Thursday night’s Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game might not have gone the way the Turlock High Bulldogs wanted it to, but boys soccer head coach Doug Sperry is more than pleased with the year his squad had after they made a run into the record books. Not to mention the year isn’t over as they clinched an automatic berth into the State tournament.
The Bulldog’s 3-0 loss to Jesuit in the Section finale was a hard-fought battle.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played,” said Sperry. “We controlled the ball for large parts of the game and created opportunities to score. It was just one of those nights when things didn’t go our way. Our guys were prepared and ready to play. We struggled to get a rhythm going in our attacking third, but if we finish on one of our early opportunities it’s a different game.”
Turlock lost for just the second time this season after they had previously beaten Jesuit in a pre-league game, 2-1.
Jesuit started off Thursday’s Section final on point as they notched a goal in the sixth minute to take the early lead.
“The first goal came off of a deflection and gave a lot of momentum to Jesuit. We made some mistakes in the final minutes of the first half and Jesuit took advantage of it,” said Sperry.
Turlock continued to battle and nearly strike the back of the net, but much like Jesuit’s prior opponent — Pitman — the Bulldogs failed to capitalize.
In the 12th minute, Luke Redman struck the side post after a free kick was then forced as a corner.
From there Redman headed the far post, but it hit the outside post as it bounced out.
Jesuit went up 2-0 at the 39-minute mark after the ball went through the goalkeeper’s hands in a slow and smooth fashion.
In the second half Turlock matched Jesuit — for the most part.
Jesuit’s defense, mixed with their speed and extreme physical play, made it challenging for the ‘Dogs to find any holes.
If Redman was seen alone for even a few seconds, double teams would ensue as more than a pair of Jesuit players flocked him to limit any attacks.
By the 76th minute, Jesuit had notched its third goal after a Turlock mishap and they won 3-0.
This year’s Bulldog team included six all league selections in the Central California Athletic League, made up of three first team and three second team selections.
Orlando Jimenez was named the CCAL Defensive Player of the Year, while Beni Mejia was named the CCAL MVP.
Turlock’s 22-2-3 overall record also clinches the most wins in a single season in program history.
They also made it challenging for the opposition this year after they outscored them 88-8 in 25 games. The Bulldogs were undefeated at home and they had 17 shutouts.
Their CCAL title was the third league title in a row while they are also playing in regionals for the first time in program history.
“It was a tough loss and obviously everyone was disappointed. We are going to regroup today and try to keep some perspective on the amazing season we had,” Sperry added. “It’s been a privilege to coach these guys and I could not be prouder of them. We still believe we are capable of beating anybody, and I know our guys are excited to play in the NorCal regionals on Tuesday.”