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First-half effort propels Pitman soccer past Turlock
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A Pitman player executes a bicycle kick during the first half of the Prides victory over Turlock on Monday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Pitman High remains unbeaten in the Central California Conference after Tuesday’s defeat of rival Turlock High, 2-1.

“Pitman came out and took it to us,” Turlock’s head coach Doug Sperry said.

“Every win is important but this one was worth a little more because we beat our cross-town rival,” Pitman’s head coach Oscar Mercado said.

The Pride (3-0-2 CCC) showcased superior passing and ball handling skills as the Bulldogs (1-1-2 CCC) struggled to find control in the match. Pitman received another boost early in the first half at the expense of Turlock’s Jorge Lara who was forced to leave the field with a broken rib and injured lung; an injury that will almost certainly sideline the sophomore for the rest of the season. The loss of the defensive minded Lara and the inability to slow Pitman down resulted in a lack of momentum that proved disastrous for Turlock.

“He’s definitely a key part of our team,” Sperry said of Lara. “He’s a guy we count on, so it’s a big loss, but I think we got some guys to fill his spot.”

Pitman took advantage of the hole in Turlock’s defense early, scoring in the 15th minute by way of a Tommy Vieira chip shot from 10 yards out. Roberto Ramirez provided the Pride’s second goal 15 minutes later when a free kick bounced off his head and into an open net.

“The first half was beautiful,” Mercado said. “We had constant control of the ball and our communication led to progression of our plays; it was key.”

The second half was more balanced as Turlock applied more pressure to Pitman, keeping its boys off balance. After several threats on goal, Jonathan Lopez finally put the Bulldogs on the board scoring with the assist of a corner kick with seconds left in regulation.

“As a team it’s about as bad as we’ve played all year,” Sperry said. “It was very disappointing.”

Turlock gets the opportunity to turn things around today when they host Buhach Colony High.

“It might be a good chance to make some changes and get back on track,” Sperry said.

As for the Pride, they face another tough challenge today in Merced High. The Bears are only one point behind Pitman, making today’s matchup a CCC first place decider.

“We need to continue playing the way we’ve been playing,” Mercado said.