League play is halfway done in the Central California Conference for varsity boys soccer after Monday night, and one local team still sits atop the standings.
Turlock and Pitman High played to a 0-0 draw from Joe Debely Stadium after each team saw a handful of missed opportunities throughout the game, most notably in the closing minutes of play.
“Chances for both teams. Not surprised by the outcome,” said Pitman head coach Brian Hofsteen. “They were focused today, they came out and were obviously ready to play. They were excited to play against their rival team here; very hard-fought game from the beginning. Both teams had opportunities for sure. Just a fun game, good to watch.”
“I am a little disappointed but I thought, for the most part, we played well,” said Turlock head coach Doug Sperry. “I thought Pitman came right off the bat and controlled the game for the first 15 minutes of the game and played with a lot of energy. No matter what it is always going to be a great one.”
Turlock’s record goes to 13-3-4 overall and the team remains undefeated in the CCC at 4-0-2. The Bulldogs’ last loss was on Dec. 16. Pitman is now 9-3-4 overall and 2-1-3 in the CCC, having tied back-to-back games.
“The focus… before the game, the mental focus was there. They were ready to play. The energy was high,” said Hofsteen. “They were having fun, you could tell and a different game, it’s good to see.”
Goalkeepers Luis Carrillo (Turlock) and Vlad Montejo (Pitman) came up big for their respective teams.
Each managed well over half a dozen saves apiece, which were scattered throughout the game.
The intensity started off right away and led to multiple shot attempts in the first half. That intensity also led to a total of five yellow cards being called for the game. Turlock had four and Pitman with one.
Both sides went into the halftime break scoreless at 0-0.
It was just the second time since Dec. 21 that the ‘Dogs had been held without a goal.
At the 67th minute, Turlock found themselves with yet another opportunity off a set piece free kick.
Axel Altimirano drilled a header off an Allan Sanchez free kick, but the ball ricochet off the top post, setting up a quick transition play.
From there, Pitman’s Jared Solorio caught the ball and immediately sprinted down the field and into the penalty area, where the shot attempt was saved once more by Carrillo after he was against two Pitman attackers.
“That play was pretty exciting starting from one end to the other, it is almost in a sense not letting our guard down got our energy going,” Hofsteen added. “When they hit the cross bar, it had me a little nervous. A tie is better than a loss; I will take it. We will see each other in a couple weeks. We get to meet them at Stanislaus for senior night.”
“We did a terrible job transitioning on defense, I am not sure where the entire team was,” said Sperry about the last attacking attempt. “Pitman did a great job countering and we thought we would score, but we had one last defender that kind of pushed them off, then Luis did a great job coming and making a great save.”
Turlock’s next game will be at home against El Capitan at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Pitman will next be on the road at Atwater at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Our goal is definitely to win a league championship and then get into playoffs and see how things go,” Sperry added. “Even with a tie I think we are still in first place. So, we are happy where we are at halfway through league with a good position. I like our chances in the second half, we are continuing to improve. We have some things we continue to improve on.”