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League opener ends in 2-0 win for Turlock over Atwater
Turlock girls 7
Turlocks Ashlee Hill scored the second goal for the Bulldogs to secure and hold on for the 2-0 win over Atwater on Tuesday. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The youth is finally flourishing for Turlock’s varsity girls’ soccer team.

Freshman Hailie Virden and sophomore Ashlee Hill scored a goal each for Turlock in their home league opener against Atwater as the Bulldogs topped the Falcons, 2-0, to begin Central California Conference play with a 1-0 record.

“The overall picture is the team effort… that along with our unity is what gave us the edge and that is why the 2-0 win helps,” said Turlock assistant coach Temo Arteaga.

Turlock was coming off three straight losses in preseason play before turning around their dismal start.

Turlock’s Sophie Warda and Jazzmyn Garcia were both kept at bay in the opening minutes by Atwater freshman goalkeeper Kaylei Stewart who had five saves in the first half.

After Warda and Garcia nearly notched scores for Turlock, the offense continued to press and less than four minutes later the first goal of the game came after Veronica Hernandez found Virden open inside the 18-yard-box.

Virden then heaved a shot to the far side of the left corner to make it 1-0 at the 28th minute.

“We tried to focus on the team effort instead of our individual talent and at this point we got a lot of things we need to work on but I feel like today a lot of our younger girls stepped it up,” said Arteaga. “They proved they can play at this level.”

With the stalemate lasting nearly half an hour, the remainder of the game became a controlled pitch by the ultra young Bulldogs who had many first year players out on the pitch, including Virden.

Virden nearly clinched her second goal of the game in the 35th minute but Stewart made a foot save as Virden attempted to side step the opposite way.

“A game like this also makes me realty excited for the rest of the season and I think everybody including myself were nervous because we didn’t know what to expect because the CCC play is really hard,” said Arteaga. “I mean everyone is trying to win.”

Turlock ended the first half with a one-goal lead and took eight shots for the first half, including six on target.

Atwater had only three shots on target in the first half.

The second half was a defensive battle after both the Falcons and Bulldogs were held to three combined shots, two for Turlock.

With about 18 minutes left in the game, Warda found Alicia Hill down the middle of the field and after a ricochet; Ashley Hill was able to put in the second effort to take the two-goal lead.

“We know that after today we are ahead and tied for first at least, so that is what I see it’s better to be atop than to be chasing from the bottom up,” said Arteaga of the 1-0 league start. “We got a lot of players that can play various positions but they know they can be replaced so they know their time in the game is special.”

“For right now, a lot to fix and tweak but overall the girls did the best they could do for today’s game,” Arteaga added.

Turlock finished with 10 shots for the game.

Their next game will be on the road at Merced at 4 p.m. Thursday.