By Tommy Fellner
The Acalanes Women’s Soccer team, the top seed in the NCS playoffs, lost to Miramonte, the 4 seed, by a score of 3-3 (5-3 penalties) this wednesday night. The game was full of excellent play, nail biting moments and had a gut wrenching finish.
The Lady Dons defeated Miramonte handily and then tied them in a rainstorm that hindered both team’s ability to play during the regular season. Acalanes was the clear favorite to advance to the finals as they had also won the league title.
Both teams stepped onto the pitch fired up to play in the semifinal matchup, and it was the Lady Dons to strike first. Less than a minute into the game, standout sophomore Caroline Clark fired a shot past Miramonte’s keeper, Maritza Grillo, to put the Lady Dons up 1-0.
Five minutes later freshman Kierra Krawec, the top scorer in all of NCS, did what she does best and outran a defender to hit a nice finesse shot to give the Lady Dons a comfortable two goal lead.
However, Miramonte started an offensive attack of their own. Junior Cecilia Gee, a Stanford commit, nailed a shot from just inside the box to bring the Lady Matadors within one.
Miramonte’s defense became over aggressive and committed a foul inside the box, resulting in an Acalanes penalty kick. Clark took the penalty but missed uncharacteristically and the score remained at 2-1 as the teams headed into halftime.
Out of the half, freshman Mia Grillo scored for Miramonte on a header that evened the score and ignited an intensity in both squads.
Gee struck again for Miramonte, but the goal was called back and the game remained tied at 2-2 with less than 20 minutes to play.
Clark created an opportunity to redeem herself by getting open on a breakaway, dribbling a defender and finding herself one on one with the keeper. This time however, she managed to get it by Maritza Grillo and give the Lady Dons back the lead.
Miramonte was running out of opportunities to even the score, but Gee capitalized on an Acalanes defensive breakdown and rocketed her shot past keeper Sophia Giordano, evening the score. The Acalanes fans went silent, while the Miramonte cheering section on the other side of the field erupted.
Neither team managed to score in the remaining minutes and the game headed into overtime. Overtime would be two 10 minute halves packed with action.
In the first overtime period, the physicality of play stepped up tremendously but the referees rarely blew their whistle and let most things go. This angered spectators on both sides but the referees upheld their calls. Although there were some close attempts, neither team was able to score and the game headed into penalty kicks.
Miramonte kicked first and it was sophomore Samantha Devecchi that converted her shot. Sophomore Caroline Clark, who had already missed a penalty earlier in the game, lead off for the Lady Dons. Clark scored hers and the teams remained even.
Miramonte scored their second penalty as well. Senior Katharine Torchio was up for the Lady Dons. Torchio fired the ball to the right side and Grillo jumped correctly, but Torchio’s ball hit Grillo’s glove and made it into the net. The penalties were now tied at two apiece.
Gee, already scoring twice in the game, took the third penalty for Miramonte and found the back of the net. Freshman Kierra Krawec added to her season’s goal total by making her penalty as well.
Miramonte then scored their fourth penalty while freshman Emily Smith, a starter for the Lady Dons prepared to take her shot. Smith ran up to the ball and kicked it on the ground to the right side of the cage, Grillo jumped right and made an outstanding save by deflecting the ball with her feet. Acalanes now needed a save from Giordano to continue their playoff run.
As junior Gina Crosetti approached the penalty marker, the Acalanes fans went wild and made a deafening sound. Crosetti kept her composure and converted her penalty shot, giving the Lady Matadors the victory and a berth in the NCS finals.
Although the Lady Dons lost the semifinal match, they still had an unbelievable season full of success.
“I am so proud of my team and even though we lost we had an incredible season,” said junior Regan McQuain. “Last year we had zero wins in DFAL and this year we were DFAL champions. I am sad our season is over but we played our hearts out and left it all on the field. We will be back to claim the title next year.”