For the past couple of years, the Christopher High field hockey team has gotten the better of its crosstown rivals and last year advanced to the Central Coast Section playoff semifinals.
However, Gilroy High has turned the tables this season to once again re-emerge as one of the top four to five teams in the section. The Mustangs pulled away from the Cougars 3-0 in a Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton Division game on Oct. 10.
It was a rescheduled contest after referees failed to show up for the original scheduled date on Sept. 29.
Madison Krejdovsky scored the first two goals and Angelene Castro the third—all in the decisive fourth period—further solidifying Gilroy’s position to win the league championship.
Mustangs coach Adam Gemar said the match with Christopher was closer than the score indicated, a reflection of the competitive yet friendly competition between the two teams. Gemar and Cougars coach Dani Hemeon run the local Infinity Sports Club Field Hockey program together and have known each other a long time.
“Dani is awesome,” Gemar said. “She’s my little stud player from the past, we coach together in club and we actually like each other.”
Gemar said the Mustangs don’t rely on a superstar; rather, they have a deep roster filled with talent at every position. Depth and a tireless work rate have been instrumental to the team’s success.
“The girls have nonstop effort,” Gemar said. “Team defense has also been key. They’re swarming to the ball. The Lerma sisters (Annelise and Lily) are super fast and tireless. If there’s a ball within 10 to 20 yards and you don’t pass it, they’re on you and you’re probably going to lose it.”
Gemar added Krejdovsky has been a “very aggressive” defender in the middle, and Addison Tate has displayed tremendous stickwork.
“With Addison, it seems like any ball in her range, she’s stopping it,” Gemar said. “Her stick skills are awesome.”
Hemeon said a couple of weeks ago she’s proud of her team for improving and coming together after it lost over a half-dozen starters off of last year’s team.
“At the start of the season, we had a different collection of girls with different levels of experience, different ages, so we’re just trying to mesh all together which we have definitely improved in as the weeks have gone by,” she said.
The Cougars have been led by stalwarts Carlie Silva, Emma Davis and Katie Garrison, experienced and veteran players in the program. Silva has played every position but goalie and excelled in all of them, Hemeon said, and Davis has been solid as the defensive center back.
“Carlie has done a great job, Emma has been stepping up tremendously both offensively and defensively and Katie has been a big-time offensive threat for us,” Hemeon said.
CHS received a boost with the return of forward Cloey Turiello, who suffered a torn ACL last year and was cleared to play in mid-September.
“She’s a huge asset,” Hemeon said. “And thank goodness. I didn’t think we were going to get her back so early so the fact that she’s here, it’s like a gift we’re excited to showcase.”
Gemar knew before the season started this could be one of his better teams in his 20-plus years coaching at GHS. And it’s certainly looking that way as the Mustangs have plowed through teams in the Mount Hamilton Division. Goalie Erin Castro has done well and made some incredible saves against CHS.
“Christopher was hungry and I was surprised they didn’t score a goal, but Erin made some fantastic saves either on Carlie Silva or Katie Garrison who had shots to the far post that were absolutely labeled. I don’t even know how Erin made those saves. She also made a few saves in the first half that were huge for us and kept the momentum up. So, our goalie got the player of the game.”
Gemar said all three goals were different but came from the top of the circle, which is a testament to the Mustangs’ ability to adapt and find a variety of ways to get the job done.
“Normally, we don’t score many goals from the top of the circle,” he said. “We’re scrappy and putting shots in on rebounds, but all the goals were from the top of the circle, which was good because Christopher’s stick skills are so good so we can’t be dribbling in like we normally do. We had to throw stuff from the outside.”
Gemar said Krejdovsky’s first goal was a thing of beauty.
“I saw it like it was in slow motion,” he said. “I saw it come off her stick, hit the far post, saw the release, saw the goal. It went through a couple of bodies so I don’t know what the hell happened in between.”
GHS has been working diligently on 2v1s, both on the attack and defensively, and Gemar said that paid off against a tough CHS squad.
“We’ve been working on it all year, getting by 2v1s which is kind of our claim to fame,” he said. “We set up 2v1s pretty well and to get behind the defense as much as possible. The first half Christopher actually dictated the pace of the game and got us running. You could tell our girls were really tired. It was a tough battle and I don’t know how we got three (goals) in the fourth quarter. But Maddie’s second one put us over the top.”
What Gemar loves most about the players on this year’s team is their professionalism.
“They want to win and they do everything before I even say it,” he said. “I don’t have to talk about the little things like putting bags away or helping with the goals. Every year for years you’re like, ‘Someone help with the goals please.’ Usually, we have to assign people because no one does it. It’s just the little things like setting up cones and being where we need to be. Everybody is hustling and being super positive, and the chemistry is amazing. We’ve had good players in the past, but the chemistry on this team is amazing.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]