PENNSYLVANIA-BASED FUTURES TEAMS OVERWHELM IN U-16, U-19 FINALS

By Al Mattei
Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Names alone don't win games, nor field hockey championships such as the 2006 National Futures Tournament.

Instead, you need to get to know the talents behind those names.

Pennsylvania-based teams, for the fourth straight year since the NFT was moved to the National Training Center at Virginia Beach, took top honors in the U-19 and the U-16 divisions.

And especially in the U-19 division, it was more than just Team Lancaster's name-brand talent that came away with a dominating 4-0 win over Las Vegas in the championship final.

Oh, sure, there was the younger sister of an Olympian in Jess Werley, the National Federation's third all-time leading single-season goal scorer in Kelly Fitzpatrick, U-16 national-team veteran Katie Reinprecht, and Matt Soto, who has taken U-14, U-16, and U-19 Futures teams to the gold-medal match in four straight years.

Throughout the tournament, Lancaster showed a kind of tenacity and domination not seen at the NFT since the days when Cape May teams from the New Jersey region was winning championships when the tournament was played in College Park, Md.

Then again, few other regions in the tournament could boast the kind of offensive firepower that Emmaus High School (216 goals), Selinsgrove High School (133), and Fitzpatrick (66) displayed in 2005.

"It's a friendly rivalry I have with some of these girls," Fitzpatrick said of her teammates. "It's a great opportunity to work together to see how we play together instead of having to play against them."

Fitzpatrick's goal capped a dominating performance on the weekend when Lancaster scored 25 goals whilst conceding only three in six matches.

"Our team executed our plays perfectly, and when we didn't, we were able to regroup instantly," Fitzpatrick says. "Our success came from our speed and our skills, and it allows us to do things that other teams don't."

It was a much different result in the final than in pool play, where Las Vegas drew 0-0 with Lancaster. It was the only game in which Lancaster failed to score, and that result could have derailed the team's confidence before the crossover round. But that never happened.

"Coach Soto is a great coach, and he knows how to coach us and bring teammates together," Fitzpatrick said. "The great thing is that he makes us learn on our own, instead of coming out to tell us to do this or to do that."

The Las Vegas team, coached by Asif Hosain, is made of players who attend schools in five different states. It also featured Lilly Jianas of Kansas City Pembroke Hill (Mo.), believed to be the first Kansas resident ever to make the National Futures Tournament.

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FIN

Lancaster

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Las Vegas

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SCORING

L: Alexis Pappas, pc, 4th.

L: Dannah Brehm (Katie Reinprecht), fg, 16th.

L: Becky Hilgar, fg, 27th.

L: Kelly Fitzpatrick (Pappas), fg, 36th.

Shots -- L: 7; LV: 3.

Saves-- L: Devon Burnley 1, Lisa Quintiliani 2; LV: Brigid Bower 1, Jenny Van Keppel 2.


In the U-16 division, Kutztown was about as dominating as Lancaster was in the U-19 class, but had a different challenge in the championship final -- another Pennsylvania team.

Kutztown, however, had the run of play over Harrisburg in a 4-1 victory. Tina Patrick's goal at the stroke of halftime got the team rolling after her team had seemingly scored moments earlier. But a goal was not awarded after a through pass seemed to change direction on the way into the goal cage.

But Kutztown kept hammering like a salmon trying to go through a dam whilst swimming upstream to spawn. The effort was rewarded on Patrick's shot.

"Once you score, it gets your team excited and gets the other team frustrated," said Patrick. "I just wanted to get that one in."

Harrisburg got goals from Kelsey Kolojejchick and Kathleen Sharkey within three minutes of each other in the second half, leaving the Harrisburg defense to close out the game.

"Our defense was definitely a positive force in the back," said Harrisburg's Caitlyn Davies. "And that definitely makes you feel great."

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Harrisburg

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Kutztown

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SCORING

H: Tina Patrick, pc, 20th minute.

H: Kelsey Kolojejchick, fg, 26th.

H: Kathleen Sharkey (Heather Susek), fg, 28th.

K: Adelle Lerner, fg, 36th.

H: Becca Spengler, fg, 40th minute.

Shots -- K: 6; H: 9.

Saves-- K: Katie Ward 3, Amanda Lockwood 2; H: Abby Huck 3, Elizabeth Snyder 1, defensive 1.


In the U-14 championship, USA West managed an amazing turnaround in its play. After dropping its first match in pool play 5-0 to USA South, head coach Jeanna Schiarrotta managed a complete turnaround for balance of pool play, getting her mixed Mid-Atlantic team to finish second to the all-Pennsylvania USA South squad. In the final, West beat South in penalty strokes after a goalless draw.

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