By GERARDO RECINOS
An early penalty and a late second goal propelled the Lady Bulldog soccer team to victory on Wednesday night against the rival College Park Falcons.
The 2-0 win on Jan. 25 was quite convincing from the Bulldog girls. Alhambra took some time to settle into the match, with a larger than usual crowd watching, but for the most part kept the Falcons at bay until they could take control.
In fact it was the Falcons that first tested the opposing keeper. It was barely a half chance, but still Nicki Rucki was forced to come out and meet a cross that flashed in front of goal. College Park also took a pair of corners in the opening 10 minutes, but neither troubled the Alhambra defense.
It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that anything really started coming off for the Bulldogs.
Junior Marlo Allen was brought down in the box, and Rucki converted from the spot. The senior keeper put her penalty past her opposite number with power, rather than deception. So even though the keeper guessed correctly, she couldn’t get a glove to the spot-kick.
Rucki was tested after the goal however, and in the 29th minute was twice called upon to make a save. The first was a shot on goal, and the second was when she was forced out of her box to play a sweeper role. She was able to clear her lines on both College Park chances.
As the game progressed, the physicality started showing from both teams. Before brandishing a flurry of yellow cards, the referee had done his best to avoid disciplining the girls. However as players continued leaving trailing legs in challenges, and balls in the air became more contested, he was forced to act.
However the reaction from the Alhambra defenders was admirable. Freshman center back Chloe Taylor put in such a good shift alongside Jenna Coffman, she started getting her name chanted.
Taylor and Sam Pearson, a sophomore, both made themselves a nuisance, constantly intercepting passes and sparking the attack. With the three girls playing so resolute, senior Sarah Emigh was able to roam box-to-box, as was junior Carly Agostino.
Agonizingly the Bulldogs couldn’t muster a second goal to really start to piling the pressure on the Falcons. For nearly 80 minutes, the Falcons believed they could still get something from the match.
However as far as the first half went, only a skied volley attempt inside the box by junior Jasmine Safarians even came close. And that shot was well wide.
Just a few minutes after the break, the Bulldogs nearly caught College Park napping.
Junior Jaycee Armosino fizzed a low cross to the back post, but senior Lindsey Alford’s run was just a fraction late. It seemed no matter how much they created, they couldn’t finish their dinner.
Not taking their chances nearly cost Alhambra.
In the 54th minute, Marianna Giovanetti was in on goal with nothing but an empty net to aim at, as Rucki had come to clear a ball into the box, but overplayed it. Giovannetti however was unable to keep her composure, and fired her shot into the side netting.
A pair of substitutes made the Falcons pay.
With fresh legs, Sophia Olson started stretching the back line of the Falcons, who started watching her runs, so as to not be beat by the junior’s pace. That allowed right back Katie Christman to shake off a pair of defenders on a mazy run before sliding a ball out wide to Olson.
Olson’s cross met the feet of Alford, whose run was made with enough timing to beat the Falcon keeper, despite being directly at her.
The goal was like a release valve that allowed Alhambra to celebrate their win. And because it was over College Park, they did with even more gusto.
The win surely will help the Bulldogs erase memories of the cagey affair in 2015 where the two teams drew 2-2 in a match that saw seven yellow cards and a red card.