Second-year Davis High field hockey coach Sandie Marotti-Huckins knew her 2012 team might be one for the ages.
“We have seven pretty good seniors — five of them could be pretty special,” the veteran mentor explained way back in August.
Marotti-Huckins was excited by how her summer program had gelled and how close-knit her Blue Devil varsity team seemed.
The locals were given a strong preconference schedule, venturing into the South Bay region where Marotti-Huckins had once coached and played. She wanted hard-boiled competition for her girls before embarking on the Eastern Athletic League slate.
The tough early campaign worked to perfection.
With 12th-graders Ariana Enzerink, Kayla Robinson, Malia Fujisawa, Emily Barber and Kylie Drexel the heartbeat of a seasoned squad — which also featured seniors Christina Son and Rachel Paul — DHS rolled through the EAL with a 14-0 record, then validated its dominance with a perfect, six-game run through the league’s tournament last week.
Along the way, the Devils allowed one goal in their 20 games against conference foes.
“We finally understood the formation — and the style — we wanted to play,” Marotti-Huckins explained. “Everybody stopped fighting it and saw it’s going to work. And when it did, we started to make gains and everyone jumped on and started to roll with it.”
Enzerink — one of the Blue Devils’ trapping midfielders — concurs:
“Last year was a season of adjustment with a new coach and 10 seniors having graduated the year before.”
Enzerink said the team was “more prepared for Coach Sandie’s expectations and her coaching style” this time around.
She added that playing during the summer helped everyone stay ahead of the curve and “it’s really fun being on the field playing with teammates that you know can get the job done.”
Indeed. One thing that helped Davis stand alone is team quickness.
“Our team is definitely scrappy,” center-mid Robinson told The Enterprise. “But I think our speed is what separates us from the others. We make mistakes, but by the time the other (team) gets the ball, we can quickly tackle back before they even move 10 yards.”
Robinson, who previously played soccer, softball and tennis and snowboarded, was pointed in field hockey’s direction by her mom.
“I was a drama queen,” Robinson says, now laughing about her old persona. “After soccer games, I would hyper-ventilate if we didn’t win … or just give up right on the field.”
Robinson credits Marotti-Huckins and previous DHS mentor Katy Loge with ingraining the technical aspects of field hockey into her and getting her “straightened out.”
“If I hadn’t been whipped into shape that (first) year, I can’t imagine where I would be now.”
Fujisawa — whom Marotti-Huckins calls “the best defender I’ve ever had” — thinks the team’s close ties off the field led to a remarkable oneness on the pitch. That social appreciation, however, came with hard work and elevated play.
“Last year was … transitional,” the brilliant backliner said. “This year we defined our own style of play. Increased practice and focus on tactics have helped us since Day 1 of the season.”
Aided by a don’t-let-them-score mentality on the other end of the field, DHS’ hot sticks up front — Barber and Drexel — have hammered the nets.
While neither have kept track of their season’s statistics, Barber and Drexel have been the firepower that Davis turns to when games are closer than anticipated. The pair can’t believe the season is over.
“I’m going to miss everything about this team,” Barber says. “We are all so close, like we were a family. And on top of that, we work so well together on the field. I’m going to miss goofing off with some really fun people.”
Drexel, who is headed to USC to play lacrosse, was delighted that the new-look Devils “meshed when it counted,” adding: “I am going to miss everything. We all grew so close — and I don’t want to lose my family. I will never forget this season.”
While Drexel is headed to Los Angeles, Barber should be off to Louisville, with Fujisawa having designs on Indiana University and Enzerink probably off to Oberlin.
Robinson has some irons in the fire, but doesn’t want to “jinx it by talking about it” right now.
Fujisawa — like the rest of the Big Five — believes that playing field hockey is a “wise decision” for young athletes headed to Davis High.
“(We) are so lucky to have phenomenal coaches (like) Coach Marotti and (her dad Frank),” Fujisawa says. “I know that the program can be even stronger with them in the coming years.”
Captain Fujisawa laughed when she thought about some of things she’ll be missing about the these Blue Devils …
“There is so much I’m going to miss about this team, it’s unbelievable. You would think a team that practices five or six times a week would get sick of each other. But whenever we are just walking around the halls of our school, and see one another, it’s like a huge reunion — with hugs and excitement.
“This group of girls brings out the best in all of us … and we always have a good time when we are together.”
Even if it made the opposition miserable.
Notes: “I’m going to miss them,” Marotti-Huckins said, looking skyward. “Gosh, they’re a great group. All five of them are going to go to college and play a sport — four of them field hockey. It will be hard to replace them: not only are they hard workers, they are good kids and have been working nonstop since last November. They are a very dedicated group … a good group from which to start a foundation for this program. They have been good mentors for the younger kids.” … Marotti-Huckins says The Big Five will head to a Thanksgiving Weekend tournament in Palm Beach, Fla., with a hybrid squad filled in by Los Gatos players. Another Blue Devil-laden team will go to Orlando, Fla., in March (that one junior-dominated). … Overall, DHS finished 23-4 after beating Corning 6-0 in Saturday’s Eastern Athletic League championship. The Sac-Joaquin Section does not have field hockey playoffs.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.