It was a game no one is likely to forget for a LONG time! The Acalanes Lady Dons gave their fans something most of us had never experienced–NINE quarters of water polo! The matchup was Acalanes and Carondelet for third place in the North Coast Section. These teams have played each other twice this season, once for a pre-season scrimmage and once at the Acalanes Invitational that went to sudden death overtime. Both teams came in confident and were excited to play against their club teammates.
Senior Liv Hoppe won the first sprint giving Aca possession and the Dons were off. The girls set up beautifully and were able to send the ball into set to freshman Finley Graff who turned and scored the first goal in the first 15 seconds of the game. The Cougars were not able to return on their possession and less than 23 seconds later, Finley received a great pass from senior Sophie Hendrickson and was able to score once more. Carondelet wasn’t going to back down and scored their first goal on the next possession. A few minutes later, sophomore Ella Del Rosario got her first goal of the game bringing the score 3-1. However, Carondelet was able to sneak one more goal in before the quarter ended.
Carondelet came out firing at the beginning of the second quarter, bringing the score within one, but Wendy Heffelfinger added one more tally mark for the Dons, but the Cougars returned with two goals to take their first lead of the game 5-4. Senior Brooklyn Plomp didn’t let that stand for long and tied up the match with a gorgeous penalty shot. Carondelet kept the pressure strong and scored to take the lead again but Ella Del Rosario snuck one in with one second remaining to tie the score going into the half.
The third period was scoreless except for one Carondelet goal to take the lead. The fourth quarter wasn’t looking good as Carondelet scored first taking a 2-goal lead, but Ella Del Rosario scored followed by another beautiful penalty shot by Brooklyn Plomp to tie it up once again. Less than a minute later, senior Sophie Hendrickson regained the lead with a beautiful corner shot. However, the Cougars fought back and tied it up with a minute twenty to go in the game. Several timeouts were taken, but neither team was able to score, sending the game to OVERTIME!
Water polo overtime consists of two 3-minute periods and the team with the most goals at the end wins. The teams sprinted and shots were taken by both teams, but neither was able to score after the two overtime periods. Next up, sudden death over time! The teams have another 3 minutes of play, but the first team to score wins the game. It took one sudden death overtime period for Acalanes to beat Carondelet in September, so they were up for the challenge. Overtime#3 started and ended with no goals. Overtime #4–no goals! Overtime #5, the 9th quarter of the game, started strong with Liv Hoppe winning the sprint. Shots were taken, but no goals. Carondelet gained possession with just over a minute to go. Ella Del Rosario stole the ball and sent it up to Wendy Heffelfinger who did her signature wind-up and shot the ball in the upper left corner. As the ball swished into the back of the goal, the crowd sprang to their frozen feet and celebrated.
The Lady Dons arrived at school at 8 am dressed as Coach Misha, mustaches and all. They worked hard in school all day and then returned to campus at 4:00 pm for their pregame warm-up. They started warming up in the pool at 5:30 pm and didn’t let their nerves get to them when the game started 45 minutes late, or when they went into the first, second, third, fourth, or FIFTH overtime! A huge shout out to goaltender Adelyn Horciza who made more amazing saves than we could count and who threw one dime pass after another to her teammates throughout the LONG hour-and-a-half game. This team is made up of amazing athletes who kept their composure throughout the 11-hour day and drew every ounce of strength they had to win this game! Congratulations Lady Dons!
The theme of the day–dress like Coach Misha!
Next up, on Tuesday, the Lady Dons will head down to Soquel to play the Soquel High School Knights in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Let’s go Acalanes! Fear the Blue!