Not surprisingly, Turlock High's Sara Latham was surrounded by defenders all Friday afternoon, with the senior getting most of her breathing room only during halftime.
But the coverage didn't affect her too much.
Latham still did her job — and she did it well, scoring all of the Bulldogs' goals in a 3-1 win over Tokay High in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs at the Turlock Sports Complex. Scoring that many goals isn't an unusual occurrence for the speedy forward, who gets double- and triple-teamed in every contest.
But what's more unusual is the opportunity Latham helped create: With the win, the Bulldogs advance onto the quarterfinals to face Enochs High, who upset them last season in the postseason, spoiling Turlock's hopes of returning to the Section finals for a second consecutive time.
The meeting will be at the Complex at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We want that revenge,” Turlock midfielder Amanda Cervantes said.
Enochs was the 2-1 winner over Lodi High on Thursday, giving the Bulldogs extra motivation before their opening round game even started. And they showed how badly they wanted the rematch, finishing with an 18-8 shot advantage.
Latham notched her first goal off an Emily Thompson assist in the 25th minute, as Latham followed through with another score by practically dragging two Tokay defenders on her back after an Alissa Dahl assist before the end of the first half.
It was 2-0 at halftime, but things began to get tense shortly after.
The Tigers earned a goal in the 56th minute, getting the ball past Andrea Rosas (seven saves). But it wasn't a big deal to Turlock, which, two seasons ago, played for a Section title. Especially with Latham around, as she got a pass from Kayla Avila in the 76th minute for another scoring opportunity.
Latham again sliced through two Tokay defenders before dancing with the ball and shooting it pass the goalkeeper.
“Anytime she gets the ball at her feet, with some space, she can create a lot of opportunities,” Turlock interim coach Doug Sperry said. “She did an amazing job today.”
It’s now time to think about Enochs.
And the Bulldogs got the win in front of Dennis Bishop, the longtime Turlock coach who resigned late in the regular season due to health reasons. He was on the bench, supporting his former team.
Sperry said Bishop's presence provided the team some inspiration.
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