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Penalty kicks send Beyer home, advance Bulldogs
Turlock soccer pic1
Bulldog Carissa Lopez kicks the ball mid air during Thursdays playoff match against Beyer. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

For 100 minutes, Turlock High and Beyer High battled under the lights in Joe Debely Stadium, showcasing a level of competition one would expect from a pair of playoff teams.  The Bulldogs (12-2-7 overall) controlled the majority of the match with 22 attempts on goal versus Beyer’s 5, but were still unable to score, forcing a decision via penalty kicks. After netting 6 of 7 penalty kicks, Turlock emerged as the victors, 6-5 over the Patriots, and found itself heading to round three of the SJS Division I Playoffs.

“They were tough,” Turlock’s head coach Cathi Cshali-Lopez said. “They came out strong and so did we. During playoffs everyone has their game on.”

After a first round bye and seven days rest, Turlock stepped onto its home field motivated and ready to challenge the Patriots (10-8-2 overall). Within the first 10 minutes of regulation the Bulldogs found themselves in three separate scoring positions but were thwarted by Beyer’s goalie Katie Gruelich. Gruelich, who finished the day with 11 saves, kept Beyer in the match with quick reflexes and a dose of luck. Turlock had more opportunities to score in the second half, wide open shots in some cases, but the ball flew just wide of the net on each attempt.

“She played an excellent game,” Cshali-Lopez said of Beyer’s goalie.

The Bulldogs had a close call of their own in the first half when a Patriot attacker found herself one on one with Turlock’s goalie, Ashlen Kuntz. As the Beyer player approached, Kuntz dove onto the ball and knocked the would-be scorer onto the turf for one of her three saves of the day. It was one of the few instances where the Bulldogs found themselves in danger.

When the two overtime periods had expired Beyer stepped up and took its penalty kicks first, making the first three before Kuntz got her hand on the fourth shot. The Bulldogs responded by making their first four shots, denying Beyer its fifth and seventh shots, and making their final two shots for the one point victory. Mady Bowen, Lindsey Aldax, Aubrey Glidden, Kayla Donahue, Kayla Machado, and Savanah Riddle each scored a penalty kick.

“Our adrenalin was pumping through our bodies after that,” Cshali-Lopez said. “The girls worked so hard all season and they’re continuing to work hard for each other. It’s awesome.”

Turlock will host Tracy High in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Turlock has not played the Tracy Bulldogs (10-2-2 overall) this season but another tough match is anticipated.

“They’re division champs and they bring players to the field,” Cshali-Lopez said. “We’re going to have to play hard and implement our strategy to come away with the win.”