Prep Field Hockey: Game changer

Christopher's Jordan Evanger and Erin Mank.

GILROY—“This year, I think we have it all in place,” Christopher field hockey coach Lia Peterson said overlooking the field of around 50 girls who turned up for practice on Aug. 19.
For the first time in their five-year history, the Cougars are confident they have the recipe for success. They have a solid, experienced core returning and they have a brand new turf field to play on, too. Gone are the days of playing on the patchy, bumpy practice fields. Peterson said this season the Cougars will get the chance to play hockey the way it’s meant to be played.
“It is going to change the game; honestly that turf is a game changer for us,” she said. “Field hockey requires a flat surface and we’ve not yet played on a flat surface outside of the teams that have the turf and it ends up being really detrimental. It’s kind of almost a different game when you play one versus the other.”
The new field will mean a faster game for the Cougars, but forwards Erin Mank and Jordan Evanger are ready. The offensive tandem were both instrumental in the team’s success last year—13-1-5 overall, 11-3-1 in league—helping its second a Central Coast Section playoff appearance in two years. Christopher was eliminated in the first round following an 8-0 loss to Monte Vista—a loss where the transition from field to turf didn’t do the team any favors.
But neither is satisfied with just reaching the playoffs; they want to go further. Both Mank and Evanger said they want make school history and be the first team to reach the second round of CCS as well be crowned Mission Trail Athletic League champs. Since both are upperclassmen, they know the responsibility falls on their shoulders to help the team reach its goals.
“We have at least a year of experience at the varsity level under our belt, so we both know what to expect,” Evanger said. “We’re both going to take up a leadership role and encourage the team as much as we can.”
The Cougars graduated 12 seniors, leaving big shoes to fill—especially on the defensive side. While goalie Kyle Robinson graduated, her understudy Brooke Loesch is ready to be the netminder. Peterson said goalie is a tough position to play both physically and mentally, but believes Loesch has the right skills and mindset as she’s also a catcher for the Cougars softball team.
Mank, Evanger and senior forward Sherelle Butler will create a triple threat on the offensive side of the ball. Mank and Evanger have kept their skills sharp by playing club in the offseason and Mank even played for the USA Field Hockey U16 Futures team over the summer.
“I expect nothing less than what they did last year and beyond,” Peterson said. “I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t be just as good. We’re switching fields, but they’re the same people playing the same game with basically the same team with some additions. I don’t expect anything less from them.”
Speaking of additions, Isabelle Medina, a junior forward and Alina Dominguez, a junior midfielder, will join the varsity squad to help fill in the holes left from last year’s team. Both the varsity and JV squads regularly practice together which helps bridge the gap between the two.
“We’re kind of like a big family. We do a lot of stuff with JV, so the whole program is really close,” Mank said. “It’s just a big, happy family.”
Christopher has loaded up its preseason schedule with tough opponents to prepare for the long road ahead. It will kick off it’s season at Sept. 4 at Leland, will play at Lynbrook Sept. 10, at Live Oak Sept. 11 and wrap-up it’s road trip with Monterey on Sept. 16—all games are at 3:30 p.m. The Cougars will finally put their sticks on their home turf with a league contest at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 19 against Santa Catalina.
With a new team and new field, the Cougars are asking themselves ‘Why stop there?’ They want a new school record—reaching the second round of CCS—and a new league banner for the gym, too.
“The hope is to find that right set of girls this year to fill the shoes of whoever came before,” Peterson said.
Christopher will play Gilroy in a scrimmage at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 3 at Gilroy High.
The Cougars officially begin their season at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at Leland.
Take a look at what the Gilroy Mustangs have in store this season here.

Leave your comments