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Otay Ranch field hockey team shooting for league title Phillip Brents | Fri, Oct 22 2010 04:55 PM

Brianne Martinez took over the coaching reins of the Otay Ranch High School girls field hockey team in 2009 and finished with a highly successful first season: a runner-up finish in the Metro Conference standings and a coveted trip to the San Diego Section playoffs.

Martinez and the core of her team are back and have set their sights on something higher in 2010: a league championship.

“Based on what I saw last year, they all made vast improvement throughout the season in terms of their dedication,” Martinez said. “I sat down with the team this year and we discussed goals – both personal goals and team goals – and the girls want to win the league title this year and make the playoffs again. What impresses me about this group is their heart and dedication.”

The Mustangs finished 3-1 through the first round of league play, with a 1-0 loss to Bonita Vista on Oct. 7 and victories against Chula Vista (4-0 on Oct. 11), defending league champion Hilltop (2-0 on Oct. 14) and east side rival Eastlake (3-0 on Oct. 21).

Otay Ranch out-shot Bonita Vista 11-4 in their match-up but “they (the Barons) scored on a corner,” Martinez said.

The shutout win over perennial league power Hilltop sent ripples of excitement through the ORHS program.

The Mustangs are braced by seven returning varsity players: senior midfielder-forward Gigi Banales, junior midfielder Laura Kincaid, senior forwards Jenna Wilson and Tarah Trotter, junior defender Maddie Melendez, junior midfielder-defender Audrey Py and senior goalkeeper Rachelle Avelino.

Banales, Trotter, Avelino and Py each earned all-league honors last season.

They are joined by seven players up from last year’s junior varsity team: sophomore forward Kassandra Becerra, junior midfielder-defender Elisa Haynes, senior midfielder-forward Jacqueline Zepeda, junior defenders Brooke Yaptangco and Kristina Saunders, senior forward Lovejoy Rosario and senior defender Kathleen Librado.

There are four new players on the varsity team this season: senior defender Marissa Lindstrom, senior midfielder Natalie O’Donnell, junior defender Lauren Cekander and sophomore midfielder Jessica Devera.

Becerra scored two goals in the win over Chula Vista while Rosario and Banales each scored once. Trotter had two goals in the win over Hilltop while Avelino made five saves. Three Mustangs scored in the victory over Eastlake: Becerra, Trotter and O’Donnell.

Martinez said she likes the chemistry of this year’s squad. “With our large number of returners, we have a lot of experience throughout the line-up,” she said. “The experienced players set the tone for the newcomers, who pick things up quickly.” 

League play continues through Nov. 8, followed by the section playoffs. The league champion receives automatic entry into post-season play (Nov. 13-20).

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