by Ruth Murai
From a team of forty, the hopes and dreams of an entire sisterhood lay in the hands of seven. Seniors Marcia Lewis and Jamie Leong and juniors Keats Iwanaga, Mhairi Finlayson, Kathleen Humphries, Melina Moore, and Kaitlyn McLaren took the field for the last time this season, prepared to dive and die for a single goal. And with three minutes and thirteen seconds left in the second overtime of their championship game, Varsity captain Moore lifted the ball past the goalie into the cage, winning Los Gatos field hockey the 2013 CCS Championship. When asked how the seven were mentally, physically, and emotionally able to handle those last minutes of the game, Varsity Captain Iwanaga replied simply, “love was the answer.”
The journey to CCS finals began on Nov. 16, when Los Gatos played Prospect High School in the quarterfinals. The Cats held nothing back as they went into the game, scoring three times in the first seven minutes. LG continued to play strong into the second half, finishing the game 6-0, with goals scored by Varsity captains Leong and Moore, as well as juniors Rylee Comeau and Maddie Abene, and freshman Morgan Babula. Leong said of the quarterfinal match, “We knew we could beat them, we just had to execute. I wasn’t nervous because this was what we had been training for.”
After their success against Prospect, Los Gatos went on to play the third-seeded St. Francis in the semi-finals on Nov. 20, in what was their first game against the Lancers since the 2012 season. The first goal was scored by junior Callie Glenn. “I felt proud to help put our team in the lead,” Glenn said of her goal, “it felt like everything we worked for had paid off.” In the second half, St.Francis tied the game 1-1, but Los Gatos answered quickly with a goal from Abene, putting the Cats back in the lead. Los Gatos held that lead until the clock ran out, securing a place in the CCS finals.
The CCS Championship game took place on the morning of Nov 23. For sixty minutes of regulation game play Los Gatos remained tied with Mitty 0-0 before heading into the first sudden death overtime, which ended without a single goal from either team. In a brief meeting before the Cats headed into their second overtime, Head Coach Henry Reyes told his team, “go out there and give everything you have so that when this thing ends you are nothing more than an empty shell of a person, because you know you have given everything you physically and mentally can give.” Although exhausted in every way, seven of Los Gatos’ best took the field once more, and after a miracle save by goalie Lewis with about four minutes left, the Cats regained possession and scored after almost 71 minutes. Drowned in embraces and tears of joy, the girls composed themselves for long enough to receive their trophy and hoist it in the air for the LG fans in the crowd.
The 2013 CCS Championship is LGHS’ tenth win, tying them with Lynbrook High School for the most CCS wins. The game marked the team’s fifteenth appearance in the finals, and twenty-second consecutive year making it to the playoffs.
As a whole, the team agrees that their success this season is due not only to months of training, but to the incredible bond they share. Varsity captain Moore went as far as to claim, “None of this would be possible if we weren’t all so close.”
“Everyone is so close off the field,” said Varsity captain McLaren, “and that chemistry translates really well onto the field. It helps us work together better and we are always supporting each other through the game.” While McLaren, along with junior captains Iwanaga and Moore have one final year left to play in black and orange, for senior captains Sadie Logan, Lewis, and Leong, this CCS championship represents the end to a four-year journey from freshmen to leaders of the squad.
“The best thing I’ve learned from playing with LGFH is that if you want success you can have it,” said Logan, “you just have to work your butt off to achieve it.” Lewis said she hopes to leave behind, “a legacy of unconditional love and support for fellow teammates,” and adds, “I don’t personally need to be remembered by future players, I just hope the values we held this year are carried on.” Leong summed up her final season in saying, “I play field hockey for my team. The happiest moments I have are when we’re all together in one crazy, weird sisterhood.”
Reyes encourages his team constantly to “strive for perfection, and at the very least settle for excellence.” And although every girl on the team was prepared for the possibility of excellence, their 18-0-0 record proves that every now and then, with hard work and a bond unlike any other, perfection is possible.