Thursday night the Dons faced a fierce rival, the Mats, on a balmy evening at the stadium. No win is easy and nothing came easy to our Dons tonight. The game was tight from start to finish. The Mats exploded on the first draw scoring in just 17 seconds. The Dons returned the favor on the next draw and Ellie Higgins got her first of 5 goals in the next 19 seconds of play. Score 1:1. Sophie Ross managed 3 goals in the first half, 2 on penalty shots and 1 by sheer will. This continued back and forth throughout the first half and the game was tied 6-6 with 5:59 to go.
Defensively we couldn’t have asked for more as Caith Wright, Katie Welch, Alyssa Mueller and Marie Whitmore were relentless and kept the Mats at bay the best they could. Ellie Higgins managed another great shot for a goal and Caroline Newman finessed for 2 goals in the first half as well. But the Mats were hard to contain, their Goalie made a key save with 48 seconds left in the half, and then a questionable foul called on Acalanes resulted in a penalty shot for Miramonte, and quickly assisted goal with only 5 seconds left, to put Miramonte up 7-8 at the half.
Starting the second half, our Dons came storming out of the castle. Sophie Ross quickly grabbed the draw, Holly Fleischmann passed to Ellie Higgins who cleared the field and rolled a shot to tie the game 8-8. The Mats, still determined to get their long sought win, gained 2 quick possessions and took the lead again, this time up by 2: AHS 8 – Miramonte 10.
In the next possession, after Blake Balfrey grabbed a key loose ball from the Mats, Holly Fleischmann made a gorgeous pass to Caith Wright who scored pulling the Dons closer, 9-10.
On the next possession, Caith Wright made a gorgeous steal, but Umps called it back on another questionable call. Sam Repstad made a key save to keep the Mats from pulling further ahead. They maintained possession, then the ball came loose. Caith Wright grabbed the ball, passed it to Kelcey Wendt who passed it to Ellie Higgins who became possessed with the power to score. She took it in herself from Wendt’s pass and tied it up 10 to 10.
Miramonte called a time out to try to interrupt Acalanes’ surge, but it was to no avail. Sophie Ross picked the next draw, threw a Hail Mary pass to a wide open Ellie Higgins, and Ellie took it in for the lead, 11 – 10, in only 9 seconds of play.
But the Mats dug in and their physical play brought the game to another tie, 11 – 11 with just under 10 minutes left in the game – a long time in lacrosse.
The Mats continued their momentum to grab the next draw, and to grab a loose ball after their missed shot. Then Marie Whitmore caused a huge and key turnover, ball became loose, and Kelcey Higgins swooped in, grabbed the ground ball, and ran it out, fending off very aggressive Miramonte players, intentionally fouling her. (So it seemed.) During this tumultuous period, with 6:10 on the clock, Sophie Ross was able to get the ball to Caith Wright who made an incredible goal, bringing the Dons to a 12 – 11 lead. But with 6 minutes left in the game, this lead was not a done deal. Anything was possible.
Mats would not lie down and they grabbed the next draw. Valiantly, Katie Welch grabbed a loose ball, but then the Mats got it back on an Acalanes foul. Acalanes fought hard to steal it back, but the Umps called fouls, and gave Miramonte 2 penalty shots. With 1:06 left, the Mats almost capitalized on their second penalty shot, but Caroline Newman made a gorgeous interception right in front of their goal, preventing Miramonte from quick-sticking it in!!
The next 30 seconds were a hard fought scrabble. First, the ball became loose and Miramonte was awarded the ball back by Umps. Then in what looked like a clean attempt to steal, Alyssa Mueller was given a yellow card and had to leave the field. Acalanes was now a man down.
Miramonte had the opportunity of the game to tie it up with their penalty shot awarded with only 30 seconds left. But the Lady Dons defensive dominance would have none of it. Their free position shot was shut down by a key deflection, sending the ball out of bounds. But, Mats maintained possession and another chance to send the game into overtime.
Caith Wright made another key deflection on a Miramonte shot causing a loose ball melee. Blake Balfrey grabbed for the ball with only 12 seconds left on the clock. AHS Coaches Katie Mitchell and Laura Harris called for a drop-your-sticks time out which gave the Dons an opportunity to set and hold onto the ball for a win. Final score: Dons beat Mats, 12 to 11.
League play is not over however. There are two more games left, 1 away at Alhambra, and the league closer v. Campolindo at home, on Friday May 8 which is also Senior Night.
Miramonte game recap:
Offense: Ellie Higgins 5 goals, Sophie Ross 3 goals + 2 assists, Caith Wright 2 goals, Caroline Newman 2 goals, and Holly Fleischmann 1 assist.
Draw Controls: Sophie Ross 13, Caroline Newman 2, Caith Wright 1, and Anna DeRoque 1.
Goalie Saves: Sabba Jweainat 2, Sam Repstad 4.