It took the Alhambra Bulldogs Water Polo team 21 minutes and 32 seconds to get ahead of the Bishop O’ Dowd Dragons on Wednesday night, Sept. 2.
But after more than three periods of playing from behind (including a 4-0 deficit) the Bulldogs went ahead, and did so for good, ultimately winning by a score of 11-10.
In Coach Garren Blach’s debut with the Bulldogs, his team immediately fell behind the reigning West Alameda County Conference champions. Before the first period had ended, junior duo Spencer Steidtmann and Joseph Isola had gotten past Adam Pakman.
In that time not only did the Bulldogs not score, but they didn’t have a sniff on frame.
Nick Lucido did have a shot saved off the post on the Bulldogs’ second possession of the game, but the offense looked out of sync.
Desperate to right the ship, Alhambra put together a dominating period before the half, scoring four goals while only allowing one to level things at five during the intermission.
Tony Moore and Dylan Hammond opened the scoring for Alhambra, with Moore’s goal coming with a man advantage for the Dogs. Hammond’s finesse finish was the first of his three goals on the day.
Senior team captain Bailey Abbott scored twice before the half, the second of which came with only 12.5 seconds on the clock. Abbott’s second goal rocked the top corner and put the momentum in Alhambra’s favor for the first time all match.
O’Dowd benefitted from the rest period and retook the lead twice, once after a Lucido goal that came from a crafty steal by Hammond, and then again seconds after Luke Brown opened his account for the season with a pump of his fist to level the affair at seven goals apiece.
Lucido dished off to Abbott as the two closed in on goal to tie it up once more before the start of the final period.
Alhambra took on the role of aggressor in the final period, forcing the Dragons to play from behind.
Any time the Bulldogs scored, the Dragons would find a way to stay close.
With 5:37 on the clock, Isola scored on a skimming shot from the left wing, but his goal was answered by a stunning lob shot by Hammond.
The crowd let out its cry of appreciation, only for junior Zach Boitano of Bishop O’Dowd to top his goal by lobbing Pakman from even further out with a similar shot.
With 3:51 Lucido scored his second goal of the match, but it was Abbott who did the work to make Lucido’s finish easy. The senior captain’s linked up after Abbott made a nice move to protect the ball from the defender, swerve around him and show unselfishness to allow his teammate to score.
After rapid fire scoring, it seemed impossible that the game would end at 11-10, but Alhambra went into their time management set up and went home with the win.
The Bulldogs will take on the Tamalpais Red-Tailed Hawks on Sept. 9. The two teams met in the North Coast Section playoffs last season when the Bulldogs beat the Hawks 12-5.