By Tommy Fellner
// The Acalanes Men’s Lacrosse team, the top seed in NCS, lost a nailbiter game to second seeded Marin Catholic 9-8 this Friday night in the NCS championship game.
The Dons were bested by Marin Catholic for the second straight year in NCS and lost by the exact same score as in 2014.
Acalanes still had a memorable season, recovering from the loss of 12 seniors on last year’s team and still being able to reach the NCS finals, with younger players such as freshmen Joey Gladden, Fynn Chorak and Calvin Vance stepping up and replacing last year’s players.
This year’s final was intense as ever, with the Dons trying to get revenge for last years loss and the Wildcats trying to defend their title.
In the first quarter it was the Dons that would get on the board first, as junior Grant Jackson found the back of the net.
However, Marin got their first score of the night soon after.
Senior captain Adrian Jeffries got his first goal of the night to return the lead to Acalanes. Junior Leo Barakos backed up Jeffries’ goal with one of his own to give the Dons a two goal lead.
During the second quarter, senior attacker Chris Greer drove towards the goal when he was clipped by a Marin Catholic player, hitting the turf hard and unable to get back up. Greer was helped off the field and did not return to the field of play.
Then Marin Catholic got their offense going and the Dons found it difficult to stop. Marin scored to make it 3-2. Then a little while later scored again to tie up the game.
Each Marin Catholic goal caused their bench to celebrate and yell, giving them excitement and momentum. Marin would score again, giving themselves their first lead of the night and closing out the half with all of the game’s momentum.
Out of the half, Marin Catholic’s offense kept rolling. The Wildcats now took a two goal lead over the Dons.
Greer, who was injured earlier in the game, returned to the sideline after halftime in street clothes and a full leg brace on his right leg and an ankle boot on his left. Despite the pain of the injury, Greer was on the sideline giving his team support.
Acalanes was shaken but didn’t panic. But right after that last Marin goal, they scored again with 9:21 left in the third quarter, taking a 6-3 lead.
The Dons began to feel the pressure but still remained calm, the offense was working but Acalanes was struggling putting away goal due to a spectacular game played by Marin Catholic’s goalie, Shane Kunst, who recorded 20 plus saves.
It was not until Marin Catholic capped their run with a goal with 4:27 left in the third quarter, forcing Acalanes to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout the Dons fully realized the urgency to score a goal and end their nearly 12 minute dry spell.
The Dons answered the call with a brilliant play, junior Nathan Brickman danced behind the goal, weaved by a defender and placed the ball in between a sea of Wildcats to a streaking Adrian Jeffries that collected the ball and fired it into the back of the net.
The fans did all of the celebrating for the Dons, as the team realized they had to start scoring quick if they wanted to get a shot at winning.
Marin, reluctant to give the Dons even a glimmer of hope, put another goal away, silencing the fans and giving themselves a three goal cushion.
At the end of the third the Dons trailed 8-5.
The fourth quarter was all Acalanes. Adrian Jeffries got his third goal of the night only 1 minute and 43 seconds into the fourth, bringing Acalanes within two.
After some back and forth and increasingly physical play, Jeffries was streaking toward the goal for his potentially fourth goal when he was blindsided by a Marin Catholic defender, resulting in Acalanes having a man up power play with 7:56 to go. The Dons kept passing and eventually fired a shot that was corralled by Kunst.
Sensing that they were losing control of the game, Marin Catholic called a timeout with 5:48 left to play.
With time dwindling and needing two quick goals, Acalanes came out with all they had. But with 4:12, a defensive lapse resulted in a Marin Catholic goal, making the score 9-6.
Acalanes responded almost immediately, and Sam DeRoque first took a shot that ricocheted off the post. Brickman corralled the rebound and the Dons passed it around but Kunst made a huge save with 3:16 left to play.
Just six seconds later, senior captain Vinny Gladden stole the ball and ran upfield, he got taken out from behind and lost the ball, resulting in a brawl over possession of the ball. Gladden got back up and flicked the ball into the net, giving the Dons a much needed goal.
Acalanes then called a timeout with 2:54 left after that momentum swinging play.
Out of the timeout senior Chris Lane fired off a shot that hit off the post.
After a relentless Acalanes attack, Marin got possession and called a timeout with 2:09 left to play. Acalanes was trailing 9-7.
Marin then began to stall but Acalanes turned up the pressure and DeRoque forced a turnover and turned upfield with ball, he passed it to Jeffries who slung it past Kunst for his fourth goal of the night. Acalanes now trailed 9-8 with 97 seconds left to play.
Acalanes won the faceoff and a Wildcat defender let his frustrations the get the best of him when he fouled an Acalanes player, resulting in a man up situation with 1:18 left.
The power play resulted in another save by Kunst with 56 seconds left.
Marin now had possession and attempted to stall. Acalanes forced another turnover with 28 seconds left, giving them a final possession to send the game into overtime.
Acalanes now passed and drove with even greater intensity and speed but Marin matched their physicality and double teamed Lane knocking him onto the turf. Lane retained possession while several Wildcat defenders hacked at him with their sticks. Lane attempted to pass the ball out of the trap.
The pass was received an Acalanes player who continued to attack but did not have a clear shot at the goal. The ball was passed back out to Jeffries to see if he could work his magic but the pass sailed over his head with only 5 seconds left. Jeffries chased the ball out to half as the clock ticked down to 2. Sensing victory the Marin Catholic bench charged the field as Jeffries reached the ball and flung a desperation shot and time had expired.
Acalanes lost 9-8.
Jeffries had an outstanding game, totaling four goals, a game high, and one assist. Other standouts were Vinny Gladden with his continual hustle plays, steals and contributing one huge goal. Junior Leo Barakos had two big goals as well. Both juniors Jack Thoren and Brickman recorded one assist.
The Dons had an amazing season and went undefeated and won the DFAL league title, despite coming up just short in a very physical championship game, the Dons had a stellar season.