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Bulldogs barrel through Thunder
Turlock, Pitman set to battle for top standings in CCC
turlock soccer pic2
Turlock Highs Maddy Bowen streaks towards Buhachs side of the field during the first half of Wednesdays win over the Thunder. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The hunt for the Central California Conference girls soccer title just got interesting as the top three teams—Golden Valley, Pitman, and Turlock High— are now separated by the slightest of margins. After starting the season with three consecutive losses, the reigning CCC champion Bulldogs have climbed back into contention by winning five or their last six games.

On Wednesday Turlock hosted Buhach Colony High and wasted no time asserting its presence on the field. The Bulldogs scored twice within the first eight minutes of regulation before adding their final goal in the second half for a decisive 3-0 victory over the Thunder.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” Turlock’s head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said.

Turlock’s leading scorer, Aubrey Glidden, notched her fifth goal of the season in the sixth minute with a well-placed header off a Morgan DeLay corner kick. Energized, Turlock seized the opportunity and again found the net two minutes later when Maddy Bowen took a pass from Meriya Fefilova and found the net with a strong shot from just beyond 10 yards out.

“It shows our skill level, that we can all step up to the plate and work together,” Schali-Lopez said. "That’s what makes our team so dynamic. Any player can score at any given time.”

The Thunder continued to do their best against the Bulldogs but their chances at scoring were few and far between. Buhach managed only four shots on goal—two of which were blocked by the outstretched arms of Turlock goalie Ashlen Kuntz. In comparison, Turlock finished the game with 24 shots on goal with its final successful shot coming in the 75th minute when Natalie Larson made the rebound on a DeLay free kick and put it past Thunder goalie Taylor Briggs.

“Our defense becomes part of our offense and we play as a united team, that’s our game plan,” Schali-Lopez said. “The plays take care of themselves when we do that.”

Now, with two points separating them from the first place Cougars and only one point between them and the second place Pride, the Bulldogs are in position to leapfrog to the front of the CCC standings as they prepare to face their cross-town rivals on Monday.

“We’re trying to keep them focused on the game,” Schali-Lopez said. “It’s one game at a time. We want to keep working hard for each other and finish our shots.”

Monday’s game will be played at the Turlock Soccer Complex and is set to begin at 4 p.m.