team logo with two sticks crossed underneath it: one field hockey, and one lacrosse.

And, oddly enough, recent histories have paralleled each other. The end of Watertown (Mass.) 188-game unbeaten streak occurred in the same academic year that Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) saw its 198-game win streak snapped. The greatest dynasties of all time — McDonogh in lacrosse and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) in field hockey — have been occurring in the last 20 years or so.

Individually, the two winningest coaches of all time — Kathy Jenkins of Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.) and Susan Butz-Stavin of Emmaus (Pa.) earned their statuses in the same year, and are still currently atop their respective professions in terms of the number of victories.

Also, the most voluminous scorers of all time — Mackenzie Allessie, Austyn Cuneo, Meredith Sholder and Haley Schleicher in field hockey and Caitlyn Wurzburger, Sophia Turchetta, Corinne Wessels, and Taylor Pinzone — have had their scholastic playing careers this decade.

Yet, in this day of forced specialization and year-round play in just one sport, there’s a realization within national sports governing bodies that a player needs to participate in more than one athletic pursuit in order to battle burnout and to exercise different muscle and nerve groups.

An event like this is a great start.

July 23, 2019 — Final Statwatch for 2019

Below, please find our final Statwatch for girls’ high school lacrosse in 2019.

This compilation is from available 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, Philly Lacrosse, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage you to keep convincing your teams, your schools, leagues, or state governing bodies 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
158 Brittany Sherrod, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)
157 Bailey Gehler, San Diego Our Lady of Peace (Calif.)
154 Eliz Fino, Highland (N.Y.) Central
154 Francesca Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
146 Madaleine Champagne, Livonia Stevenson (Mich.)
145 Katelyn Murphy, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.)
130 Kelsey Kimmel, Lampeter-Strasburg (Pa.)
125 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
125 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
122 Abbey Peterson, Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
108 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
103 Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
94 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)
92 Allie Schwab, Harriton
85 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
83 Bailey Thomas, Dexter General Brown (N.Y.)
82 Maddi Koury, Pottstown Owen J. Roberts (Pa.)
79 Tatumn Eccleston, Pottstown Hill School (Pa.)
77 Lois Garlow, Kenmore Mount St. Mary’s (N.Y.)
75 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)
73 Balay Woodworth, Dallas North Paulding (Ga.)
73 Corinne Bednarik, Downingtown (Pa.) West
72 Abby Walheim, Malvern Villa Maria (Pa.)
71 Bella Mims, Clermont East Ridge (Fla.)
69 Kayla Rinaldi, Mooresville Lake Norman (N.C.)
69 Maddie Barber, Cape May Court House Middle Township (N.J.)
69 Sydney Reipl, Tinton Hall Trinity Falls (N.J.)
66 Meghan Decker, Watchung Mount St. Mary Academy (N.J.)
66 Sadie Tschider, Piedmont (Calif.)
66 Sophie Sorenson, Lincolnshire Adlai Stevenson (Ill.)

CAREER GOALS SCORED
467* Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
437* Kayla Soltys, Warrenton Highland School (Va.)
435 Madison Ahern, Hingham Notre Dame Academy (Mass.)
371 Madi Tare, Camp Hill Trinity (Pa.)
346 Hannah McCarthy, Bedford (N.H.)
331 Cassidy Spilis, Tabernacle Seneca (N.J.)
316 Mariana Lopez-Ona, Princeton (N.J.)
316 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
294 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)
290 Kira Sides, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)
250 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
213 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
* — five-year career

CAREER ASSISTS
485* Caitlyn Wurzburger, Delray American Heritage (Fla.)
293 Erin Coykendall, Spencerport (N.Y.)
284 Joanna Helm, Wyomissing (Pa.)
279 Reilly Casey, Alexandria Bishop Ireton (Va.)
273** Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
225 Keara Patterson, Fulton (N.Y.)
217 Maddie Barber, Lower Cape May Middle Township (N.J.)
208 Grace Arthur, Marblehead (Mass.)
203* Kayla Soltys, Warrenton Highland School (Va.)
* — five-year career
** — six-year career

CONSECUTIVE WINS
45 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)
34 Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)

COACHING WINS
794 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

We thank you for taking this annual statistical journey with us. See you in the spring.

June 22, 2019 — Taking full advantage

Right up until this cycle, the United States U-19 women’s lacrosse team had never taken a single college player.

For this upcoming tournament, however, not only has the United States team peppered some of the best college talent available, it’s also given over the captaincy to two college players.

One is Elizabeth Hillman of the University of North Carolina, who played herself into the lineup for a Carolina side which lost to Boston College in double-overtime in the national semifinals.

The other, however, is a very interesting pick on several levels. Alex Murphy is from a University of Massachusetts team which didn’t make this year’s tournament. She’s also a close defender.

But the thing about Murphy that is notable is that she’s a rising junior at Massachusetts. That’s two years’ more playing experience than most every other player who has worn the stars and stripes at the U-19 level. She’s also the only rising college junior on the roster.

It’s going to be her guile and experience that will have to carry the Americans through against their rivals from Canada, England, and Australia, starting next week.

July 21, 2019 — A hard self-reflection

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you’re a teenager reading this, you may want to have a parent or guardian with you.


A friend of mine, a jazz singer from California, posted an interesting question on social media, in response to the arrest and denial of bail this week of Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who is being charged with sex trafficking.

My friend quoted journalist Sarah Kendzior, who said this on a podcast last December:

Donald Trump is friends with at least five pedophiles, most of whom were involved in sex trafficking or blackmail schemes. There’s (Jeffrey) Epstein, (John) Casablancas, (Tevfik) Arif, (George) Nader, (Roy) Cohn. Who the hell is friends with five pedophiles?

I thought for a second. To nobody in particular when I was reading the post, I said aloud, “Three.”

Part of what this site is about is reporting news and accomplishments in field hockey, lacrosse, and women’s sports in general. But a highly regrettable part of my reporting over the last two decades has been chronicling the arrests and convictions of people in the field hockey and lacrosse communities for various morals charges.

And of the dozen or so people who have been arrested, fired, or outright banned from their field hockey or lacrosse positions because of their actions, I can say that I knew three of them.

Well, let’s be clear: I thought I knew them.

When you’re a writer, in any beat, you get to know a lot of people, from the powerful to the pauper. You talk to coaches, parents, and some outliers — private coaches, trainers, alumni/ae, and athletic administrators.

In athletic competitions, I get to see two stories. One is the coach trying to get a group of 20 players to buy into a competitive vision. The other story is the parent ceding control of the child for a few weeks.

It’s the latter story that has, regrettably, led to many of the dozens of stories of teachers and coaches having sexual relations with students over the years. At one point, there was an average of more than one arrest per day being reported in newspapers around the country. It got to the point where Bob Reno, the editor of BadJocks.com, stopped counting (and, eventually, stopped publishing the site).

Given what I have seen, I ask myself all the time what I could have done to alter or prevent some of this behavior. Then again, even if I had influenced one person or another to not engage with an undercover FBI agent to trade child porn, or to not have sex with his students, or to not interfere with a police investigation, there would be many others.

Our nation, I think, is a sexual cesspool when it comes to adults and minors. The regrettable thing is that it’s taken the lurid tales surrounding the Larry Nassar trial and conviction to bring this to the fore.

Our President’s associates, and their predilections, are just another symptom. Nothing more to see here.