This site has mentioned Reese D’Ariano a few times since January 2023. Yesterday, in the last two indoor friendlies against Ireland, I got to see the teenage phenom (a rising 10th-grader) up close.

In two games, she had a hand in all six U.S. goals, notching five goals and an assist, as the States won both games held at The Training Center in Spring City, Pa.

Now, if you have access to YouTube, you can find any number of goals scored by this player, who trains full-time with the W.C. Eagles field hockey club and is not attached to any high-school team. In the outdoor game, you’ll see a lot of Ryleigh Heck-esque backhand goals, all laced into the backboard with extreme prejudice.

Seeing this player in real life, however, is an experience and a privilege. As part of a U.S. select indoor team prepping for national-team tryouts next week, she seamlessly interchanged among several roles in offense and defense. She pegged penalty corner flicks with a lightning-quick release, found the seams in the Ireland defense with heat-seeking passes, and found a low corner with a penalty stroke even when the goalkeeper guessed right.

I have seen numerous field hockey players in the U.S. system since I started sportswriting in 1988. And on a number of occasions, I have deliberately tamped down my enthusiasm in trying to not to make particular players into something more than they are. Instead, I tend to describe how good a certain player is within a certain contextual frame, with a long-term perspective.

Why? I have been wrong on certain occasions. One lacrosse player who I thought had the bona fides to be one of the best ever became anything but. She developed recurring injuries and never picked up a stick after college. A field hockey player who was the nation’s leading scorer her senior year in high school lasted all of one season at a U.S. college play. A lacrosse player who was an absolute stat-sheet stuffer in goals, assists, and draw controls wound up playing on the pay-to-play club team at the same school to which she was once recruited.

I have seen too may numerous young figures in recent sports history who were consumed by the expectations heaped upon them by others in my industry. These figures include tennis player Jennifer Capriati, soccer player Freddy Adu, and basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw.

But in watching Reese D’Ariano in the indoor space, the last time I had such a strong impression watching a field hockey player live was the first time I saw Michelle Vizzuso playing for North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) before her stellar career at the University of Virginia and playing on the 1996 Olympic team.

It will be interesting to see how she develops as a player, and as a teammate, no matter which team she is on.


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