By Noah Glosson, Sports Editor
// What started as a mere possibility two years ago has blossomed into reality. The Women’s Water Polo team is the 2019 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Northern California Division I champions.
Led by an offensive explosion, the top-seeded Lady Dons rolled past the two-seed Sacred Heart Prep 10-2 on Saturday, Nov. 23, capturing their first CIF NorCal title in school history.
After three scoreless minutes of the first quarter, senior Jewel Roemer fired a shot past two defenders into the back of the cage.
With 30 ticks left, junior goalkeeper Ava Donleavy threw a perfect strike to Roemer who turned around and notched her second goal of the game. Acalanes led 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Acalanes converted again off the counterattack with Donleavy finding sophomore Heidi Heffelfinger who netted her first goal of the game.
Following another steal, Heffelfinger scored with two minutes remaining, making it 4-0.
After Sacred Heart got on the scoreboard, Roemer netted an outside goal with 47 seconds before intermission.
Off of a turnover, senior Brooke Westphal launched a shot from way downtown as time expired and connected. As the Acalanes faithful roared in excitement, the Lady Dons led by a commanding score of 6-1.
“Head Coach Misha Buchel emphasized defense,” junior Alex Mould said. “We played them three times before so if we played smart and to our level, we would beat them again.”
Acalanes quickly went to work in the second half right off the opening sprint. Junior Claire Rowell entered the scorebook with a goal followed by junior Alana McCartney.
Both teams traded goals and the Lady Dons led 9-2 at the end of the third period.
With 4:30 to go, Roemer scored her fourth goal from 5 meters out off an assist from McCartney. The Lady Dons ran the clock out and won 10-2.
It was deja vu as the entire team leaped into the pool to celebrate yet another undefeated season.
“I wasn’t emotional until we were all in the water and I looked to Buchel and coach Pat and realized this was the last game I would ever play for them and that’s when I began to get sentimental,” Westphal said.
Roemer shined with four goals on the day. Heffelfinger scored two of her own and Donleavy shut down a powerful Sacred Heart offense with 15 saves.
Roemer will take her talents across the bay and join Acalanes alumna and former teammate Lexi Rowell at Stanford next fall.
Seniors Mary Beth Heffelfinger and Westphal will also play collegiate water polo at the University of California, Santa Barbra (UCSB).
While her high school career may be over, this team and historic run will always have a place in Westphal’s heart.
“I love my team and I am so grateful to have spent the past few years learning from some of the best coaches and teammates I’ve ever known,” Westphal said.