By Tom Bequette, Staff Writer
// It’s no secret that the Acalanes Varsity Girls Water Polo team is one of the best programs in all of California, but the junior varsity (JV) team achieved similar unprecedented levels of success this season.
The girl’s JV squad’s season was characterized by consistent excellence, with impressive second-place finishes at the NorCal Invitational and the Diablo Athletic League (DAL) tournament to go along with the fantastic feat of winning the Western State Championships in Modesto, California. The Lady Dons posted an impressive 17-7 mark while battling some Northern California’s stiffest competition.
It did not come easy though, as the team faced numerous obstacles throughout the season, such as multiple varsity injuries resulting in the JV team losing some of its key players for parts of the season.
“It can be tough to have players that you’ve built great chemistry with throughout the season leave the team abruptly,” junior Sophia Eubanks said. “But our team is so deep that we’re able to overcome that pretty easily.”
The Lady Dons definitely looked like they weren’t fazed by the roster changes during the Western States Championships in Modesto on October 12th and 13th. The Dons rolled through their first two games as they dispatched Pittman and Talampias both by double-digits leading to a major showdown with the elite program of the Ripon Estanislao’s.
But behind the stellar performance from sophomore Sarah Archer, who came up big with two goals that ended up being the difference, the Lady Dons triumphed 5-3 and brought home the illustrious title of JV Western States champion back to Acalanes.
The team couldn’t celebrate for too long though, as the NorCal Invitational at Soquel high school kicked off only five days later.
The Lady Dons easily skated to the semi-final of the tournament, outscoring their opponents 26-7 over the first two games. The wins set them up for a tough matchup in the semis against the host Soquel Knights.
The Lady Dons battled through the tough matchup and ended up squeezing their way into the finals with a 6-4 win. Freshmen Alexa Carter and Sarah Porter led the way, combining for five of the team’s goals.
Unfortunately, despite a well-fought game, the girls were not able to pull out the win in the finals against water polo powerhouse Miramonte, falling 14-2 and settling for a well earned second place finish.
The team got their chance at redemption against the Matadors though at the annual DAL championships on November 2nd. The Lady Dons came out of the gates hot, rolling over College Park and Las Lomas to reach the semi-finals where, led by the phenomenal play of their goalie Audrey Cox they were able to continue their dominance over Campo, beating the Cougars for the third time this year.
In the end, however, the Matadors proved too tough as the short-handed Lady Dons fell short of the title and had to settle for a very respectable 2nd place finish.
While the season comes to a close, the players can’t help but look forward to the following years, as many will be making the transition to varsity. And with the phenomenal success of the JV team, the future looks bright for women’s water polo in the coming years.
“I can’t wait for next year,” Carter said. “I think we can build off of this year and make even more great memories with each other.”