The Central California Athletic League title for girls soccer is staying in the town of Turlock after Pitman secured the season sweep over the Turlock Bulldogs on Wednesday with a 2-0 shutout from the Pride’s field in what was a winner-take-all regular season finale.
“These girls always show up to play Turlock. we always know it is going to be a good game. They just really wanted it,” said Pitman head coach Annabel Perez. “They had a hard loss on Monday and they know they had to move past it and forget about it and they came together and focused for this game.”
The league title is the Pride’s first since they won the CCC back in the spring of 2016 after a 10-1-4 league record.
“We knew this was going to be a really tough game. Our girls really wanted to go for the win, and they did, they worked together,” said Perez. “Started off kind of bumpy this year. We had a rough start and we were able to figure out some stuff and fill in some spots, and girls stepped up in positions maybe they never played before and we were able to figure out the formula and it worked throughout the season.”
Turlock, on the other hand, had won a league title in three consecutive seasons under the leadership of head coach Temo Arteaga that included last year’s inaugural CCAL title and the two CCC titles.
“We don’t want that feeling, since we came out with the game plan and it didn’t work out. So, we learn from that experience,” said Arteaga. “I told the girls to remember this feeling so they will be ready for next year if we get into a similar situation.”
Turlock (14-5-2) finishes the year with a league record of 8-2, and lost both games to Pitman.
The Pride (17-5-1 overall) close out CCAL play with a posting of 9-1, while both teams clinch a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“It is a good year, and overall I am happy with the girls and how they performed in league, still some hiccups we have to fix, and it has been up and down, couldn’t find some momentum, but hopefully we can in playoffs,” said Arteaga.
Prior to that, they each had to play on Wednesday for the CCAL title.
In the opening 10 minutes of the game, nobody saw many opportunities as the game was played mostly in the middle.
The Pride finally started to create some chances less than a minute later and at the 22nd minute, Camila Stephens drilled a deep goal from about 30 yards away and put her team up 1-0 after beating the keeper with precision and perfect height on the ball.
Soon after, Pitman began to press and push forward, creating multiple chances by attacking consistently and controlling possession.
With about six minutes remaining in the first half, Turlock created multiple chances, but none of the shots were on goal and the score remained 1-0 by halftime.
Sophomore Isabella Green struck the back of the net for Pitman with about 19 minutes left in the game, a corner kick from Stephens led to a second opportunity after Lilly Leonard’s shot hit the post.
Green was able to get the ricochet and then proceeded to head the ball in immediately to put her team up by two.
Green nearly scored again at the 74th minute, but her shot sailed away.
“We’ve been working on the scoring, sometimes they want to bring inside the six or they want to bring it inside the crowd, so we have told them to shoot from far and we also had someone to finish in case the shot didn’t go in,” said Perez. “It all worked to our advantage since we were working on set pieces.”
The Pride close the regular season having won 12 of the last 13 games played.
“I knew our girls had it in them, and they came out and scored first, totally can be a momentum changer and it kept our adrenaline high,” Perez added.
Turlock snaps a six-game winning streak, while they close out the regular season having won nine of 11.
“The bounces didn’t go our way, but a lot of credit to Pitman, they came out and worked hard and won a lot of 50-50 balls and the physicality was there,” Arteaga added. “I think our girls kind of shied away from that, so I am hoping that next time we will be ready.”
Both teams advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with an opponent and time yet to be determined. For the latest information on the playoff brackets, visit cifsjs.org.