By GERARDO RECINOS
Jack Fuller’s second half brace rescued a point for the Bulldog varsity soccer team when it looked like they were set for another defeat on Monday night against Alameda.
The junior wide man was keen to find the ball in the clash against the Hornets. He was a goal-line decision in the first half away from a hat trick, an unthinkable feat with Alhambra’s form this season.
After a dismal 2-0 first half performance, Alhambra came out as the aggressor in the second half. Alameda looked content to get behind the ball and protect their lead rather than go out and try to extend it – something that hurt them dearly in the long run.
“We adjusted to what we saw, we told them where the balls were going to drop, and that’s what started it,” said coach Rory Gentry.
After conceding first, Alhambra nearly evened things up twice. The first came on a darting run by senior Raul Mosqueda, who had a stellar performance, made intelligent runs, and showed off an excellent first touch.
The second came on Fuller’s headed effort. Robert Viano placed a dangerous cross at the back post and Fuller headed the ball into the ground intelligently to beat the keeper. He didn’t beat the crossbar however, and left the decision to the official.
The short-lived celebration from Fuller and his teammates was made even tougher to swallow when Alameda struck in first half injury time.
A rare mistake by senior captain Blake Johnson on a high-bouncing ball resulted in an Alameda goal.
Johnson is one of three Bulldogs playing with a knock, but he and the coaching staff rallied the team. Johnson, as well as midfielder Andrew Olvera, marshaled a more organized spine for the Bulldogs in the second half.
“These guys could’ve gotten really angry and laid down, but they didn’t,” Gentry said, adding that he was pleased with what he saw, and that getting something out of the result was good for the team.
Alhambra struck immediately at the start of the second half. A corner delivered by Mosqueda found the head of a free Fuller, who made good this time from close range to start up the Alhambra attack.
The Bulldogs went on the offensive right away to chase down the equalizer. Fullback Anthony Haefke made a nice overlapping run down the left side with Viano, but they couldn’t find a man in the box.
Only a minute later, Fuller once again beat his man for pace down the wing and fired a cross in to find Mosqueda, who headed past the keeper for the equalizer.
The Dogs were frenzied at that point, and Alameda nearly made them pay for it a few minutes later.
A brilliant double save from back up keeper Cesar Soria kept the Dogs in control momentarily, but they were undone in the 66th minute.
A mad scramble in front of goal had put a dagger into the hearts of the Bulldogs as Alameda slotted home from inside the 18-yard box.
Convinced they deserved something out of the match, Alhambra rallied and held excellent possession and pressed the Hornets inside their own half for the next five minutes.
They were rewarded.
Olvera intercepted a ball in midfield and played a slide rule pass first time to Fuller, whose touch took him past his defender and allowed him to shoot right between the goalkeeper’s legs for the equalizer.
“He’s really coming into his own,” Gentry said of the junior Fuller.
He also made mention of one of his seniors, Mosqueda. He noted the movement off the ball was excellent, as was his work rate.
The loss snaps a poor run of form that saw Alhambra lose seven in a row, and also marks the first time in nearly a month that the Bulldogs were able to collect at least a point in the standings.