By GERARDO RECINOS
Out of 22 water polo games the Bulldogs have played this season, only seven have seen an opponent score less than 10 goals. So it was appropriate they would exit the playoffs in a shootout.
Number 10 seed San Marin upset the seventh seeded Bulldogs in a 15-10 win, and after a tight first two quarters, it wasn’t really close in the Nov. 2 clash at Contra Costa College.
Alhambra got off to an early lead, with Tony Moore opening the scoring on the night, and then reversing the roles and providing the assist on a brilliant lob at the back post to Luke Brown.
After a goal from San Marin, the Bulldogs got a pair of goals, with Dylan Hammond leading a counter attack. The fourth came off a brilliant backhand goal from Moore.
With a 4-2 start, things looked bright, but the Bulldog boys didn’t look as invested in the match as the Mustangs. San Marin looked desperate to score in attack, while the Bulldogs seemed keen to not be counter-attacked.
San Marin was faster than Alhambra, and that allowed them to absolutely barrage Alhambra junior goalkeeper Adam Pakman. Seven second quarter goals allowed made the halftime team talk longer than any in recent memory, as the entire team and coach gathered in a corner of the pool area, locked in conversation.
Moore scored another backhand goal in the third quarter to briefly ignite the offense, but San Marin stock three times before Nico Taliaferro’s first goal of the night. The junior lefty fired in from the middle of the pool, and beat the keeper to his right-hand side.
Hammond converted a five-meter penalty, but the Mustangs continued to coast. Defensively they didn’t do anything too exotic, but did just enough to keep the tired Bulldogs from making much of a comeback.
Clearly frustrated, the Dogs started to fire shots on frame a little wildly, rather than staying composed and going through their game plan.
Luke Brown scored the first of two consolation in the Bulldogs first possession of the fourth quarter, lobbing the San Marin goalkeeper from long range.
However the Mustangs had the lead, so they were able to start executing their time wasting techniques. Coaches started instructing their players to make sure to use their time wisely on every possession.
Hammond scored with 15 seconds left on the clock to reach the 10-goal mark, but by then the match was decided. His goal did make up for a missed five-meter two minutes earlier, but didn’t figure into the decision.
For the second season in a row the Bulldogs were knocked out of the North Coast Section playoffs in the first round.