For one of the few times in his 20-plus seasons as the coach of the Gilroy High field hockey team, Adam Gemar has inherited a roster that is 20 deep. That’s mostly a good problem to have, Gemar said, as it creates fierce competition for each position.
“I haven’t had this many people in so long and I like it because it makes everybody better,” he said. “They’re pushing each other for starting jobs and are motivated to get better.”
The Mustangs have three scrimmages before opening the season with a match against Live Oak on Aug. 26. They have plenty of talent returning because last season’s team was filled with freshmen, who now have a year of varsity experience under their belts.
Since the team started conditioning in June, senior forward Kaylin Battaglia has seen a noticeable difference among the players’ skills.
“All the girls have improved so much and I can see ourselves working well as a team,” said Battaglia, who was the leading goal scorer in the team’s Covid-shortened season earlier this year. “I definitely feel this season we’re going to do really well. I have a good feeling about this season, and hopefully we make it back to CCS.”
Battaglia knows what it’s like to help a team win a Central Coast Section championship. In June, she was the right fielder for a Mustangs softball team that captured the Division V title.
Last season, Battaglia scored most of her goals off rebounds, tipping the ball in after one of her teammates put a hard shot on goal. In the off-season, she’s been practicing her stick and ball-handling skills, knowing they make a critical difference in a player’s success. Gemar said he was excited about all of the players on the team, including the goalie duo of senior Ameera Kleder Barnes and sophomore Erin Castro.
“They split time at goalie last year and both did well,” Gemar said.
Seven sophomores blanket the roster, including Madison Krejdovsky, who Gemar described as having a “wealth of talent.” Gemar praised the midfielder for her drive to perform well and consistency in every facet of the game. The junior trio of Angelene Castro, Ashley Boehm and Lili Lerma are projected to have a huge impact on the team.
“Ange will play midfielder to forward and has a well developed skill set,” Gemar said. “Everything she does is quality. Ashley usually plays defense, but she finds a way to score goals. Every person on the team has the utmost confidence in her because she rarely makes mistakes and is super smart on and off the ball. And Lili is like lightning: super fast and not afraid to try new skills. They’re all super coachable.”
Six additional freshmen have joined the team, showing the Gilroy pipeline of field hockey talent is humming. Lili’s younger sister, Annelise, is on the team along with Lily Dale and Addison Tait. Maya Torres had an outstanding freshman season and looks to make an even greater impact this season.
“I am totally excited about this year’s group because they’re so young and talented,” Gemar said. “They show their stuff and they have a lot of good energy. They’re happy all the time and the chemistry seems to be good. Right now if there is a weakness, I’d say it would be our defense because they’re so young. But they’re willing to learn so I don’t see it as a weakness.”