Harrow Cup had it all

Alli Tanner, who starred at North Carolina, was one of the key organizers of the Harrow Cup and dug deep for the Tembos. Courtesy of Laura Suchoski

Consider it pulled off. This past weekend’s Harrow Cup was nothing short of a success.

The weekend had it all. Smiles. Laughter. Nerves. Determined eyes. Ruthless grins. Long, exhausted sighs. Heated conversations. Nasty collisions. Diving goals. Cheering parents. Crying babies. Heroic saves. Big wins. Tough losses. Enthused chatter about everything from pressing strategy and subbing rotations to best practices for explaining turf burns, bruises and tan lines to coworkers Monday morning.

The success of the Harrow Cup wasn’t in dollar signs; it was in the simple yet inspiring sense of joy pulsing through the air as so many women took to the field again to profess and share their unending love of field hockey.

With shoulders back, and heads held high, teams donned their uniforms proudly, seemingly undaunted by the fierce and physically demanding challenge of playing four 70-minute games in two days. Separated into two pools of four, each team played a round robin Saturday and Sunday morning followed by a crossover classification match Sunday afternoon.

In Pool A, which featured the Tembos, Dynasty, Tomahawks and Vipers, newly minted national team member Jamie Montgomery (Wake Forest) led her wise and talented Tomahawks securely to the top spot despite a valiant effort by the Cup’s leading goal scorer Liz Sanders (James Madison) and her Vipers. On the other side, in Pool B, the solid, well-balanced Mambas, led by new mom Sarah Dawson (Iowa), managed to make their way into final, narrowly edging the feisty Titans, Boomers and Ninjas.

The highly anticipated $10,000 Harrow Cup showdown pitted Montgomery’s Tomahawks against Dawson’s Mambas. Dawson’s defense, led by Kelly Driscoll (Old Dominion), Meghan Dawson (North Carolina) and Teryn Brill (North Carolina) denied Katie Grant (Duke) and the Tomahawks’ early onslaught at goal. The Mambas’ resilient defense morphed into a potent attack that delivered a 6-1 victory and a $10,000 check. Meghan Dawson’s gutsy performance in defense earned her the Harrow Cup’s MVP.

While Meghan Dawson and the Mambas walked away with the Harrow Cup championship and the ultimate prize, they weren’t the only winners on the weekend. The biggest winner was the game itself. The Harrow Cup reaffirmed in so many hearts, most of all my own, the power of that youthful -- yet ageless -- passion for the limitless possibility of play. Perhaps there was nothing more inspiring over the weekend than the children running around with sticks in their hands, and smiles on their faces saying, “Look at me, one day I’m gonna be just like mom.”

The Harrow Cup made that happen. I think I’d call that a success.