Turlock High girls soccer owned the 2015 season as far as the Central California Conference was concerned, edging out Merced High in a tight race for first place en route to the Bulldogs' fourth consecutive league championship. That momentum was put to a halt immediately in the post season, however, when Turlock traveled to Bella Vista High on Tuesday for the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament.
Despite entering the tournament as champions of their league, the Bulldogs were seeded 11th and scheduled to face a sixth seed Broncos team that proved to be too much to overcome. When the dust settled on Bella Vista's pitch, Turlock's season was ended by a score of 0-4.
“It was explained to me that the Division I bracket was loaded with undefeated teams and past section champions. It was a real difficult bracket,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said. “That was kind of a downer to have to travel away for our first playoff game. We thought we'd have at least one more home game.
“They were bigger, stronger and won more balls than us,” she added about the Broncos.
The undefeated Broncos also got off significantly more shots, with 24 on goal compared to Turlock's two. Bella Vista's offensive prowess combined with the absence of Turlock's sweeper Natalie Larson — out due to a concussion which was suffered during a travel game on Sunday — put the Bulldogs in a tough situation.
“She controls and organizes our defense back there,” Schali-Lopez said of Larson.
Though the first goal was scored early in the match on a penalty kick inside the box, Bella Vista scored the remaining three goals due to defensive communication and organization issues on Turlock's part.
“It kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” Schali-Lopez said of the early penalty kick. “They were taking a lot of shots on goal and we weren't able to. They out hustled us by winning more of the 50/50 balls.”
With the loss, Turlock bids farewell to 16 seniors, four of which were with Turlock for all four CCC title seasons.
“It was an outstanding season,” Schali-Lopez said.