The 2019 season could be a breakthrough for the Christopher High field hockey team. In the last couple of years, the Cougars have made the Central Coast Section playoffs only to get knocked off in their opening game. In that same period, they also haven’t beaten crosstown rival Gilroy High, a perennial CCS power.
Christopher coach Dani Hameon and standout junior Jordan Anaya feel this is the year for the team to break through and take the next step into the upper echelon of the section.
“I think this year we have enough experience at almost every position and enough depth that we’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” Hameon said. “To have seven spots on the field where we have girls that played last year returning is a pretty good spot to be in.”
Said Anaya: “The difference is we’re coming together really well this year. … Gilroy has graduated quite a few seniors, so I think this year will be a different match and one we’re excited for. We’ve never beaten Gilroy, so I definitely think this is our year.”
If the Cougars are to win a CCS playoff game and beat Gilroy High, Anaya will most likely have played a huge role. The recently converted center midfielder combines athleticism, endurance and quickness to be a difference maker.
“Jordan is fast, has great fitness and can chase any ball or anyone down,” Hameon said. “Last year she had a great year, and this year she’s going to be even better. She’s our key distributor and our workhorse on the field. She sets a great example for all the other players for sure.”
Even though Anaya only started playing field hockey in her freshman year, she has caught on fast. The starting goalkeeper on the soccer team since she was a freshman, Anaya loves both sports and is part of a strong contingent of Christopher players who play field hockey in the fall and soccer in the winter prep sports season. Anaya said everyone on the team has been committed to doing whatever Hameon puts in front of them.
“We had high level practices over the summer, and it definitely helped pick up our skill level to prepare us for this season,” Anaya said. “It’ll take time to build our talent, but we’re currently on our way up. Coach Dani has shown dedication to the team with all the hard work she makes us go through with conditioning and fitness. We wouldn’t be able to do this without her.”
Hameon was effusive in her praise for goalkeeper Samantha Rabusin, who is one of only two seniors on the team. Rabusin, who was the Pacific Coast League Gabilan Division Goalkeeper of the Year last season, knows when to come off her line, stay back and make smart decisions. Rabusin moves well laterally and also communicates well with her defense, which plays a vital role in stopping the opposing team.
“She’s a big leader for us and just an all star in goal,” Hameon said. “It’s nice to have someone like her to save us when we need it. She’ll help us get through a lot of tough games this year.”
Hameon foresees the team receiving the majority of its scoring from forwards Cloey Turiello, Amber Moreno and Mikaela Santiago. Hameon said Turiello possesses explosive playmaking ability and tremendous stickhandling skills. Taylor Mejia, a sophomore center midfielder, distributes the ball well and has a mental mindset second to none.
“She’s a competitor and a student of the game,” Hameon said. “She’s always trying to be the best player that she can be, and is kind of like a coach’s dream because she listens well and is doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Hanna Crawford, a junior outside midfielder, works hard, passes well and sees the field in a way that allows her to get the ball up field and help the Cougars’ possession. Despite growing up with soccer, Anaya said she likes field hockey and soccer on an equal level. During the field hockey season, practices are in the mid-afternoon, with matches around the same time or a little later.
From there, Anaya has club soccer practice in Santa Clara until 8 p.m. before she returns home to Gilroy close to 9. That’s enough to make anyone exhausted; however, Anaya’s day isn’t done yet as she has homework to complete. Sometimes, Anaya feels like collapsing on her bed and sleeping, but she feels pride in doing her best with sports and academics.
Anaya also plays club field hockey with Infinity, and she said there are a lot of similarities between soccer and field hockey even though she plays entirely different positions.
“The movement and positioning transfers from one sport to another,” she said.
Anaya hopes Christopher improves to the point where it can win a league championship, which would also include beating Gilroy. Several girls from both schools play together for Infinity, which happens to be coached by Hameon and Gilroy coach Adam Gemar.
“Obviously, when we play them there is always tough, heated competition,” Anaya said. “It’s fun and the intensity is high.”