Two goals in a one minute, 57 second span at the tail end of the
first half trumped a brief Gilroy single-score advantage and
completely turned the tide in favor of Los Gatos as the No.
1-seeded Wildcats captured their third straight CCS championship
with a 3-1 victory over the No. 2 Mustangs on a soggy Saturday in
SAN JOSE – Gilroy High versus Los Gatos High with the Central Coast Section field hockey title on the line – it doesn’t get much better than that.
The section’s no-question-about-it top teams engaged in one of the more physical, emotional and well-played contests in front of a large and raucous bunch of field hockey enthusiasts hunkered underneath umbrellas as a pesky rain dropped to the turf.
Two goals in a one minute, 57 second span at the tail end of the first half trumped a brief Gilroy single-score advantage and completely turned the tide in favor of Los Gatos as the No. 1-seeded Wildcats captured their third straight CCS championship with a 3-1 victory over the No. 2 Mustangs on a soggy Saturday in San Jose.
The weather didn’t dampen the action one bit as both teams showcased why they were the two survivors jostling for the crown.
“It was a great season and you can’t deny that,” a short-on-words Gilroy head coach Adam Gemar said.
For a majority of the first half, the Mustangs appeared to be in line for their first title in 27 years.
“In my mind that first 20 minutes or so, I thought that’s how the game should go,” Gemar said.
Gilroy’s Dani Hemeon left three Wildcat defenders in her wake with some nifty stick work along the backline and dished a bulls-eye to Monica Marrazzo, who buried the ball into the net for a 1-0 Mustangs’ lead with 6:21 to play in the first half.
“They have a phenomenal group of talented girls and when we went down one, I think it was a wake-up call and a reality check that clearly Gilroy had come to play,” said Los Gatos’ head coach Henry Reyes, who has now led the program to nine CCS titles. “We were just hoping to equalize before half.”
Los Gatos did more than just equalize.
A championship-game experienced Wildcats squad showed little panic and struck for two momentum-altering scores. Natalie Gibbens first tied things at the 4:01 mark and teammate Chloe Bertao seized the lead with 2:04 to play until the break.
Both tallies were as a result of short-corner plays. Los Gatos converted on three of their nine short-corner tries while the Mustangs went 0-for-8.
Los Gatos goalie Molly Macierz stopped a potential game-tying situation, stoning a breakaway by Gilroy High’s Emily Costa 10 minutes into the second half.
Three minutes later (17:24), Julie Wielderhad provided Los Gatos with a crucial insurance goal, sneaking the ball past GHS goalie Jessica Gonzalez from an awkward angle.
“I don’t really think we got our game going,” Gemar said.
Macierz thwarted three breakaway chances in the game, leaving her feet in one direction or the other for four saves, including a save moments after Los Gatos took the 2-1 lead at the end of the first, preventing Marrazzo from a look at the cage.
“Those were great breakaways and she made the right read and got the best of those,” Reyes said. “I’m very proud of them. It didn’t start very well, maybe the first 10-15 minutes, but they followed the game plan.”
Gilroy finishes the season with a 15-3-2 mark and navigated its way through not only the CCS playoffs to the finals but also the esteemed Mount Hamilton Division.
“We came from a bad league, came into the Mount Hamilton, did really good and finished second,” said Stephanie Gomez, one of 12 seniors to go out as runners-up. “And we made it to the finals.
“It sucks because we had it,” Gomez continued with a stoic look as she gazed at the soaked track surrounding the field, trying to describe the bitter-sweet feeling. “But it’s good because we made it here for the first time in 25 years.”
Photos to follow