FALLBROOK – Six young women from Fallbrook decided to travel north to UC Berkeley to measure their field hockey prowess against club teams from Northern California. It turned out they stacked up pretty well, outscoring their seven opponents 31-5, recording four shutouts and winning the “A” pool of the U19 division.
They did all that despite playing without any substitutes. Former Fallbrook All-CIF standout and current University of Pacific player Lizzie Eskue served as the Fallbrook Coach providing guidance and encouragement during the contests and going over strategy between games.
Since the CIF Division One Championship final in November, Fallbrook field hockey players have participated at the National Level at the USA Field Hockey Festival, Disney Showcase, and the USA Field Hockey National Indoor Tournament (NIT), coming home with championship medals from both the Festival and NIT. Now it was time to see how they did against the best club teams in California.
When the team was assembled, they weren’t sure what the six-on-six tournament would be like, how the rules would differ from the 11-on-11 outdoor game or the seven- on-seven indoor game.
After making the 500-mile drive from Fallbrook on Saturday, March 13, losing an hour of sleep due to the Daylight Savings Time change, arriving at Maxwell Family Field on the campus at 7 a.m. Sunday morning - they adjusted quickly.
Once they shook off the morning dew with a 3-1 victory over the Infinity “A” team from San Jose, Melissa Maultsby led a scoring barrage in consecutive 7-0 shellackings of the Impact #1 and Hollywood #1 teams.
Jamie Garcia said “It was a great new experience playing in such a fast game with less players” while Lauren Hughey remarked that after she and Shelby Sellers participated in the NIT with the San Diego Rush team one week earlier, “It was a really good experience, and great to get back in the outdoor mode.”
When Fallbrook defeated San Jose Fly “Black” 6-1, every field player had recorded goals. By the early afternoon goalkeeper Jahna Jordan had flipped the switch on Northern Lights #1, recording her third shutout of the day 3-0 and Fallbrook had a spectacular goal differential of plus 24 with 26 goals scored and only two allowed.
Because they had no substitutes, Maultsby, Garcia, Hughey, Sellers, and Jackie Eskue were all rotating through the offensive, midfield and defensive positions to try and stay fresh while playing every minute of each game. Hughey was “excited that the team played so well, despite having no subs,” while Garcia thought that having fewer players helped them “work well and communicate as a team, and that definitely helped us win.”
By early afternoon, the heat, lack of subs and five games in the books combined for the perfect storm in the team’s closest game of the day. Leading the Quiksilver Cats 3-1 with only a few minutes left in the game, Fallbrook was gassed and allowed the Cats to tie the score with two quick goals leaving less than a minute left. But Fallbrook would not be denied their sixth victory of the day when Lauren Hughey slammed in a goal with less than 30 seconds to play.
With an hour and twenty minute break until the last game of the tournament against NorCal Rush, Fallbrook would need to muster their strength one more time, eight hours after their morning arrival. Rush put pressure on Fallbrook throughout the contest earning several Power Plays that Jordan turned away denying each scoring opportunity while the Rush Goalkeeper matched her save for save.
It looked as if the contest would end in a scoreless draw with less than a minute left to play when history repeated and Hughey again scored in the closing seconds to maintain Fallbrook’s unblemished record. After the awards ceremony, Hughey said “It was definitely worth the drive.”
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