With a no-tomorrow attitude, the Turlock High boys soccer players knew these kinds of opportunities don’t come too often for them. On Tuesday night, the Bulldogs were in the middle of their first postseason game in seven years when reality struck: They needed to score. Evident by the many shots that banged off the crossbar, the Bulldogs were doing their job.
“If it came down to effort and shots,” junior midfielder Ethan Tait pointed out, “we should have been on top.”
But any soccer fan can tell you this: One goal is all it takes.
And Lodi High’s 7th minute score by Frankie Ortiz was all it took for the Flames to come away with the 1-0 victory over the gritty Bulldogs in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament at Joe Debely Stadium in front of dozens of fans from both sides.
“They deserve to be in this as much as we do,” Lodi coach Tim Stutz said.
The Bulldogs didn’t take the loss so well afterward, with many of the players and coach Doug Sperry tearing up. It was a painful end to an accomplished season, as Turlock made its first playoff appearance since 2003. That year, the Bulldogs advanced to the Section title game before losing to Jesuit High.
“Making playoffs was big for us,” said Tait, who provided arguably his team’s best chance at a goal after his rebound shot late in the game bounced off the crossbar. “We hadn’t made it in seven years. So it was big. But the loss is not going to take anything away from what we’ve done, from what we’ve accomplished so far.”
Another missed opportunity came minutes before Tait’s attempt, when senior forward Josue Barajas’ point-blank header sailed right above the goal.
After allowing the game’s only score in the first 10 minutes, the Bulldogs were on attack-mode throughout the night. They provided plenty of exciting moments, holding the Flames to no real scoring chances in the second half and hitting the crossbar a handful of times.
“We slowed things down, stopped their attacks,” Sperry said about allowing an early goal. “I think we controlled the game after the first 10-15 minutes. From there on, we just couldn’t finish. We didn’t get a goal to go in.”
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