It was Pitman High girls soccer, the third ranked team in league, against the top seeded squad in Merced with the chance to make a statement to stay in the playoff hunt but the game transcended into what has been the story for the Pride all year long—missed opportunities.
The gusts reached a peak of 35 miles per hour, while the addition of heavy rain made it extremely difficult to play in the second half for either team. But the Bears took advantage of the Pride's minor setback and inability to notch all but one goal in Monday’s Central California Conference battle and left Turlock with a 4-1 win over Pitman.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but we missed some golden opportunities again and this is what we get, we don’t put away our chances and then the other team scores,” Pitman head coach Cris Castro said.
Pitman is now 3-4-1 overall and 2-4-1 in the CCC, while Merced sits neatly in first at 6-0-1 after winning 2-of-2 in two games thus far this year while outscoring the Pride 9-3.
It has been a season where goals do not come often for Pitman, or easy, and the show continued on Monday for the Pride who saw countless shots and open opportunities slip away from them as they allowed Merced to score four or more goals in two contests this year.
“We battle with everyone...it’s just the other team gets more goals than us and that has been the story thus far, we just can’t put the ball in the back of the net,” Castro said.
After Merced scored a goal in the opening minutes of the game, Pitman’s defense settled down and picked up the pace for the remaining time of the first half and managed to tie the game with under 10 minutes left till halftime.
In the 32nd minute a Cady Riley cross deflected off Yisel Perez’ head and past the goalkeeper into Ashleigh Phelps' possession on the far post and she chipped it in for the score to tie it at one apiece.
Unfortunately for the Pride, this would be the only score they would get to end the first half and for the remainder of the game. After the weather got worse in the second half, the Bears offense got better.
“We are playing in the same conditions, which we can’t use as an excuse. The game does get a bit uglier for both teams. You did see a bit of a struggle with the ball slipping and stuff like that, but inability to not score is killing us because we’re a better team than this,” Castro said about the conditions and his team.
Three minutes into the second half, Karina Salazar, struck a quick shot at the near post from 12 yards out, as the ball rifled past goalkeeper Jaimee Ellisons shoulder for the 2-1 lead and the Bears of Merced were just getting started.
By the 25th minute of the second half, Merced’s Diana Guzman drained the third score off a deflection.
Exactly one minute later the fourth and final goal would come from Anisa Saechao, who blasted a deep shot from 25 yards out in nearly an unreachable area just before Merced would suffer a late red card.
Next, the fourth place Pitman Pride will host Atwater in a CCC clash with the pitch set for 4 p.m. today.