In 2015, the Aragon girls lacrosse team finished the regular season winless in only its second year as a team. Two years later, the Lady Dons lost only three games during the season, finishing 15-3 overall, including going 10-2 in the West Bay Athletic League.
“Our first season was not so great, all of us didn’t know how to play,” says junior defender Andrea Ng. “But, last season, we improved a lot and we worked on a lot of skills and techniques, because I guessed it solidified the foundation of our stick skills and techniques, and this year a lot of us have been putting it to use. A lot of us have done camps over the summer and practice together as a team and we learned to work well with each other and that is how we got better as a team.”
The Dons lost many seniors from last year’s team. Heading into this season, they did not know what to expect.
“Last year, we had a really solid season and then lost eight seniors,” says senior defender Elaine Mangini. “We were like, how can we recover from that? … We’re lucky to be in the middle, but [getting] second place is so great.”
The team is unique, as, unlike many of their opponents, they have a deep roster filled with multiple players who have experience playing at each position: attack, midfield, defense and goalkeeper.
“Some teams that we have played have one player that just scores all of the goals and everyone else is kind of there,” says junior midfielder Emma Clarke. “But for us, some games we have nine to 10 girls that get on the scoresheet.”
In addition, Ng and Clarke were both selected for the Northern California National Girls Lacrosse team. During Memorial Day Weekend, they will be traveling to Yale University to compete in a national tournament with teams from across the nation.
But despite their success, the Lady Dons cannot qualify for CCS playoffs. This is due to their participation in a non-CCS supported league.
“CCS does not apply to us because we are in a league called the WBAL, the West Bay Athletic League,” says Coach Kalyn Olsen. “It is composed of 10 teams, and eight teams advance into the playoffs.”
However, this did not prevent the team from achieving postseason success. Ranked as the West Bay Athletic League tournament’s No. 2 seed, the Lady Dons took down Carlmont 12-7 in the first round of the tournament on May 9, and defeated Sequoia 7-6 on May 11 to advance to the WBAL championship game against Burlingame. Unfortunately, the red and black fell short of a title, falling to the Panthers 12-2.
Despite the loss, Olson is able to appreciate the positives that came from the season: “I am so proud of this team,” she explains. “We just talked about the 18 games that they have played this season and how hard they have worked and come from.”
The Panthers dominated Aragon throughout the game, controlling most of the possession and not giving the Dons many chances to score.
“They won a lot of the draw-control battles today,” says Olson. “That is something we will continue to work on and continue to improve.”
The Lady Panthers netted eight unanswered goals in the first half before the Lady Dons were finally able to score.
Because of the few opportunities they were able to muster, Aragon was only able to score two goals. The first came from sophomore attack and midfielder Hannah Flynn with 14.4 seconds left in the first half, and the second came from senior attack Nicoletta Della Bordella — the final goal in her lacrosse career.
“It was a little bit outside of the eight-meter [arc] and I looked at the top right corner and said that ‘this was my goal, my last goal,’ and then I made it,” says Della Bordella.
In addition to Della Bordella, Saturday’s game marked the final contest for three other seniors on the team: Mangini, midfielder Julianna Glafkides and attack and midfielder Suzie Lee. This is the last class containing players who were a part of Aragon’s first girls lacrosse team, from the spring of 2014.
“I am very sad,” says Mangini. “[However,] I think that [the team is] in good hands. Last year, we had a really solid season and then lost eight seniors … [so finishing in] second place to a team that should be in the [higher] league is so great.”
With a strong class of returning players for next year and beyond, now with postseason experience, the team looks to be headed in the right direction, and spirits remain high within the program.
“We’re excited for [what] we can do next year,” concludes Olson. “There is still so much to do to improve Aragon lacrosse.”