By John Philip Wyllie
Otay Ranch senior Chloe Banales patrols the midfield for the rapidly improving Mustangs field hockey team. She is a primary playmaker, a tireless runner, a ball-winner and a leader for the 2-2 Mustangs. Back from a serious leg injury, forward Courtney Zendejas, who will also graduate in June, has six goals so far making her the team’s leading goal scorer. When Banales gains control of the ball and sends it up the field, she often looks for Zendejas.
As Zendejas battles to get free from the defenders that constantly harass her she looks back to the midfield and Banales hoping for the pass that will send her on one of her scoring runs. Together they form quite a pair. They are two reasons why their coach, Tamara Holmes, believes that 2007 will be the year of the Mustangs.
“Last year we got robbed,” said Zendejas. “We all played our hearts out in that last game and we should have had it. This year we have 11 seniors on the team and many of them are starters, so we want to win a banner for our school before the season is over. This is our opportunity and I think we have a very good chance to do it this year.”
“We have a lot of strong players coming back and a lot of good newcomers that will also start this season,” Banales said. “I started as a sophomore, so this is my third year on the team. I am one of the senior captains. Our captains are going to help lead the team and try to teach the newcomers all about field hockey.”
If they succeed, Otay Ranch could win its first field hockey banner in the school’s short history.
Banales and Zendejas have a lot in common beyond their Mexican heritage. They are close friends on and off the field. Both of them are elite three-sport athletes that have chosen field hockey as their primary sport. In a never ending quest to improve they have spent countless hours at summer field hockey summer camps and trained throughout the year. They both plan to continue playing in college. Zendejas already has one scholarship offer (Sienna College Albany, NY) and believes that more will be forthcoming.
Banales may qualify for one as well. She is eyeing the University of the Pacific among others. Both solid students, their grades alone would be enough to get them into many colleges.
“After the season ends there will be a national field hockey tournament in Indio. Just about every college field hockey scout in the country will be there. Courtney and I and two of the other girls on our team are going to participate in the hope of being noticed,” Banales said.
Following that tournament their future plans could become a lot clearer.