Event: Section Field Hockey Final
Teams: Serra (20-1), Mira Mesa (18-2)
Time, Place: Noon, Diegueno Junior High, Encinitas
Field hockey banners adorn the walls of the Serra High gymnasium the way NCAA basketball banners hang in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
In 9 seasons, Serra has won eight section titles while compiling winning streaks of 86, 41, 32 and 17 games. During that span, the Conquistadors have lost only 4 games, one by strokes to Fallbrook after regulation and overtime ended in a tie in the 1986 championship game.
Another was earlier this season. Mira Mesa defeated Serra, 4-2, ending Serra's 104-game league winning streak. Serra came back to defeat Mira Mesa, 2-0, the next time around, then defeated them, 3-2 in overtime, in a City Eastern League playoff.
Interestingly, though the two schools opened their doors the same year (1976), are geographically close and have had excellent coaches and good teams, Mira Mesa has never reached the final. The Marauders lost in the semifinals the past 2 years.
This year, probably more so than any year this decade, Serra is vulnerable--not because it has slipped in performance, but because Mira Mesa has improved dramatically. In addition, Serra has its youngest team since Laurie Berger became coach in 1985, and Mira Mesa, under Coach Jean Palmer, has its most experienced.
While Serra lost eight starters to graduation from last year--a team Berger says was Serra's best--Mira Mesa had 10 starters return. Two, Janel Wing and Kristen Logan, are 4-year letter winners.
Leading scorers for both schools are juniors with 34 goals: Etheline Mendoza for Serra and Sarah Hallock for Mira Mesa.