Now over five years old as a program, the San Benito High field hockey team is ready to make its mark.
“Our goal is to get into CCS (for the first time),” Haybalers midfielder Ryen Ortiz said. “With the amount of athleticism we have on this team, I believe we can get there because of everyone’s eagerness and competitiveness. It couldn’t be a more perfect combo.”
San Benito is 1-0-1 through the first two games of the season, its latest result being a 3-3 draw with host Cupertino High on Tuesday. The Balers would’ve won had it simply cleared the ball away from its goal with no time left in the third quarter, but their failure to do so resulted in a Cupertino goal that ended up being the final score of the game.
Cupertino was awarded a short corner with time winding down in the third and got the ball to the front of the San Benito goal. The Balers had several chances to clear the ball away, which would’ve ended the period. However, the Pioneers were more resilient and eventually scored after a 30- to 40-second scrum in the penalty area.
“No one likes a tie, but we’re not going to let this slow us down,” Ortiz said. “Obviously, this was an unfortunate event. I think we panicked and we were very eager to obtain this win, but we weren’t composed. That is something we need to work on, but our overall chemistry is good and we’re always put together so we’ll be fine. The chemistry is there and it’s just having that mentality (in a situation like that to clear the ball).”
Despite the failed clearance, San Benito played well for long stretches, stringing together passes and making solid runs. Emma Arredondo, Izel Prieto and McKenzie Heckman scored goals for the Balers, who had a super abbreviated Covid spring season. The team has come back strong with a healthy 28-player roster featuring a large junior class in addition to a large junior varsity squad. San Benito and Cupertino each had a fair amount of possession time.
When the Balers controlled the flow of play, it was usually because of Ortiz, who took control at times in the midfield with her aggressive play, vision and hustle. Sophomore Teresa Planas also displayed strong ball-control skills. Ortiz said center back Kylie Sparks is excellent at communicating with her teammates, clearing the ball and getting it upfield.
Heckman and Sofia Abonce know how to finish and score goals, Ortiz said, and will be counted upon for their scoring throughout the season. Junior Nicole Maduena possesses nice stick-handling skills and passes well to help the team control the possession.
“At each position we have legit players,” Ortiz said. “All these girls are amazing to play with because they always give 110 percent. After a year and a half away, we’re super excited to have a full season. Even though this is not our life, we’re competitive and do take this sport seriously.”
Ortiz said being a part of the San Benito field hockey team has been an amazing experience for a variety of reasons.
“I love San Benito’s program,” she said. “It’s amazing because everyone is so caring and no one is left out. Even if someone is inexperienced, coach (Molly) Macierz welcomes them and wants everyone to be involved. The greatest thing about the sport is the good sportsmanship. We’re very welcoming and want to help everyone improve. If they really want to do this, they come out and have a lot of fun. That’s why this is such a good program.”
Sports Editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]