By GERARDO RECINOS
Alhambra’s varsity girls water polo team took one step closer to the playoffs with their win over the Pinole Valley Titans on Thursday afternoon.
The girls, who have three games left on their season (as of Tribune deadline) needed a win badly, and took care of business in a big way, winning 17-3 on Oct. 20.
Reichert mixed up his usual starting lineup to give some of his players off the bench a chance to start and get more time in the pool than normal.
Nine different players scored a goal in the match, with three players having three-goal efforts, Daria Dragicevic, Amanda Beatie and Kaylee Pond.
Pond got the goal-scoring started, finding the back of the net less than a minute into the match.
Alhambra scored quickly but wasn’t supremely accurate with the way the moved the ball around to start off the match. Twice they turned the ball over in scoring positions.
But they eventually settled in and put up a round number in the opening quarter of play.
Julia Brown set up Harmony Soffer with 2:33 after a long layoff between the first goal, but then it was on. Pond assisted a goal for senior Kelsey Ferguson, and was returned the favor for her own goal by Kristen Van Til.
Van Til scored under the one-minute mark, and then Soffer did so as well with 12 seconds on the clock to complete a six-goal outburst in the first quarter.
With the regulars coming back into the pool in the second quarter, Pinole was reeling and endured another scoring burst. But like the first group, the regular starters didn’t score right away. They played a few poor passes into good spaces but were unlucky to not connect.
Dragicevic assisted Beatie for her first goal on the day, flipping a pass into her path on a two-on-one advantage. Sarah Exner followed with her first goal on the day on there very next possession.
A goal from a kick out drawn by Dragicevic, and a solo effort on the very next possession by the senior captain close out the half, with Alhambra up 10-0.
In the third quarter the two teams actually matched each others’ efforts. Both teams scored three goals apiece. Alhambra’s goals came from Sophia Johnson, Pond and Val Til. The latter scored a long-range goal from nearly half a pool length.
In the fourth quarter it was all Alhambra. Dragicevic assisted three goals, two to Beatie, and one to Katie Christman, who is returning from a shoulder injury on her non-throwing side.
The win puts the Bulldogs in a good place to get a playoff seed that could see them return to the North Coast Section after last year’s absence, the first in a long time for the program.