The Central California Conference has been a powerhouse on the soccer field all year, and on Saturday both Pitman and Turlock high were able to showcase their talent under the collegiate lights in a neutral site at Warrior Stadium on the campus of California State University, Stanislaus.
For the second time this season the Pride were able to overcome a strong defensive performance from the injured Bulldogs as they took it to them until the final second en route to a 1-0 victory.
“Getting to play at Stan was a great experience for our players. The guys had been looking forward to it for a long time,” Turlock head coach Doug Sperry said. “The turnout was great and it was a great opportunity for both Turlock soccer programs, and I hope we have more opportunities to play out there in the future.”
Turlock and Pitman were neck-and-neck for most of the game, especially in the opening minutes as the ball was kept in the middle of the field, with no shots being taken until nine minutes in. At that point, the Pride offense took off with back-to-back shots.
The Bulldogs were able to contain the Pride offense, even with senior co-captains Robert Saldana and Martin Castorena out with injuries.
“Missing your captains is huge, especially guys of this caliber; but we still played well on the defensive side,” Sperry said.
Both squads were waiting for one another to commit an error in order capitalize; but it wouldn’t come in the first as it ended 0-0.
A minor breakdown by the Bulldog defense, along with a perfect pass from Grant Tallent to Adolfo Maldonado, led to the Pitman goal in the seventh minute of the second.
“Turlock pressed us a lot in the first 10 minutes, and made us commit a lot of mistakes. But once we settled down and knocked the ball around, it was a different game,” Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado said. “I actually thought it was pretty even; Turlock was there, they had opportunities, and they missed a few, as did we.”
A stingy defense along with a clutch play lifted the Pride over the Bulldogs, in an extremely physical and defensive battle. The Pride defense prevailed as the top dogs in the CCC and, possibly, the state.
"It feels good to win because we are all just a team, there are no individuals out there,” Pitman forward Grant Tallent said. “We all work very hard together and we feel we can beat any team. We have no weakness because I truly believe every single one of us is good. We have a deep squad. If we play our best, we can beat anybody."
Both Pitman and Turlock had one day of rest before getting back on the field Monday, as the Pride took down Atwater, 3-0. The Bulldogs fell to Merced in a 0-4 shutout. Pitman is now 9-1 in the CCC while Turlock sits with a 3-7 record.
“I think that this is one of the most competitive leagues in the state,” Mercado said.
Next, the Pride will travel to Merced with a starting time of 4 p.m. today. The Bulldogs will host Buhach Colony at 5 p.m. today.