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 November.