By John Kalil, Managing Editor
// Two years and five days ago, the women’s varsity water polo team lost a game. In triple overtime, the Lady Dons fell to Monte Vista 9-8 in the 2017 North Coast Section (NCS) semifinal match.
Since that heartbreaking loss, Acalanes has not lost a game. In fact, the Lady Dons added a fiftieth tally to the win streak tonight in the NCS Open Division semifinals, handling San Ramon Valley by a final score of 12-5.
To open the match Acalanes found itself in an unfamiliar position, trailing after SRV drew first blood. The Lady Dons answered to tie the game at one goal apiece before allowing a second goal.
According to senior Mary Beth Heffelfinger, a slow start inspired her team throughout the rest of the contest.
“We can notice very quickly when we’re not playing to our full potential. Once we have that self-awareness, we can push ourselves to go harder and get back up to where we can play at,” Heffelfinger said.
After three goals by Acalanes to cap the first quarter at a score of 4-2 for the home team, the Lady Dons never trailed.
The team added three in the second quarter, crowned by a spectacular counterattack goal from Heffelfinger off of excellent ball movement.
Not letting up at the outset of the second half, junior Alana McCartney poured in two goals in short order, the first within fifteen seconds of the sprint.
The Lady Dons played stingy defense during the third quarter, not allowing a single goal as they extended the lead to 9-3 at the end of three periods.
“When we get up, we try to focus on our defense more than our offense. We stay back more and we can guard players more heavily,” Heffelfinger said.
Senior Brooke Westphal scored to begin the fourth quarter. Not to be outdone by teammate, senior Jewel Roemer scored on a penalty shot and then dished a nice assist to junior Claire Rowell, before SRV responded with two garbage time goals to make the final score 12-5.
Roemer has committed to play water polo at Stanford next spring, while Westphal and Heffelfinger will be taking their talents to Isla Vista to become Gauchos at UCSB.
For the moment, however, the senior trio is on the same team, gearing up to clash with local rival Miramonte this Saturday for the NCS title.
Fifty is feeling quite nifty for Acalanes as the team prepares for the championship match.
“It’s the best our team has ever done in the history of the high school, and it’s kind of amazing to be a part of that,” Heffelfinger said.
And the only thing better than 50? 51.