Sprint control isn’t an attractive aspect of water polo, but it’s a fundamental, and there’s a reason coaches always preach fundamentals. Because they can burn you.
Ryan Fowlar was six-for-six on sprints going into the golden goal over time on Wednesday against Bishop O’Dowd, but one member of the Bulldog line left the block early.
Junior Joey Isola fired his shot in from 10 meters away only 16 seconds into the third overtime period to send Alhambra home in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs in the first round.
The Bulldogs haven’t been dumped from the playoffs in the first round since 2008, when there was only one division of NCS water polo.In many ways this was one of the Bulldogs’ finest performances of the season. Despite getting into foul trouble early on, senior Bailey Abbott led the Bulldogs in scoring with five goals in his last appearance with the number seven cap.
He and junior Luke Brown tied for the team lead.
Sophomore Dylan Hammond scored twice in the overtime period, and more importantly, played solid defense throughout. Hammond had five steals in his best game of the season, but also got a key block to allow Alhambra to have a shot to get the win.
What came back to bite them? Their inability to convert with a man up. Twice they came agonizingly close only to be turned away by the cross bar.
Senior captain Nick Lucido hit the post at the end of regulation, and with a chance to cap his solid performance, so did Hammond.
Hammond’s effort would have changed the lead for the eighth and final time of the match. Only 13 seconds remained on the clock at that point, but it just wouldn’t go down for the Bulldog boys.
Garran Blach’s squad started off solid enough, and after overturning early leads, spectators would’ve expected one team to pull away from the other. The chess match continued as the two coaches attempted to remove the team’s strongest players.
Abbott did his best to draw Tyler Labeau of O’Dowd away from the action after the senior drilled his eighth goal of the evening, but the Dragons got goals from the wing in the form of junior Spencer Steidtmann.
Steidtmann scored twice in the overtime period to cancel out efforts from Hammond and Brown.
When it all came down to it, the fundamentals killed Alhambra. Fowlar was perfect up to that point. The Alhambra record holder for the swim team’s value to the team was clear before the golden goal overtime. All his teammates patted him on the back, letting them know they backed him.
In the end, he never got the chance, and neither did the Bulldogs before they were picking the ball out of the back of the net and swimming away from the center of the pool. There was a scrum of Dragons arriving to celebrate their advancement into the next round of the playoffs.
Alhambra finishes their season at 12-11, with a 1-4 record in Diablo Foothill Athletic League play.