Field hockey battles Los Gatos for CCS championship, grabs second place

December 2, 2008 — by Shannon Galvin and Ren Norris

You can’t always win them all, but you can definitely give them a run for their money.

That’s exactly what the second-seeded Saratoga field hockey team accomplished against its rival No. 1 Los Gatos at the CCS finals on Nov. 22 at Willow Glen High School. Saratoga managed to keep the score close, but in the end the Wildcats won 2-1 to secure first place and hand the Falcons just their second loss of the year.

This was Saratoga’s first appearance in the title game since 2004 when the Falcons were co-champions with Archbishop Mitty.

The Los Gatos offense quickly went on the attack, pressuring the Saratoga defense with a succession of five short corners within the first five minutes of the game. Two minutes later, Wildcat senior co-captain Rachelle Comeau scored a goal, giving Los Gatos an early lead, but Saratoga had an opportunity to tie it up late in the first half. Senior co-captain Laura Ruddy drove a hard pass to senior forward Katie Marsh, who shot the ball into the net; the goal was nullified, however, as the referee called a foul, and it remained 1-0 after the first 30 minutes of play.

In the second half, senior forward Claire Marsh redeemed the goal with hard shot during a short corner.

“It was really exciting when we tied it up,” said sophomore Vanessa Block. “It boosted our energy and we really thought that we could win.”

With the score tied 1-1, the contest heated up and rough play dominated.

Junior Sam Li was injured twice but toughed it out and came back into the game both times. A Los Gatos player also received a yellow card and was forced to sit out for five minutes, leaving the Wildcats a player down. The play continued to be rough, and several players from both sides also received warnings.

Three minutes left in the game, Comeau scored another goal to the far left corner to pull Los Gatos ahead for the win.

“In the second half we really came out hard,” said coach Amber Wilson. “We played our game and that’s all we could have done.”

A loud and enthusiastic crowd cheered the Falcons throughout the match, supported by “Code Red,” a group of spirited football players who dressed up and proudly rooted the girls on, but in the end, Los Gatos secured first place with a 2-1 win.

Semifinals

The Falcons reached the finals with a 2-1 victory against last year’s CCS champions on Nov. 18 at home under the lights. St. Francis had reached the finals four years in a row before playing Saratoga this year.

The Lancers scored first on a hard shot into the far right corner of the goal, but only a minute later Saratoga responded with a goal of its own. Senior co-captain Kelly Darchuk dribbled by the St. Francis defense on breakaway down the right side of the field and crossed the ball to Claire, who barely tipped it past the goalie.

Saratoga’s other goal came from Ruddy, who scored on an assist by sophomore Ren Norris. Ruddy’s shot gave Saratoga the lead and the team held on for the victory.

Quarterfinals

To begin their run at playoffs, the girls secured a 2-0 shutout against Leigh on Nov. 15 in the quarterfinals.

The Falcons, who ended the regular season with a record of 8-1-3, faced off against the No. 7 Longhorns (10-3-1) at Willow Glen. Saratoga received a bye for the first round of playoffs.

Block helped the Falcons pull ahead on a shot from the top of the circle with less than three minutes gone by and Katie Marsh scored a goal in the 15th minute off a free hit by Ruddy.

The Falcons kept the ball on offense for the majority of the game, thanks to strong performances by midfielders Block and Norris. Darchuk also managed several breakaways throughout the game.

Season Wrap-up

Next year, the field hockey team will take a hard hit as goalkeeper Stephanie Douglass, defenders Ruddy and Megan Mandell, and forwards Darchuk, Ashley Charette and Katie and Claire Marsh graduate. Many seniors had been playing on the varsity team since their sophomore year. The team hopes their juniors and sophomores, as well as incoming JV players, hope to take their place and keep up the program.

The girls will begin training again in February and plan to travel to the local field hockey tournaments in the spring, including one in southern California. Also, they plan to continue the dedication they followed this year with practices and conditioning over the summer.

Darchuk said the team’s second place finish was an unforgettable way to end her field hockey career.

“I’m really proud of our team and how we came together and did so well this season,” said Darchuk. “No loss to Los Gatos is going to change that.”

3 views this week