Doug Sperry thought his Turlock High boys soccer team came out slow and flat against Golden Valley High on Tuesday night. His players agreed, as they succumbed to a game of long ball — “that’s not our style,” Sperry said — and allowed an early goal to the defending Central California Conference champion.
The score was a much-needed wakeup call.
From there, the Bulldogs took control. Two second-half goals to break a one-goal tie gave Turlock more than enough cushion to hold on for the 3-1 victory at Debely Stadium, giving the Bulldogs sole possession of the CCC with a 4-0-0 record. Golden Valley, which won the title in 2010, dropped to 2-1-1.
The win also improved Turlock’s overall mark to 13-0-1, the best start in Sperry’s six years as the Bulldogs coach.
“This is, by far, the most talented group I’ve ever had,” he said. “We play so well together. With the talent on the field and the talent coming off the bench, it’s tough for teams to match up to us.”
Golden Valley is now one of those teams. The Cougars were supposed to be a tougher challenge, judging from their 10-2-2 overall record entering Tuesday’s match and their recent success, which includes the 2009 runner-up finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament.
At first, the Cougars looked in control. They scored 15 minutes in.
But in the 37th minute, after keeping the ball more on the ground, Turlock forward Jose Ortega knocked in the first of his two goals. His midfielder teammates bounced the ball around in the center area before it landed next to Ortega’s feet, and that’s when the senior squared up from about 15 yards out and fired a shot that hit the crossbar and slipped past the Golden Valley goalkeeper.
Ortega got another goal in the 44th minute, when he got the ball on the right side and out-sprinted the Golden Valley defenders. About 15 minutes later, fellow Turlock forward Ty Hyer scored on a fastbreak to make it a 3-1 lead.
For the rest of the game, the Bulldogs didn’t allow many good looks for the Cougars, who were pressured the entire night. That defensive effort, anchored by senior Diego Godinez, was more than enough to give Turlock the victory and a great lead in the league race.
Next up: Pitman. The crosstown rivals will meet up at Turlock Sports Complex on Thursday at 4 p.m.
“We’ve pretty much set the standard that we’re the team to beat,” Ortega said, “and we’re ready to take the CCC.”
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