THE TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM LEXICON

By Al Mattei
Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

From time to time, this website will make observations and comments using what can be considered unusual verbiage. Without context and perspective, an outsider might find him or herself lost in mid-sentence, so here are some of the words we may tend to use over the course of our journalistic pursuits:


APPLEBEES -- Nickname for the U.S. women's national field hockey team. Named for Constance M.K. Applebee, who brought the game over from England around 1905, then founded and headed the governing body which would eventually become USA Field Hockey.

ARTIFICIAL GRASS -- Our terminology for the longer-stranded carpeting which is used for many sports and not just field hockey. The surface is not watered down before play, and often has black rubber buts between the blades or under the carpeting. Often much slower than water-based artificial turf. Sold under brand names such as FieldTurf, NexTurf, and AstroPlay.

ARTIFICIAL TURF -- Signifies a short-grained plastic carpeting that is the most used for international matches. Is often watered down for a 10-minute period before games. Has been sold under brand names such as AstroTurf, TartanTurf, and SuperTurf.

DEFENSIVE SAVE -- When a player legally repels an opposing shot on goal with her stick when a stop with her body would have resulted in a penalty stroke.

DEPUTY-- A field player who is allowed to step into a women's lacrosse crease in order to clear the ball. While the deputy is in the crease, the goalie cannot enter.

ELBOW -- The part of the fan in women's lacrosse that sticks out at a 45-degree angle from the goal post.

EXTRA TIME -- An overtime period in which the entire period has to be played; women's lacrosse has two three-minute periods of it.

FIELD GOAL -- Any goal scored in the normal run of play which is not from a penalty stroke or off a penalty corner. In international box scores, this distinction is made in the scoring line, e.g.: USA, Nicholson 49th, F.G.

FULL FORWARD -- Borrowed from Australian Rules football and Gaelic hurling, this signifies a player who works apart from the attack line, stationed in the scoring circle. The full lends support to the forwards by cutting towards or away from a potential attack, heading to the second-goal area when necessary.

GOLDEN GOAL OVERTIME -- A better term for an overtime period that ends with the next goal than "sudden victory," yes?

GREEN MACHINE -- The Founder's former mode of transportation: to wit, a florescent green Volvo.

HAMMERS-- Nickname for the U.S. women's national soccer team. Named for Mariel Margaret "Mia" Hamm, and a nod to the familiar nickname of West Ham United's soccer team in East London.

HASH-- One of the seven marks, eight meters away from the crease, from which a free-position shot can be taken. The seven are: extreme left, left, center left, center, center right, right, and extreme right.

INSERT/INSERTION PASS -- The initial pass of a penalty corner, which can be the most important single pass of the entire game.

LAWS OF FIELD HOCKEY

THE JIM DAVIS FIRST LAW -- Jim Davis, the late field hockey scribe from The Trentonian (N.J.) has made the observation that, if a team sweeps the season series from another team, the third time that the two teams meet (either in an in-season or post-season championship), it is almost impossible for that team to make a clean sweep.

THE JIM DAVIS SECOND LAW -- Jim Davis, the late field hockey scribe from The Trentonian (N.J.) has also made the observation, "There is no substitute for experience." This has come to mean that a senior-laden team is much more likely to do well than one with freshmen and sophomores, no matter what the skill level.

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM FIRST LAW -- "There is a reason why games aren't played on paper." Players on field hockey teams invariably play either beyond, or beneath, their expected capabilities, making field hockey a very difficult sport to predict.

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM SECOND LAW -- "The easiest way to improve your game is to not make the same mistake over and over again."

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM THIRD LAW -- There are distinct roles in sport that, if violated, constitute an imbalance in the order: "Players play. Coaches coach. Officials officiate. Spectators spectate. Administrators administer."

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM FOURTH LAW -- While games are won on the pitch, games can so often be lost by the decisions that coaches make in picking their teams.

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM FIFTH LAW -- A goal scored in the first five minutes or the last five minutes in a half counts double because of the psychological boost for the team that scores it, as well as the negative effect on the team that concedes it.

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM SIXTH LAW -- A sure way to gauge the high level of competition within a league or conference is to observe either how many incidents you haven't seen before, or how many times the umpires have to consult the rulebook.

TOPOFTHECIRCLE.COM SEVENTH LAW -- In tournament games, the most telling parts of the game are the first half of the last 15 minutes, when players are just starting to realize that every pass or movement may lead to the end of the season.

THE LAW OF TOTC -- In any game that is liveblogged by TopOfTheCircle.com, two of the following four will happen:

The lead will change sometime after the midpoint of the second half;

The phrase "I can't believe what I am witnessing here" will be used;

Someone will do something so outrageously good that the blog entry will be revised long after the game is over so that the words can be found to describe the incident;

The game will go into overtime (or pretty darn close to it).

LINK -- A midfielder who relies on a strong drive rather than carrying the ball to start an attack towards goal.

LOGGING -- A goalkeeping technique where the keeper, especially on penalty corners, lies down and lets the ball hit her rather than have her make a reaction save.

KICKING BACK -- An extra fullback who wears a helmet, distinctive-colored jersey, and a chest protector who replaces the goalkeeper in the event a coach needs a late goal.

SCOOP -- A flick which is used to advance the ball in field play, rather than shooting on goal.

SECOND-GOAL AREA -- An area about seven to 10 yards from the goalpost near the endline, from which a pass towards the goalmouth often yields the best scoring chances.

SNOWBIRD -- An indoor field hockey and box lacrosse term defined as a planned quick-strike counterattack against a deep free hit or penalty corner, designed to counter an overcommitted opponent.

STRIKER -- Interchangable term used for a center forward or the intended shooter on a penalty corner.

TERM -- An alternate word for half of a field hockey or lacrosse game.

TEST MATCH -- A field hockey or women's lacrosse game, played under international rules, with only five players available as substitutes.

TIPPING POINT -- A term used for a round of games in a tournament after which the winning team is eligible to play one or more matches, the result of which would not end its season, but the losing team's season does end. Most often refers to the semifinal round of the Virginia regional championships. It can also refer to the five group finals in New Jersey, under the Tournament of Champions format.

VO, THE -- A florescent green Volvo with more than 383,000 miles that used to be seen at field hockey events up and down the Eastern seaboard (see Green Machine).

VO2 MAX -- A white Volvo that can be seen at field hockey events up and down the Eastern seaboard (see Green Machine).

YARDSTICK -- A well-known drill among the higher-level player, it involves dribbling the ball along a roughly three-foot-long line. It becomes an incredibly important skill-builder later in one's field hockey career.

YIPS-- The inability of a field player to finish clear and open chances.