The scenario was simple for the Pitman varsity girls’ soccer team heading into Wednesday night’s final regular season game against their crosstown foe — win and clinch no less than a share of the Central California Conference title after Golden Valley beat Merced 2-1.
A loss, however, would see a different outcome and Turlock High saw that in their minds.
The ‘Dogs managed to bump the Pride, who rode a steady wave in first place for most of the season, down to third place, after they won 2-1 from Stan State Warrior Stadium on senior night in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season.
“These girls had pressure and I feel we had more looks than they did but it just didn’t roll our way,” said Pitman head coach Annabel Perez. “We had a few mistakes and it cost us the game. We had big injuries the last couple games and it kind of showed because we could have clinched CCC a long time ago and we didn’t. I think the girls were just as excited as they were to play.”
Pitman finished third in their final season in the CCC with a record of 7-2-3.
Turlock closed out the year winning four of five games.
They end their year in second place with a CCC record of 8-2-2.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s our own fault we didn’t take care of business during the season, had a couple mistakes during league against El Capitan, and had a tie or two,” said Turlock coach Cayla Donahue. “This is a young team so I think they have been continuously maturing and learning how to finish a game.”
Both teams will advance to the postseason after an intense game Wednesday.
“I hope it’s a fresh start because we had a bumpy second half of the season,” said Perez about losing two of their last three games to end the year. “It is a fresh start and I know the girls are dwelling on this game big time but it’s a new season in playoffs so the girls still have a chance to advance in the postseason and they are looking forward to it.”
Before moving on, the game needed to be played in order to decide where the teams would land in the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section bracket.
Freshman Kayli Wilson of Turlock broke the stalemate with a goal at the 23rd minute of action after she worked her way into the penalty area and found the back of the net from a few yards away.
Just six minutes later at the 29-minute mark, Pitman tied the game at 1-1 after Izzy Shallou-Enes struck a perfect cross to Landyn Mills, who then drilled in the goal from just a few feet away.
Then nearing stoppage time of the first half, the ‘Dogs drew a penalty kick.
Wilson asked the coaches if she could take the shot and she did. She ripped the shot to the far-left side, as Pride goalkeeper Alexa Teixeira dove to the right, to take the 2-1 lead for good.
Pitman’s progress to push forward and attack stayed consistent throughout the second half as they created a few opportunities.
Shallou-Enes struck a shot in the final 11 minutes, but the one-on-one scenario ended in a goalkeeper save.
Pitman’s Teixeira also managed to come away with a critical save after there was a minute remaining in regulation.
Turlock’s Stephanie Zamora made multiple runs into the attacking third in the second half alone, working through multiple defenders and attempting several crosses and shots, but the interior defense cleared the attacks along with Teixeira and the game ended with a one goal difference.
“They will have more experience, we just hope they can come back next year strong as well,” said Donahue. “Hoping for the best as far as playoffs are concerned. I hope we continue to play strong and keep our concentration like tonight that is what I am hoping since it took us all season to get here and so hopefully we can continue this throughout the playoffs.”
“A lot of girls didn’t get the experience last year and there are some new teammates on the squad and it should be exciting for them,” Perez added.
Turlock and Pitman will advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament but their opponents and times have yet to be determined.