Leaving their best for last, the Carmel Valley Middle School Bobcats won the Big 8 Conference girls field hockey championship with a dramatic overtime victory over the Oak Crest Waves in the final of the league tournament on Saturday, March 13.
Tied at the end of regulation, the game went straight to penalty strokes. Alayna Tomlinson and Shannon Yogerst blasted their shots past the Oak Crest keeper, and Bobcats goalie Sara Esmali blocked four out of five Wave shots, to secure the win.
The shootout was the culmination of a highly competitive championship game that was deadlocked 1-1 at the final whistle. Carmel Valley took the lead in the first half on an aerial shot by Shannon Yogerst that flew over the Oak Crest goalkeeper’s outstretched arm into the upper right-hand corner of the net. The Waves responded just moments later with a goal of their own. Despite a flurry of shots from both sides in the second half, neither team could gain the upper hand and the game spilled over into strokes.
Earlier in the day, the Bobcats sailed through tournament pool play with two wins and a tie. They started off with a 1-1 draw against Oak Crest, Danie Jackel scoring the lone Carmel Valley goal. Next up was Diegueno Middle School, who the Bobcats beat twice during the regular season. And they did it again, this time by a 1-0 score with Jackel once again netting the solo goal and Esmali earning the shutout.
Carmel Valley’s booked their spot in the final by besting arch-rival Earl Warren 1-0 in a tense, tightly fought game. It was Tomlinson who produced the game’s only goal, swooping in from the left side and slamming home a rebound off a blocked shot. This time the shutout went to the Bobcats’ other keeper, Amanda Stewart.
The tournament victory was very much a team effort. Farah Farjood, Emily Nora, Iris Grootenhuis, and Elise Friedman played solid defense throughout the tournament. The Bobcats midfield was by anchored by Anita Kelleher and Gabi Jimenez. Ali Whiting, Ashlyn Elliot, Paige Weinstein, and Kate Betz helped pace the relentless Carmel Valley attack.
The Bobcats finished the season with an overall record of five wins, three losses and four ties against the top middle school teams from North County coastal and inland. Carmel Valley scored 15 goals and allowed just 11, with four shutouts credited to the goaltending duo of Esmali and Stewart.
Yogerst lead the Bobcats in season scoring with six goals, followed by Tomlinson with three and Jackel with two. Four other players had one goal each.
“I am so proud of each and every girl on the team,” said Bobcats head coach Caitlin Mackey, a Torrey Pines senior who will play college hockey at MIT next year. “They all improved so much this season and really earned their win.”
The Bobcats assistant coaches, also seniors at Torrey Pines, are also headed for the NCAA next year. Caroline Boucher will play lacrosse at Virginia Tech and Stephanie Sabraw has signed to play field hockey at UC Davis.