By GERARDO RECINOS
After a string of good results had gone their way, the boys soccer team were harshly brought back down to reality.
Their 6-0 loss to Freedom could be expected, especially when you consider the fact that the Falcons not only play in Division I, but also are a playoff caliber side.
Even then, the 6-0 loss on a bright but bitterly-cold Saturday afternoon was kind of a shock to the system after more than a week of seeing the Bulldogs play organized defense.
After the game coach Rory Gentry acknowledged that not having junior defender Hunter Bradford hurt the team. The third-year varsity player plays a big part in organizing the defense. “He has become such an anchor for our back line,” the coach said.
But even having the experienced Bradford couldn’t change that the Freedom side that showed up to play had quality at every position.
When you have a player like Freedom has in senior Oscar Munoz, you’d be hard pressed to get any result from a game. Munoz was the league’s MVP last season
Before a minute had come off the clock Freedom had already scored thanks to the senior’s quickness to pounce on a poor back pass in the Bulldogs’ final third.
Munoz’s touch forward fell into the path of another senior, Daniel Cervantes, who scored easily into an empty net.
That was only the start of what would become a progressively poor showing.
Unlike their draw against Northgate there was little to no organization from the back line, and spacing in the middle of the park allowed players like Grant Le Fleur and Eruvey Arcata all the time in the world to find space and play forward.
LeFluer slipped a 30-yard through ball that connected with Munoz for the second Freedom goal of the game, and the first in what would be the senior forwards first-half hat trick.
Cervantes assisted the second, while Arcata assisted the third on the afternoon.
But the dagger came with Munoz turned provider, rather than poacher. With all the attention on him, the striker drew a defender out of position in the box before intelligently laying off to Cervantes, whose left-footed finish left Corey Drevno of the Bulldogs with no shot.
Unfairly Drevno was the man who had to be in goal for the five-goal romp, but had it not been for his efforts, the final tally would have been worse. Only two minutes before Munoz’s third, and Cervantes’ second on the afternoon, the junior keeper made a brilliant double save.
Dizzying moves and switches of play made it hard for the Bulldogs to cope with, and nearly impossible to try and grab a goal of their own. It became more of a possibility in the second half when Freedom had let off after establishing a big lead, but still Alhambra could not convert.
After chasing around passes along the back line, Jack Fuller had a shot from a corner, but his header went wide. Sophomore Reagan Cole found himself in a similar situation. Having been forced to mostly defend, when he did have the ball at his feet, his shooting was off.
After the brilliant Munoz assisted his second of the day, this time supplying LeFleur a ball on a platter just outside the 18-yard box, the Freedom captain curled his effort into the bottom corner for the sixth goal.
It was so easy, that it seemed fake that they created once more after Alhambra had not been able to finish their own.
The loss breaks up a streak of three unbeaten matches, but also represents one of the last tune up games against higher ranked opponents before league play kicks in and the Bulldogs play opponents closer to the same level.