Fri, Sep 09 2011 12:56 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Metro Conference’s modest field hockey circuit makes up for what it may lack in numbers with a line-up of teams that have developed deep-seated rivalries over the years.
Hilltop and Bonita Vista’s programs date from their stay in the Western League and have combined to win the lion’s share of Metro titles since the local circuit was formed.
But Eastlake and Otay Ranch’s programs have risen to the challenge in recent years and that should be the case again this season.
ORHS head coach Bree Martinez, an HHS grad, is very optimistic about her team’s championship hopes this season.
“This year the Otay Ranch field hockey program has high expectations,” she said. “We have set our sights on winning the Metro league and qualifying for the CIF playoffs. There is a great deal of talent on the team this year and the girls are ready and willing to work as hard they can to achieve their goals.”
Bonita Vista captured last year’s league banner but both Hilltop and Otay Ranch were in hot pursuit and finished just out of reach of the Barons in the league standings.
Otay Ranch finished 13-11 overall last season, including tournament play, and finished second in the league standings (tied with Hilltop). The Mustangs narrowly missed qualifying as an at-large entry into the CIF playoffs.
Top returners for Otay Ranch include junior Kassandra Becerra and senior Audrey Py, Laura Kingkade and Madeleine Melendez.
Becerra and Py both earned first team all-league recognition. Becerra was recognized as the team’s best offensive player.
Melendez was a second team all-league pick.
Impact newcomers include seniors Viktoria Gregorio and Jerica Dones.
“Both will contribute a great deal to our team offensively,” the Mustangs coach said.
Otay Ranch will host two tournaments this season, a junior varsity invitational on Sept 3, and a varsity tournament spread over two Saturdays — Sept. 10 and 17.
The Mustangs were slated to face off the season with a non-league game Wednesday against visiting Mt. Carmel and will host Mira Mesa in another non-league match-up on Friday, Sept. 2, at 3:30 p.m.
Otay Ranch will play at Vista on Wednesday and at Rancho Buena Vista on Friday — both key match-ups for Division I playoff jostling.
After a runner-up finish in last year’s Metro Conference standings, the Hilltop Lancers return an experienced group of players who look to challenge for this year’s league title.
The Lancers finished 8-10-1 overall last year, including a 5-3 mark in league play.
Bonita Vista won the league title with a 7-1 record, followed by both Hilltop and Otay Ranch with 5-3 league marks.
The Lancers won the league title in 2009.
Hilltop head coach Rita Delgadillo will be counting on solid performances from a large number of key players this season. They include seniors Ashley Keeline, Chelsea Ventura, Courtney Creel. Karla DueÒas and Jasmine Vasquez, juniors Nicole Coyle, Laurel Colemamn, Emily King and Jalissa Pressley and sophomore Kasey Simonds.
Keeline and Ventura both earned first team all-league honors last season while Coyle was a second team all-league selection and Creel earned all-league honorable mention recognition.
“We have a lot of returning players who have a definite hunger to win the banner back,” Delgadillo said. “They have had a focus over the last year to improve, being that most of our returners have been participating in spring and summer field hockey leagues.
“We’re excited to compete with the other South Bay teams as well. I think if Hilltop can keep the end goal in mind throughout all of our games, and use our second place finish from last season as a motivator, the team can accomplish its goal to win the league banner.”
It should be an exciting season, whichever team comes out on top.
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