Dons Men’s Varsity Soccer steamrolls to victory in NCS playoffs to remain unbeaten at 23-0-3

Dons Dispense with 16 Seed Piedmont in the Opening Game of the NCS Tourney

Acalanes 5, Piedmont 1

Halftime: 1-1. Scoring: Acalanes, N. Lee (D. Glascock) 19:00, M. Helfrich (N. Lee) 47:00,

K. Simonsen (M. Mirner) 63:00, M. Mirner (M. Helfrich) 72:00, D. Glascock (S. Lee) 77:00.

Piedmont, C. Hanf (A. Papachristopoulos) 26:00.

Records, Acalanes 22-0-3, Piedmont 8-10-1

On an atmospheric playoff evening at Acalanes, all was good. Playing a terribly young (just 3 seniors, 11 frosh/soph players) but pass savvy Piedmont HS, Acalanes used their own savvy to feel-out Piedmont in the first half before exerting their obvious superiority and power in the second half.

The match started brightly with end-to-end soccer, however it was noticeably different when each team pressed into the attacking third. While Piedmont’s plays tended to be broken up before they became dangerous, the Don’s forays often ended with serious threats on goal.  In the first 6 minutes alone, the Don’s speedy winger Ben Croze poured dangerous right wing crosses into Piedmont’s goal area, the first leading to a fine effort by the dangerous Nick Lee, who fired just over the crossbar. Croze’s second causing havoc with Piedmont’s defense at 6’s and 7’s.  On 16 minutes, a dangerous Piedmont free kick into the Don’s 6 yard box was caught well by high rising goalie Eric Rogstad.  As they say in soccer, bi-line crosses will kill you, and on an evening when all 5 Acalanes goals came from either bi-line or wide crosses, it’s hard to argue that poin

On 19 minutes, National HS player of the week, Danny Glascock, in Piedmont’s defensive third, chased down a ball at the bi-line and sent in a lobbed cross. Piedmont’s otherwise excellent goalie on the night, Corey Collier, somehow fumbled the ball only to see Nick Lee pounce and shoot into the net from close range, 1-0 Don’s.  A deserved goal for Acalanes after several dangerous attacks forward.  However, just 7 minutes later, uncharacteristically, the Don’s defense were caught napping as they left their goalie unprotected allowing Piedmont to score a terrific goal.  Attacking down the right wing, Piedmont’s Charlie Hanf found himself unmarked just outside the Don’s 18 yard box and charging into the box he sent a powerful low shot into the Don’s net, 1-1.   On 33 minutes, after winning a high ball at the edge of Piedmont’s goal area, Stuart Lee charged on goal only for goalie Corey Collier to make a fine save low.  Minutes later, a Stuart Lee wide right cross to a high rising Luc Van Oss was very well intercepted by Piedmont’s goalie, but now the Don’s were starting to exert themselves and put more and more pressure on Piedmont.  A patented Graham Lindgren long throw-in onto Piedmont’s goal area almost found Luc Van Oss.  Seconds later, again Van Oss was causing all kinds of problems as he rose above all in Piedmont’s goal mouth to send a powerful header over the crossbar from a dangerous, Stuart Lee right wing cross.  Now late in the first half it was all Don’s going forward while Piedmont were having a tough time getting up the park as the Don’s defensive midfield, in particular Graham Lindgren, were breaking up most plays, Lindgren himself had a game high 3 steals on the night.

Halftime 1-1  

The second half was all Don’s! In the first minute a crazy Piedmont goal-mouth scramble could have resulted in a Don’s goal as Piedmont defended stoutly.   A minute later, Max Mirner’s powerful shot went just wide of Piedmont’s goal.  On 47 minutes, Nick Lee, charging down the left wing, crossed beautifully for Mark Helfrich to scramble home from close range, 2-1 Don’s.  Now it was all Don’s all the time!  On 63 minutes, Max Mirner’s clever chip from the bi-line into the goal mouth at the near post was met by a half diving Kaj Somonsen, who’s fine header made it 3-1 Don’s.  Piedmont kept playing soccer as their pass savvy style will always earn them a good deal of  possession but with the Don’s senior filled squad, Piedmont’s younger team were starting to wilt in the face of bigger and stronger athletes.  As Piedmont tired they also started to rack up fouls and ended the game with 15 along with 3 yellows cards to boot.

On 66 minutes, a long Nick Warren free kick into Piedmont’s goal area was met well by Danny Glascock, who’s powerful header went just over Piedmont’s crossbar.  On 72 minutes, Mark Helfrich floated a fine sideline cross from near the corner flag into the box where the always flying high, Max Mirner met the ball with great heading technique to make it 4-1. (Shades of Christiano Ronaldo’s fine headed goal earlier in the day!)  On 77 minutes Glascock had another heading opportunity and this time his powerful header found the net.  A well driven corner kick by Stuart Lee went over Piedmont’s near post defenders,dipping at the far post where Glascock rose to bury his header for a 5-1 Don’s win.

Five terrific goals all off bi-line or wide crosses, that’s what soccer is all about!

Very well done Acalanes, in a game that saw every healthy Don’s player see minutes and contribute and where again, the Don’s stingy defense allowed very few chances to the opposition.

Next up, NCS Quarter finals against St. Mary’s, this Saturday, Feb 16, 7:00 PM at Acalanes.

Photos: David Lee
Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Dons Men’s Varsity Soccer Completes Undefeated Season and Readies for NCS Tournament

Acalanes Men’s Varsity Soccer wins the league,  ends season unbeaten, scores a stunner!

Acalanes 2, Alhambra 0
Halftime: 2-0. Scoring, Acalanes, D. Glascock (L. VanOss) 9:00, M. Helfrich (B. Croze) 27:00.
Saves E. Rogstad (Acalanes) 5, H. Brown (Alhambra) 3.

Records: Acalanes 10-0-2, Alhambra 2-5-4

Regardless of Alhambra HS honoring their own graduating seniors before kick off, Acalanes was all business once the first whistle blew, shutting out an often feisty Alhambra while committing more fouls than normal in a less than exciting match on a narrow field which meant the ball was constantly going out of bounds. Add the referee blowing his whistle for fouls that in many cases only he could see, all of which created a constant stop and start affair which prevented “the beautiful game” from breaking out, for more than a minute or two anyway.

With every team out for Acalanes’ unbeaten scalp, it’s game on from the first minute as Alhambra tried in vain to overcome a stronger Acalanes team.  Alhambra’s Manny Maldonado #7 and Dominic Weir #8, were particularly effective with their passing and movement to create Alhambra’s best chances.  However, as we’ve witnessed all season, it takes a lot to breakdown the shape and effectiveness of the Don’s defense as their wingers always get back to help out and their center midfield players, Danny Glascock and Max Mirner are always in the defensive end of midfield breaking up plays.  Add the defensive prowess, pace and intelligence of Nick Warren and Graham Lindgren, plus Eric Rogstad’s stellar goal keeping and it’s easy to see why the Don’s have been so good at preventing their opposition from scoring.  Though Eric Rogstad made a few decent saves only one was truly troublesome and at the other end the Don’s themselves found it difficult to get off any meaningful shots, in fact they had about the fewest shots in any game this season, just 3.  So it came as rather a surprise the Don’s should score two such stunning goals, both from excellent team work ahead of the final goal bound shot.

On 9 minutes, Luc Van Oss, charging down the left wing with two Alhambra defenders in tow, managed to dribble to the bi-line before crossing for Danny Glascock to run onto and finish side footed with aplomb from 18 yards, 1-0 Don’s.  Followed on 27 minutes with one of the best goals of the season; a nice defensive through ball from Graham Lindgren found the feet of an un-marked Ben Croze just inside the Alhambra half.  Croze sent the perfect pass, a wonderfully accurate ball over Alhambra’s defense to Mark Helfrich, who was sprinting down the right wing. All in one motion and without missing a step, Helfrich, using the outside of his favored left foot, sent a lobbed shot of great accuracy from about 22 yards over Alhambra’s goalie for a superb strike, 2-0 Don’s.

Some in the stands who have watched soccer all their lives were in disbelief at such a stunning goal, though personally I’ve seen that a few times before…on TV!  Outside of those two goals there really wasn’t much to write home about as again, the ball was continually going out of bounds and the ref kept blowing his whistle. Still, it must be said, Acalanes for their part kept their shape, did all they needed to do to claim the win, shut out and league title.  How did they do all this, team work! As evidenced in this game where all available players, 20 of them, were involved and all played very well.  This has been a season long continuity, many boys playing in each game, all 11 on the pitch always playing in cooperation with their team mates.  In a sport where a few can take over games and dominate, Acalanes does that using all 11 players on the pitch. If defense wins ball games, the Don’s have that, if team work out trumps individual play, the Don’s have much of that too.  So to the league winners and a fine bunch of young men I say, here’s to you men, you came together and played as one, you gave yourselves up to the team and Coach Paul Curtis, you followed his game plans regardless of what position or foot you prefer, you played in the position assigned you and for that I say, that’s what it’s all about!  On the field, at home or in the work place, team work and the ability to cooperate is something you can take with you all your lives.  Very well done and congratulations!

Final note to one of our favorite sons, Maalak Hamzeh, who we lost for the season to knee injury. Maalak’s fine defensive prowess and distribution from the back were a delight to see and a bonus to the team.  Here’s to a speedy recovery Maalak!

Next up, NCS playoff game at Acalanes, Wed. Feb 13.  Watch this space for details.

Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Feb 4 – Dons Mens Soccer Celebrates Senior Night With a Win Over Hayward

Acalanes 2, Hayward 1

On a lovely calm evening when 15 graduating seniors were honored, it seemed fitting the star of the night was each of those graduating seniors as they presented beautiful flowers to their Moms. Interestingly, Coach Paul stated in his time at school, his parents attended just 3 of his events while many of our HS Varsity boys parents might count 3 times they missed games or events over a 10 year period of traveling soccer and many school functions. Has the world of parenting changed so much since us parents were in school? We can only assume so.

After a beautifully sung national anthem, our graduates took to the field against an excellent and tough tackling Hayward team. Both teams took off their gloves for this one and played 80 minutes of tough soccer with a tremendous commitment into the tackle while also exhibiting quality and pleasing on the eye possession soccer.

Acalanes started strong, playing in Hayward’s half in the opening spell. On one of Hayward’s rare early commitments forward, a stray pass by Acalanes found Hayward’s impressive, Catalino Gomez, in space at the edge of the Don’s goal area, realizing his fortune he sent a lobbed shot over the unprotected Acalanes goalie, Eric Rogstad, for a fine virtuoso goal and a 1-0 lead. Acalanes responded well with some fine play and several dangerous shots leading up to a terrific 18th minute, Nick Lee, low cross to Danny Glascock who wasted no time burying the ball inside the far post with the outside of his foot.

Tied at 1-1, the game progressed with end-to-end play to delight the crowd. As the first half clock ticked down, Acalanes were getting the best looks on goal and with winger Ben Croze displaying some of his best individual dribbling skills down the flanks. Hayward, though still very much in the game, were starting to get run ragged as their defense were drawn to Croze leaving space open for the Don’s to exploit.

Halftime 1-1

The second half started as the first ended and just two minutes in a Ben Croze corner was met perfectly by Danny Glascock who’s side footed half volley found the net from 8 yards out, 2-1 Dons.

For the remainder of the game the Don’s pushed forward as Hayward tired and shots from Ben Croze, Stuart Lee, Nick Lee, Max Mirner, Lenny Adkerson and Danny Glascock kept Hayward on the back foot. Hayward did manage a couple of highlights themselves with their own fine dribblers and play makers creating occasional havoc, though most of their fine play was broken up by the Don’s defense with Graham Lindgren quick into the tackle and Patrick Lundgren, James Lande and Nick Warren all making it difficult for Hayward’s forwards to get into the game. Strong performance by the Don’s against a very good Hayward side.

Halftime, 1-1. Scoring: Acalanes, D. Glascock (N. Lee) 18:00, D. Glascock (Croze) 43:00
Hayward, C. Gomez 7:00. Saves E. Rogstad (Acalanes) 1, J.Vazquez (Hayward) 5.
Overall Records: Acalanes 20-0-3, Hayward 12-3-3.

Acalanes remain unbeaten with a record of 20 wins, 3 ties and 0 losses!
Next up, Acalanes away at Alhambra, Wednesday, Feb 6 at 6:15 K/O (come on out and support the Don’s, this is the final game of the league season before the playoffs commence, Feb 13)

Photos: David Lee
Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Feb 1 – Soccer Dons Roll Over Dublin 2-0

Acalanes 2, Dublin 0
Halftime 1-0. Scoring; Acalanes, Croze (Glascock) 19:00, Lindgren (Croze) 45:00. Saves, Rogstad 2 (Acalanes), Totaro 5 (Dublin). Records; Acalanes 9-0-2. Dublin 5-5-0

Solid defending and a fine late goalie save by Acalanes kept the Don’s rolling as they dominated a defiant Dublin in front of a large and ever growing Acalanes home fan base. Unbeaten and top of the league all the pressure was on the Don’s who started quickly playing the game in Dublin’s half in an opening spell that could have produced a goal or two for the Don’s as they whizzed shots on target or not far away. Dublin had decent moments too early on as they broke well from the half way line to give the Don’s something to think about however the Don’s defensive pace in both Nick Warren and James Lande was used to great effect in breaking up Dublin’s efforts.

On 12 minutes a Don’s incoming wing cross was met beautifully by Max Mirner, who’s well timed audacious overhead kick went just wide as Dublin breathed a sigh of relief. On 19 minutes Dan Glascock rolled a neat set-up pass to Ben Croze’s feet and the 2nd highest rated player in the DFAL showed his class in bending a 20 yarder around the goalie and just inside the far post to give the Don’s a deserved lead. On 29 minutes a Stuart Lee corner directed to the far post was met perfectly by a powerful Graham Lindgren header but Dublin’s goalie, Andrew Totaro, made a terrific point blank save. On 38 minutes Dublin scored themselves only to see the linesman rule it offside, a rare opportunity for Dublin as the first half closed in with the Don’s well in charge but with only a single goal to show for their efforts that included 9 shots and so many corner kicks.

Halftime Acalanes 1, Dublin 0.

The Don’s started the 2nd half as they did the first taking the game to Dublin. Just a few minutes in a right wing dead ball kick by Ben Croze was met by a surging Graham Lindgren who directed the ball goal bound for the Don’s second and much deserved 2-0 lead. On 58 minutes a through ball from Dan Glascock found flying winger Ben Croze who’s cross was met perfectly by Nick Lee, only to see his powerful shot fly over the cross bar. In the final moments of the game Dublin had a moment themselves as a square pass found their forward who ripped a powerful shot on goal only to see Don’s goalie, Eric Rogstad, who’d had little to do for 79 minutes, break into action with a tremendous leaping save to deny Dublin. Special mention to the Don’s bench who’s players came in and did the business.

Next Up, Acalanes home to Hayward this Monday, Feb 4, kick off 6:15 PM

This is the Don’s soccer Varsity men’s senior night. Festivities start at 5:50 PM. come help us honor our 15 outstanding seniors. Senior parents please arrive by 5:45 PM

Photos: David Lee
Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Jan 30 – Acalanes Dons Squeak By Dougherty Valley to Stay Undefeated in Boys Soccer

The Acalanes men’s soccer team escaped with a 1-0 win over Dougherty Valley on Wednesday night in San Ramon.  The Dougherty Valley goalkeeper was in top form, stopping a number of great Acalanes scoring chances. It was not until the 64th minute that Acalanes was able to take the lead.

In a scramble in front of the Dougherty Valley net a Dan Glascock shot was blocked but Max Mirner grabbed the rebound to score the game’s only goal.

The Dons needed to play tough team defense against a plucky Dougherty Valley team all the way to the final whistle. Luke Van Oss was named Man of the Match for his excellent defensive effort.  The Soccer Dons host Dublin on Friday night at 6:15 pm. The Dons also have their final regular season home game on Monday night against Hayward.  The Monday night game is Senior Night.

Photos: David Lee
Jeff Lindgren

Jan 28 – Soccer Dons Trample the Northgate Broncos 4-0

Avenging a frustrating tie against Miramonte on Friday, the Acalanes boys soccer team dominated Northgate in a 4-0 win on Monday night.  The game was not as close as the score suggested and the Dons pressed the attack as soon as the game started.  On three minutes Dan Glascock headed a long throw into the penalty area from Graham Lindgren to Max Mirner, who slotted it home for a 1-0 lead.

Not satisfied, the Dons immediately pressured Northgate’s net after the ensuing kick-off with Ben Croze, who was a threat all night, having a goal called back on an offsides call that had the home side fans scratching their heads.  On 20 minutes Acalanes made it 2-0 when Dan Glascock headed in another Graham Lindgren long throw in. The half continued with Acalanes having a majority of the possession.  The Dons were creative with their passing combinations and runs, constantly finding space down the wings.   The back four of Nick Warren, James Lande, Patrick Lundgren and Graham Lindgren also limited Northgate to only two shots on Eric Rogstad, which he handled with ease.  The teams went into intermission with Acalanes unable to extend its 2-0 lead.

The Dons picked up the second half right where they left off the first.  Sustained pressure on offense and tough defense from all of the Dons were the hallmarks of the night.  Northgate had trouble maintaining any possession as there was always an Acalanes player coming in with a well timed tackle or anticipating a play to intercept a pass.    In the 62nd minute Dan Glascock collected the ball near midfield and on a run right outside the box unleashed a laser shot that hit the cross bar and bounced.

Conrad Halverson demonstrated great poacher’s instincts by following the shot and putting the rebound in for a 3-0 Acalanes lead.  Acalanes finished its scoring in the 77th minute when Kaj Simonsen made a brilliant run down the right wing and put a perfect cross into the box which Zac Kramer one-timed powerfully into the net.  It was a great way to finish what was an excellent game for Acalanes.  All the boys played well and contributed to the victory.

Next up for Acalanes is Dougherty Valley on Wednesday night at 6:15.  

Photos: David Lee
Jeff Lindgren

Jan 19 – Dons Prove Their Worth by Defeating Division 1 San Ramon Valley

Acalanes 3, San Ramon 2
Halftime: Acalanes 2-1. Scoring: Acalanes, M. Helfrich 2:00, M. Helfrich (Lindgren) 31:00, B. Croze (M. Mirner) 79:00.
San Ramon, Jake Wood 39:00, Chris Scatterday 42;00.
League records: Acalanes 7-0-1, San Ramon 4-2-1

Superb game of soccer!  What could be better than two excellent teams giving it their best. Great skills and athletics all over the park, killer goals, near misses, contentious fouls and diving saves, all creating a playoff type atmosphere that excited the crowd from beginning to end. Literally to the end as Acalanes netted the winner in great style in the very last minute of regular time!

The Don’s started quickly as Mark Helfrich scored a beauty after just two minutes. Gathering the ball about 40 yards out he moved quickly with the ball at his feet, evading players along the way before unleashing a powerful shot that kissed both the San Ramon goalie’s fingertips and his goal post on it’s flight into the back of net. Both teams went end to end in their efforts to score but few real chances were created as both teams defended very well. Acalanes grew as the first half progressed and were indeed the better side in the half, leading to another goal of beauty as Graham Lindgren threaded a pass down field to Mark Helfrich’s feet, where again, he took off at great speed only slowing slightly to pick a spot to rifle another powerhouse of a shot into the back of the old onion bag, 2-0 Acalanes. The home crowd went hysterical in support of their Don’s who were deserving of their lead, which, looked like it might hold until half time. Unfortunately, San Ramon scored a goal of their own just a minute before the halftime whistle as their right winger squared a ball into the Don’s goal area for a close range tap in.

Halftime 2-1.

Just 2 minutes into the second half a long range high shot by San Ramon hit the underside of the Don’s crossbar and deflected down into goalie, Eric Rogstad’s hands. While it looked like a save the ref referred to the linesman who confirmed the ball had indeed crossed the line and a goal was given. Now tied after being down 2-0, San Ramon went on to play with great enthusiasm. If the Don’s were the better side in the first half, San Ramon were the better side in the second.  That said, Acalanes held firm and gave away very few chances to score while still creating their own as the match continued from end to end making for a very exciting game. Going into the final minutes it looked like a tie might be a fair result.

However, in the final minute of regular time, Max Mirner picked up the ball 35 yards out, slipped a nice through pass to the feet of Ben Croze at the edge of the goal area, Croze, dropped a shoulder which was enough to move a defender out of his path to goal before sending a killer low shot to the far post beating the goalie and sending the home crowd into ecstasy. With just a few minutes of injury time remaining, San Ramon threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Don’s, the Don’s defended in manly fashion and Eric Rogstad put on a late show of outstanding saves including a full stretch dive to deny San Ramon in the final seconds. Wonderful game to watch and when considering San Ramon are a div 1 school with many more students than Acalanes to choose from, this was a special win for the Don’s who maintain their unbeaten record, now at 16-0-2.

Next up, Acalanes home to Miramonte, Friday Jan 25 at 6:15 PM

Photos: David Lee
Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Jan 12 – Dons Soccer remain undefeated!

Acalanes 1, Ygnacio Valley 1
Halftime: 1-1
Scoring: Ygnacio Valley, M. Mendez (E. Damian) 29:00; Acalanes, M. Mirner (N. Warren) 35:00
Saves B. Rodriguez (Ygnacio Valley) 6, E. Rogstad (Acalanes) 6.
League records: Acalanes 6-0-1, Ygnacio Valley 5-0.

In short, that was the best high school soccer match I’ve ever seen!
With such quality in both team’s midfield engine room, we might have expected something special and from the first minute to the last, indeed this was a very special game which flowed beautifully and seamlessly from one end of the park to the other, exciting the fans as the game swayed back and forth!

This non-league game started on fire and only became hotter and hotter culminating in a final breathtaking 7 minutes that was all Acalanes pushing for the winner while YV defended like their lives depended on it. Such was the level of commitment both teams put into this great match.


Max Mirner high above the Ygnacio Valley defense

Max Mirner high above the Ygnacio Valley defense


A few special mentions, firstly to Dan Glascock and Max Mirner in midfield who worked tirelessly to contain YV’s talented midfield and to finally overhaul them in the final stages of the game.  To the Don’s defense and goalie, for keeping YV at bay and including Luc Van Oss, for his manly defensive job in keeping YV’s big striker, Jonathan Ayala, quiet.

Ben Croze eluding Ygnacio Valley defenders

Ben Croze eluding Ygnacio Valley defenders

And to winger, Ben Croze, who was always a threat with his mesmerizing runs down the flanks and who almost netted a winner late on. Very well done to all the Don’s soccer players, their coach and fans too for a wonderful,atmospheric evening of exciting soccer.

Next up, Acalanes at home to Las Lomas, Friday, Jan 18 at 6:15 PM. 

Barry Allan Lee * Man on the Beat

Photos by David Lee

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