This time, the soccer field wasn't littered with fouls and yellow cards. There weren't any angry faces on the Turlock High girls soccer team sidelines. Instead, those players — along with the coaching staff — watched a clean battle.
And this time, it was the Bulldogs' turn to celebrate.
After going about 45 minutes without a goal from either side, Turlock's Erica Dominguez scored her first goal of the season after nailing a loose ball past the opposing goalkeeper to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 win in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs at Turlock Sports Complex on Tuesday afternoon. They're now one win away from advancing to the championship game for the second time in three seasons.
But first, Turlock will face Davis Sr. High at Folsom High at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The win also gives the Bulldogs sweet redemption, considering they suffered a 2-1 loss to the Eagles in the same quarterfinal game last season — one that was littered with foul calls and yellow cards, as well as having then-coach Dennis Bishop ejected.
“It's definitely sweet revenge,” Turlock defender Cassidy Costa said, “and definitely what we needed.”
It's been a dramatic season for the Bulldogs, who won their fifth consecutive Central California Conference title but also lost Bishop after his resignation late in the season due to health reasons.
But like in the opening round game last week, he was on the Bulldogs sideline supporting his former players.
This game was back-and-forth from the first whistle, though the Eagles struck first.
Enochs forward Kayla Davis stole the ball from a Turlock player before racing toward the goal and shooting it pass Andrea Rosas (nine saves) for a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. But the Bulldogs didn't panic.
Actually, they responded rather timely.
On the following possession — perhaps no more than a minute in real time — Latham received a pass and charged toward Enochs goalkeeper Kayla McCain. Latham was tackled inside the box, setting up a penalty kick.
The senior made her attempt look easy, skating it past the right side of the goalkeeper for the equalizer.
In the second half, Turlock interim coach Doug Sperry made a change to the lineup. As if the Bulldogs weren't quick enough, midfielder Alissa Dahl — another speedy player — found herself on the frontline for a second scoring option along with Latham.
Ultimately, the move helped create a diversion.
A pass right in front of the goal missed Latham's legs, not stopping until midfielder Eric Dominguez scooped up the loose ball with her left foot late in the 75th minute.
“I saw Sara and (Dahl) up top and then Sara was going to get it but it just went through her,” said Dominguez, one of eight seniors on the roster. “Wide open space, and I just took the shot.”
Sperry figured the score was inevitable.
“When you got Sara up top and Alissa Dahl up there, it's a lot of speed,” he said. “When you got Sara or any of our forwards, any time they can score a goal. It's always something we're hoping for, looking for.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.