In a crucial league battle last week, Live Oak senior Izzy Jeffery put on her cape and came to the rescue during the final minutes of overtime.
She banged home the game-winner with just 1:22 remaining in the match to help lift the Acorns field hockey team to a 2-1 victory over Leland High in Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa Division action Sept. 29.
Intensity ratcheted up and play was emotional and physical.
“It was really intense,” Jeffery said. “We needed to take any shots we got. I think it was Kayla (Tulowitzki) who sent it ahead. I did a couple ‘pull rights’ and then did a ‘pop’ to make the ball go up and over the goalie and into the goal. We are really happy to get the win.”
Those “pull rights” enabled Jeffery to get by two defenders and get some space for the winning shot.
Live Oak senior Amaya Valencia opened the scoring with a long tally just four minutes into the contest.
“I took it from the left and went up the side,” she said. “I hit it from pretty far out, about 15 yards. Skylar (Walters) almost tipped it. The goalie took a step at it and it went past her.”
The Acorns controlled the majority of the game thereafter but could not increase the lead.
With 11:40 remaining in the match, Leland’s Olivia Hinh knocked in a rebound from the doorstep to tie matters at 1-1.
With no further scoring in regulation, the match headed into a seven-minute 7-on-7 overtime.
The Acorns had some close misses but kept the pressure on and Jeffery went on to score the winner.
Several other Live Oak players had big games, as well.
Jeffery and Valencia were bolstered in the attack by Marissa Mitchell, Skylar Walters and the athletic Hannah Lara, who made great plays up front and in the midfield. Aida Martins and Kayla Tulowitzki also provide depth of immense value to the Acorns.
Contributing in the midfield was Emma Jeffery, while the defense of Eden Svoboda, Rian Henderson and Emma Garcia helped protect goalkeeper Susan Kirchhoff.
“We definitely got very emotional in this game,” Valencia said. “We talked about wanting it. About going after every ball.”
The victory breaks a tie for second place with Leland, which fell to 4-7 overall and 3-2 in BVAL Santa Teresa Division play.
Live Oak currently owns a 7-3-1 overall and are 4-1 in league play, one game behind Branham (7-4, 5-0) in the division standings.
The Acorns—defending Santa Teresa Division co-champion with Prospect High—are ranked No. 39 in the state of California, according to the MaxPreps website. The program is flourishing under coach Sarah Porras, a Live Oak alumna.
“To get this as a [win] is key,” Porras said. “Today we definitely stepped up. We relied on our skills and put our hearts in it.”
Live Oak is succeeding with athletes who also play other sports and just one team member plays club field hockey in the off-season.
“We have six on varsity who never played field hockey before, including our goalkeeper Susan [Kirchhoff],” Porras said. “We take soccer and softball players and teach them skills. We tell them to come out and have a good time.”
Good times and the joy of beating a league contender in an emotional overtime victory.
The Acorns lost to powerhouse Christoper High, 9-0, in non-league action Oct. 3 and had a meeting with another juggernaut in Gilroy High on Oct. 5.
That should help prepare Live Oak for a rematch at first-place Branham on Oct. 25. Regardless of a few results, the program is moving forward in good hands.
“We get a lot of athletes here,” Porras said. “We have a lot of new players and they have really stepped up. We are ‘old’ but ‘green’. And we’re all having fun doing it.”