By Tom Bequette, Staff Writer
// The women’s water polo team showed yet again why they are an elite program by becoming the NorCal invitational champions for the second year in a row last weekend.
In front of a packed crowd at Sacred Heart High Prep, the Lady Dons were able to squeeze past the host Gators 11-10 on Oct. 27 to continue their historic season.
Coming into the tournament the Lady Dons had suffered multiple injuries to some of their key varsity players, so they elected to bring up a host of freshmen including Elle Forscheler, Audrey Cox, Daylor Williams, Sarah Archer and Alexa Carter dubbed the “amigos.”
“They’ve done a great job,” senior Mary Hefflefinger said of the freshmen. “That’s kind of our team mentality this year, next person up. It’s really a nice benefit of having such a deep team that we are able to do that and still win these tournaments.”
The freshmen were able to impress during the tournament indicating a bright future ahead for the team.
The girls opened play in the NorCal Invitational on the morning of Oct. 25 against Gunn of Palo Alto, who were coming into the matchup with a 15-2 record. The Lady Dons showed why they were the defending champions as they were able to cruise past the Titans 23-7 behind six goals from sophomore Heidi Heffelfinger.
The win showed off the team’s goal scoring depth, as ten different players all were able to light up the scoreboard for Acalanes during the game. Cox was also able to play the entire game in goal and made 10 saves.
The Lady Dons went through to the quarterfinals where they had to face off against Soquel later that day.
The Lady Dons struck fast, as both Claire Rowell and Alana McCartney were able to score twice to give the team a quick 4-1 lead.
Five goals between Rowell and Jewel Roemer helped the Lady Dons gain a 13-3 halftime lead, which ended up being too much for the Knights to overcome as Acalanes ended up winning 19-7.
Acalanes had earned themselves a tough semi-finals matchup with Davis on Oct 26. The Lady Dons early season game against the Blue Devils was called off in the fourth quarter during a tight game, so both teams were eager for the rematch.
The game was close for the majority of the first half until Roemer and Rowell were able to break the game open right before halftime.
The final score ended up being a 13-6 win for the Lady Dons, headed by four goals each from Roemer and Rowell and another 10 saves from Donleavy.
The Dons were into the championship but perennial powerhouse Sacred Heart Prep was standing in the way, eager to avenge two earlier losses to the Lady Dons.
Acalanes didn’t seem fazed by the big moment though as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind goals from Rowell and Westphal. After a comeback from the Gators pushed the score to 9-7 going into the fourth, Acalanes was able to score twice by way of Westphal and Roemer and hold on to the 11-10 lead and take home the hardware.
A clutch performance from Donleavy was integral to the Lady Dons success as she added 8 saves. Overall the girls were led by Rowell, who scored 16 goals across the tournament, while Roemer netted 14 goals and notched a team high 6 steals and 9 assists. Sophomore Heidi Heffelfinger also contributed 9 goals.
While the Lady Dons should celebrate the win, the team still has their sights set on their second straight North Coast Section (NCS) championship that begins play next week. The current winning streak stands at 48 games.
“Our goal this year is definitely to win NCS and finish this year off with a bang,” Heffelfinger said.