Despite losing the core of contributors from last year’s Avocado League West champions and CIF Open Division playoff team, second-year Torrey Pines Head Field Hockey Coach Lucy Busby said prior to the season that she felt this year’s squad was ahead of last year’s at the same juncture. Thursday’s opener at Cathedral Catholic appeared to prove that Busby knows what she’s talking about.
Spurred by goals from sophomores Hailey Dewey and Erin Poe in the first four minutes, the Falcons grabbed the lead early on the way to earning an impressive 3-1 victory over their traditionally challenging neighborhood rival. Cathedral narrowed the margin to 2-1 when freshman Sophie Walton converted a penalty corner midway through the first half, but Torrey Pines seemed to raise its level from that point. The Falcons controlled the second half, creating numerous second half offensive chances before Dewey connected again to sew things up. Busby was pleased with what she saw.
“I think we’ve really been hunkering down in practice,” said Busby, whose club had a signature, 4-0, win over the Dons last season. “This group has shown they’re really out there to learn and I think that was apparent on the field today.”
The key to the outcome rested heavily in the hands of the defense. With sophomore Gracie Jimenez, a two-year starter, playing a central role, the Falcons were organized, consistently first to contested balls and kept Cathedral bottled up in its own end much of the afternoon.
“Our defense stepped up and was kind of a wall back there,” said Busby. “They had quick recovery and were solid stepping up to the ball and marking.
“Gracie anchored us last year and knows what she’s doing back there. I have full confidence in her leadership.”
For Cathedral Catholic Head Coach Vianney Yamada, whose team dropped to 0-2, perspective ruled the day. “We actually played really well,” she said. “We’re a much different team from last year—really, really young and rebuilding, honestly. We have four girls who had never even touched a field hockey stick before tryouts.
“We’re still trying to figure out our strengths and weaknesses and how to apply those as a unit. We have a lot to learn but I saw some good things today.” Her counterpart also kept the long term view in mind when assessing the day’s results.
“Both teams are strong, it’s always a game with Cathedral, and I expect we’ll both be there at the end of the year,” said Busby. “Goals win games and we were able to put some offensive opportunities in the cage today, but our team knows it’s an uphill battle and their job is to get better from here.”