When Ashley Maggiora and Ema Alfaro talk about the San Benito High field hockey team, they highlight the camaraderie of the program. The Haybalers’ captains are two of only four seniors on the roster—including Victoria DeSousa and Leilani Moreno—who played in their final prep field hockey match on March 26.
“We have such an amazing group of seniors this year and overall as a team just some incredible people,” said Maggiora, who will play field hockey at Sweet Briar College, a Division III program in Virginia.
Alfaro credits the Balers’ program for changing her perspective on the sport and how teams can really grow in unity.
“When I came in as a freshman, the team was super accepting,” she said. “I didn’t know a lot of people at school at the time, but the older players said they would get to know me. That was such a positive experience going into such a big high school. It was mind-blowing to see that a team could be such a tight-knit family. It definitely changed my perspective on how high school was going to be.”
Alfaro grew up playing basketball and volleyball, and entered her freshman year with the intention of playing the latter sport during the fall season. However, after getting cut from the team, she tried out for field hockey and instantly fell in love with it.
“I’m so happy volleyball didn’t work out because field hockey is now my No. 1 sport,” said Alfaro, who was also a key player on the girls basketball team last season.
A midfielder and defender, Alfaro has cherished every moment this season, even if it was truncated to five matches.
“This season helped us grow more than any other season because we’ve stuck together through thick and thin from the beginning of October to the end of March,” she said. “Even though we didn’t always win, the girls who will be returning to the team in the fall have gained a greater understanding of the game which is really rewarding.”
Maggiora’s senior season will be one she never forgets, as she got to play with her sister, Megan, who played goalie as a freshman.
“To have games with my sister was amazing,” Ashley said. “Even though it was only five games, we made each one worth remembering.”
A starter since her sophomore year, Maggiora started every single game at goalie in her junior season while helping two junior varsity goalies learn the nuances of the game. Her versatility was evident in the team’s season-finale on March 26, as she started at goalie but played the field in the third and fourth quarters.
“I just love being the last line of defense as a goalie,” she said. “The fast bursts of motion, the movement and the adrenaline after making a good save is amazing.”
Even though Maggiora loves sports—she also plays lacrosse—she values academics on a higher level. As a junior, she had a cumulative 4.5 GPA and this school year has upped her GPA to “maybe a 4.8.”
“Yeah, I don’t get out that much,” she said. “Academics has been my life and my main priority.”
Both Alfaro and Maggiora have been active outside of sports, with Alfaro the Commissioner of Clubs and Maggiora in the Robotics and French Clubs. They will go off to the colleges of their choice—Alfaro to Cal State Stanislaus and Maggiora to Sweet Briar—but will forever remember their time on the Balers’ field hockey team.
“I’d have to say field hockey is now my No. 1 sport after the experience of playing on this team,” Alfaro said.