By Noah Glosson, Sports Editor
// In 2018, the men’s water polo team failed to qualify for the North Coast Section (NCS) playoffs.
After an eventful 2019 campaign, Acalanes captured the ultimate prize in front of an electric crowd at the Heaston Aquatic Center on Saturday, Nov. 16.
Led by senior Mac Darin, the Dons cruised past the three-seed College Park Falcons by a score of 16-10, capturing the NCS title for the first time since 2010.
Acalanes struggled off the opening sprint and College Park stole the ball and scored off a deflection.
With 4:30 to go in the first period, senior Charlie Bettencourt fed junior Jay Mills who scored from five meters out.
Two minutes later senior Mike Winther assisted a cutting Bettencourt as Acalanes went in front, 2-1.
After College Park and Darin traded off goals, the Dons ended the quarter up by a score of 3-2.
“We knew they were a tough team and just needed to tighten up the defense so the lead would grow,” Mills said.
After three scoreless minutes in the second period, Darin netted his second goal of the game. Two minutes later, Winther notched a goal to give his team a 5-3 advantage.
With just over a minute remaining, the Falcons fouled Darin as he set up for a five-meter penalty shot. The goalkeeper stood no chance as Darin launched a rocket into the cage.
Darin scored again and College Park did the same.
At the end of the first half, Acalanes led the Falcons 7-4.
As a beautiful orange sunset illuminated the autumn sky, the Dons began pulling away in the third period.
Sophomore Will Stryker won the opening sprint and Darin scored just 17 seconds into the half.
In a span of two minutes, Stryker netted two quick goals for Acalanes as the Dons held a commanding 10-4 lead.
After College Park cut the score to 11-6, Darin scored three more times as Acalanes led 14-7 with one minute remaining.
The Falcons scored twice as Acalanes called timeout clinging to a 14-9 lead.
Luckily, College Park wouldn’t get any closer.
Mills scored his second goal and 45 seconds later Darin notched his ninth goal of the game.
The feeling of victory loomed throughout the pool as head coach Robert Arroyo called time out and the starters checked out for the last time this season.
The Dons won by a score of 16-10.
As soon as the clock hit zero, the entire team and coaching staff leaped into the pool for an exciting celebration.
“It was a lot of fun to win the first title since 2010 and we wanted to put our name in the record books,” senior Scott Murphy said.
Darin scored an astonishing nine goals on the day, matching his previous total against the Falcons on Sept. 11.
Mills scored two goals with Stryker adding three on the night.
As the team looks ahead for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Northern California tournament, Mills enjoyed the victory and looks forward to the remainder of the season.
“I thought it was great because it was just a great ending to NCS and capped off the season with a celebration,” Mills said.