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Alhambra draws on the road to Berean

Alhambra senior winger Marlon Boulongui takes a touch past his defender into the box in the Bulldogs’ 1-1 draw with the Berean Christian Eagles on the road in Walnut Creek, California, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2015. The game was Alhambra’s season opener after two scrimmages. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra senior winger Marlon Boulongui takes a touch past his defender into the box in the Bulldogs’ 1-1 draw with the Berean Christian Eagles on the road in Walnut Creek, California, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2015. The game was Alhambra’s season opener after two scrimmages. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)

By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

Tuesday afternoon’s varsity boys soccer opener was a tale of two halves. It included a dominant but wasteful first half, two second-half goals, four yellow cards and one red card.

All that mayhem aside, Rory Gentry’s boys will have walked off the field kicking themselves for the chances they wasted when a 55th minute Berean goal from a corner kick canceled out senior Raul Mosqueda’s smash into the roof of the net.

Mosqueda’s goal came at a time when Alhambra looked its shakiest, which can only bode well for the team’s dynamic, considering last year’s campaign.

After starting the match with 25 minutes of dominant midfield play, Alhambra let off, surprisingly after the introduction of their captain, senior Blake Johnson.

Johnson, a three-year varsity starter, was marked closely by the Berean Eagles, so that when it came time to play the pivot role and turn attack into defense and vice versa, that role fell to sophomore Nick Silva.

Silva did well to control part of the midfield, and his calm presence allowed wide players Jack Fuller and Marlon Boulingui free space to roam and express themselves.

Fuller found himself in acres of space in the 27th minute, and after beating a man in the box, fired a cross that found freshman Reagan Cole in the box. Cole, however, couldn’t sort his feet out and popped his shot above the bar.

That let-off led the more than 10 minutes of play where Alhambra was pinned back into their defensive third, unable to clear their lines.

Sophomore fullback Hunter Bradford did a good job shouldering off Berean freshman Damon Amerine after the Eagles’ forward danced his way into the box.

They were then let off the hook when senior goalkeeper Jose Diaz produced a near post save in the 37th minute.

Alhambra weathered the storm and made it to the half knotted in a scoreless draw, and were rewarded only three minutes into the second half with a goal for their defensive resolve.

Mosqueda’s goal, which came in the 43rd minute, was a poachers goal. But impressively, the move was started by the senior goalscorer as well. His outlet ball to the winger, Fuller, allowed the junior to take on his man and beat him for pace down the wing.

Fuller’s cross into the box was tipped by Berean keeper Duncan Morrison, but the keeper’s deflection wasn’t completely cleared, and allowed Mosqueda to pounce and smash his shot into the roof of the net for the match’s opening goal.

Although they wouldn’t have wanted to let off after the opening goal, Alhambra did seem to take their foot off the gas. Twice freshman Kevin Abranil had opportunities to level the score, but twice he failed to do so, wasting shots from point blank range and a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard box.

He was let off the hook when teammate Kaei Kamiya headed home a corner the Alhambra boys insisted should be negated for a foul on their keeper. Diaz was seemingly stopped mid jump as he rose to meet the ball, but the goal was allowed.

Fuller had the only other Alhambra opportunity of the afternoon, but while his headed effort from a corner had the direction, it lacked the pace needed to beat the keeper.

A strange set of events capped off the tumultuous affair, including a yellow for an Alhambra player who was thought to have taunted an opponent, and worse than that, a red card for the Berean goalkeeper who put his hands on Alhambra’s Timmy Catalan after the two exchanged words prior to the final whistle being blown.

The after match extra circulars aside, Alhambra’s 1-1 draw left them a 1-0-2 record so far this season.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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