Perfect. Lady Dons Win State, Finish 27-0

The Lady Dons saved their best for last to deliver a thoroughly dominant performance and defeat Sacred Heart Prep 10-2 in the Final of the CIF Division 1 Regional Championship played at Independence HS in San Jose. The win meant the Dons finished with a season record of 27-0, extended their win streak to 54, and became the first NCS team to record back to back undefeated seasons. Their opponents, #2 seed Sacred Heart Prep Gators, arrived at the final as CCS Champions with an undefeated record in league play and an overall record of 26-3 (their 3 losses all to the Dons).

A large and noisy crowd had gathered in San Jose for the finals and Dons supporters were in good voice, displaying their blue colors prominently. After the introductions and anthems were over the Dons swam over to take final instructions from Head Coach Misha Buchel and assistants Pat Reid and Chris Lanier. The tension was evident as both teams started nervously and looked to work an early opening. As the first quarter progressed the Dons began to gain the upper hand with their offence exerting more and more pressure while their suffocating defense was clearly frustrating the Gators. The deadlock was broken when Mary Beth Heffelfinger set up Jewel Roemer to score with a strong shot and then, as Sacred Heart began to tire, goalie Ava Donleavy threw a perfectly weighted pass to find Jewel Roemer breaking fast down the center to score. It was 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Jewel Roemer Fires Away

The second quarter began in the same fashion with both sides showing strong defense. Back and forth the adversaries swam but the longer the contest went on the stronger the Dons looked and counter by counter the Gators were tiring. The depth of the Lady Dons bench had always been a strength and now it began to show as the Dons were able to rotate and keep fresh swimmers in the water. Sophomore, Heidi Heffelfinger, took advantage to score the next two goals, first turning strongly after a pass by Alana McCartney had set her up and then breaking fast onto another long pass from Donleavy. Sacred Heart was wavering but they refused to give up and came back with a goal of their own to make it 4-1. However, the Lady Dons were in ruthless mood and rather than allow the Gators back into the game, they stepped it up to score another goal from Roemer and then deliver a dagger blow at the buzzer with a powerful shot into the corner from Brooke Westphal. At half-time it was 6-1 to the Dons.

The third quarter continued with the Dons oppressive defense closing down and frustrating the Sacred Heart offense while the Dons continued to create opportunities at the other end. Claire Rowell scored with a strong shot off an assist by McCartney, then McCartney scored one of her own before Mary Beth Heffelfinger added a third goal for the quarter after a fast break. The Gators were struggling to live with the Dons fast paced attack and when the Gators tried to build an attack of their own the Dons were all over them, blocking shots, intercepting passes and stealing possession with Alex Mould, Caroline Schirmer and Jewel Roemer at the heart of the Dons defensive efforts. After three quarters it was 9-2. 

In the final quarter the Lady Dons were able to relax and play out time. Roemer scored one last goal and the seniors, Mary Beth Heffelfinger, Mala Neuman, Jewel Roemer and Brooke Westphal came in for the final few minutes as the Dons cruised to a 10-2 victory. The final buzzer sounded and it was time for the coaches to get wet as the whole team celebrated in the pool, including injured senior Zoe Benisek who ruptured her ACL five games into the season.

Coach Misha Buchel Goes for a Swim

In the game Jewel Roemer scored four goals with others from Heidi Heffelfinger (2), Alana McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger, Claire Rowell and Brooke Westphal. Alana McCartney made two assists with others from Claire Rowell, Alex Mould, Heidi Heffelfinger and Mary Beth Heffelfinger. Alex Mould made three steals with others from Caroline Schirmer (2), Alana McCartney, Heidi Heffelfinger, Jewel Roemer and Brooke Westphal. Jewel Roemer made three field blocks with others from Caroline Schirmer and Alex Mould. Claire Rowell drew three exclusions with others drawn by Alana McCartney and Jewel Roemer.