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Dec. 2, 2008 — Region of the Year: CIF San Diego Section

It’s a good thing the people who run field hockey in the California Interscholastic Federation’s San Diego Section decided to split its postseason into two championships after the 2001 season.

Especially in a season like 2008, during which a number of teams emerged to challenge three-time champion Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (Calif.) for supremacy. Like politicians maneuvering to take advantage of a power vacuum, the elite field hockey teams in the San Diego Section were jockeying throughout the season to position themselves for the sectional playoffs.

The competition was hard to follow throughout the season: although San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) seized the early upper hand with its victory in the Serra Tournament in September, the picture didn’t become clear until late November.

That’s because a number of young and strong teams asserted themselves. One surprise team was Encinitas San Dieguito Academy (Calif.), which, thanks to head coach Brooke Wilson, found an advantage in speed. The team scored an astounding 95 goals on the season, led by Liz Siemion (29 goals) and Lauren Livingston (23).

San Dieguito and Valley Center (Calif.) headed the Valley Conference this past year. Valley Center was coached by former Michigan standout Katy Moyneur. She was one of a number of high-performance coaches whose teams excelled in 2008. Kelli Gannon returned to her alma mater, Escondido San Pasqual (Calif.), and got the Eagles to the sectional final. Gannon replaced Paula Conway, wife of U.S. men’s national team coach Nick Conway, who in turn revived the team at La Jolla (Calif.).

The two championship games, featuring San Pasqual and San Diego Torrey Pines (Calif.) in the Division I match, and San Diego Serra (Calif.) and San Diego Scripps Ranch (Calif.) in Division II, had just about everything.

Torrey Pines won its match in extra time, 3-1, and might not have been able to do so if Ashley Schleiser hadn’t stopped a first-half penalty stroke. Scripps Ranch, in the Division II match, managed an overtime victory despite yielding a Serra goal on an untimed corner at the end of regulation.

These two games might be seen as a microcosm of the season just past, but the depth of competition, in a region which produced the silver medalists in last summer’s National Futures Tournament Under-19 division, indicates that you need to look past the final weekend towards a great future.

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