The United States Coach of the Year: 2019
Ali Good, Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.)

The Oak Knoll Royals finished the 2019 season with a 26-0 record, but also accomplished something remarkable: not one, but two wins over the nation's best field hockey program over the last two decades: Voorhees Eastern (N.J.).

For her efforts, Ali Good is the United States Coach of the Year for 2019.

Oak Knoll, a small Roman Catholic school in Summit, N.J., first got onto the national radar in 2007, when the team beat Eastern 3-2 in overtime of the Tournament of Champions semifinal round on a goal by future U.S. women's national-team member Michelle Cesan.

Since that first meeting, the two sides have met on a number of occasions in the postseason. And for the last five years, the two titans have met in the regular season.

But Oak Knoll's 4-1 win in September was not the only gold star on the Royals' resume. The team swept two games at the National High School Invitational, including the defending large-school champion from Pennsylvania. Oak Knoll also defeated Louisville Sacred Heart (Ky.), Mamaroneck (N.Y.), Pottstown Hill School (Pa.), and Greenwich (Conn.) Academy.

Once the state tournament began in New Jersey, Oak Knoll, ratcheted up the defensive intensity. After giving up a goal to Glen Ridge (N.J.) on Oct. 7, Oak Knoll shut out their next 10 opponents. They could have had an 11th but for the late goal that Eastern scored in the Tournament of Champions final. By then, Oak Knoll had built a 4-0 lead.

The Oak Knoll performance this season was a manifestation of two decades' worth of effort on the part of Good and her coaching staffs over the years, to the point where the Royals have elevated themselves to a position of being a main rival of Eastern.

The resulting "Garden State Firm" rivalry has captured the attention of not only a state, but a country: the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee's news service wrote an advance for the 2019 Tournament of Champions final.

That's what Good has done.


Erin Creznic, Los Angeles Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) — Winning has become a habit for the team the last three years, winning the Los Angeles Field Hockey Association title while remaining unbeaten

Adrienne DiSipio, Burlington (N.J.) Township — Township was very much a marginalized side for most of the last 30 years, but this year DiSipio completely changed the culture and brought the Falcons their first NJSIAA South Jersey sectional championship

Casey Eck, Easton (Pa.) — Red Rovers won their first PIAA Tournament game in 30 years, but lost a close match to the defending state champions in the quarterfinal round

Danyle Heilig, Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) –Her Vikings not only won a 21st consecutive state championship, but had a schedule which included wins over multiple state champions

Jodi Hollamon, Delmar (Del.) — This young and extremely skilled side has its best days ahead of it, with several players in the lineup who started for the team while still in middle school

Stephanie Kearns, Newtown (Conn.) — With an offensive-minded lineup as well as ten seniors, the Nighthawks had an undefeated regular season

Lynn Mittler, St. Louis Mary Institute-Country Day School (Mo.) — Overcame two years’ worth of heartache in the Midwest Tournament final and finally beat St. Louis Villa Duchesne (Mo.) with a late goal

Stephanie Nykaza, Winnetka New Trier (Ill.) — Veteran coach had a number of major victories this year including gripping OT wins against Villanova Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Pa.) and Lake Forest (Ill.), the latter of which clinched the state title

Gwen Smith, New Hope-Solebury (Pa.) — Took what had been a program which had averaged about three wins per season and transformed them into a skilled collective that shut out 22 consecutive opponents in 2019

Jen Sykes, Guilderland (N.Y.) — Coming over from Clifton Park Shenendehowa (N.Y.), she has given Guilderland immense confidence and the team has responded in kind. The team was the first to win its sectional and to win a state playoff match

Kim Underwood, West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) — Her vision 11 years ago of starting a youth field hockey league, then drawing players from it, paid off handsomely as a team with her twin daughters Reagan and Bryn won the PIAA Class AAA state championship