By Tommy Fellner //
The Acalanes Mens Water Polo team, the 5 seed in the NCS Division I playoffs, upset 4th seeded Las Lomas 11-9 this Saturday to advance to the semifinals.
Both teams came out full of intensity and emotion in what would be the final game of the season for one of these teams. Despite creating many opportunities early on, the Dons were unable to convert their shots. Las Lomas scored the first goal of the game.
Acalanes responded on the following possession as a result of a power play goal that senior Evan Wentzel slammed in from the post off of a Brendan Supple pass.
Las Lomas then scored back to back goals within a minute, leading 3-1 with 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Senior Jack Winther then scored with a minute left in the game. The Dons were still down by 1 but Supple found the back of the net on even strength to tie the game at 3-3.
Acalanes struck first in the second quarter, senior Tommy Fellner stole the ball, passed it to Supple who passed it to Robison who then passed it back to Fellner for a goal and to give the Dons their first lead of the game.
Junior Casey Conrad backed up the score to make it 5-3 and give Acalanes all the momentum. Las Lomas ended the run off of a counter goal to make it 5-4.
On the following possession, Fellner scored a lob shot to make the score 6-4.
Las Lomas then scored two minutes later to make it 6-5, and backed it up by scoring on the next possession and tying the game at 6 apiece heading into halftime.
The third quarter was more of a defensive battle, with neither team scoring halfway into the quarter. Conrad broke the scoring drought with a power play goal.
Las Lomas then scored on the next possession off of a power play.
The cascade of power plays continued, this time with Wentzel converting for the Dons off of a Winther pass.
No goals were scored for the last two minutes and it seemed as if the third quarter would end with the Dons up 8-7. But Las Lomas then scored a bar-in shot with 16 seconds left to tie the game.
With both teams exhausted, and the score tied at 8, it would be a battle of wills over who would be victorious.
Just 30 seconds into the game, Conrad scored out of set, his third goal of the game and gave the Dons a slight edge.
After repeatedly stopping the Knights’ offensive attacks, junior Brad Robison got an advantage over his defender and led him down the pool. He received a pass from senior Gordon Kerns and lofted the ball over the Knights goalie into the cage.
This two goal lead was huge, as the Dons had not led by more than one since midway through the second quarter.
Conrad then drew a 5 meter penalty with two minutes left in the game. Winther rocketed the ball into the back of the net to cap Acalanes’ three goal run.
The Knights were desperate but still had difficulty scoring, as a result of senior Patrick Worthing’s dominance in the cage. Las Lomas finally scored with just over a minute left in the game but it was too late to make a run.
Acalanes held onto the ball and advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Acalanes will face top seed Drake in the Semis.