Turlock and Pitman High met for the second time this season Monday night at Joe Debely Stadium, capping the second round of Central California Conference play with another closely contested, cross town matchup.
In their previous match, the Bulldogs (9-0-2 CCC) and Pride (5-4-2 CCC) played to the wire with Turlock emerging victorious, 1-0, after finding the net on a penalty kick in stoppage time.
This time around, it was Pitman who notched the first goal and looked to be on its way to an upset victory over the CCC’s number one team. Unfortunately for the visiting team, history repeated itself in the form of a Carissa Lopez goal — Lopez scored the winning PK kick in the first match — in the final two minutes of regulation for the 1-1 tie to keep Turlock unbeaten and atop the league standings.
“It’s huge. Again, we still need to focus one game at a time. Our CCC league is full of competitiveness so we need to continue to step up our game,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said. “We feel that we could have played better. We weren’t up to par, we were missing a couple of key players, and we’re fortunate to put one in at the end.”
The first half of Monday’s game was evenly contested with both teams taking only one shot on goal and both goalies recording one save. The second half brought a surge of action almost immediately, however, as Pitman scored in the 42nd minute when former Bulldog Maddy Bowen’s corner kick was deflected by Rayana Plancarte before being headed in by Audrey Hanf.
After Pitman’s goal, Turlock went on the offensive and nearly tied the game on several occasions, but persistent defense from Pride goalie Jamiee Ellison kept Pitman in the lead.
“It was an even game. We controlled the first part of the second half and they controlled the second part of the second half,” Pitman assistant coach Jose Velasquez said.
Turlock’s increased temp finally paid off in the 78th minute when an Estephanie Partida corner kick was headed in by Lopez.
“It’s just tenacity. We’re not going to give up and we’re going to fight until the last minute, until that whistle blows,” Schali-Lopez said.
“The girls came out here and fought. Yea, they might be a little upset because they let themselves tie, but compared to the beginning of the season when we started slow, they’re picking it up,” Velasquez said.
The tie keeps Turlock in the number one spot in the CCC ahead of Merced High and Pitman in the third place position.
Round three of league play begins on Wednesday when Turlock travels to face Atwater High and Pitman travels to face the second place Bears (8-2-1 CCC).