By GERARDO RECINOS
From the stands to the field, it was clear this season has long since been over for the Bulldogs. White flags being waved around the stands unintentionally declared that fact.
Alhambra’s 2-0 loss to the Acalanes Dons on Tuesday, Feb. 9, was the latest in a difficult Diablo Foothill Athletic League campaign that sees Alhambra off the bottom of the table only on goal differential.
Still, a sixth place finish in the final DFAL campaign for Rory Gentry’s men is an improvement from the last place finish in 2015.
“We’re a much better team than we were a season ago, and I have to thank the seniors for that, because they were the guys who said ‘keep going, keep going,’” said Gentry after the game.
The Bulldogs will be losing six seniors, including two of it’s captains, goalkeeper Jose Diaz, and midfielder Blake Johnson.
Diaz’ first half effort kept the Bulldogs from inflating their goal differential to larger proportion on Tuesday.
In the ninth minute of action he made a great kick save on a shot from Acalanes’ junior striker Gabe Singer.
Then he followed that effort by reading Singer’s penalty take. Unfortunately the Bulldogs could not clear their lines and the ball was lofted back in the box where senior midfielder Ian Franklin headed home.
The goal was coming. Acalanes was constantly pressuring the Bulldogs, who didn’t look all that organized in defense. Diaz had to produce a third save in the 21st minute when Franklin flicked on a throw in into the box.
“He played a real great game reading that PK,” Gentry said.
Alhambra’s efforts in the first half were lacking, but there was flashes of good soccer in some of their connecting passes. They by no means were frequent, but when they did happen, their forays into Acalanes territory looked positive.
Junior winger Jack Fuller slipped in fellow junior Oscar Dominguez in the 28th minute, but the defender’s touch let him down and Acalanes’ keeper cleared his lines.
Andrew Olvera and Dillon Lee (both juniors) made similar progress on their side of the pitch, but they too could not find the final ball in.
Alhambra looked baffled going into halftime, and could make no adjustments.
In the 48h minute, Acalanes capitalized from a free kick from about 35 yards out to grab a second goal.
Senior striker Sevak Jamkochian curled a ball into the 18-yard box which was centered by Franklin to Singer to return the favor from the first goal.
Singer’s goal made the uphill climb for Alhambra nearly impossible. But Gentry insists his group, the seniors especially, wouldn’t let that score line stand without a fight.
“The record may not show it but these guys never quit,” he said. “I’m more than pleased with that.”
He conceded that Acalanes were the better team on the night, but said with a smile, “it’s ok.”
“We’re still building, we’ve got some really great guys on the JV (junior varsity), and we have a solid nucleus of players, I think we’re going to be really strong next year.”
Alhambra’s last game of the season came against the Las Lomas Knights on Feb. 11, after Tribune deadline.