The Davis High field hockey team started its Eastern Athletic League postseason tournament run slowly on Friday, but regained its focus and finished Saturday night with a performance on par with the high standard it has set over the past two seasons.
Fittingly, five of the 11 outgoing seniors who have helped the Blue Devils to 30-3 and 28-3-2 records over the past two campaigns combined to put the exclamation point on the final win of 2013 — which also gave DHS the tournament title.
The play ended with a Jade Bugsch goal as time expired on a 6-0 championship contest win over Corning on Saturday at Brown Stadium.
The EAL tournament crown is some measure of comfort to a Devil squad that finished 12-2 in league play to take second to Chico in the regular-season standings.
There was little doubt that DHS had taken its game to another level in recent weeks, having stormed to a 2-0 road victory over the Panthers (Chico’s lone EAL loss) on Oct. 14 to avenge a 2-1 defeat 10 days earlier in Davis. The Blue Devils had hoped for a rubber match in Saturday’s tournament championship contest, but Chico fell to Corning in a marathon game that ended in penalty strokes earlier that day.
“We all wanted to play Chico in the finals because we’re still upset that they beat us in the (Stick It To) Cancer game, and they’re our rivals, and to remind them that we’re better,” said senior Natalie Silver.
Without the chance to beat the Panthers one more time, the locals took solace in the fact that they outscored opponents 27-0 throughout the tourney and had six all-tournament selections in goalie Ally Weir, defenders Liz Leshuk and Chelsea Nickell, midfielders Kelly Ragsdale and Natalie Silver and forward Rachel Foley, the lone junior in the bunch.
DHS’ title game onslaught began three minutes in, when Silver took a pass from Ragsdale on a penalty corner and slammed home a fierce shot from the top of the circle. Foley, the team’s leading scorer, knocked one in a few minutes later from close range, and the rout was on, as senior forward Sara Pinto added a first-half tally.
The Blue Devils upped the lead to four as Ragsdale converted from the left flank off a pass from Silver. Next came a glimpse of Davis’ future as Nicole Pugh, a freshman JV call-up, scored a goal to make it 5-0.
With the game in hand, the 11 Davis seniors — the five all-tournament team members plus Pinto, Bugsch, Emmanuelle Cordier, Amy Reed, Katherine Gardias and Tara Mullen — took the field to finish their careers.
As the final seconds ticked away and with the ball in their own end, they gave the crowd at Brown Stadium one last thrill as Cordier and Ragsdale helped advance the ball toward midfield where Silver sprinted onto it with five seconds remaining and sent a hard diagonal pass through the Cardinal defense. Pinto smoothly flicked it to Bugsch, who slammed it home as the final horn sounded.
“This tournament was the perfect way to finish our season,” Ragsdale said. “We all worked really hard to prove that this season was going to be as strong as the last one and the passing sequence up to the final goal highlighted what a united, skilled team we had this year.”
Earlier in the tournament, the Blue Devils’ slow start featured one and a half games of scoreless play. After a 0-0 tie against Pleasant Valley, DHS broke a halftime scoreless deadlock with Yuba City and emerged with a 2-0 win on goals from Silver and Foley.
The Devils then topped Lassen, 6-0, in a game that included Mullen’s first career goal and a tally from freshman JV call-up Cara Satre.
Foley’s hat trick and a goal by another JV standout Abby Meyer led Davis past River Valley in the quarterfinals, while Olivia Haass had a highlight-reel play to help the locals beat Bella Vista in the semis.
Notes: The Blue Devils also got strong contributions from sophomores Andi Jackson, Whitney Sacramento and Hannah Denton along with juniors Lyla Godfryd and Brooke Marigo throughout the tournament. … DHS coach Sandie Marotti-Huckins is now 78-13-1 in three seasons at the helm.