Christopher field hockey makes history

Rhea Diokno looks to make a play in the Cougars' 1-0 win over Prospect on Wednesday. Photo by Bryant Hammer.

Three minutes into overtime, and Mikaela Santiago did what she does best—score. Her tally in the extra session lifted the Christopher High field hockey team to a nail-biting 1-0 home win over Prospect on Wednesday in the second round of the Central Coast Section playoffs. The Cougars (10-1) advance to play Los Altos (9-7) on Saturday at Del Mar High at 11:15 a.m.

Christopher made history by winning the school’s first-ever CCS playoff field hockey match, one day after the girls volleyball team recorded the school’s first-ever volleyball postseason win. The field hockey team was involved in a riveting, back-and-forth contest with Prospect, which had a great chance to win the game late in the contest on a breakaway.

However, Cougars goalie Sam Rabusin came off her line to make a sliding save and preserve the Cougars’ season.

“Sam made some incredible saves,” Cougars coach Dani Hameon said. “Prospect didn’t have a lot of shots, but the ones they did have were really well placed. In overtime, Sam saved our butt when she made that sliding save on their breakaway.”

Santiago, of course, has been a prolific goal scorer this season. She peppered the Prospect goal throughout, and it was only fitting she ended up scoring the only goal of the game.

“Mikaela has scored a lot of goals for us this year, but this one means a little more,” Hameon said. “I’m happy for her because she worked so hard the whole game and was taking great shots in the right spot. The shots hadn’t been falling,  but she kept on going to the goal. When she scored, there was a lot of excitement of course, and we rushed the field. Luckily, we didn’t have to play too long because I know we were exhausted.”

Cloey Turiello delivered the pass to set up Santiago’s score, helping the Cougars avoid what would’ve been a mild upset. Prospect is a quality team, but Christopher has just one loss this season and had a goal to win at least one CCS playoff match this season.

“It was an intense game, no doubt,” Hameon said. “We played well during regulation, and I think we definitely controlled the second half of the game. In the first half, I think we had some nerves and playoff jitters, but we calmed down and started to get after it.”

As usual, Christopher won with a balanced team effort. Hanna Crawford held things down in the midfield, Ayanna Gonzalez did well in the back and Taylor Mejia had a terrific match defensively while helping initiate the team’s offensive attack. Korina Rodeo was superb against Prospect, with Hameon noting she had to make lineup changes due to the team being “plagued by illness.”

“We had to switch a lot of people around, and Karina pretty much played the whole game,” Hameon said. “She had to fill some big shoes and did absolutely fantastic.”

Things are definitely riding high for the Cougars. If they can knock off a team from the powerful Santa Clara Valley De Anza Division—it along with the West Catholic League has won the majority of the CCS titles—it will prove to others that teams outside of those leagues can hang and beat the traditional heavyweights.

“I know Los Altos is a strong team with strong skill,” Hameon said. “However, where I think we can do some damage is with our grit and work ethic. We have a lot of players who won’t give up.”

It shows.

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