The beat goes on for the Los Gatos High field hockey team, the all-time winningest program in Central Coast Section history.
The Wildcats put themselves in the pole position to win another outright Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship after earning a 1-1 draw with Mitty on Oct. 5. Los Gatos entered the week at 9-0-2 overall and 7-0-2 in league, three points clear of second-place Mitty.
The Wildcats won the teams’ first meeting, 2-0 on Sept. 12, and edged St. Francis 2-1 a week later. Outside of those two teams, Los Gatos has dominated opponents, outscoring them by a combined margin of 41-3. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the Central Coast Section, No. 3 in California and No. 8 in the nation by Max Preps.
They’ve allowed just five goals this year, and while that won’t approach the history made by the 2017 team that didn’t allow a single goal all season, it’s still something worthy of praise. Los Gatos allowed just three shots on goal vs. Mitty.
“It really has been [a tremendous defensive team performance],” coach Henry Reyes said after the Mitty contest. “I thought we played and minimized the opportunities they really could possibly have, and we’ll just build from there.”
Reyes pointed to a couple of key factors to the team’s tough defensive play from Day One.
“Just the familiarity with each other, the fact they know how to cover, they know how to talk, they know how to adjust,” he said. “All those different things are a big component to it.”
Reyes utilizes 32 to 34 players a game, unrivaled by any team in the section. The roster is talented and deep, led by Alexa Musser, Leaya Cleary, Aanya Gupta, Frankie Sutherland, Juliette Vrijen, Mckenzie Powell and Caitlin Okonkwo—just to name several.
“(Mckenzie and Caitlin) played their guts out, they played very well, they played the whole time,” Reyes said. “Just exhausting for that type of game. It started out around 90 [degrees], 91 air temperature. But on the floor it was definitely hotter.”
Los Gatos found itself in unfamiliar territory against Mitty, trailing 1-0 after the Monarchs scored in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. It marked just the second time all season the Wildcats have trailed in a match in 2023, though it was short-lived.
A couple of minutes later, they equalized on a goal from Cleary, the sophomore standout whose knack for scoring has been one of the key factors in the team’s success. Though it would’ve been nice if Los Gatos had won, Reyes was proud of his team’s performance.
After all, the Wildcats looked like it scored the game-winner with 17 seconds remaining, only to have a goal waived off. Also, on the goal they allowed, Reyes noted Mitty could’ve been called for a dangerous ball penalty.
Offensively, Los Gatos had a handful of nice shots that didn’t miss by much.
“We had balls go by the mouth of the cage and didn’t go in,” Reyes said. “We have things we’re always going to work on. … Hard fought, the outcome. I have to accept it because it is what it is. We just have to move forward.”
Given the way the team controlled the play for long stretches, Reyes was satisfied with the result and has been happy with how the squad has developed and improved since the beginning of the season.
“I thought the kids played and did everything they were supposed to do,” he said. “I thought they met all the objectives, they were under some adversity and pressure yet continued to find focus as to what it was they were trying to do. Very productive and exciting, we’ve seen a lot of good things.”
Reyes has been pleased with the team’s performance given it plays in the toughest league in the section.
“It’s a challenge, it’s so hard,” he said. “I’m shocked at these kids myself that they have to play this tough every single game. Proud of them.”