By GERARDO RECINOS
Revenge was on the brain when the Alhambra Bulldogs welcomed the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons to Alhambra on Sept. 6, but unlike last season’s opener and too similar to last season’s playoff exit, it was no fun for the Dogs.
Alhambra opened up their season with a tough 15-12 loss to the surprise North Coast Section semifinalists from last year. The Dragons dumped out the Bulldogs and No. 1 seed Redwood before being ousted by eventual champion Northgate last season.
In last season’s playoff match the two teams played at a blistering pace, with little care to defensive work, and a lot of goals scored.
There wasn’t much of a difference in the 27-goal home opener. The first quarter alone saw each time score twice, but at that point it was the Dragons who were playing catch up, as Luke Brown, Nico Taliaferro and Tony Moore each hit the back of the net.
In the second quarter the Dragons took up the spot as the aggressors and took a lead behind some great shooting from Christopher Wong, who bagged a couple of goals in the dying minutes of the half. His goals canceled out efforts by Brown and Dylan Hammond.
In the second half the goal-scoring pace picked up as the teams started to get a little gassed from their defensive efforts.
But it was Bishop O’Dowd that continued to hold onto their lead as the half got going.
Alhambra was not out of contention, but every time Alhambra could mount a comeback the Dragons would answer back with a goal of their own. Hammond opened the half with a great goal long range before dropping a dime to Brown for his third goal of the night.
But O’Dowd continued to counter to keep things at a three-goal deficit.
Moore scored to make it 10-9 following a scramble in front of goal which resulted in Brown’s fourth goal of the evening.
But Wong again added to the lead by scoring on a counter attack.
At this point Hammond and Wong were putting on a clinic. Both players scored or facilitated their teams offense and made it look easy.
But even despite the run of momentum from the Bulldogs, O’Dowd kept up the scoring pace until they finally pulled away.
Senior Tyler LeBoa scored in hole, set off a nice pass from junior Ryan Joseph, and then scored again from the very next possession by lobbing Alhambra keeper Adam Pakman from long range.
LeBoa again scored to put O’Dowd up 14-10, so that a brilliant team goal that went from Hammond to Donovan Ballot to Taliaferro was nothing more than a consolation on a night where the Bulldogs would fall just short.
Bishop O’Dowd punched one more in for good measure after Moore scored his third of the night for the Dogs, so that when the buzzer sounded the Dragons were the ones who found revenge for the opening day defeat from last season, and not the Bulldogs for the playoff loss of a year ago.