By GERARDO RECINOS
When a team scores in abundance sometimes the trivial thing to say is usually something along the lines of, “make sure you save some for the next game.”
But dad jokes aside, when two teams show up on a pitch and one doesn’t seem all that intent on trying to play free flowing soccer, even the best teams will struggle to finish.
Alhambra’s girls soccer team drew 0-0 with Alameda on Tuesday night in a match where it always seemed a goal was coming. Alhambra had the better share of possession, they created more chances, and they had more shots on goal.
None of those things resulted in what matters most: a goal to break the deadlock.
The Hornets dug in and were compact behind the ball. They put in a defensive shift on the night and stymied any Alhambra attack.
Only briefly did Alameda look like it was willing to play an open-expansive contest. In the opening 10 minutes it was actually the Hornets who settled into the game first. However their only bright spot was a spilled cross in the 18-yard box. The follow up shot was then easily bottled up by senior goalkeeper Nicki Rucki.
That brief run of play did leave Alhambra’s main striker junior Jenna Coffman isolated up top, but she did well to hold up play and allow the rest of the Bulldogs to push up the field.
After escaping the brief period of pressure, the Bulldogs themselves went of the attack.
Junior Carly Agostino slipped in Coffman with a well-weighted through ball, but Alameda did just enough to clear their lines int he 12th minute. But the first true chance of the match came when Agostino slipped in Julia Perez on the right wing. Perez’s shot skipped just wide of the far post but opened up that flank. Most of Alhambra’s resulting moves came from that side of the field due to good link up play between Chakeira Cox and Perez.
Alhambra continued to retain possession and would not let Alameda out of their half. A snap shot by Jaycee Armosino in the 28th minute was harmless to the Alameda keeper, as was a similar second effort by Perez in the 39th minute.
Going into the half, the lack of chances taken was clearly starting to buoy Alameda, but even with that momentum they opened the second half of play by continuing to try punting long balls into the Bulldog half of the field.
Sophomore Sam Pearson’s play was part of the reason the Hornets did so. The second-year varsity player broke up play well in the middle of the park, and routinely worked as the hub in the middle of the park. Her ability to win the ball and find creative players like Agostino, or full backs bombing forward to assist in the attack like Lindsey Alford and Cox, was key.
With Pearson plugging up the midfield, Alhambra attacked more freely. In the 63rd minute, Agostino took on three defenders and beat them all, but was unable to curl her shot into the net, despite a runner flashing toward the far post hoping for a tap in.
Not long after, junior Sophia Olson nearly cut open the Alameda defense when she played in Armosino on the left-hand side. However the resulting shot was cleared for a goal kick.
It just wasn’t coming off for the Dogs. Olson was being gifted a lot of space on the left touchline, but Alameda’s center backs took god angles to close her down. The speed of the pitch, which was a much slower natural grass than the one at Knowles Field, affected the way in which the Bulldogs attacked.
Alhambra was sending everyone forward and taking a risk of being countered but. A poor no call on a foul in the Bulldog attacking third nearly left the Bulldogs stunned. Senior Sarah Emigh was brought down unfairly, but managed to get back and make a game-saving tackle in the 72nd to preserve the deadlock.
Her efforts in defense highlighted how strong the Bulldog backline held up despite some missing pieces. But ultimately it was the attack that left the Bulldogs wanting more.
A curling free kick int he 77th minute off the foot of Emigh was saved and the Bulldogs were unable to score. So that when the buzzer went off only one team felt emboldened by the result.