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Bulldogs still looking for first league win
Turlock fails to finish against Merced
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Turlock's Marcus DeCouto keeps his eye on the ball as he positions himself for possession during the first half of Thursday's tie with Merced. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Turlock High picked up its third tie in Central California Conference play Thursday afternoon after its boys blew a second half lead for the second consecutive match.

After jumping out in front of second place Merced High with a 2-1 score, the Bulldogs (0-4-3 CCC) gave up a goal in the final ten minutes of regulation to keep them out of the winner's column.


“We've been in every game except for one in league. We've had leads going late into the second half and given them up,” Turlock head coach Doug Sperry said. “It just hasn't gone our way. It's been mistakes that have really killed us. We just haven't put an entire 80 minutes together.”


Though they've struggled in the later stages of matches, the Bulldogs have had no problem finding consistency early, and Thursdy was no different. Turlock notched its first goal in the eighth minute when a Johnny Brenda shot was bobbled by Merced's goalie and nudged into the net on the rebound by Jonah Knopp. Merced responded immediately by sprinting down the field and scoring on the ensuing possession, but by the 25th minute Turlock was back on top thanks to chip shot from Brenda that went over the Bear goalie who had ran out of the box.


Turlock entered halftime with the one goal lead.


“I thought we dominated the game and played really well,” Sperry said.


Unfortunately for Turlock, it was unable to maintain its momentum through the entire match. Now, as they approach the mid-season point, the Bulldogs must figure out a way to prevent second-half letdowns and get some wins under their belt if they are to make the four-team cut for playoffs.


“Really, our focus is still the same. We want to make playoffs and our league is always so close. You can never tell, you know we're just a third of the way thorough, where things can wind up,” Sperry said. “We haven't capitalized on a lot of opportunities and we don't have a lot of points, but I don't think we're out of anything yet.”


Turlock plays Golden Valley High on Tuesday for the second time this year. The Cougars won by one goal in their last meeting with the Bulldogs and are currently ahead in the CCC standings.


 “We can't wait around,” Sperry said. “We've missed out on opportunities and we can't do that for long in our league.”