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April 12, 2021

Christopher field hockey nears perfect season

The Christopher High field hockey team doesn’t just have one particular standout—it has many. In fact, Cougars coach Dani Hameon said “we don’t have a weak spot anywhere on the field,” a statement that seemed a matter of fact in a 2-0 win over host Leigh on Tuesday. Christopher improved to 7-0 and needs to beat San Benito on Friday to cap a perfect season. 

Of course, the Cougars won’t be able to test themselves against the likes of Los Gatos or Mitty in the Central Coast Section playoffs after the pandemic forced all of the Season 1 sports into an abbreviated season minus any postseason. 

“For sure it would’ve been nice to see what this team could’ve done in the playoffs,” Hameon said. “I’m sad that we have only one more game, but I’m just glad these girls got to play. I think this is definitely the best group we’ve ever had at Christopher.”

The results so far speak for themselves. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 19-0 this season, knocking off CCS powers Leigh and St. Francis in the process. Christopher went 10-2 the last time there was a season in the fall of 2019, earning a win in the playoffs before falling to Los Altos 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Against Leigh, the Cougars received two goals from Mikaela Santiago, who in Hameon’s estimation has scored around 70 percent of the team’s goals this season. 

“I think she’s scored in every game except the one before this,” Hameon said. “I think that lit a little fire under her. She’s been great as always, just like last year.”

Hameon said Santiago and Cloey Turiello have been a dynamic duo up top, while Jordan Anaya and Taylor Mejia have been instrumental in the midfield. Mejia has shined this season both offensively and defensively, and newcomer Mia Katsuyoshi has been solid at the center defender position. 

“She has done a great job of defending and distributing,” Hameon said. 

Along with the aforementioned players, Rhea Diokno, Miranda Tuz, Skyler Turiello, Korina Rodeo, Katie Garrison and Hanna Crawford contributed to the team’s huge time of possession advantage. In the first half, virtually all of the action was on Leigh’s end of the field. CHS was pinpoint in its passing, switched the field up nicely and displayed deft stick-handling. 

Even then, it couldn’t put the ball in the goal until Santiago pounced on a loose ball in front to make it 1-0 with 8 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Santiago’s second goal came off an assist from Cloey Turiello, who was positioned just inside the 5-yard mark. Turiello feathered a pass to Santiago, who scored from close range as she was stationed on the right side in front of the Leigh goal. 

The Cougars drew seven penalty corners to Leigh’s two and had 11 shots on goal to the Longhorns’ one, a testament to their domination of play. CHS goalie Aesha Sandoval, a newcomer from the soccer team, has proven immensely valuable this season taking over for graduated senior Sam Rabusin, who Hameon said is set to play at UC Davis. 

“Playing goalie suits Aesha well because she’s already so good with her feet,” Hameon said. “Now as a field hockey goalie, that’s what she uses to save any shots. We couldn’t have hoped for a better transition in how Aesha has played the position.”

Hameon said she was particularly proud of the team’s performance given it came against Leigh, a perennial CCS power that was 19-0-0 before it lost to eventual CCS finalist Los Gatos in the quarterfinals last season. 

“I’ve been super happy this whole season,” she said. “They have great vision, read the field really well and everyone’s knowledge of the game has improved significantly this past year.”

That’s because the majority of the players on the team have been practicing since last June, even when it seemed like a season was never going to materialize. 

“The amazing thing is our girls have bought in from June all the way to now, and that is the reason why we’re doing so well,” Hameon said. “They knew whether we had a season or not, they were going to work hard regardless. We ended up getting a season, and now they’re being rewarded for their hard work.”

The Cougars’ Hanna Crawford maintains possession in Tuesday’s match at Leigh High. Photo by Bryant Hammer.
Field hockey and soccer standout Taylor Mejia helped control the action in the Cougars’ victory. Photo by Bryant Hammer.
Skyler Turiello handles the ball in Tuesday’s match against the host Longhorns. Photo by Bryant Hammer.
Mikaela Santiago scored two goals to help CHS improve to 7-0. Photo by Bryant Hammer.
Emanuel Lee
Sports Editor of the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. PR of 3:13.40 at the 2019 CIM. Hebrews 12:1.

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