POLO: Cougars upend Gilroy in MBL playoffs

Christopher High scored six goals in the second quarter and cruised to a 13-7 win Tuesday over Gilroy in the opening round of the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division Tournament at CHS.

In the round robin format, on Wednesday Gilroy faces Alvarez, who they have already defeated twice this year. The winner faces Harbor on Thursday. Also on Thursday, Christopher travels to Carmel High to face Monterey, who gave the Cougars two of their four losses. CHS held a 4-1 advantage at the half in one of those games but was unable to close it out.

This was the fourth official meeting between cross-town rivals Christopher and Gilroy this year. They met in a tournament and twice in league. Last time, CHS eked out an 8-6 victory.

The Cougars and Mustangs traded goals in the first period Tuesday. But Christopher erupted for nine unanswered goals before Gilroy broke up the streak in the third period.

“We came out so excited ready to play and then we gave up a couple quick goals and lost the momentum,” Gilroy coach Travis Gamble said. “The girls don’t give up. They keep on going no matter what. They turned it around and played a great second half.”

Gilroy was missing one of its top scorers, Katie Clark, who had her wisdom teeth pulled.

“The girls are playing just as hard without her and really pushing it,” Gamble said.

Natalie Garcia and Kaitlin Ramirez led the way in scoring with four goals each. Hannah Marquez added three goals for CHS, and Shannon McAvoy had two.

“We were able to get open and were not as clustered together like we normally are,” said Ramirez, who was frustrated during the game after missing several shots.

Abby Kienle led the Mustangs with three goals. And Thao Nguyen, Deanna Keller, Ariane Lussier and Megan Nebesnick had one goal each.

“We did good in the first quarter and then we kind of fell apart,” Nebesnick said. “Once they started scoring, we couldn’t stay with them. It has been our goal all season long to beat them.”

Both goalies made some good saves – GHS goalie Alexia Lussier had 15, and CHS goalie Bella Marquez stopped 10 shots.

In the second half, the Cougars tried to get a couple more players involved who usually don’t see much action. Christopher ran a 6-on-5 – essentially sacrificing defense for offense – to give players like Carolina Garcia her first goal of the season. Despite a couple attempts, it wasn’t meant to be.

“We could have ran that score to 25, but that was not the intent,” said CHS Coach Jim Shuster. “The intent is to win and make sure everybody has a good time, the girls are safe and happy and that they learn something.”

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