A lot was on the line last week at Gilroy High as Christopher High and the host Mustangs met in a showdown of two of the best girls field hockey teams in the Central Coast Section.
For starters, it is a city rivalry.
There was also the chance to jump into first place in the league standings, followed by a high seed in the upcoming CCS playoffs.
After 60 minutes of intense action, the contest was scoreless and moved on to a 7-minute seven-on-seven sudden death overtime.
And it was the Cougars’ Caitlinn Holt who scored a rebound goal with just a little more than one minute remaining in overtime to help seal the deal for a 1-0 win in an instant classic Oct. 12.
“It feels so good,” Holt said. “I was relieved when I heard it hit the back of the goal. We’re no stranger to hard overtime games.”
Gilroy pressed hard all game and had the majority of chances, yet it was Christopher’s defense that held the fort time and time again.
The first battle between both teams also went to overtime at 0-0 but no one scored in that Sept. 15 match.
However, there was a goal in this contest and it came on an attack by Holt and Katie Garrison.
Garrison’s shot on the left side of the goal was stopped but the rebound came off to the right side, giving Holt the opportunity to slam it in.
“Rebounds are her game,” Garrison said.
The victory improves Christopher’s record to 4-0-2 in Blossom Valley Athletic League, Mount Hamilton Division play, and 13-1-2 overall. Gilroy is now a notch back at 4-1-1 in league and 12-2-1 overall.
Gilroy pressed hard offensively throughout the game. In the first quarter, Ella Gallegos, Annelise Lerma and Madison Krejdovsky led the attack.
Lerma had more strong chances in the second quarter but the Christopher defense and goalie Dominique Flores kept the ball out.
After halftime, Gilroy’s Jade Moncada and Kamryn Krejdovsky combined to put pressure on the goal. Moncada continued setting up teammates to try to break through, but to no avail.
Christopher finally replied with some good threats, as Holt and Garrison attacked the goal.
In the fourth quarter, Gilroy drove the action again. The Mustangs put forth a ferocious closing flurry but the Cougars did not yield.
“Our defense of Alexa Booth, Laurel Lopez, Alyssa Montejano and Kaitlyn Nguyen worked well as a unit with our goalie Dominique Flores,” Christopher coach Dani Perez said. “We were stepping to the ball well and tackling back hard. At the end of the game, we were lucky to make it to overtime. I am confident in our team if we get to overtime.”
Danica Lopez and Garrison were among the Cougars helping to clear the ball.
For Gilroy, the midfield, including Moncada, Maya Torres, Addison Tait, Allisa Schwender and the Krejdovsky sisters, kept Christopher bottled up and regularly redirected play back toward the Christopher goal.
“Gilroy’s a great team,” Perez said. “They are super athletic and had a majority of chances.”
For Christopher, Holt and Garrison were supported by Ashley Bembry, Ella Miura, Alliya Camacho and Sophie Gonzalez. Everyone in teal and black referenced the defense and goalkeeping as being the keys to victory.
Yet it was an offensive charge by Garrison, Christopher’s leading scorer with 23 goals, and Holt, second on the team with 13, that decided the contest.
“In practice, we’ve been working on possession and calm collected passes,” Garrison said. “We took that and elevated it in overtime. The ability to play with poise, to put that ball in the back of the net.”
And the open field and space in the seven-on-seven nature of the overtime.
“Overtime is always our game,” Holt said. “It’s about speed and fitness.”
The Gilroy players were terribly disappointed. However, the CCS playoffs are ahead and the Mustangs’ performance on this day was particularly sharp.
The final result may not have been to their liking but their long-term chances remain as bright as ever.
Lerma leads Gilroy in scoring with 19 goals, Madison Krejdovsky and Schwender each have 11 and Kamryn Krejdovsky has 10.
They did not score during last week’s game but it is a strong and diverse attack that illustrates Gilroy’s strength.
“It’s a great feeling to win,” Garrison said. “It was a fun game on both sides. I really want to congratulate Gilroy. For us, we’ve had a bit of a rebuilding year. To come out strong and put together a game like this is great. We are looking to go far in CCS.”
Most likely, both teams will.
Last year, the Cougars reached the final and lost to Mitty 1-0. Gilroy was knocked out in the semifinal, also by a 1-0 count at the hands of Mitty.
The Monarchs have stumbled a bit this year and are just 8-5-2 overall, while powerhouse Los Gatos is in the elite group with a 10-0-2 mark, though perhaps not tested.
CCS playoffs begin Oct. 30 and the final is scheduled for Nov. 11.
“It’s great and this is a big win,” Perez said. “It puts us in good shape in league. But we’re going to take it one game at a time. Just focus now on our next opponent.”