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Fall sports roundup: Cougars make mark in league, postseason

It’s been two years since Santa Catalina School’s fall sports teams met, but you wouldn’t know it by the strength of their seasons. Three teams finished toward the top of their divisions, while cross country, tennis, and volleyball also made appearances in the Central Coast Section (CCS) championships.

Here’s how the Cougars fared in their first season of the 2021-22 school year.

Group photo of Santa Catalina School's cross country team

Cross Country

Runners steadily improved throughout the season, culminating in a 10th place finish in the Pacific Coast Athletic League (PCAL) championships. Their placement was the fastest of Division 5 schools, qualifying them for the CCS D5 championships. The Cougars finished fifth at CCS, and senior Caitlin Kostka’s time of 21:25.3 was fast enough to see her advance to the State D5 championships. (Unfortunately, Caitlin was unable to make it to the meet.) "I am very proud of what the cross country team did this season," said coach John Nardone. "We started with only two returnees and developed into a team that competed in the CCS Championships and had one qualifier to the state meet. It was a good season!"

Santa Catalina School field hockey player fights over the ball with an opponent

Field Hockey

Field hockey finished second in the PCAL Mission Division with a record of 6-2-2, just missing out on an at-large bid to the CCS championships. The Cougars had an especially strong back half of the season, with five wins and a tie, including an overtime win against Carmel, while Sofia McHugh ’25 allowed just four goals all season. Reflecting the strength of the team, seven players received all-league honors, the most of any Cougar sport this fall. Angie Leissner ’22 was named Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to making First Team All-League. Megan Barry-Schoen ’24 and Selma Ruiz ’23 were also named to the First Team, with Elle Leatherberry ’23, Tarn Reilly ’23, and Bianca Fritz ’24 making Second Team. Anna Gorman ’23 was named to the All-Sportsmanship Team. "This year’s field hockey team worked well together and offered each other support," said coach Daisy Villegas. "I am so excited for the next season with a great group of athletes!"

Santa Catalina School golfer hits a ball out of a sand trap

Golf

The Cougars placed fifth in the PCAL Gabilan Division with a record of 4-8. At the PCAL championships, the team finished in fourth place and Grace Huang ’24 placed sixth overall. Grace was a consistent leader for Catalina, medaling six times throughout the season. Nicole Munoz ’22, Reena Dail ’23, and Haily Wang ’24 were also reliable golfers. Coach Cheryl Wecker is optimistic for next season. "Santa Catalina's golf future looks extremely bright," she said.

Santa Catalina School tennis player hits the ball over the net

Tennis

The Cougars’ 9-3 record saw them finish in second place in the PCAL Gabilan Division. Six players participated in the PCAL individual championships: Lara Yuan ’23 and Kaly De La Vega ’22 at singles, and Lexi Blond ’23–Amparo Alcaraz ’23 and Bella Pierre ’22–Ally Yoshiyama ’24 at doubles. Lara and Lexi–Amparo kept advancing to make a play for third place, but ultimately came up short. As a team, the Cougars won a CCS play-in match against Watsonville, the No. 1 team in the PCAL Cypress Division, but lost in the first round of the team tournament to Gunn High School of Palo Alto. Lexi was a singles winner during that tournament. Expressing her pride, coach Tina Romeka said, "We began as a bunch of individual girls and finished as dedicated, committed, selfless young women that became a winning team."

Santa Catalina School volleyball player gets ready to hit the ball with teammates looking on

Volleyball

Volleyball took second place in the PCAL Mission Division, finishing with a record of 10-2 in league and 12-3 overall. The Cougars came out swinging, going undefeated for the first seven games of the season. They made it to the first round of the CCS championships but lost a close four-set match to Nueva School of San Mateo. Anna Yeh ’23 set a new school record with 14 aces in a match against Monterey, breaking the previous record of 12 aces held by McKinley Fox ’18. Anna was also named First Team All-League, while Helen Yenson ’22 made Second Team and Ellesia Corona ’24 was named to the Sportsmanship Team. Coach Paul Elliott said, "There were 30 students in the volleyball program, and each one of them was a big part of our success on the court, both JV and varsity. After two years of no volleyball, the culture of our program came back quickly. We are all excited about the next season."

Santa Catalina School water polo player gets ready to throw the ball against a defender

Water Polo

The Cougars went 5-3 in the PCAL Mission Division and 5-5 overall. Coach Jim Morton said, "We started the season with only a few experienced players. We ended the season as a solid team and had a winning record. I was very pleased with our progress." Maddy Foletta ’22 led the team with 50 goals, while Amalie Hansch ’22 led the team in steals with 54; both players made First Team All-League. Liliana Pedroni ’23 and Riley Barringer ’24, both reliable scorers, were named Second Team All-League. Jacquie Palshaw ’22 was named to the Sportsmanship Team.

Check out more photos from our fall sports teams.

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