Prep Field Hockey: Mustangs lose heartbreaker to Mitty in CCS semis

Gilroy's Emma Leach works to drive the ball up the field as Live Oak's Giovanna Cimino looks to block during their game Wednesday.

SAN JOSE — “I am so proud of you guys,” Gilroy field hockey coach Adam Gemar said during his team’s postgame circle. “Just think of how far we’ve come.”
This team has come far, indeed.
Just three short months ago, Gemar wasn’t sure if there would even be a Gilroy field hockey season. Only 13 girls turned out to tryouts, barely enough to field a full team. The Mustangs had just three seniors and had six freshmen who saw regular playing time; the idea of making the postseason seemed like fairytale. But here they sat, in their usual postgame circle following the Central Coast Section semifinal playoff game.
Unfortunately for Gilroy, this circle would be it’s last.
The No. 4 Mustangs lost by a heartbreaking 1-0 final to the No. 1 seed — and perernial powerhouse — Archbishop Mitty Wednesday in the semifinal matchup at Leland High School.
As the fans cleared the stands and the players gathered their things, Gemar stood still with his arms crossed staring up at the scoreboard still in disbelief. The usually vocal, energetic coach was rendered speechless.
“You can’t be more proud, it doesn’t matter the outcome. No. 4 against No. 1, I don’t even know — I’m like speechless,” Gemar trailed off. “Even though we lost, I’m like happy inside. … From where we started with 13 people period at tryouts to (being in the semifinals) — it’s awesome, man. These are brand new players on defense, it’s unbelievable.”
Though the scoreboard didn’t show it, Gilroy dominated this game. The Mustangs seemed to have set up camp in the Monarchs’ circle, keeping the offensive pressure on for nearly 70 percent of the game. But Gilroy’s goalscorers — senior Emma Leach and juniors Katrina ‘KC’ Carter and Taylor Silacci — were met by double, sometimes triple coverage that limited the Mustangs scoring chances.
Despite the pressure, however, Leach powered through and walked away knowing she left it all out on the field. The senior’s heart and perseverance earned her the final Player of the Game award —  a pair of Minnie Mouse ears that she proudly wore as she walked off the field.
“I just gave it everything I’ve got, 110 percent. I play for the girls and I play for my coaches. I just wanted to give everything I have for my last game,” Leach said. “I’m so incrediably proud of our whole team. We work so hard day in and day out — mornings, nights, weekends, holidays — just giving it our all for each other. We all have a passion for the sport and we finally accomplished our goal of playing Gilroy hockey with that great team chemistry.”
Defensively, goalie Jackie Jauregui stopped nearly everything that came her way. The game remained scoreless until the 26th minute of the first half, when Mitty’s Marquel Love was able to squeak the ball past Jauregui. 
Mitty had three dangerous corners in the game, but the Mustangs were there to push the Monarchs back each time — and it wasn’t often that they were in Gilroy’s circle.
The Mustangs saw outstanding play at midfield from Ang Hayes, who was there to stop Mitty in it’s tracks and send the ball back to her girls in blue.
“I was like ‘Let’s win. I want to get this win’,” Hayes said. “Everytime we were in the circle, I was just like ‘Let’s put it (the ball) in.’ I just wanted to put it in their face that we’re Gilroy and we’ve got like six freshmen on the team and we’re hanging in with you guys.”
Though Gilroy will say goodbye to seniors Lilybeth Mendoza, Stephanie Marques and Leach — who have all been instramental in the team’s success this season — there’s hope for the future. All of the remaining girls expressed passion for playing next season and Gemar said he can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“How many people even said that Gilroy wasn’t going to the playoffs? Those girls didn’t even think they were going to the playoffs — let alone the semis,” he said. “Every player on this team was awesome. These girls are winners.”
Gilroy finishes its season 14-2-2.

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