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Archive for Lacrosse

July 1, 2021 — A crux of activity, plus lacrosse awards season

Today, July 1, is a very, very busy day here on the site. And it will be very, very busy this month.

This evening, the latest scholastic girls’ lacrosse season ever has its climax with the Division 1 and Division 2 tournament championship games in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Today and tomorrow, the knockout rounds in the U-19 National Club Championship take place in field hockey, followed by the inaugural Nex-US championship for youth players not taking part in high-performance duty.

Also, today is the first day that NCAA athletes will be able to take advantage of name, likeness, and image (NLI) regulations to allow them to make money while still in college. This could have any number of ramifications, from autograph signings to running sports camps in the summertime.

This month also sees the first of 30 games in the new Athletes Unlimited women’s lacrosse league, an exercise that puts the power in the hands of the players over the five-week season. Teams will be chosen by the best four players in the league, determined by statistical metrics. This creates a style of lacrosse which will be heavy on improvisation rather than an ingrained system of play.

Oh, and did we mention the Olympics begin the final week of the month?


In addition to all of this, we’re readying for awards season for lacrosse in 2021. Here’s what we have planned:

July 6: Region of the Year
July 9: The State of Lacrosse
July 13: United States Coach of the Year, the nominees
July 16: Games of the Year
July 20: Final Statwatch for 2021
July 23: The Final Top 50
July 27: United States Coach of the Year
July 30: Your national scoring champion

June 26, 2021 — Saturday Monthly Statwatch for games played through June 23

With Massachusetts scheduled to play its state finals the first week of July, our Statwatch continues collecting the numbers that connect across generations of players who have achieved great things over the years. Leading our statistical parade is the new all-time single-season scoring leader, Francesca Frieri. She is a junior from Lockport (Ill.), and has committed to Notre Dame. She is a definite player to watch for the future.

What you see below is compiled from a number of places, 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
191 Francesca Frieri, Lockport (Ill.)
145 Cassidy Jones, Memphis White Station (Tenn.)
143 Jamieson Meyer, Sandy Waterford (Utah)
137 Alexis Ashton, Blairstown North Warren (N.J.)
133 Alexis Lauricella, Holmdel St. John Vianney (N.J.)
128 Isabella Caporuscio, Mountain Top Crestwood (Pa.)
127 Karly Keating, Lisle Benet Academy (Ill.)
125 Izzy Szejk, Mechanicsburg (Pa.)
121 Ryann Frechette, St. John’s Bartram Trail (Fla.)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
93 Elizabeth Tausig, Charleston Bishop England (S.C.)
84 Emily Phillips, Wake Forest (N.C.)
77 Sadie Salazar, Chapin (S.C.)
77 Caroline Mullahy, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.)
77 Bella Mims, Clermont East Ridge (Fla.)
75 Shoshona Henderson, Princeton (N.J.)
73 Ella Linthicum, York (Pa.) Catholic
73 Bridget Longsinger, Verona (N.J.)
71 Taylor McClain, Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest (Fla.)
71 Sydney Sventy, Mount Holly Rancocas Valley (N.J.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
58 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)

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

We’ll have our Final Statwatch next month with the rest of our scholastic lacrosse package. If you see something missing, please 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 next month with Final Statwatch.

June 24, 2021 — When a playoff is not a competition, revisited

Last evening saw the end of the inaugural two-level Colorado High School Athletic Association girls’ lacrosse championships. The record will show that Evergreen (Colo.) and Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.) won their respective titles in grand fashion.

Which is a funny way of saying that both games were runaways, meaning that the final minutes of the game saw the running clock because of the 10-goal rule.

When you look at the semifinals and finals of the 5A and 4A title matches, you see something that we pointed up five years ago when we looked at the evolution of scores in the Pennsylvania public-school field hockey tournaments over the years.

That trend is towards runaway scores. In the six games held in Colorado this week to play down to a single title-winner, five of them went to the running clock. Worse, the average winning margin of these six matches was 12.67 goals.

Yeah, I get the fact that the game has changed with lighter sticks and more accurate shooters. But the divisions between the haves and have-nots in girls’ lacrosse is also getting larger. But I think that perhaps the CHSAA should have waited a bit until splitting the pool of schools for the state tournament.

June 21, 2021 — The power of the comeback

Over the weekend, there were a number of good championship games held around the country. And as you might expect in girls’ lacrosse, a number of these games came down to the final minutes.

As you might expect, many of these games were taut and tense, with the favored side barely managing a one- or two-goal lead before holding on at the end.

But some had tremendous comebacks in the second half, making the win more memorable to the players and their supporters.

This happened in the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, where Non-Public “A” champion Summit Oak Knoll found themselves behind Group III champions Moorestown (N.J.) 6-4 at the interval. Moorestown, having been in 32 state championship finals since 1976, was the state’s “old guard.” But Oak Knoll, winners of the 2019 Tournament of Champions, were the “new kids.” And they did incredibly well in their comeback, scoring four straight goals while holding Moorestown scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the second half, winning out 10-9.

Up the coast, Manhasset (N.Y.) took a 5-2 lead on Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) in the Long Island Class C championship, pitting the Section XI and Section VIII champions against each other. Bayport-Blue Point, a school which is known for playing great lacrosse against schools with larger populations, chipped away at the Manhasset lead until pulling ahead in the dying minutes, winning the crown with a 6-5 score. The goal was scored by Haydin Eisfeld.

At least three other states — Colorado, Massachusetts, and Virginia — are slated to choose champions in the next few days. It will be interesting to see what happens with these states.

June 20, 2021 — Half the usual

This time of year is not only the denouement of the scholastic girls’ lacrosse season, but it is also the time for the bi-state exhibition games between New Hampshire and Vermont.

Yeah, “games.” The lacrosse game between the New Hampshire all-stars and the Vermont all-stars took place yesterday with New Hampshire winning 19-5 over Vermont.

The field hockey game between the two states, however, is not taking place this year. Vermont has reportedly pulled out of the game, leaving the Granite Staters to organize a single senior all-star game this coming Saturday. The game, a fundraiser for a cancer facility, will take place at Amherst Souhegan (N.H.).

I’ve always been fascinated with the appearance of these two-state games on the schedule; they are unique in America when it comes to field hockey and lacrosse; no other state associations have all-star challenge games like this.

Hopefully, in a year’s time, the Vermont-New Hampshire field hockey will be held again.

June 19, 2021 — Just one more

Today on the national girls’ lacrosse docket of games are a few state title games, the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, and four matches in New York which aren’t being held anywhere else across the state.

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association has cancelled the state tournament, which was supposed to have been held at SUNY-Cortland. This meant that the sectional title games were as far as you could go in terms of achievement.

Or so we thought.

Athletic directors in New York’s Section XI (Suffolk County) and Section VIII (Nassau County) saw an opportunity to give its best spring sports teams in lacrosse, baseball, and softball, a terminal championship by playing the games which would have been the first round in the state tournament. Traditionally, winners in these two sections start off the state tournament against each other before meeting up against teams in other segments of the state over the proceeding weeks.

What this means is that there are four tremendous games scheduled for today at Bethpage (N.Y.). In Class A, you have our No. 1 team, Northport (N.Y.) taking on Massapequa (N.Y.) in the Class A game, followed by West Babylon (N.Y.) playing Garden City (N.Y.) in Class B.

The quadrupleheader finishes with Class C finalists Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) against Manhasset (N.Y.), and finishing with Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) against Center Moriches (N.Y.) in the small-school D final.

Now, I realize that, with 50 states and six non-voting territories in the country, there are many, many different ways of choosing a champion. I think it’s great to see Long Island choosing its champions in this way since travel is a relatively easy option.

Thing is, up the coast in Massachusetts, they’re just ramping up their state public-school tournament, which will go into the final week of June, if not beyond.

Why isn’t New York doing the same?

June 17, 2021 — Striking a balance

If there’s one major trend when it comes to the expansion of collegiate women’s lacrosse at the Division I level the last couple of decades, it’s the fact that many of the newer schools — Arizona State, Oregon, Southern California, Florida, Louisville, Cincinnati, Michigan, and Colorado among them — spend an awful lot of their athletics budget on football. Lacrosse is an easy sport to add, logic dictates, to create a Title IX balance.

So, I find it interesting that a football school from the Atlantic Coast Conference — a conference that has had a representative in the Division I women’s lacrosse title game the last eight times of asking — announced its intention to field a women’s lacrosse team.

But the school isn’t Miami, which had set off a seismic quake in the collegiate universe when an announcement — since rescinded — was made in 2004 for a 2007 start.

Instead, it is Clemson, a school which has been in the top four each of the last six years in football.

Of course, the top question on everyone’s mind in the lacrosse community is the degree to which the school will devote resources to the team in order to help them succeed.

And the thing about Clemson is that it is located in the heart of Southern scholastic lacrosse excellence. The school can attract players from top programs such as Milton (Ga.), Delray American Heritage (Fla.), and Myers Park (N.C.) as well as state Class AAAA champion Daniel Island Bishop England (S.C.).

Now, the first thing that the athletic department has to do is to find a coach. And given the coaching moves around Division I since Memorial Day Weekend, I’ll be interested to see just who is chosen to navigate this nascent program.

June 16, 2021 — The medicine game ascends again at Salmon River

Five years ago, the documentary “Keepers of the Game” made its debut in repertory theater across the United States. The story surrounded the girls’ lacrosse team at Fort Covington Salmon River (N.Y.) as it progressed through the NYSPHSAA state tournament, ultimately losing out to Skaneateles (N.Y.) in the regionals back in 2015.

Since that year, Salmon River, located on the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory straddling the U.S.-Canada border, has been an annual contender for Section X and state tournament championships. All the while, the team has been battling financial and cultural obstacles to play a game seen as being reserved for men and boys.

The latest triumph for Salmon River was yesterday’s 21-1 win over Potsdam (N.Y.) in the sectional semifinal round, bringing the Shamrocks’ record to 21-1 on the season.

With the win, Salmon River will have a chance to end its season with a championship tomorrow against Canton (N.Y.). That’s because New York decided to cancel state tournament play and teams are only playing towards sectional championships.

Salmon River High School will have a chance to do a gender double tomorrow as both the girls’ and boys’ lacrosse teams are scheduled for the Section X final tomorrow afternoon.

Should be an interesting doubleheader to watch.

June 14, 2021 — A seismic shift

Remember this?

Well, in the last few days, this subhead appeared on the social media account of the leading field hockey goal scorer in the National Federation, someone who just happens to be the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year:

After two award-winning seasons at Ohio State, Mackenzie Allessie has chosen to change college teams and has transferred to Penn State.

Penn State’s athletic department confirmed this development with a story today naming Allessie and former Camp Hill (Pa.) and Virginia player Gery Schnarrs as those coming through the transfer portal. They join a star-studded team including leading scorer Sophia Gladieux, who, like Allessie, has scored more than 200 goals in a scholastic field hockey career.

When you look at recent history, there are plenty of transfer stories in field hockey and lacrosse. Austyn Cuneo transferred from North Carolina to Rutgers after just two years. Caitlyn Wurzburger decomitted from Syracuse women’s lacrosse team and committed to North Carolina while still in high school. And, of course, there’s current Tewaaraton Award winner Charlotte North, who transferred from Duke to Boston College and won an NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse title this year.

As I mentioned in the blog entry two weeks ago, student-athletes have made the term “transfer portal” part of the ordinary discourse of college sports in the last few years, especially when you have had a global pandemic which has given players an extra “Covid” year of eligibility.

And so it continues.

June 13, 2021 — Championship courage

With 2:25 to go in yesterday’s Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Committee Class L championship game, and with Guilford (Conn.) leading Redding Joel Barlow (Conn.) 10-9, a Barlow player raced to the edge of the 8-meter fan and was checked. A long, loud whistle sounded, and one of the three umpires made the signal to the scorer’s table to halt the clock to not only set the players for a free position, but to assess a yellow card.

Maddie Epke, the fine midfielder for Guilford, was sent to the penalty bench. It was her first yellow card, but it was Guilford’s fourth team yellow. By rule, the Guilford team would have to play short for the rest of regulation and any overtime which ensued.

Barlow scored to the the game at 10-10, which set up a near-crisis scenario for Guilford. Epke, who would normally take the draws as the team’s center, was off for two minutes. Someone else would have to win the draw.

Fortunately, the rules stipulate that three players remain in the center of the park when a draw was being taken. Guilford’s Hannah Tillier was able to take the draw and win it to Lorelei King.

Despite playing shorthanded in the offensive end of the field, Guilford was able to solve the Barlow defense and get the ball to M.J. Santa Barbara for a goal with 1:06 remaining in regulation, which was good enough for an 11-10 win.

The win didn’t come without further peril: Tillier would lose the next draw and Barlow got the ball to the attack zone on the power play. In that final minute, Barlow managed to get off a good shot from within eight meters, but it rang off the goalpost in the dying seconds.

Now, it’s situations like this which point out the disconnect between National Federation and NCAA rules. In college, a fourth team yellow results in a two-minute nonreleaseable penalty, after which teams return to full strength.

Perhaps the NFHS can revisit this wrinkle in the rules one day.