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.
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.
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.
The Lady Dons continued their march to the CIF NorCal Championship Final with a comprehensive victory over the Davis HS Blue Devils on Thursday evening. In doing so, they took their season record to 26-0 and extended their winning streak, going back two years, to 53.
After starting slowly in the last few games, the Dons came ready to play and quickly got on the scoreboard with a deftly taken goal from Claire Rowell with what is becoming her trademark no look backhand, assisted with a pass in from Alana McCartney. Davis quickly pulled one back, but the Dons went further ahead when Mary Beth Heffelfinger pushed in a loose ball after a shot from Alex Mould was blocked by the Davis goalie. Another goal from Mary Beth Heffelfinger followed and then Jewel Roemer stole the ball from her opponent and cruised in on goal before putting the ball beyond the reach of the goalie. Davis managed to stop the flow with a goal of their own but the Dons finished the quarter strong with another goal from Rowell after a precise cross cage pass from Caroline Schirmer. It was 5-2 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Lady Dons moved through the gears and took total control, stifling the Davis attacks and scoring more goals from Rowell, Roemer, McCartney and Brooke Westphal. At half time it was 9-2 and the contest was as good as over. The second half proved to be low scoring with just one goal in the third quarter when Roemer scored after breaking fast and being found with a long pass from goalie Ava Donleavy. In the fourth quarter the Dons rotated through their squad and scored two further goals from Roemer and Heidi Heffelfinger. The final score was 12-3 putting the lady Dons through to the final on Saturday. Jewel Roemer scored four times with further goals from Claire Rowell (3), Mary Beth Heffelfinger (2), Alana McCartney, Heidi Heffelfinger, and Brooke Westphal. McCartney made two assists with others from Schirmer, Mould, Alexa Carter, Heidi and Mary Beth Heffelfinger. Rowell, Mould and Roemer each made two steals with others from McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger and Elle Forschler. Ava Donleavy made five saves and Audrey Cox one.
The Dons will play for their first ever State Championship against Sacred Heart Prep at Independence HS in San Jose at 3.40pm on Saturday.
Following the emotion of an NCS Championship on Saturday evening the Lady Dons returned to the Acalanes pool on Tuesday for a first round match in the CIF NorCal Division 1 Championship and to defend their unbeaten record. The NorCal Championship is for the best high school teams in Northern and Central California and the Lady Dons are seeded one. Notably, this is the Dons first trip ever to the NorCal Championships. They were also seeded #1 last year but fires and smoke cancelled the tournament so this is unfinished business!
Their opponent, the number 8 seed, St Francis HS Lancers from Mountain View had qualified by making the semi-final of the CCS Open Division Championship and arrived with a 19-8 record. After the noise and intensity of Saturday’s final everything seemed a little flat, and that was how the Dons started. In a first quarter of stray passes and fluffed shots it took more than 3 minutes for the first goal and to everyone’s surprise it was the Lancers who struck first. The Dons seemed lackadaisical and Coach Misha Buchel called an early timeout to reset the team’s energy. The break had the desired effect with the Dons looking sharper and goals from Claire Rowell and Jewel Roemer put the Lady Dons in front at the end of the first quarter, but not before they had contrived to miss a penalty shot and a number of other chances. If the Lancers were thinking they had an opportunity for an upset their hopes were to be quickly dashed in the second quarter as the Lady Dons found their rhythm and scored seven unanswered goals from Mary Beth Heffelfinger (2), Claire Rowell, Jewel Roemer (2), Heidi Heffelfinger and Alana McCartney. It was 9-1 at half time and the game was effectively over.
In the second half the Dons took the opportunity to rotate the squad and give everyone game time. Goals from Alana McCartney and Caroline Schirmer made it 11-1 after three quarters. Further goals from Alana McCartney, Heidi and Mary Beth Heffelfinger gave a final score of 14-2. Alana McCartney, Mary Beth Heffelfinger and Jewel Roemer all scored three goals with other goals for Heidi Heffelfinger (2), Claire Rowell (2) and Caroline Schirmer. Mary Beth Heffelfinger made three assists with others from Jewel Roemer (2), Claire Rowell (2), Alana McCartney, Emma Miller, Caroline Schirmer and Alex Mould. Alex Mould made three steals with others from Alana McCartney (2), Caroline Schirmer (2), Emma Miller and Brooke Westphal.
Next up a semi-final against Davis HS at 5pm on Thursday 21st November at Acalanes!
Eliza and her teammate Jasmine Toni qualified to compete in the NCS championships for singles. The 2 day tournament was played at Mill Valley Tennis Club. Jasmine won her opening round 6-2 7-6 , but fell to the# 3 seed in her second round. Eliza competed at a very high level to win her semi-final match 6-3 7-5 against senior Sophie de Groot from College Park. She faced senior Solia Valentine from Berkeley in the finals. The first set started poorly with a quick few games against her, but Eliza fought back to even things up and then played very solid in the tiebreaker to take the first set 7-6. Eliza then took her game up a notch and didn’t drop another game to finish 6-0 for the championship. Congratulations girls for representing Acalanes well. One for the record books! The tournament has been played with a girls’ division since 1977 and this is the first time a champion has come from our school! The boys’ division started in 1915 and only 3 boys from Acalanes have won in the years 1995, 1966 and 1960.
It seems like it all went so fast, yet it all started back in the Summer before the boys were even technically Acalanes Students. They have come so far in such a short period of time, thanks to great coaching and a commitment to Dons Family. The Frosh Dons ended up averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground with 12 TDs, and over 188 yards per game through the air with 24 TDs. Consistency on the line was a big factor in offensive production, with Tyler Murphy, Miller Smith, Lex Jung, Nathan Kim and Marcus Julian starting every game. Nine different players carried the ball over the course of the season, Tobias Schwing leading the way with 348 total yards and 6 TDs, on a Heisman-worthy pace of 11.6 yards a carry. RBs Ben Foox, Kaleo Feinberg and QB Kyle Bielawski also chipped in with rushing TDs over the course of the season. Eight different players caught passes over the year, including two from QB2 Luke Dulik and one from Jake Takeuchi on a WR pass. Ethan Torres was the home run king, averaging 28.13 yards per catch with a team long 74-yard TD. Theo Stoll, Andrew Habas, Jake Takeuchi and Tobias Schwing also added TD receptions in addition to Ethan. Defense developed a bit slower, but in the end 30 kids ended up with at least one solo tackle, led by Strong Safety Coco Gannon with 21. The Dons’ D also had five picks, two each by Mason Michlitsch and Andrew Habas and one by Nikko Woodson, and 27 sacks, led by Miller Smith, Tobias Schwing and Tyler Murphy with five each.
Offensive MVP: Kyle Bielawski #9
Cool Kyle Bielawski, led the offensive juggernaut this year, throwing for 1,466 yards and 24 TDs with a 61% completion percentage. Kyle also carried the ball 49 times (most on the team) for a 4.78 yard per carry average and rushed for 3 TDs. Throughout the season Kyle was a steadying influence, running the offense with efficiency and at high speed, standing tall in the pocket, hitting receivers in stride, buying time when it was needed and not being afraid to pull it and run when the opportunity arose.
Defensive MVP: Tyler Murphy #62
Tyler “Braveheart” Murphy was a disruptive force on defense, collapsing opponent’s offensive lines and making lives miserable for the visiting QBs. Tyler led or tied for the lead in fumbles recovered (2), fumbles caused (1), tackles for loss (9) and sacks (5). His tireless push moved the line of scrimmage and many times forced teams to double him, allowing the Dons’ other defenders to run free and make plays in the opponent’s backfield.
Special Teams: Theo Stoll #13
Theo “Theopedo” Stoll was a terror to opposing defenses all year. All up he scored 11 TDs, including 9 on Kick Off returns with a per game average of 35.75 and a long of 90 yards. He also led the team in punt returns averaging more than 19 yards a return with a long of 28. Every time Theo touched the ball, the crowd erupted as he juked and sped across the field leaving a myriad of defenders in his wake, rarely stopping before he hit paydirt.
Special Teams: Andrew Huchingson #2
Andrew “Clutch” Huchingson, showed amazing improvement over the course of the season. From his tentative first few kick offs and extra points, to the booming blasts of the second half of the season. Huch ended up 5 for 7 on extra points, with no opposing Kick Offs returned for TDs and two expertly executed onside kicks recovered by Acalanes.
Most Improved: Tyler Worthington #5
Tyler “Shark” Worthington may have taken a few games to find his sweet spot, but once he found it as Nose Tackle in the middle of the defense, he made up for lost time quickly. Even though he only started a little more than half the games at NT, he led the team in Fumbles Caused (2) and finished 3rd in Tackles for Loss with seven. In probably the toughest game, Tyler fought through illness to continually penetrate and disrupt the Campolindo offense, with numerous big plays to stymie the Cougars.
Coaches Award: Andrew Habas #18
Andrew “Hey Hey” Habas was electrifying from the beginning of the season all the way to the end. Whether it was returning kick offs, catching slants over the middle and taking it to the house, or snagging pick sixes while dropping into coverage, Andrew scored in pretty much every way imaginable this year. His ten total TDs was augmented by an extra point, and included the longest TD of the year, a 91 yard Kick-Off return for a TD. Unofficially he also led the team in TDs called back, including a long return in the last game of the season against Alhambra.
The Dons beat San Ramon Valley 5-2 last Thursday to advance to the Semi-Finals. Eliza Bates, Jasmine Toni, Analese Ruczynski, and Martha Burns all won their singles matches. Zoe Cate and Michelle Goll teamed up to win doubles. Celebration hot chocolates to round out the evening, THANKS Coach Drew!
Saturday brought a semi-final match up against league rival Miramonte. Unfortunately, the Dons were outmatched this time although Martha Burns and Ella Morris in her debut Varsity singles match pulled out two beautiful individual victories! Congratulations Lady Dons on a fantastic season! DAL champs and NCS semifinalists. Good luck and thanks for all the memories to our senior teammates: Zoe Cate, Aly Sweeney, Madi Price, Rachel Minden, Chambit Miller, Alyssa Armanino, Kate Bishopp.
It took the Girls Water Polo team 25 years to win its first ever NCS Open Championship. It took one year to get their second. The Lady Dons made it back to back NCS Open Division championships after winning a hard fought final against local rival Miramonte. It was not the prettiest game. The Dons struggled for their usual fluency and at times were indebted to goalie Ava Donleavy, who made a string of fine saves, but in the end they got the job done and in the process took their season record to 24-0 and extended the winning streak to 51.
On a chilly evening the game was played under the floodlights in front of a raucous crowd with standing room only. However, despite the intense atmosphere for the second game in succession the Dons began slowly and found themselves a goal down to the opposition’s first attack. A quick rally saw Jewel Roemer score with a strong shot from a pass from Alex Mould but as in the semi-final the Dons stumbled again and found themselves down 1-2. It could have been worse but for a strong right hand from goalie Donleavy keeping out a goal bound shot. The Lady Dons continued to look tight and nervous and were thankful when a stunning, no look, backhand goal from Claire Rowell off an assist from Alana McCartney brought them level. Now the Dons could relax and start to play and as the quarter progressed the Dons began to gain the upper hand, shutting down the Miramonte attack and creating opportunities at the other end. Roemer converted a five meter penalty shot from a foul on Rowell before a delightful long pass from Donleavy found Roemer breaking fast, Roemer caught the ball and in one motion shot past the goalie to gasps of admiration from the crowd. It was 4-2 at the end of the first quarter.
If the crowd thought that was the signal for goals to flow
they were to be disappointed. Defenses remained on top and clear opportunities
were scarce. The second quarter brought just one goal each, with Roemer
converting for the Dons with another strong shot from an assist by McCartney.
It was 5-3 at half time. The second half continued in similar fashion with few
opportunities for either team. The Dons continued to edge ahead but each time
Miramonte hauled them back. McCartney scored first for the Dons from an assist by
Rowell and then Roemer converted a second five meter penalty shot after a foul
on Rowell. It was 7-5 after three quarters with all to play for. The Dons
started the fourth quarter brightly and were rewarded with an outstanding goal
from Brooke Westphal who swept the ball into the net with a scoop shot that
brought the crowd to its feet, the pass in coming from Rowell. Refusing to lie
down, Miramonte responded with a goal of their own. The final minutes saw
Acalanes run out the clock to win 8-6 and remain undefeated. Roemer scored five
goals, two of them penalty shots, with other goals from Rowell, McCartney and
Westphal. McCartney and Rowell contributed two assists each with another from
Mould. Rowell and Mould made two steals each with others from McCartney,
Roemer, Schirmer and Westphal. Goalkeeper Ava Donleavy made 9 saves.
The Dons now progress to the CIF state championships with a
home game against Saint Francis of Mountain View at 5pm on Tuesday 19th