The Cougars' Katie Garrison looks to control the possession during a Central Coast Section playoff semifinal match against Los Gatos on Wednesday at Saratoga High. Christopher lost 1-0 to end the best season in program history. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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Take all the motivational sports quotes and one can apply it to the Christopher High field hockey team after a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Los Gatos High in the Central Coast Section playoff semifinals on Wednesday at Saratoga High. 

Perhaps no saying describes the Cougars’ predicament quite better than this.  

You are not defeated when you lose. You are defeated when you quit – Paulo Coelho.

There certainly was no quit from a Christopher squad that went toe to toe with the section’s premier program in Los Gatos, whose 16 CCS titles are more than double the next nearest program. For 60 minutes, the Cougars and Wildcats played at a frenetic pace, keeping up a work rate befitting of highly conditioned athletes. 

In the end, Los Gatos had a player in Natasha Evenden who happens to possess the hardest shot in the section. Her rocket off a short corner just a minute into the third quarter stood up as the only goal of the game. Evenden unleashed the shot with such force that it made a loud thumping sound as it hit the backstop of the cage. 

“You’ve got to give her credit—she’s a great player,” CHS coach Dani Hemeon said. “They maximize their opportunities for sure and we created opportunities, too, so I’m very proud of our players. I think we put more pressure on Los Gatos than they’ve gotten in a while. Our girls played a helluva game. It’s definitely going to sting because they know we were right there the whole time, but overall we have to look back on all the great things we accomplished this year.”

Indeed, the Cougars reached the CCS playoff semifinals for the first time in program history in Hemeon’s seventh season at the helm. This result improved upon their quarterfinal showing in 2019 and second-round appearance in 2018. CHS played fast, loose and did everything but win on the scoreboard in Wednesday’s contest. 

The Cougars had seven short corners to the Wildcats’ four, and the possession time was pretty even. They just couldn’t take advantage of the short corner advantage as Los Gatos played ultra-tough defense in the speciality situation. 

Christopher’s best chance to score came from Katie Garrison in the second quarter—she got free and launched a shot that hit the right side of the cage—and when Skyler Turiello sent a ball to the front that barely missed the stick of Carlie Silva, who would’ve had a great opportunity to score on a deflection with 30 seconds left in the third. 

CHS peppered the Los Gatos goal for a solid stretch with under five minutes to play, to no avail. Silva and Taylor Mejia made strong runs all game, Cloey Turiello drew penalties in the circle that led to short corners and Mia Katsuyoshi blocked three shots in front of the CHS goal, most likely preventing one from scoring. 

This year’s team will be remembered for the squad that put the Cougars among the section’s elite. More than anything, Hemeon and the players were sad they wouldn’t be manning a sideline for Saturday’s championship match. 

“This team bonded and jelled the whole year, something I’ve never seen before,” Hemeon said. “It’s been so fun and I’m sad it’s over. We’ll be back, but we’re going to miss our seniors, that’s for sure. It’s the best senior class we’ve had so far. I’m sad about the outcome, but very proud of the girls. They couldn’t have done more than what they did.”

The Cougars’ Emma Davis battles a Los Gatos player for the ball in CCS semifinal action. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471, ext. 3958.

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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.

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