For the second time this season, the Pitman High soccer team defeated Central California Conference opponent Golden Valley; this time at home, in shutout fashion.
It was a physical and tough defensive match in the first half of Monday's game, but a key penalty goal by the Pride in the 12th minute proved to be the difference maker en route to a 2-0 shutout.
“Monday is a tough day to play for every team, I believe, especially since we have had some pretty bad first halves and first few minutes. But I think today, since the first minute, the team performed to its expectations,” Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado said.
Not only was the Pride's defense on point during the first half, clearing away every ball that came near the box, but consistent passes along with being at the right place at the right time would prove enough for the offense.
“The kids moved the ball around very well, passing well, they communicated well; (it's) very pleasing to see that,” Mercado said. “Sometimes there is discomfort when you’re playing well, taking shots and passing well, but the goals don’t come.”
Arguably the player of the game, Grant Tallent, nearly netted a goal in the closing minutes of the first half after blasting a rocket just inside the goalie's box to the right corner — but it sailed wide.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Tallent drew a foul inside the goalie's box. Ricky Ramirez then attempted a shot as it bounced off the goalie; but after back-to-back fouls, Ramirez's second attempt was nailed in with ease to put the Pride on the board.
“I told the kids at the half time mark to be patient and that a goal will come and, thankfully, it did,” Mercado said. “The players and their state of mind, being confident and working hard, has brought them to where they are now; but they continue to seek improvement.”
About six minutes later, Tallent would strike at the back of the net but Golden Valley’s goalkeeper made the stop.
In the 29th minute, Tallent showed his speed and athleticism again as he made a finesse shot over the goalie's head from the right corner of the box to the left side of the net for the second score. This would prove to be the end, as the Pride’s defense was able to control the remainder of the game.
“There is always room for growth the kids say. They are using all they learn to their advantage. At times, being overconfident can go against you so we are just taking one game at a time and that’s what we tell the kids,” Mercado said. “In the second half of the year you have already seen all the teams, so you can see or have an idea on how to play them the second time around.”
After defeating the Cougars, Pitman sits atop the CCC with a 6-1 league record, while Buhach Colony is in second (4-2).
Pitman will travel to Buhach Colony today, with a starting time of 4 p.m. The Pride will take to the field again at 7 p.m. Saturday in a key matchup against Turlock High at Warriors Stadium on the campus of Cal State Stanislaus.
“We see the Turlock game as just a league game, considering it is a cross-town rival game, but it will be fun as we get to play at the Warriors Stadium...We will see what happens and we are all just as excited as they are,” Mercado said.