The San Dieguito Academy (SDA) field hockey team experienced its sport’s version of cruel and unusual punishment in Monday afternoon’s CIF Division II quarterfinals. The fourth-seeded host Mustangs, who led from the third minute of the game until the second half clock read 0:00, were tied by fifth-seeded San Marcos, literally after time had run out, and then beaten in overtime, 2-1.
Two minutes and four seconds into the contest, following a scrum in front of San Marcos goalie Sophia Perry, SDA junior Ellie Silvester connected from short range and the Mustangs were up, 1-0. That covered the scoring for the next 57-plus minutes. For most of that time, Coach Dana Evans’ San Dieguito club threw a tight defensive net over San Marcos. As the game wound down the Mustangs got stingier and in the final five minutes, even when a penalty forced SDA to play a girl down for two minutes, the Knights were barely able to cross midfield. In fact, San Dieguito had several good chances of its own to ice the game away. That storyline changed dramatically in the fateful final seconds.
In the waning moments, SDA was called for a foul and the officials awarded San Marcos a penalty corner. The clock ran out before it could be taken but field hockey rules, much like football, do not allow for a game to end on that type of defensive penalty. The offense is provided the opportunity to put the ball in play and that sequence continues until the defense is able to clear the ball in one of a variety of ways.
Given a reprieve, the Knights put it to good use. Alyssa Fozcucci inserted the ball and seconds later, her fellow senior Sophia Jones sent a shot goalward—it hit a San Dieguito defender, popped about six feet in the air and landed in the back of the cage. Overtime.
San Marcos wasted little time in the mandatory 10-minute 7v7 extra session. At the 6:47 mark on another penalty corner, Fozcucci took the inbounds pass at the circle left of the goal and blasted the ball into the lower right corner to make it 2-1. The Knights ran out the clock from there and now move on to Wednesday’s semi-final clash with top-seeded Eastlake.
A gracious Evans made no excuses. “It was a good game between two different, but nicely-matched teams,” said Evans, whose squad defeated San Marcos, 1-0, in late September. “I always tell the kids they’ve got to play from the first touch to the last touch, it’s never over. We played a really good game but you’ve got to finish strong.” San Dieguito, ranked in the section’s top 10 at one point midway through the season, finishes 11-11-1.