The Pitman and Turlock soccer teams finally met on the field Friday after Wednesday's game was postponed due to much-needed rain. The delay only increased the tension, as the rival Central California Conference teams battle for the full 80 minutes.
It was the Pride’s Audrey Hanf who would foul the Bulldog's Estephanie Partida in stoppage time just inside the box that set up Carissa Lopez’ game-winning penalty kick shot that ended it at 1-0 in favor of Turlock.
“I got nervous; I got a little shaky so I took a deep breath and I just kicked it and tried to zone out and it ended up working,” Lopez said of the game winner. “Cross-town rivalry game is always a hard fought game and a battle till the end and this is what we expected, but we were fortunate to come out on top.”
The call ignited a firestorm on the sidelines as rival coaches debated the merit of the penalty.
“There was definitely a foul, but it seems highly questionable from our view of where the foul was marked and I saw it wasn’t a PK, but we all make mistakes we will have to swallow it,” Pitman head coach Cris Castro said. “Every time Turlock and Pitman get together it is very exciting; it’s always good battles.”
Both teams saw equal opportunities come their way all game long as the stalemate was exactly that—a stalemate until the final seconds of regulation.
After the win, the Bulldogs of Turlock have added another clean sheet to this year and have allowed only two goals in the last nine games, with one of the goals against Merced in a questionable offside call that was never made.
Turlock held possession for much of the first half and the home team of Pitman had trouble opening up the defense and finding a crease due to the strong back line of Turlock made up of Mariya Fefilova, Savannah Riddle, Fallon Beaber and Cayla Donahue, who returned from an ACL tear last year.
The tandem, along with the strong performance from goalkeeper Ashlen Kuntz, made the defense nearly impenetrable by any means but Pitman did see a few opportunities, they just weren’t very pretty.
Things really picked up in the final 20 minutes of regulation with nonstop action from there on as both teams pressed on offense, which then transcended into open opportunities for both squads.
“I think the intensity grew finally near the end and we knew we were coming down to the wire with time so we just needed to bring that intensity and ball control and put everything on the field and that’s what happened,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said.
With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Pitman’s Cady Riley made a sprint down the left field line and as she neared the outside part of the box, Kuntz came out to contest the shot then backed up just before Riley rifled a shot to the far post, but Kuntz made a diving save to stop the threat.
“We had our share of opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize. We did create those chances, but we couldn’t get it in and situations like that will come back and bite you sometimes, but it has been the story of our season we have been in every game just a shot here and there that could have gone in but didn’t,” Castro said about his team this year thus far.
Less than three minutes later, Kiana Mavis and Lopez found a way inside the box, but after back-to-back shots at the goal, Pitman’s Jamiee Ellison made a great first save followed by Hanf’s slide to block off the second shot.
Both Turlock and Pitman High will square off in CCC bouts on Monday. Turlock will host Atwater at 4 p.m. Pitman welcomes Merced High as the game is set to start at 4 p.m.