On Saturday, Cornelius Tietze delivered what every field hockey coach in Pennsylvania hoping to minimize potential controversy had feared: He almost single-handedly led Wyoming Seminary to a state title, keying three goals in a 5-0 rout of Leighton that handed the Knights the PIAA Class AA girls' title.
According to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Tietze never scored himself, but his three assists directly set up easy goals for his teammates, and the amount of attention Leighton had to use to focus on the speedy German import helped set the groundwork for a scoreline that tied the most-lopsided state final in state history.
While one might assume the Leighton coach would be crying foul over the final result, that wasn't the case, because of a fascinating coincidence: Leighton's head coach is Shawn Hindy, a former male field hockey player himself who played for the U.S. men's national team from 1997 to 2005 after starting his career at the tender age of 12. Hindy grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and was afforded the opportunity to play against other boys in high school because there were enough males interested to form teams, the CitizensVoice.com reported.
"I would say it's wrong, but I'm not going to cry about it," Hindy told CitizensVoice.com before the game, referring to boys playing on girls' teams. "If I was the one making up the rules maybe I would say that boys could play during the season, but when it comes to the state tournament they sit out because at this point of the season you want to have an even playing field."
Since that isn't the case, Hindy had to help his team lick the same wounds that all other Wyoming Seminary opponents have dealt with during the playoffs.
"They had a couple of bounces and calls go their way in the first half," Hindy told the Times Leader. "They scored quick in the second half and that took the wind out of our sails a little bit...We weren't trying to stop one player. We were trying to stop them as a team. I still think we're the better team."
With the exception of one player, they may have been. Yet that isn't the way the rosters stacked up, and the Wyoming Seminary head coach said that it demeans her team to continue to focus on the impact of one foreign exchange student.
"It gets tiring after a while," Seminary coach Karen Klassner told CitizensVoice.com. "He's a 16-year-old kid and as an educator, how can I tell a kid that they can't do something they love to do? That's not my philosophy and it's not the philosophy or mission of our school."
"We knew coming in that we were going to have to play well to win," the coach told the Times Leader after the state-title victory. "I'm very proud of this team. This is really special."