Turlock High’s playoff run is over. After two emotional, sudden death, post-season victories, the Lady Bulldogs (13-3-7 overall) succumbed to Franklin High of Elk Grove, 1-0, on Thursday in the semi-final round of the SJS Division I Playoff Tournament.
A battered and bruised Bulldog team faced off against the Wildcats (18-4-2 overall) shorthanded due to illness and injuries sustained during the quarterfinal matchup with Tracy High. In addition to their personnel problems, Turlock had to overcome Franklin’s short, sloped, divot pocked field which limited the Bulldogs’ speed and altered their game plan. It was a tough Thursday.
“After our previous two games our girls were extremely exhausted, mentally and physically,” Turlock’s head coach Cathi Cshali-Lopez said. “They kept their intensity up as much as they could, though. They did not give up.”
The Wildcats asserted themselves early in the match, initiating physical play between the two teams and pressuring the weary Bulldogs. Franklin’s Kayla Valday nearly scored within the first minute of regulation when she broke towards the goal and took a one on one shot against Turlock’s Ashlen Kuntz. The shot was denied but the early opportunity emboldened Franklin.
Turlock had an opportunity of its own in the 11th minute of regulation when Carissa Lopez took a shot from 16 yards out. The ball sailed just above the cross bar, however. It was Turlock’s closest opportunity of the match.
Finally, in the 22nd minute, Franklin caught a break in an otherwise even first half. After the Bulldogs were called for one of their 17 fouls on the day, Franklin lined up for a free kick from 25 yards out. The ball hit the far post, landed on the foot of Wildcat Tatyana Garrett, and nestled itself into the net for the go ahead goal. It was the first goal Turlock allowed in over 300 minutes of play.
“They weren’t the better team, but on that day they were,” Cshali-Lopez said.
Turlock was dealt another blow when Morgan DeLay suffered a hip injury and was forced to sit out. The Bulldogs spent the remainder of the match defending its goal as Franklin took advantage of their depleted squad. In total, Franklin took 24 shots on goal compared to Turlock’s 8.
“There’s always an end to everything,” Cshali-Lopez said “We wish our end could have been on the 19th but now we have something to look forward to and motivate us for next year.”
The loss ends an undefeated, championship season for Turlock. The Bulldogs will lose team leader Lindsay Aldax and three other seniors to graduation but next season’s squad is expected to fill the void seamlessly.
“Going undefeated in a league with a lot of good contenders is something to be proud of,” Cshali-Lopez said. “We want to continue next season with the same integrity, passion, and chemistry.”