Field Hockey: Matadors deal with first loss of the season

Despite a strong defensive effort, MVHS struggled to keep up the pace of the game against LHS


The MVHS field hockey team played its first game of the regular season against Leigh HS on Thursday, Aug. 23. Despite hazy conditions, the team fervently prepped for their game, eager to face their opponents in the first match of the year.

Leigh was offensively dominant from the start, completing long passes and holding possesion for most of the first half. LHS scored three goals in the first half, the final one coming seconds before the half ended.

The MVHS offense struggled to advance upfield and find scoring opportunities. Despite the team struggling to score, senior and MVHS goalie Sureena Hukkoo made four saves in the first five minutes. Her defensive effort carried on through the rest of the half as she continued to make numerous saves. However, Hukkoo said they needed more than just defense to win the game.

“During halftime, we were having a little trouble just starting our free hits earlier,” Hukkoo said. “We were taking too long and [we also needed to] keep the intensity up.”

Junior Ranya Pendyala makes a defensive play on the ball during the game against LHS. This is the first game of the highly anticipated season for MVHS.

In addition to this game being its first of the season, the team welcomed a new addition to its “family.” Sophomore Meha Gupta was promoted from the JV team to the varsity team.

“In terms of gameplay, varsity is a lot smoother,” Gupta said. “For me, it’s nice to watch the older players [and learn from them as] there’s a lot of skills I have yet to develop and it’s really informative to watch them play.”

With LHS leading 3-0 coming out of halftime, they continued their aggressive offense and the Matadors continued their defensive play.

“We were making a lot more cuts,” Hukkoo said. “We were hungry for the ball, so that was really good. [I think] we need to be more cohesive as a team.”

Despite saves made by junior and second half replacement goalie Isabelle Dingli, LHS continued to overpower and maintain control over the ball, which eventually led to a 0-6 loss for MVHS.

“It was a much more fast-paced game,” Gupta said. “We had [quicker] passes and faster free hits. Compared to Tuesday’s scrimmage, we played so much better and I think that improvement was immense.”

In the crowd was also MVHS alumni Estelle Yoo, last year’s team captain. She was eager to support the team, but she not impressed with the team’s performance.

Senior Aarti Vellimedu winds up to heave a pass down field. The matadors maintained defensive play throughout the game despite a 0-6 loss.

“Honestly, it was a hard game to watch,” Yoo said. “It’s always difficult to watch when you’re losing, but I feel it was even more difficult because like I couldn’t be there to help them, or I couldn’t be there to like to support them on the field.”

Yoo suggested that with better focus and posture, the players will be able to run more freely and quickly. With more conditioning and practice, she predicts the team will have better luck in future games.

“If [the team] conditions, a lot of things are going to improve,” Yoo said. “If you have more stamina and you can run faster, you’ll get to the ball faster, so I think that conditioning and stamina is top priority for the [players to focus on].”

The team’s next game is against Lynbrook HS, on September 13.