This Could Very Well Be THE Very Best Freshman Team in the School’s History States Coach Hansen

This Could Very Well Be THE Very Best Freshman Team in the School’s History States Coach Hansen

And you thought coaching high school football was all about Xs and Os, blocking, tackling and making sure these kids begin to learn something about what it means to be young men . That’s all true. But Coach Bill Hansen wants the Freshmen players to remember something about the year besides the final scores, the big plays…and that is friendships in brotherhood.

Some people call him Coach Hansen, but his fans call him Big Daddy. Photos from 2019

The biggest benefit of playing freshman football is the friendships made in the days before school even starts. Just a few weeks with your new teammates can cement friendships that will make that first day of walking on campus even better than it would be otherwise. The Freshman football head coach sets the tone to school and rolls out the red BLUE carpet for the new Dons.

Covid as we know changed up rolling out the blue carpet. Covid has taught Coach Hansen to be a more patient coach.  There are always things we can not control and Covid is a obviously a new one.   The Freshman coaching staff have learned to take it one practice at a time and to value each practice.  Coach Hansen and Freshman coaches only have a very limited time with our players each week and need to make each practice count.    
 Coach Hansen shares: We had to think outside the box and find new ways to practice – not being able to use equipment (including a football) was a challenge but we adjusted.  The players benefited in a few ways.   Having smaller groups has benefited the players by getting more individual attention.  By not having contact we have spent more time on the fundamentals which improves them having a solid foundation. Players have had more time to learn plays both for offense and defense.   What I am seeing is more players a whole are learning.     

This 2020 Freshman group is a large, a total of 52 strong, eager and enthusiastic Dons. This is the largest group Coach Hansen has ever coached.    Based on the Freshman coaching staff input and Coach Hansen‘s observations – talent wise – this could very well be the very best freshman team in the school’s history (insert fireworks exploding here). I hope we get to have a Freshman season, because it will be fantastic! It will be up to them to find the leaders this team needs to take this team to a league championship when they become Juniors. If this group can stick together there is no doubt they can be successful a team.   But it will be up to them to decide what they want.  They must decide if they want to put in all the hard work and long hours necessary to become a winning and a championship team, proudly states Coach Hansen.

Before Coach Hansen became freshmen head coach, Coach Young (JV head coach) and Coach Hansen coached the freshmen together for seven years. Coach Young praises Coach Hansen : In eleven years, I’ve never met a coach who cared more for the players than Bill. He cares about their family life, education, and self–esteem. He’s the real “Dad” of the program. The program, especially the players, are so lucky to have him. Some people call him Coach Hansen, but his fans call him Big Daddy.

Coach Hansen graduated in 1980 ‘from that school in Moraga’ and played under Head Coach Dan Hagan.  He also played under Gordon Finn, at Del Valle High School prior to its closing, as linebacker and fullback. Bill continued his football career at Cabrillo College in Aptos as a linebacker and graduated from California State University, Sacramento. Coach Hansen is in his seventh year as a coach at Acalanes with the previous five as defensive coordinator at at the freshman level. This is his second season as the freshman head coach.

Oldie, but goodie…Coach Hansen back in the day in
with football legends, Robert Newhouse Joe Theisman.

Coach Hansen and the Frosh Coaching Staff want to share this message to the Dons Football community:

With or without a season – this team is a WINNER!!!

We miss you!!  We hope that we can all be together as a team, a family and a community soon!  The boys are working so hard, with possibly no end in sight. We all know that’s difficult and each and every one of them has stepped up.  They’ve made all of the coaches so proud. 
My coaches and I would like to let each and every parent (especially the Moms) know how much we all appreciate the trust you’ve put in us in these uncertain times. Football is a tough game, but this year has been unique to say the least and we know how scary this can be and letting us coach your boys for a few hours a week has been a real honor. 

JV FOOTBALL: Never Underestimate the Power of Coach Young

JV FOOTBALL: Never Underestimate the Power of Coach Young

Before games, in the stretching line, Coach Young would walk down and hug every single player telling them that they would do great and that he loved them. This would really make a connection between the player and Coach Young. Players know Coach Young was going out of his way to let us know he believed in us: #4 Evan Malmquist, Running Back/Line Backer

Covid can not stop the JV Football Dons, especially not with Greg Young leading this crew. In late August, Coach Young was asked about covid and football:   I believe they’ll never take their high school sport or high school for granted. Our J.V. team is really working hard and driven to improve and succeed.  In small part it’s maturity, just due to this time in their lives.  In my heart, I think the maturity comes from the fact that they’ve lost so much, over the last six months, they’ll never take anything for granted. For most of them, they’ve lost one-fourth of their sports careers. Going forward, they’ll work hard not only for themselves, but for each other. 

This is what undefeated looks like-Acalanes JV Football 2019

Last year’s JV went undefeated with a total of 343 Acalanes points (this is not a typo, 343 is the correct total) and 18 (this is not a typo, only 18 that’s it!) points for their opponents. Out of nine games, seven were shutouts under the leadership of Coach Young. Coach Young carries more than just a clipboard with him on the field. He carries an abundant amount of passion for his Dons. Just ask powerhouse Anthony Ortale, offensive tackle and defensive lineman, who was part of the 2019 undefeated team about Coach Young: I believe Coach Young goes above and beyond with us. He reaches out, ensures all of us that we are enjoying the sport while making sure we are passionate and working to the best of our ability. My favorite coaching quality is how much he cares. There are coaches that coach football, but Coach Young coaches football while caring for us and having passion while coaching us.

The Acalanes 2019 JV Football team, under the guidance of head coach Greg Young and coaching staff, finished off their season with a perfect 9-0 record this season. Many of these young men have been playing sports together since they were 7 or 8 years old, and have developed such a wonderful bond, and level of camaraderie, that would be tough to match on any team. Coach Young and the JV coaching staff has helped direct that bond to the level it is now. 

From top to bottom, Coach Burnsed has put together a rock solid staff on all three Dons football teams (Varsity, JV and Freshman). Regarding the J.V. staff with Coach Young gives praises to Randy Henderson, who has been on the Dons football coach squad for five years. Coach Young shares: Randy is not much of a self-promotor, he’s kind, smart, and I believe the most underrated coach on the staff. He has a keen and focused offensive mind, and should be a head coach! Coach Young and Coach Bill Fraser have known each other for nearly twenty years, and this is their fifth year coaching together. On the field, last year was Coach Fraser ’s first experience as the Defensive coordinator. In nine games, The Dons gave up gave up 18 points, including seven shut-outs. In five games, the Dons did not give up one point in league! Off the football field, Coach Fraser is a contributor to the Lamorinda community. Coach Fraser was a MOL football organizer and leader for years, and is now head coach of Dons Ladies Lacrosse.

“Coach Young and all the coaches are making it happen for Dons during this difficult time. We want our kids in school, Dons back on the football field, fans in stands, but for now I am so grateful for being together, working hard and being happy, that is important to all of us” said a JV football parent with a big smile under her mask.

Even though the Dons have not practiced together as a whole, Coach Young can see the big picture:  We’ve set a goal to be undefeated, perfect, and I believe this team loves the game of football, and each other so much, that they’ll compete to a level, they never would have achieved, if not there had been no pandemic.

You want your son to be coached by this man because your son will learn more about life from the inspiration of Coach Young.  Here is how Coach Young explains it in one word: Competitiveness.  Make no mistake, football is a war. Every play is a battle, and you are a warrior out there. In 10,000 years of genetic human history, villages were made up of hunters & gatherers. The best hunters are the Warriors. They represented the village, something battling for their freedoms, if not their lives. Football players are modern day warriors, representing Acalanes and  Lafayette. They may not be fighting for freedom, but they are fighting for respect, confidence and self-esteem, for themselves and their team.    In order to succeed in this arena, you better hate to lose. If you do lose, pick yourself up, and battle again. It truly is a microcosm of life, and a tremendous life lesson.    If you’re not competitive, or accept losing, you’re in the wrong sport! describes Coach Young.

Maybe the 2020 JV Dons have not put on their pads and their uniforms are not dirty yet…touchdown high fives and knocking down opponents are on hold for the moment. But for now, Coach Young and the JV staff are still making a difference for our Dons… Never underestimate Coach Young and his JV Football Dons!

Varsity Coach Burnsed: The Football Legend

Varsity Coach Burnsed: The Football Legend

In 2017 when Coach Burnsed joined the Dons family, AHS quarterback Robby Rowell (now a quarterback for the California Bears) stated, “Coach Burnsed is a legend around Lamorinda”.

When you have over 40 years of coaching football, you have a coach with knowledge, a level-headed approach and experience. Our Acalanes varsity coach has all that and more. Throw in other adjectives like passionate, focused, positive, friendly, approachable and cooler than ‘Joe Cool’ that is Floyd Burnsed.

There are many qualities that encapsulate Coach Burnsed, he is a calm but inspiring leader who can help us keep our heads straight in a crazy game, and focus on the task at hand, #14 Graham Oh, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Running Back & Middle Linebacker

Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. Graham Oh has that figured out, as he takes down a Vintage Crusher.

A long-time Vallejo resident and football coach, Burnsed established himself as one of the top high school coaches in the nation by compiling a 154-62-2 record while winning 10 league championships and four North Coast Section championships. Burnsed was named Contra Costa County “Coach of the Year” three times, 1983 Champion “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 1996 “Coach of the Year”, the San Francisco 49ers 2019 “Coach of the Week”, and the North Coast Section “Coach of the Year” in 2000. He was inducted into the Miramonte Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

Absolutely-A LEGEND!

Last year in 2019, SF 49ers PREP selects Floyd Burnsed of Acalanes High School as the  Coach of the Week 

When the Friday Night Lights illuminate across 94549, everyone convenes at Acalanes for the event of the week, Varsity football! Burnsed and his Dons pour it all out on the field in an effort to prevail.  Don fans pack the stands to support and cheer on student-athletes. There’s a genuine love and desire to see the team and players do well.

 I knew Coach Burnsed believed in me when I got my first start of the season, #8 Brady Huchingson, 2019 & 2020 Quarterback

Acalanes hasn’t missed a beat with (then junior), now senior Brady Huchingson at quarterback in the 2019 season. After last year’s standout quarterback Nick Kresnak, a University of Washington baseball commit, opted not to return for his senior season, the Dons turned to Huchingson. He proved to be a quick study, having completed 67.3 percent of his passes this season while mastering the position.

Acalanes football has always been about building a solid foundation for a young person’s life, based on principles and experiences that can only be taught through the game. It’s about cultivating genuine relationships between players, coaches and a community of fans and that is what Coach Burnsed does so very well.

There’s nothing like Acalanes football!

DONS FOOTBALL FANS ARE A BIG PART OF THE FOOTBALL FAMILY!  

But this year as covid dominates our lives, classrooms are quiet, hallways vacant, our football bleachers sit empty and the excitement of Fright Night Lights is put on hold as our community misses the blue magic on our football field. We asked Coach Burnsed what did you do last Friday night? I was watching two high school football games on ESPN, wishing that our players could’ve experienced the same thing. Yet, the covid pandemic  does not stop Burnsed’s  coaching or developing his Dons.  The pandemic  has taught Burnsed how important it is to have a strong, efficient varsity coaching staff:  We are in groups of 12 players and coaches have to stay with one group. It has been great to have a staff that is willing to put in the time to ensure our players have a great experience. I’ve also learned that we have to be able to cope, and live with, things that are beyond our control.

WE ARE PROUD OF OUR VARSITY-2019 DAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!

YOU BETTER ‘BLUE’IEVE IT! 
   
ACALANES FOOTBALL HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT BUILDING A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR A YOUNG PERSON’S LIFE,   BASED ON PRINCIPLES  AND  EXPERIENCES THAT CAN ONLY BE TAUGHT THROUGH THE GAME. IT’S ABOUT CULTIVATING GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN PLAYERS, COACHES AND A COMMUNITY OF FANS. 
THANK YOU COACH BURNSED!

Our first Dons football game is four months away. The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for high school athletics in the state, announced  in July a modified schedule for its sports due to the covid pandemic.  Coach Burnsed has taken advantage of this situation for better coaching with his staff, Burnsed shares, fortunately football is a sport in which a great deal of practice is spent in position groups.  We are able to really teach a lot of technique to each position. I think each player has benefited greatly from the practices and has been a great release for them with everything going on.

Coach Burnsed  goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the Dons  are prepared for Friday nights, with countless hours of film study and schematics instruction to simulate real-time game situations. Game knowledge and skills development is one of the essential parts of the game. Though the understanding of the game and expertise can be gathered through playing and observing skills developed through perseverance and arduous practice, and then Burnsed puts it all out on the field. What is happening in Burnsed’s head before the kick off?  I am thinking about the game plan, trying to anticipate how the game will unfold.  Our opening plays are scripted so I replay those in my mind a few times. The Dons might be on the field  for two hours every Friday night, but Burnsed is working with an around-the-clock effort.

My favorite Burnsed quote is “Hurry Hurry Hurry!” #5 Niko Cortessis, 2019 & 2020 Varsity Wide Receiver & Linebacker

Football is a highly competitive sport that requires a lot of physical and mental endurance. Niko Cortessis develops skills on and off the field with a competitive mindset. He is anxious to start the 2020-21 football season!

Many coaches serve as educators, mentors and more importantly, positive influences on many players, this is one of the strong attributes to Coach Burnsed. His vision in leading the program is to prepare athletes for the field, in the classroom, and as young adults. High school and football not only serve as learning experiences and opportunities to improve, they should also create enjoyable and memorable moments for each athlete. Coach Burnsed is proud of each young man who plays for the Dons. When asked what makes a great football player Burnsed replied, First of all, a good football player has to be coachable, believe in the system and care about his teammates.  After that, we look for dedication to the sport, athletic ability and his work ethic to become a better athlete.

Beat Campo Video: Acalanes took charge in every quarter of this game in 2019. Cougars struggled to catch the Dons, but could not. Don’s victory over the Cougars, 17- 7. Pregame planning shared by a Varsity player: My favorite pregame ritual that Coach Burnsed did for us is when he put together the video before our Campo game with a combination of graduated seniors and famous pro football players, motivating us to Beat Campo!

It’s a GREAT Day to be a DON!

ACALANES SUMMER TENNIS CLINICS IN FULL SWING

HAPPY CAMPER ON THE COURTS!

Our well regarded Girls and Boys tennis team Coach Drew has been busy on the courts helping students improve their tennis game. The clinics provide a small group setting to get lots of coaching attention for technical stroke work, point playing tactics and lots of muscle memory drill work to fine tune your game. Contact him to inquire about availability to join in on the socially distanced fun for the next series of camp clinics.

The 3 Week Camp
Dates: July 6th – July 24th, Monday to Friday
Time: Now 1pm-4pm 
Max Participants: 12

The 2 Week Camp
Dates: July 27th – August 7th, Monday to Friday
Time: 9am-12pm
Max Participants: 12  

tenniscoachdrew@gmail.com

Tentative Girls Varsity & JV Team tryouts are August 11-13th. Email Drew to join a mailing list distribution of important information.

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!

Dons Football is Back: Bigger, Better and 100% Won-DON-derful!

HELLO SUMMER FOOTBALL!

What a year it’s been. Surely not one that any of us had planned for or expected. As we slowly move towards reopening and getting back to some sort of new normal, it’s important to focus as much as possible on positive experiences for our young men.

The Acalanes coaches, Andy (Touchdown Club) and Jane (Sports Booster) have said, Acalanes has a long history of football excellence. This is not only reflected in the win/loss column, but more importantly in the way it has molded the incredible players who have come through the program over the years.

The truth is, there really is nothing like the camaraderie and brotherhood of football. Other sports try to replicate it, but there is nothing like suiting up on Friday night and going to battle with your brothers while your friends and family cheer you on. Football is an intense sport that requires dedication, toughness and most importantly teamwork. Every single player plays a critical role in the success of the team, from the first summer workout through the last game of the year.

So let’s be thankful for the opportunity that we may have taken for granted before, with the start of summer practice this week, and truly appreciate the joy it provides our boys during this time of uncertainty. As Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights said many times, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”.  Are you ready? Are you psyched? Then GO DONS!

Jeff Julian, Proud Acalanes Football Parent

Congrats to Our Seniors: It’s Kick Off Time!

Congrats to Our Seniors: It’s Kick Off Time!

Are You Ready For Some Football Graduation?  

We know you are Football Seniors! You leave your mark as  2019 DAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS on the Acalanes Field Forever!

It is time for you to tackle new goals, new dreams and new victories!

Dear Seniors, You are in the process of finishing a course you began years ago when your parents enrolled you in kindergarten to begin your educational journey.  Your journey has included growth in many areas.  The academic challenges met, the social skills developed, and the physical growth seen, are all a part of the bigger picture of the educational process.

TOMMY THRASHER
WILL CONDY
RYAN REILLY
LUCAS EPPINGER
MATT HESS
ROBERT MONTOYA
EDDIE GRAY

You participated in Acalanes football  for a variety of reasons.  You may have loved the challenge.  It could be you liked the camaraderie of being on a champion team.  Perhaps you were highly skilled and received a lot of recognition for your efforts.  Maybe being on a team was just fun and thrilling, but whatever the case, you participated and were subject to learning all of the discipline and principles that being involved in football teaches. Football is more than just a game; it teaches lessons that the players carry with them long after they’ve hung up their cleats. Teamwork, discipline, perseverance, goal-setting, time management, selflessness, motivation, handling success and moving on from failure top the long list of lessons. Acalanes football also gives each athlete special memories, lifelong friends and coaches who truly care about each one of you.

JAKE DELANEY
NICK PEARSON
TAYLOR CLARK
LUKE MILES and JACK MILES
MATT MONTAQUILA
TEO BARAKOS
CARSON GRAGG
JACK GILBERT

As a graduating senior athlete, you have been challenged to set your goals high, stretch yourself, and to be industrious in all that you do.  You have also been taught that football  is a preparation for life and what you learn from being on a team is a microcosm of life.  The things your coaches taught you about life are about to begin making sense.  You will soon see what they meant, and you will be grateful.

JOHN KALIL
NICK GIORGIANNI
JACK MUREN
MICHAEL ROUX
MIKEY O’DONNELL
MAX ANDERSON
CARSON BURRILL

Acalanes football has  played an important role in your educational process. Coaches, teachers, and parents have finished their task of training you.  Take what you have learned from all of them and make a smooth transition into “the rest of your life”.  We wish you the best! Your football family will be cheering for you!

-Dons Love from Your Acalanes Football Family

Once a Don, Always a Don!


Good Luck Dons of 2020!

Rolling out the ‘Blue’ Carpet to Welcome the 2020 Frosh Football Dons to AHS!

Rolling out the ‘Blue’ Carpet to Welcome the 2020 Frosh Football Dons to AHS!

Question: Do you know what the worst part of football is? Answer: When the season ends!

Freshman Brothers 2019

Welcome to Acalanes Football! I am Jane, your Football Booster Rep for Acalanes Sports Boosters and a proud Football parent! And if your son is kicking off with Acalanes Football as a freshman…HE IS GOING TO LOVE IT !

HEY-HEY-HABAS! Andrew Habas -2019 Coach’s Player Award winner

Freshman football and high school athletics, in general, are a huge benefit to anyone willing to give them a try. Football creates a special bond. This is because it’s a sport where you cannot hide. You might be doing great until a play knocks you down. As a football player, you don’t get up alone you have your team with you.  They know what it feels like to get knocked down, because it has happened to them.  This mutual understanding builds a bond like no other.  This bond leads to accountability to each other as a team.

Football is the ultimate team sport. To win, you need all the parts and pieces to work together. There is definitely no I in team. Every single position in football is important. Every single one, from the center, to the kicker, to the offensive line. If the ball is not snapped correctly, the quarterback will not get it. If the offensive line doesn’t hold its blocks, our quarterback will be sacked, which means he can’t hand the ball to the running back or pass it to the wide receiver for the touchdown. Eleven different people must be working toward a common goal, each doing their part to the best of their ability.

Together we fight! Together we win!

The one big benefit of playing freshman football is the friendships made in the summer before school even starts. Just a few weeks with your new teammates will cement friendships that will make that first day of walking on campus even better than it would be otherwise. All incoming freshmen are nervous and unsure of themselves, but football kids have an extra 40+ friends from the team walking onto the AHS campus with them.

 
 AHS VARSITY TEAM:
The 2019 Diablo Athletic League Co-Champions

Question: Are You a Mom That is Worried About Your Son Playing Frosh Football? Answer: No need for that! You are in great hands with a stellar coaching staff!

We are not ‘cougars’…WE ARE PROUD DON MOMS!

My oldest son was a freshman last year. When he expressed a desire to play football, absolutely I was a tad freaked out. But that did not last long. As a tackle football mom virgin, there was a great deal I didn’t know about the religion that is high school football. Floyd Burnsed is amazing football leader along with JV Coach Greg Young and Frosh Coach Bill Hansen. Safety and the well being of each player is the #1 concern for all the coaching staff at Acalanes. They spend countless months, days, and hours on the field and off, helping our children to become the best they can be. The coaching staff gives the teams direction and motivation to help them reach their goals. They have a plan, they are organized and they find a way to encourage the team to believe and work together. Fact: AHS Sport with my most concussions last year was NOT football. The bottom line is the benefits far outweigh the risks in football. Safety #1!

With Frosh Coach Bill Hansen and the coaching staff, your freshman son is in good hands! The boys on the Frosh team will be more than teammates. They will be brothers!  Games are exciting and the boys will grow right in front of their proud parents cheering them on in the stands. I have so many GREAT freshman football memories that still bring tears to my eyes. Here are my top 5:

1.The First Touchdown of the season! Boy! This is exhilarating for the players and the parents! Actually, I have two #1 favorites. Toby’s first touchdown too. Toby came to play in Game 4 of the season for his first game as a Don… First kick of the game is kicked directly to Toby and he scored a touchdown on the kick return within 5 seconds. Spectacular!

2. When the Frosh team wears their pads for the first time. It’s a big! It’s cool! They are so proud to be a Don and wear that uniform with the pads! Every Dons football player is proud to wear blue!

3. That single moment you watch your son make his first tackle or sack the QB or an interception or score a DONS TD . The announcer says your kid’s name on the sound system for all to hear…then your son turns to the stands with his smiling eyes, they meet your eyes from up in the stands. Chills! Every Dons football parent is proud to wear blue!

4. Hard-working boys. Come August…they have learned that if you want something in life, you have to work hard to get it. Wins don’t come easy. You have to shed sweat and tears. (Oh yeah moms- get ready because hard work smells, your son and his uniform!)

5. The parents. Cheering and screaming for every Don the field! It is a special group and a great way to start the school year. When the season is over, it is seriously a downer to not be with your football family.

Any questions about Sports Boosters, please give me a call 760 777-3430 or email me jes_iws@yahoo.com, GO DONS!

Jane E. Smith – PROUD DON MOM & Parent Football Rep 2020-21

Learn more about Acalanes Football and the Touchdown Club on the link below

https://www.acalanesdonsfootball.com/teams/?u=ACALANESFOOTBALL&s=football

Welcome to the Family!

Cross Country Team Shines at NCS … on to State!

Cross Country Team Shines at NCS … on to State!

The Varsity Cross Country team had a great showing at the North Coast Section (NCS) Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 23rd.

The boys team took 2nd place and are heading to State on November 30th. Nicole Frigon was a state qualifier as well! Outstanding effort by all – congratulations!!

Perfect. Lady Dons Win State, Finish 27-0

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.

Lady Dons Polo Advance to D1 State Championship

Lady Dons Polo Advance to D1 State Championship

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.