Founder, Top Of The Circle

COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND -- After 420 of the best young American field hockey players had played 126 games in pool and crossover rounds, it all came down to four teams in the U-16 and U-19 divisions of the National Futures Tournament.

Team Dover (Del.) knew that its opponent, Avon (Conn.), had earned its berth in penalty strokes over a tough Erie (Pa.) team less than an hour before it had to play the championship game. But Dover attacker Juli Byrd knew that, though it had a half hour of rest more than its rival, a win was less than secure in the championship of this 9-v-9 tournament held at the University of Maryland.

"We knew that we were well-rested, psyched, and ready to go," Byrd said. "We were ready to win, no matter where we played."

Byrd and Kim Smith had goals 12 minutes apart in the first half as Dover shut out Avon 2-0. It was not only the second straight U-19 championship for a team from the Delmarva region, it was pretty much business as usual for this confident group of players.

"We'd been playing together all year, so we knew if we played well and passed well, we'd do fine," said Byrd, who is headed to the University of Delaware in the fall.

"Right away, we clicked," Smith said. "And even the games we lost, we dominated. We came in second in our pool, so our chances of making it to the championship were not all that good. But we took advantage of our opportunity."

Dover, a team stocked with players from the state of Maryland, had gotten to the final with a win over Allentown (Pa.) in a round of penalty strokes.

Avon 0 0 -- 0

Dover 2 0 -- 2

Scoring: D: Byrd (K.Smith) 7th minute. D: K.Smith 19th.

Shots: A: 6; D: 12.

Saves: A: Mercuri 1, Mesa 8, defensive 1; D: McDowell 1, Hohnstine 5.


In the U-16 matchup, Boston (Mass.) outshot Harrisburg (Pa.) 11-3 in the second half, but only managed a single goal off a set piece. But it was enough as Boston took a 2-1 win in the gold-medal game.

Team Boston had taken the early lead on a goal by Kelly Dostal, only to see Harrisburg tie the score when Carrie Smith scored off a strong Kellie Kulina cross. However, in the second half, Boston coach Barb Damon got her players to attack with fury.

"We knew we were going to score sometime, but it was a matter of putting the ball into the net," said attacker Kelly Ann Doton, who had the game-winning goal in the sixth minute of the second half. "We had many great opportunities."

Moments before the goal, Meredith Hudson hit the post off a shot from the top of the scoring circle. But Hudson then got a long-hit opportunity from the sidelines, and Doton made no mistake, flashing to the far post and putting the ball into the back of the cage.

Boston 2 1 -- 2

Harrisburg 1 0 -- 1

Scoring: B: Dostal 7th minute. H: C.Smith (Kulina) 13th. B: Doton (Hudson) 24th.

Shots: B: 15; H: 6.

Saves: B: Zacarian 2, Buckley 3. H: Fisher 3, Sands 10.