Prep Field Hockey: Mustangs top Cougars 3-1

Gilroy's Carli Coyler battles for possession with Christopher's Erin Mank Sept. 29 at Christopher High.

GILROY—Tuesday’s meeting between Gilroy and Christopher was a little surreal for first-year Cougar coach Dani Hemeon. It wasn’t too long ago that Hemeon donned a Mustangs’ uniform under the direction of coach Adam Gemar. Now, she was trying to beat him.
“It was kind of a weird experience because he’s taught me everything I know,” Hemeon said with a smile. “I feel like if someone listened to us, we might be saying almost the same things…He has built up a powerhouse at Gilroy, so I’m just hoping I can do the same here.”
Hemeon’s Cougars provided tough competition, but it was the Mustangs who came out on top with a 3-1 victory at Christopher High. The contest held more weight this year as both teams are in the same league this year and are fighting for a spot in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“We definitely stepped it up out there,” junior Mustang Ellie Sausen said. “There’s a lot to prove and there’s a lot of pressure out on the field, but I really feel like everybody on Gilroy stepped it up and we played our game.”
Gilroy’s defense held Christopher scoreless until the final seconds of the game when it drew a corner. Erin Mank set-up a quick pass to Clare McCarry, who was right in front of the net to poke the ball in to avoid the shutout.
“It’s fun because we play club with a lot of those girls,” Mank said of her Gilroy counterparts. “We just wanted to go out and give it our best. It didn’t go in our favor today, but we were definitely working hard until the end.”
Gilroy’s Sam Phipps broke free midway through the first half and set up a one-on-one situation with Christopher goalie Bailey Howard. Phipps’s shot was just out of reach of the Cougar keeper for a score that put the Mustangs ahead 1-0 with 13:08 left in the first half.
Gilroy’s Ellie Sausen and Maddy Cox kept the pressure on offensively throughout the game, but were defended heavily by Alyssa Landeros and Mariah Carpenter of Christopher. Gilroy, despite drawing nine penalty corners in the game, was unable to widen their lead until less than 10 minutes remained on the clock.
“I was proud of the girls intensity,” the Mustangs’ Gemar said.” They were really pumped to play CHS for the first time in (league play)…I am concerned about our short corner production. We earn at least 9 corners a failed to score. However, to give (the Cougars) credit, they had great corner defense.”
Freshman Cami Rogers snatched the ball at around the 25-yard-line and carried it into the circle for an unassisted goal to the far corner. A few minutes later, a patiently waiting Cox poked the ball in from right in front of the net to give Gilroy a 3-0 lead.
“We were really pumped,” said Cox after the game. “…yesterday we were like ‘we need to beat Christopher.’ This is our biggest game and we were all excited. We just pulled through.”
The two teams won’t have to wait long to see each other again as they square off again at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Christopher High. Before then, the Mustangs (7-1-2 overall, 3-0 in league) will play at 7 p.m. Friday at Saratoga. Christopher (6-2 overall, 3-1 in league) plays at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Carmel.
“We’ve really got to clean up our defense and our passing,” Hemeon said. “We made the game a little too hard on ourselves. We weren’t really passing to ourselves, so just clean up the possession and the defense, for sure.”