By GERARDO RECINOS
On their current run of form the Alhambra boys soccer team looks like a brand new side. Their last week and a half of play says one thing: this team isn’t lying down.
You’d forgive them if they did, especially with how the season started, but they’ve been buoyed by their recent results. Their 2-0 loss to Concord on Jan. 27 was a massive improvement.
When the two teams met in Concord three weeks earlier the Bulldog boys were played off the park. Sophomore Sergio Barba had a had trick in the win for the Minutemen.
The match did however start with some shaky defending on the part of the Bulldogs. Only two minutes into the match Concord created their first chance. However it was fired into the side-netting.
And in the fifth minute it took a double save from junior keeper Corey Drevno and a goal-line clearance from Ryan Fretwell to keep Concord at bay.
Or at least keep them at bay for the moment.
A long throw by Concord senior Lucien Gerhardt was knocked in by Roberto Barahona to give Concord the early lead.
The Minutemen double their lead only eight minutes later. Alhambra had started making a concerted effort to push back Concord and press them into their defensive half of the field.
Concord absorbed, but didn’t break to the pressure. Instead they turned defense into offense with an incisive counter attack that shredded the Bulldog defense, which struggled to track back.
The final ball was played by senior Luis Soto to Barba, who slotted home his team-leading 13th goal of the season to break Alhambra hearts.
The danger-man for Concord was kept out for the rest of the match, but when it mattered, he pounced.
Chances were few and far between for Alhambra when they were on the ball. If they wanted to do something they were going to nick a goal from a set piece, because from open play Concord played a composed half of soccer.
That’s not to say that the Bulldogs didn’t show some life. Andrew Olvera and in particular linked up well down the right touchline in the second half. And Nick Silva was only off by a few yards on some slide-rule passes to the energetic Jack Fuller.
But in truth the Concord team was much to poised to get caught out from open play. Twice free kicks from Silva were well wide of goal from dangerous positions, and for most of the final 15 minutes of play were actually spent in defense.
But Concord had little impetus to chase a third, lest they be counter-attacked themselves and allowed Alhambra a chance to steal an equalizer.
Even then the Bulldogs have turned it around after a horrid start to the month of January. After a trio of losses where the Bulldogs conceded five goals in each contest, things are looking up.
Of the three remaining games on the schedule, two are against teams the Bulldogs have already beaten.
However a looming away match against Miramonte on Feb. 3, will dictate if the Bulldogs limp into the home stretch, or walk tall.