Notes from the Bleachers: College Park Regional Round 1

Maryland looks to reach the Final Four for the second straight year // Photo by Gattens

Nov. 10, 2018 – The steady rain hummed in the background as the Maryland Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex prepared for two battles between four teams to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Yesterday, I made the trek to College Park to watch two first round games: Albany vs. Maryland and Rutgers vs. Connecticut. This was my first-time attending NCAA tournament games and it was an awesome experience, even though it rained practically the entire time. Three of the four teams showcased were teams I had never seen, so it was amazing seeing these teams in-person.

Notes from the Bleachers breaks down my thoughts and observations from the two games at College Park in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Game 1: Maryland 2, Albany 1

Game 2: Connecticut 5, Rutgers 0


Takeaways from College Park Regional Round 1

Something to Prove

Before round 1 of the NCAA tournament began, I read an article about Maryland’s ambitions for the tournament. Each team at this regional had something to push them in hopes of getting to the next round. Maryland is looking to assert the dominance similar to the teams in the mid-2000s. After falling to Connecticut in the National Championship last year, they’re looking to keep their momentum and win a national title. Connecticut is the defending national champions and they’re looking to return to defend their title, despite facing some obstacles during the regular season. They suffered three non-conference losses to opponents ranked in the top-10 of the NFHCA rankings (Maryland, Princeton, North Carolina). Rutgers secured their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 1986 after a season they went 13-5 and was looking to keep their season going.

Defensive Saves

As a former defender, I’m always amazed by the defense of various teams. In field hockey, defense is such an important piece even though it’s not often reflected in the stat sheet. In the two games, three teams made a defensive save to back up their goalie. In game one, Maryland defender Hannah Bond recorded the first defensive save to help preserve Maryland’s 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Rutgers defender Austyn Cuneo dove to save a rolling rebound from trickling over the goal line in game two. Connecticut defender Lindsay Dickinson added a defensive save to keep Rutgers off the board. Even though Albany did not register a defensive save, their defense stood tough against Maryland in the first half. After the conclusion of the first half, we thought an upset was brewing because of Albany’s tough defense. Eventually, Maryland broke through for a 2-1 win. The defensive efforts of all four teams were not overlooked in first round.

Corner Efficiency

Penalty corners are probably my favorite thing about field hockey. The deceptiveness, the various shots and the different setups of different teams. Albany drew first blood off a corner to take the early lead over Maryland. Early in the second half, Maryland struck off at penalty corner to even the score 1-1. I liked the set up of Connecticut’s penalty corners because of the wicked direct shots that are taken. Albany, Maryland and Connecticut converted on at least one penalty corner, as Rutgers didn’t convert at all. Penalty corners played an important role in the first game because the early corner by Albany led to an early goal, causing Maryland to have to come from behind to secure the win.

Regional Final: Maryland vs. Connecticut

With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Maryland and Connecticut will face off  in the regional final for the second time this season. Maryland defeated Connecticut 4-2 during the regular season meeting on Sept. 30.

While These Games were Going on…

Chapel Hill Regional

North Carolina shot past William & Mary 4-0.

Michigan squeezed past St. Joseph 3-2.

Princeton Regional

Princeton edged Virginia 2-1.

Harvard routed Penn State 6-1.

Durham Regional

Duke slipped past Miami (OH) 1-0.

Wake Forest edged Iowa 3-2



Postseason Play Kicks-Off with Conference Tournaments

North Carolina looks to repeat as ACC tournament champs // Photo by Gattens

Nov. 4, 2018 — It’s that exciting time of the year again! This weekend marks the first weekend of postseason division 1 field hockey play! There’s a lot of exciting match ups as teams are on the hunt to be conference champs. By winning the conference tournament, it gives teams an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which takes 18 teams. There will be nine conference tournaments in action this weekend. Here’s a preview of my four favorite conferences before this weekend’s matches!

ACC Tournament Preview

The ACC tournament gets underway at Karen Shelton Stadium at the University of North Carolina Nov. 1-4. The ACC tournament always showcases a lot of good skill and players as the ACC is the only conference with all seven teams represented in the NHFCA poll.


#1 North Carolina vs. #5 Virginia

#2 Duke vs #6 Wake Forest

Finals Prediction: North Carolina vs. Duke

Tournament Champion Prediction: North Carolina

Undefeated North Carolina has been dominant all year, outscoring opponents 76-10. When I saw them back on Sept. 2 against Penn, they were a force to be reckoned with an 8-0 win. In their dominant regular season, 17 different players have found the back of the net. Freshman Erin Matson looks to add to her superb freshman campaign as she led the team in points and assists during the regular season. Their midfield and backfield with the anchor of senior Ashley Hoffman are solid, and they can really control the pace of the game with their smooth passing.  I believe their scoring depth and consistency gives them the edge in the ACC to win their second straight ACC title.

Big Ten Preview

This the second weekend of the Big Ten tournament which will finish at Lakeside Field at Northwestern University. Michigan will look to repeat as conference champions. while Maryland looks to claim their first since 2015. #6 Iowa upset #3 Penn State, 3-2 in double OT, while #4 Ohio State edged #5 Rutgers 1-0 in double OT in the quarterfinals to advance to the semi-finals.

#2 Michigan vs. #6 Iowa

Finals Prediction #1 Maryland vs. #2 Michigan

Tournament Champion Prediction: Maryland

I’m hoping for the finals matchup between #1 Maryland and #2 Michigan because they met up with each other in the Final Four last season. Maryland edged Michigan during the regular season 2-1. If Maryland sets the tone early and controls the ball well, I think they’ll have the edge. The Terrapins have a strong offensive push with senior Linnea Gonzales as she collected 32 points during the regular season. They are also strong in the backfield with sophomore Bodil Keus, who lead with three defensive saves. The Wolverines have been good as of lately, but I think the Terrapins will have the upper hand with their poise and controlling of the game.

Big East Preview

UConn has captured the Big East Tournament five times since 2013, so will this be the year of a new champion? UConn finished the regular season 16-3 but stayed a perfect 7-0 in the conference. Liberty finished the season 6-1 in conference play. These two squads seem to be the favorite for a rematch in the conference title game.


#1 Connecticut vs. #4 Villanova

#2 Liberty vs. #3 Providence

Finals Prediction: Connecticut vs. Liberty

Tournament Champion Prediction: Connecticut

Even though Connecticut suffered three non-conference losses against top-ten ranked teams, they are still my favorite to win the Big East tournament title.. They outscored conference opponents 38-4. Liberty had a strong showing during conference play.  They fell 6-1 in their meeting with Connecticut. Cecile Piper leads the scoring for Connecticut with 22 goals and 11 assists. I think they will continue their dominance in the Big East tournament as they had through regular season conference play.

CAA Tournament

#4 James Madison vs. #1 Delaware

#2 William & Mary vs. #3 Northeastern

Finals Prediction: Delaware vs. Northeastern

Tournament Champion Prediction: Delaware vs. Northeastern

Delaware finished with a 7-game win streak to close out the regular season. When I saw them back on Oct. 19 against Towson, they scraped out a 2-1 win in the remaining 1:49. Senior Greta Nauck, who led with 13 goals and 13 assists and sophomore Lottie de Konning, who finished with 10 goals are exciting players to watch.  I think they can be a strong force during the CAA tournament and looking further down towards the NCAA tournament.

Who do you think is destined for conference tournament glory? Comment your picks below!


Towson University Battles Food Insecurity


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Nani Tufa stocks canned vegetables at Food Share (photo by Jill Gattens/TU Student)

Surveying the shelf stacked with canned vegetables, Cheyanne Ribecchi places a can of beans into her bag. She stands in the basement of the Catholic Campus Ministry Center, home of the Food Share Pantry for students and faculty.

“Food Share has been very helpful for me,” Ribecchi said. “As I have trouble affording food, Food Share has been able to help support my needs.” Continue reading “Towson University Battles Food Insecurity”

Called to Serve a Plate


By Jill Gattens

If there is one thing Laura Sinche is passionate about besides God, it is food.

As a part of the Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry that serves Towson University, University of Maryland- Baltimore County and Morgan State University, Sinche uses her gift of having a passion for food to help the people in her community.

“My passion for food began during my summers off from college,” Sinche said. “I worked with my church’s food bank and we went to the local grocery to collect the food not used and they were going to throw it out. We made boxes out of the food and gave them to families who referred to by social service.”

Sinche saw how much food is wasted every day and wanted to give it to people who can actually use it. It has become a constant in her life ever since then.

“After graduating from college, I ran a food pantry at a church in downtown Philadelphia,” Sinche said. “I was in charge of feeding the men. There was so much food leftover and I would transform it into hash. There were always left over apples and would make applesauce for the men.”

During her years at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sinche ran the food pantry for three years and witnessed the needs of her classmates.

“It was an understanding for me, that if I have enough, others should have enough too,” Sinche said. “I couldn’t and I still can’t bear to see others without food. In the early church, it was all about sharing.”

At the first church she served, Christ Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg,Virginia, she orchestrated the idea of a community meal within the community. This eventually transformed into a weekly meal that other churches took turns hosting.

“The first church I served is 20 minutes away from my home church,” Sinche said. “My mom actually called me the other week and said she was on her way to serve at the community meal that I created. It was really cool to hear and she was so happy to be serving.”

These kinds of experiences led to the creation of the community table in Towson. The Community Table is held on the last Thursday of every month at 7909 York Road. Anyone and everyone is welcome to come share a meal.

“The food is good and the community that happens over the food is incredibly powerful,” Since said. “We are creating a community.”

This has helped Sinche build a community within Towson and help others in any way she can.

“Food has helped me connect with homeless community in Towson,” Sinche said. “People shouldn’t have to suffer if we have enough.”


Local Priest goes Professional


By Jill Gattens

Father Matt Buening, a local Towson priest was recently named chaplain for the Baltimore Orioles, a professional baseball team located in Baltimore and he served as chaplain for the first time on April 9.

“It was a great joy,” Buening said. “It was my first time and it was something I had never done. I was very nervous.”

Buening was appointed by Archbishop from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is the third priest to serve as the chaplain for the Baltimore Orioles. As a Howard County native, Buening was honored to serve as chaplain for his hometown team.

“I’ve always been an Orioles fan,” Buening said. “Since I was named chaplain, they were undefeated this season.”

As chaplain of the Baltimore Orioles, Buening conducts a Sunday mass with coaches and players in the auxiliary clubhouse, which sits between the home and visiting clubhouse. The mass is for members of the Orioles and member of the opposing team, such as the New York Yankees who were visiting on Sunday.

“The auxiliary clubhouse is used for pre-game and post-game conferences ,” Buening said. “I’ve named it Buck’s Alter.”

Buck Showalter, the manager of the Baltimore Orioles meets with the press for conferences before and after the game in the auxiliary clubhouse.

The mass takes place at 10:30 a.m. and lasts for half an hour as players focus on preparing the upcoming contest. The structure of the mass allows players to explore the faith if they are not familiar with it. A handout is passed out that contains how the service will be structured. Communion is also provided.

“What I found to be interesting was that the mass was not for the workers, such as the ushers or the ticket booth workers,” Buening said. “Next home game, I plan to bring communion to the workers who can’t leave their post.”

As professional baseball players, their busy schedules do not allow them to regularly attend church services on a Sunday morning. Besides the players of the Baltimore Orioles, many people attend these services, such as Richie Bancells, the head athletic trainer, Jim Hunter, a radio announcer for the Orioles, Roger McDowell, pitching coach for the Orioles and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network executives.

“Everyone was very respectful,” Buening said. “They saw the importance of faith and they seemed to value God.”

During the services, Buening does not focus his prayers for wins or losses. Sometimes, services for professional sports team use analogies in their sermons, but Buening does the exact opposite.

“This mass is a sanctuary for the players,” Buening said. “As a sports team is treated as a business, this is place to escape from the pressures and stresses of being a professional athlete.”

The opportunity to serve as chaplain for the Baltimore Orioles combined sports and God for Buening.

“I have finally been able to find something that focuses on both my love of sports and love for God,” Buening said.



Trail Running Paves Way for New Trends


By Jill Gattens

Reading, PA—People from all over the Eastern region gathered in Reading, Pennsylvania for 7.3 miles of trails in Pretzel City Sports Ugly Mudder Trail Run on February 26.

“People come all over for these trail races,” Diane Grimm, member of the Pretzel City Sports team. “People are always looking for that next adventure, a new challenge.”

The 319 participants from all age groups took the challenge of running the trail race with temperatures in the high 30s and winds. Trail running is an upcoming trend in the runner’s world as they are becoming more and more popular throughout the Eastern region.

Runners from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York came to participate in this trail run. Pretzel City Sports trail runs are run in any condition, such as snow, sleet, hail or rain. Trails vary from trail to trail and each have a level of difficulty. The muddy, uneven terrain is a challenge in itself.

“People are searching out for the longer runs,” Grimm said. “People like to be challenged.”

Each trail race is unique in their challenges as no trail race is alike.

“Trail races are much more challenging,” Eric Wolfgang, 35 of York, Pennsylvania said. “Each trail race has their own unique challenges to overcome. When running these, time is thrown completely out the window.”

Wolfgang had grown up running on the trails near his home. “I’ve run on the trails since I was 13 and I like the connection with nature trail runs give me,” Wolfgang said.

Trail races differ from the popular road races Pretzel City Sports also sponsors.

“People are different,” Grimm said. “Some won’t step on the trails at all or some won’t step on the road. It’s all about preference.”

“I hate road races,” Jenn Guigley, 34 of Mohnton, Pennsylvania said. “Road races are more on your own while trail races are usually one lane. At trail races, people are a lot more supportive of each other.”

Some people started with road races, such as 5Ks and 10Ks. But, they were looking for a little bit more adventure.

“When I first began running, I only ran 5ks,” BK McDonough, 45 of Exeter, Pennsylvania said. “Someone told me to do trail runs and I got hooked.”

McDonough is training for the Gobi March, a six stage, 250 km race in China this June. “Trail races have caused me to go look for the longer runs,” McDonough said.

As trail runs become more and more popular, people are continually seeking out their next big adventure.