Nine returning players fuel Lady Mustangs’ hunger for a
GILROY – Two straight winning seasons without a postseason berth has the Lady Mustang field hockey coaches remaining skeptical about what the upcoming season has in store. But nine returning players, all hungry to secure that ever-elusive CCS spot, has co-head coaches Adam and Erin Gemar hopeful about their playoff chances.
“I’m hopeful, but what coach wouldn’t be. They’ve got to want it and bring it all together,” said Adam Gemar before shoving off to Tuesday’s final day of tryouts. “Erin and I are gung-ho about making the playoffs, but the players have to believe in themselves, in their teammates and in the coaching staff. If they don’t believe in each other, it’s a lost cause. I pray their hungry.”
Starved for some CCS action is more like it.
Last season, the Lady Mustangs finished with a respectable 5-4-3 record in the Tri-County Athletic League. However, it was not enough – like the year prior – to get them into the big dance. Word has gotten around though, as this year more than 50 girls came out for varsity and junior varsity tryouts.
“I think this was the most ever,” said Gemar, who wants to field a 16-18 player varsity roster and a 20-22 player JV roster meaning not everyone will make the two squads. “It’s unfortunate because we don’t want to cut anyone.”
There are not any frosh field hockey teams in the area for a third field hockey team to be formed and Gemar does not want any student-athlete to waste away on the sidelines. So they devised a scorecard system with girls being rated on dedication, effort or heart, skill level, speed, and attitude.
“Our squad looks really good. There’s some tough competition going on,” said the fifth-year coach who joined his wife, Erin, after her first season alone at the helm. “The skill level is pretty good. Every year, we try to teach them some new stuff. Every year, we try to pick up new techniques that just improves their play.”
Senior All-League forward Maday Garcia – last season’s leading scorer – is back for her final campaign that would be one to remember if it meant playing in the CCS Playoffs for the first time.
“We hope for good things from Maday this year,” Gemar said. “Maday had the fortunate opportunity to work with Michelle Morejon and Sandra Aguayo last season. When you looked on the scoresheet, they were there making the assists. It was always those two. We need some midfielders to pick it up and right now we have some young midfielders looking good.”
Three of those midfielders are returning varsity players in senior Crystal Quintanar, junior Chante Mancera, and sophomore Karlie Sandoval – who was the first freshman ever chosen for Futures, the Olympic developmental team.
“We’re looking for good things from Chante,” Gemar said. “All the coaches are loving Crystal and all the kids. They’re all good kids. We’ve had no trouble spots as far as attitude.”
The Lady Mustang attack also returns senior center forward Amanda Cooper (who after sitting out with an injury early on came out on fire the second half of last season); senior right forward Tracy Link (a top goal scorer last year); and junior forward Elena Ramirez (who also worked with Futures).
“Tracy’s looking good,” Gemar said. “All these girls, the summer picks up their play. Another year of maturity, a little more patient with the ball and the communication on the field is huge.”
Between the pipes for Gilroy will once again be senior netminder Sam Sicard – who’s already received some interest from college programs. On defense, the Mustangs also return senior Jessica Sandoval, another Futures player, and junior Janelle Perez, who has impressed her coaches throughout tryouts.
“They know the system. They’re getting smarter. They’re technique is getting better,” said Gemar of all his returning players. “We’re picking it up with conditioning. We tied some games late in the season last year because of conditioning. That’s the coaches fault. Late-game goals killed us last year.”
There are also some fresh talent coming up from the junior varsity such as seniors Jackie Jarrell and Vanessa Petro – who both excelled last season at the JV level.
“We’ve got a young midfield, an experienced attack, and a mixed defense,” Gemar said. “The young girls and veterans will jell, absolutely. They’ve played the best hockey in tryouts than we played last year together.”
Another new bright spot for the Lady Mustangs is freshman goaltender Stephanie Glenn – who will be up at the varsity this upcoming season to learn under Sicard and play the field as well.
“We’re really excited about her. She’s an athletic individual,” Gemar said. “She’ll possibly step into Sam’s spot when she’s gone. She’ll be on the field this year and backing up Sam.”
The Lady Mustangs have upped their non-league competition with a big challenge ahead against perennial CCS power Los Gatos.
“This is the first year we’re confident at every position,” Gemar said. “But we need to play and practice as a family. Trusting each other is huge. Every player I’ve listed so far I trust with everything they do.”
After a two-day run in the Willow Glen Jamboree on Sept. 5-6, the Lady Mustangs will open their schedule Sept. 9 at home against York at 3:30 p.m.