Field hockey rivals face off for first place October 16, 2008 — by Shannon Galvin and Ren Norris When Falcon field hockey challenged longtime rival Los Gatos at home turf under the lights, there was more than just dignity on the line, there was the first place ranking. When Falcon field hockey challenged longtime rival Los Gatos at home turf under the lights, there was more than just dignity on the line, there was the first place ranking. Both teams held identical undefeated records of 3-0-1 leading into the game—both tied for first in the Mt. Hamilton Division, the toughest section of the Blossom Valley Athletic League. The stands were filled as both teams played a hard-hitting game, but in the end, the teams remained in a tie with a final score of 1-1. “We played intense and we played our game,” said senior co-captain Kelly Darchuk. “There’s really nothing else we could have done, but we should have won.” In the first half of the game, Saratoga’s defense was tested as the girls struggled to move the ball up the field. Seniors Laura Ruddy and Megan Mandell and junior Anna Schroeder led the defensive effort throughout the game. Darchuk and seniors Katie and Claire Marsh helped wake up the Los Gatos defense with several breakaways in the first half. The Lady Falcons then won a stroke, similar to a penalty kick in soccer, shortly afterwards when the Wildcat goalie trapped the ball in her gear. Darchuk took the stroke, but it was stopped with a stellar dive by the Los Gatos goalie. With six minutes left in the first half, Wildcat senior co-captain Rachelle Comeau scored a goal, making the score 1-0 at half time. In the second half, the Marsh twins tied up the score. Katie dribbled the ball up in a breakaway, dodged the diving goalie, and passed it to her sister, who finished with a shot at the upper corner. Los Gatos had another opportunity to score with a short corner one minute left in the game, where the offense lines up its players on the outside of the penalty to circle for an opportunity to score against four defensive players, but senior goalie Stephanie Douglass saved it with a spectacular dive. With the score tied at the conclusion of the game, both teams went into a sudden-death overtime, where seven players play for seven minutes. Los Gatos received three offensive short corners during the overtime, but Falcon defense was able to stop all of them. Saratoga had several breakaways during the seven minutes, but was unable to score any goals. In the end, the game concluded with a draw, and both teams remained tied for first place in their division. “We played well and worked hard,” said coach Amber Wilson. “It was tough against such a physical team, and it took us a while to figure them out. But overall, we gave them a tough match.” Saratoga field hockey is in the middle of successful season, despite injuries that continue to hurt the team. On Oct. 3, they beat last year’s CCS champions St. Francis with a final score of 2-1, with both goals scored by Ruddy. Sophomore Shea Sullivan moved up from JV to help with so many players out. Sullivan had been a leading scorer for JV. Wilson believes that if players are practicing hard, they should be rewarded with getting to play varsity. “Shea’s been playing really well and working really hard,” said Wilson, “and we have four senior forwards so we need to start thinking about next year. Plus we’ve had so many injuries that we need more subs.” The team hopes to continue its success and hold on to first place as they begin the second half of the season and play all of the teams in its division a second time. Saratoga field hockey’s next home game is on Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. under the lights against St. Francis. That same week, the team also faces off again against the Wildcats on Oct. 31 at Los Gatos. At the end of the season, Wilson plans to step down, and the girls are determined to make this last season the best. “I’m not worried about winning league. We’re still undefeated and tied for first,” said Wilson.