By Tommy Fellner
The Acalanes Women’s Lacrosse team, the 2 seed in NCS, fell to S.F. University 7-6 in the semifinals of the NCS Playoffs this Tuesday afternoon.
Acalanes had already had a terrific season, going undefeated in DFAL play, besting rival Miramonte twice and earning the second seed in all of NCS. But the Lady Dons would not be satisfied until they took home the NCS trophy for the third straight year.
The Lady Dons, despite being the higher seed and playing at home, were forced to play an afternoon game due to S.F. University’s night class policies. However, the Lady Dons did not want a game time they were unaccustomed to to be a deciding factor in how they played.
At the start of the game, it appeared that Acalanes would once again make it to the NCS finals. Junior Sophie Ross won the ball at the beginning of the game, ran down the field, shimmied by a defender and scored the ball. It only took her 33 seconds.
University was not deterred by the Lady Dons’ quick start, they began to stifle Acalanes’ offense and it would be 15 minutes before another goal was scored.
At the 10 minute mark it was University that found the back of the net, evening the score at 1 apiece. It was then that senior Caith Wright scored to give back the lead to the Lady Dons.
Senior Ellie Higgins then backed up Wright’s goal with one of her own, slinging the ball that ricocheted off the goalie and into the net. Acalanes was up 3-1 with four minutes to go until halftime.
It was then that University had a sudden burst of offense. Rachel Wu scored for the Red Devils, closing the gap to 3-2.
Acalanes then had a defensive lapse and Eliza Dean outran all Acalanes defenders and put the ball away on a 1 on nobody attempt to even the score.
Before Acalanes could assess what had just happened, University scored again to give themselves the lead. The Red Devils had just turned the tides and scored 3 goals in 3 minutes and deflated the Lady Dons as the teams headed into halftime.
Out of the half, University continued their offensive streak, scoring twice more and giving themselves the largest lead thus far in the game.
Wright ran down the field after stealing the ball and slung the ball into the goal, but the goal was called back and Wright was charged with an offensive for running into a University player.
However, it was Ross that would stop the bleeding, scoring to bring the score within two, 6-4.
Acalanes was starting to run out of time with only ten minutes left in the game.
Wu scored again for the Red Devils, putting them up 7-4 with eight minutes to go. This back and forth was commonplace throughout the entire game, and was gut wrenching for fans.
Acalanes then put on a relentless offensive attack but kept getting driven out of shooting range by University’s defense. Senior Caroline Newman finally found the back of the net for her first goal of the game with 5 minutes to go.
Acalanes continually battered University’s defensive line but they remained stout, deflecting Acalanes’ attacks to the sides so they couldn’t get a clear shot at the goal.
As fans noticed the clock winding down and the reality that the heavily favored Lady Dons may lose, they took to cheering loudly to try to induce a sense of urgency unto the players.
The clock continued to wind down, 2 minutes, 1 minute, each second seeming to slip away faster than it should have and with each tick the sense of defeat growing more imminent.
Newman gave Acalanes a much needed goal when she scored with 37 seconds left, giving the Lady Dons some hope to send the game into overtime.
Ross won the ball and turned upfield only to be greeted by a swarm of Red Devils. She tried to juke them but lost control of the ball. The clock had dropped to 25 seconds.
There was a swarm after the ball, no one could retain possession and it was getting knocked in every which way, the clock was now at 18 seconds.
Newman scooped up the ball and made a beeline for the goal, only to be greeted again by a wall of defenders. The clock now read 10.
Newman passed it to Ross, who tried to spin and juke and bully her way into better shooting position. But with each move she made it seemed she just got driven further to the right side of the goal, worsening her angle. The clock now read 3.
Ross tossed the ball up into the air and onlookers were unsure whether it was a desperation shot that got deflected or a pass. Wright intercepted it mid air and tried to redirect it into the cage. The ball got lost within a sea of bodies and the final horn sounded. It seemed that all too quickly the game was over. Acalanes had lost.
The final score read 7-6 and fans just stood shocked. The Lady Dons did a quick cheer then shook hands with their opponents. The team could not fathom they had just lost.
Despite the rough ending to the season, the Women’s Lacrosse team had a terrific year and much to be proud of.