By GERARDO RECINOS
With the bittersweet mood hovering over the pool at Alhambra on Wednesday evening, it was uncertain what you would get out of the Alhambra girls.
On the one hand, they knew they had taken care of what they needed to get into the playoffs. But on a heavier note, they knew the game was coach Frank Reichert’s final at the helm of the program.
Fans, alumni, and parents who showed up got a bit of both in the 9-6 loss to Clayton Valley on Oct. 26. Only minutes after Reichert delivered his famous “facts” about each player senior day tradition, the Dogs found themselves down 5-0.
Clayton Valley came out hungry on offense, but their defensive work was most impressive. It looked as if the Eagles had done their homework and did everything in their power to stop Daria Dragicevic, the team’s main shooting threat.
The senior was working in hole set against Haley Darr, who gave her a battle. The two could be seen battling for position on nearly every Alhambra possession, and when they Bulldogs did try and get the ball to Dragicevic, three Clayton Valley players collapsed on her in a heartbeat.
They were going to make the other players beat them.
Right before the half, Katie Christman found Dragicevic in a good position to score, but even then only a lucky rebound off the keeper guided the shot in. At the half Reichert must’ve spun a serious team talk, because a different looking team came out of the huddle.
Their first goal came from a kick out drawn by Dragicevic, with Christman converting on the man advantage. And the second goal of the half was a scrappy effort from Sarah Exner to follow up a save from the Clayton keeper.
It seemed as if getting a few stops on defense was energizing the girls. Madison Stribling connected with Bella Hurst in motion. A driving Hurst managed to beat the keeper at the near post.
As the third quarter came to a close the Bulldogs scored their fifth unanswered goal. This time the Dogs crowded the cage in front of the keeper, knowing that at some point one of the attackers would force it in. And they did, with Dragicevic claiming her second on the night.
But that effort was erased instantly when senior Bailey Reading unleashed a hellacious backhanded effort to restore the Eagles’ lead.
A consolation goal from Stribling was the only bit of satisfaction the Bulldogs could get in the final quarter. The offense disappeared, and a 5-meter converted by Caitlin O’Leary sealed the deal for the Eagles.
The Bulldogs will take on Northgate tonight (Oct. 28). The last time the two teams met on Sept. 10, the girls beat the Broncos 7-2.
Seeding for North Coast Section playoffs will be released on Sunday, Oct. 30.