On a cool and windy Saturday night, Pitman and Turlock High squared off on the pitch in both teams' first Central California Conference matchup of the season at Warrior Stadium on the campus of Stanislaus State.
For both varsity squads, it was an opportunity to get a one-game edge on one another and Pitman took full advantage of its chances after doing a phenomenal job defensively for most of the game behind goalkeeper Jesus Nuñez, who was without question one of the best players of the game.
When the game was all said and done, Pitman had notched a one-goal victory over Turlock after the Pride's Jhoan Fernandez scored the lone goal of the game to win it, 1-0.
“The atmosphere here made the game closer than we expected it to be, of course, we expected to win but we underestimated Turlock and overlooked them but our kids played well all around,” said Pitman assistant coach Sergio Sousa.
“They [Pitman] did a good job. We did not create too much,” said Turlock head coach Doug Sperry. “Our midfield stepped it up in the second half and I thought we controlled the game and put pressure on defense, but we never really were there; they just contained us. We never put the final piece.”
The win marks the Pride's fourth consecutive victory over Turlock and they have now won six out of the last seven meetings.
Saturday's game was a bit different from the previous meeting as goalkeeper Nuñez forced the opposition to play uncomfortably with help from the back-line, which made it easier for Nuñez to play his game.
He would come out when needed before any Turlock attacker could get comfortable with possession near the 18-yard box and this became the story of the game.
“We have the best keeper in the CCC and our defense is flawless because they have a guy like him to where even if it’s not perfect it still looks okay because we have a guy like him,” said Sousa of Nuñez. “It's a luxury to have him in high school sports since people overlook them.”
The stalemate lasted until the 34-minute mark when Pitman finally opened the game up with a goal after Miguel Galdamez swung a cross from one side of the penalty area to opposite end of the net, and Fernandez tapped the ball in for the eventual game winner.
“We came out ready, but in the second half they were kind of on to us a bit more, with more possession but we had the opportunities even though their goalkeeper made great saves,” said Sousa. “We didn't concede a goal, so that was good.”
The Pride didn't and neither did Turlock.
Sophomore goalkeeper Luis Carrillo came in for the Turlock Bulldogs in the second half, and ultimately ended the game with eight saves for his team—saving a second goal from being scored.
“I think the crosstown rivalry always pumps us up even though Turlock has some great players as well,” said Nuñez. “But we figured who they were and shut them out and we played the back line well.”
The win also marks the team's sixth shutout this season.
“[We were] defensively structured all game and tactically everyone was sticking to their assignments and everything, nobody went off or trying to be a hero, everyone stuck to the game-plan so I thought the win came because we played as a team,” said Sousa.
Pitman's next contest will be on the road against Merced at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The next game for Turlock will be at home against Buhach Colony at 4 p.m. Thursday
“We are still in the middle of the CCC mix, we've been playing well when we started but didn't get results and things did not go our way,” said Sperry.