Field hockey dominates in perfect season

Rachel Brown ’20 holds the ball in the LAFHA final against Newport Harbor.

As the clock ran out and the scoreboard read 3-1, excitement ran through the crowd and team. Months of hard work, lifting, practices and 20 games ended up in a perfect season. The field hockey team won the LAFHA title and finished its first undefeated season ever, 20-0.

After getting their medals, the players ran together to embrace and celebrate. “H-dub you know!” the team chanted, jumping up and down in a rowdy huddle. This was the close of a perfect season. The win capped a season Head Coach Erin Creznic said she knew would be one of their strongest.

“As I had told people last year, I was pretty certain this was the year to do it and win everything, but even I couldn’t have predicted the 20-0 and winning every single game,” Creznic said. “Our whole team was so deep, so many good players starting with a strong senior class all the way down to our new freshmen on the team. They’re just so strong.”

The team was led by key players like captain Erin Lee ’18, who won MVP of the Northern Section of the Sunset League last year, and Chronicle staff writer and center midfielder Rachel Brown ’20, who was named all-league MVP for the season. Left forward Nicole Bahar ’18 praised Brown’s ability.

“[Brown] is the most phenomenal field hockey player I’ve ever seen in my entire life at the high school level,” Bahar said. “She plays at a college level. She already steps up.”

Bahar also highlighted Chronicle Executive Editor and goalie Elly Choi ’18, who only let in one goal throughout the entire season.

“[Choi] was telling people where to be, who to cover and that was part of our success because she was our eyes on the field,” Bahar said.“There were also times where it got past the defense and got to her and another player and she just made some really amazing saves. She was smart about it. She never flubbed the ball. She never took a step in the wrong direction.”

Team members highlighted their closeness as a driving factor in the successful season. Stopper Cypress Toomey ’19 said it was only natural for the team to celebrate such a momentous win together.

“It definitely was first instinct to celebrate with the whole team because we’ve all worked so hard for this and it wouldn’t have been possible without every single one of us,” Toomey said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without us as a team, so the first thing we wanted to do was celebrate together.”

The team’s cohesion allowed for cooperation-based plays like touch-and-goes, where two players pass the ball back and forth up the field until one is able to score. Right forward Sydney Pizer ’19 said the team’s closeness off of the field also led to better communication during games.

“The fact that we’re all very close just means that we work really well with each other,” Pizer said. “I think we care about each other a lot. It’s just this very close team dynamic. We’re really a group. None of us are playing for ourselves. We’re playing for the team.”

Pizer said the team spends a lot of time together off of the field. They sang and danced before every game to get excited and ate together afterwards to celebrate.

“The older girls are always saying hi to you on campus,” Pizer said. “You really feel like we’re such a team off the field as well.”

Team captain Alyse Tran ’18 compared the team’s closeness to a family.

“Beyond it all, we’re not just a field hockey team, we’re 100 percent a family,” Tran said. “No matter how cheesy that sounds, that’s really what keeps us going for the entire time, every single game. No matter who we played and no matter what the score was it was like playing with my sisters.”

Lee said she was proud of the team’s temperament throughout the season.

“Even though we didn’t experience any losses, I’m so proud of how we never lost our spirit,” Lee said. “We played our game every time. We never stooped to low levels when we knew we were playing against a less competitive team. We played with confidence and poise when going against the hardest teams. No matter what type of team we were playing, we stuck to our own agenda and executed it without fail each time.”

Creznic echoed Lee, mentioning the team’s attitude every game as key to their success.

“Every practice was like a championship game,” Creznic said. “They just fought so hard every practice making each other better. They were really focused on just doing their best every single game and it paid off.”

The 20-0 season was a strong improvement over the team’s 15-3-3 record last season. The team was older, 11 seniors and 11 underclassmen. Left midfielder Isabella Huang ’19 said she thinks the dynamic will change with the shift in grade balance next season.

“I’m not sure how next year will turn out yet, but my hopes are high,” Huang said. “Last year, we had half the amount of seniors on the team compared to how many we had this year and it kind of changes the dynamic of the team in general.”

Tran mentioned Brown and all of the team’s rising seniors (Huang, Toomey and Pizer) as potential leaders going into the next season.

“I think every single one of [our rising seniors] are really strong and passionate about field hockey,” Tran said. “Rachel [Brown] of course, who won MVP of the league, she will definitely keep the team going strong.”

Despite the departure of current senior leaders, Tran said she is hopeful for the next season.

“They’re all really strong players and really strong leaders so I think that they’re definitely going to step up,” Tran said.

Team captain Mia Reilly ’18 said she was proud of the team’s performance overall.

“I️ am so proud of everybody for the way they finished our season well, we really left it all out on the field for playoffs,” Reilly said. “Our competitiveness is what really helped us to beat every other team and remain undefeated the whole season. I️ wish the team the best of luck in the future and I️ know that many of us seniors will be watching the livestreams and cheering the family on from college.”

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