Monday’s Central California Conference battle between Turlock and Pitman High boys soccer teams was a highly anticipated contest—and the hype carried into the game.
From the opening whistle to the final minute, the intensity never faded as both sides were able to keep up with the pace of the game for all 80 minutes.
Turlock suffered through two red cards and in the final minutes were playing with just nine players on the pitch, but in the end it didn’t matter as Pitman’s lone goal in the first half was enough to secure the 1-0 win.
“We played a really sloppy first half. It was the worst first half we've played all year, but it was almost expected since we hadn’t played in a long time,” said Turlock head coach Doug Sperry. “We had two cancellations last week, so it was kind of expected for us to come out slow and be a little sloppy at first.”
“It was a collective effort,” said Pitman coach Sergio Sousa. “It was the most collective effort that we have had all year. I don’t think we had a player on the field that didn’t play well. It’s to the point where we scored the goal and we high-fived every player on the bench because that is how collective it was.”
According to Sousa, the gameplan started weeks ago.
Pitman was coming into the game having lost five of their last eight games, but they turned the luck around with the help of the entire roster, including Isrrael Lopez and Ricardo Casillas.
Casillas and Lopez led the Pride attack, which created multiple opportunities throughout the game.
However, neither side was able to break until the closing minutes of the first half.
Edson Garcia of Turlock was called for his second yellow with under three minutes remaining in the first half, eventually getting ejected after receiving a red card.
It took less than 60 seconds for Pitman to finally respond up a guy, when Jose Flores powered his way through the defender and in a one-on-one situation, Flores hit the far side with a nice heel shot to put his team up for good.
“I think we were just completely ready to play today,” said Sousa. “I felt like we all did our homework for this one and I felt there was nothing going on today that we couldn’t answer.”
On a contentious call from the ref, Marcus DeCouto of Turlock was called for his second yellow and was also ejected from the game, forcing Turlock to play with just nine players to Pitman’s 11 in the closing five minutes.
“In the second half, I thought being down a man we played pretty well,” said Sperry.
The Bulldog defense held on and didn’t allow another goal despite being outnumbered. DeCouto also suffered a broken nose in the first 16 minutes of action, but only missed a handful of minutes, including the final five.
“I think from preseason to now, we are really different,” said Sousa. “Preseason we were trying to find ourselves and see what suited us best, and who should be where and the mentality we should have. I feel we have found ourselves and we found ourselves in a good time.”
Pitman goes to 2-2-1 in the CCC and 5-6-2 overall while Turlock is now 2-1-1 in the CCC and 8-5-2 overall, picking up their first league loss of the year.
Turlock will also be without three of its normal starters for the next game, including Garcia and Decouto.
“We are already down a man because of the red cards and this new rule is ridiculous,” said Sperry of the rule being changed from one to two game suspensions. “It was put in because guys were fighting, but it now gets good kids who get dumb cards in trouble. It will affect league as well for questioning officiating, but we are deep so we will do what we can.”
“The kids are ecstatic and they are going to enjoy this one all week, however, we can’t hold on too long since we play two more games this week, but overall, we are in the right direction,” Sousa added. “We are not completely there but we are on the right path.”
Turlock’s next game will be on the road at El Capitan at 3:30 p.m. today.
Pitman will host Atwater at 3:30 p.m. today.