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Alhambra win sets up Las Lomas trilogy

Alhambra junior Jenna Coffman (22) and the rest of the Bulldog defense held resolute and kept the Novato Hornets off the score board in their 2-0 win in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs on Feb. 15, 2017. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra junior Jenna Coffman (22) and the rest of the Bulldog defense held resolute and kept the Novato Hornets off the score board in their 2-0 win in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs on Feb. 15, 2017. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)

By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

When the Bulldog girls get home after their hard fought win on Wednesday night, they’ll settle in and see that their prize for a comprehensive victory is a second-round match up against Las Lomas.

That’s what their 2-0 win over Novato buys you in the North Coast Section playoffs, a date with the team that you haven’t beaten since Feb. 6. Of 2015.

Not that the girls seem to mind at all. They relish it.

They know the line, and surely they know the that they’re winless in the last five match ups.

But this team is settling in. For one the defense has only conceded twice in the last four games, and the back line steadied the ship after shaky opening 20 minutes against Novato.

The visiting Hornets however couldn’t take advantage of a disconnected Alhambra side. Everything seemed just a hair off. Sophomore midfielder Erin Brown was getting all the time she wanted on the ball. However after some adjustments made tactically, the Bulldogs’ Sam Pearson had Brown in her pocket for the rest of the match.

And once the threat going forward was quelled, the Bulldogs finally started to match up on the same wave length with one another.

The first solid move came from a cheeky bit of link up play between two of the captains, Sarah Emigh and Lindsey Alford.

It wasn’t until the 36th minute however that they got the result.

Junior varsity call up Maggie Avila was substituted to take a long throw, however when it was cleared out of the 18-yard box, the sophomore had a pop. Her first-time curling effort rattled in off the cross bar, stunning nearly everyone watching. Appropriately she was subbed off seconds later, and was mobbed by her teammates.

That set the Bulldogs off.

In the 38th minute they nearly doubled their lead on a free kick to the far post, but the resulting header was wide of the mark.

After nearly being counter attacked, the Bulldogs nearly scored again seconds later. Alford slid a  perfect through ball into the path of junior Marlo Allen. However the forward was met with a rushing goalkeeper and was thwarted just outside the box.

The goal was looming. For all their possession in the Novato half, the Bulldogs were starting to get antsy. It was clear that if they didn’t grab a second, they could be sent home early, like they were last season.

In full control, the midfield trident of Carly Agostino, Emigh and Pearson was controlling the game. While coach Ed Marinelli opted to have a rotating line up front.

And it paid off. Only two minutes after coming onto the pitch, Jaycee Armosino nearly created a goal from thin air. The junior fizzed in a cross to the back post but Alford’s connection let her down and she skied her shot.

That chance left the Bulldogs wanting, but it wasn’t until the 77th minute that the Bulldogs could finally relax and know they’d be moving on.

Agostino did well to win a free kick just outside the box. Emigh drove her spot kick towards the far post where it was headed in by Pearson to calm Alhambra hearts.

With the goal the sophomore cemented what was one of her best performances all season, and helped punch the Bulldogs’ ticket into the next round.

In the next round, the Bulldogs will visit Las Lomas, the team that came in first place in the Diablo Athletic League. The Knights only dropped points once all season, and are lead by goal-scorer Haley Brown.

The Cal-State Fullerton commit has found the back of the net 22 times this season. In the teams’ two meetings this season (a 1-0 win at Alhambra, and a 3-0 win at Las Lomas) Brown has two goals. Both came in the 3-0 win on Jan. 27.

The Knights and Bulldogs will do battle on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Las Lomas at 7 p.m.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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