By GERARDO RECINOS
Three years running, now this heated rivalry has gone into an overtime period, but this time it wasn’t the Bulldogs who came out on top. For the first time in recent memory it was College Park’s water polo team who went home happy.
Tuesday’s 12-11 loss to the Falcons was the most exciting installment of the rivalry. The game saw a coach and player ejected from either team (College Park coach and Alhambra player), two late penalty calls, and a golden goal put away nearly an hour and a half after the start of the game.
While the Bulldogs have won enough already to clinch a North Coast Section berth, they will have lost something equally important to their players – bragging rights over their rivals.
Most of these kids have played together before, and after the match you can see the blue and gold standing beside the purple, but that doesn’t take away from the intensity inside the pool.
There were five lead changes in 35 minutes and 35 seconds of game time, and the biggest lead was only a two-goal cushion; hardly a one-sided match.
Senior captain Bailey Abbott started off hot with a three-goal first half in what started as a defensive struggle between the two teams. His five goals were a game high, which outlined his importance to the team when he was ejected for dissent at the end of the first overtime period.
With Abbott in the pool, Alhambra nearly coughed up a late opportunity to the Falcons. Despite having conceded with 17 seconds left on the clock, Alhambra was in the drivers seat, and had one last possession to steal a win.
The drawn up play coming from a timeout failed immediately. Alhambra had the ball stolen from them, but late heroics by goalkeeper Adam Pakman let Alhambra off the hook.
Sophomore Coleman Carpenter fired wide thanks to Pakman’s presence of mind to rush the shooter and close off any angle he had on goal.
Alhambra, buoyed by the efforts of their goalkeeper, started the overtime period hot. A great steal and goal by Tony Moore had Alhambra up by one, and then Nick Lucido’s second goal of the day put them up by two with 4 seconds in the first overtime period.
Lucido did well to put away a ball that skidded across the front of goal and nod it home from close range on a pass from fellow captain, Abbott.
Things got hairy for Alhambra in the second overtime period. Senior Cole Hustlar’s two goals in the second overtime period gave College Park new life.
Hustlar put away the two penalties – dubious ones to the Alhambra supporters and players, and we had sudden death polo.
In the sudden death situation, both teams had two possessions to snatch away victory from their opponents. Ryan Mates nearly put Alhambra ahead for good, but was unable to sort out his shot from close range due to the College Park defenders.
Instead it was once again Hustlar putting away his third goal of the match, and third goal of the overtime periods, much to the glee of the College Park contingent, who were celebrating a win over Alhambra for the first time in a long time.