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Pride boys ends pre-league play strong
Pitman Boys 1
Felipe Lopez of Pitman High passes during Thursdays home, 3-0 shutout over Enochs High. Lopez scored the Prides second goal at the 60th minute. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

So far so good for first year head coach Brian Hofsteen and the Pitman Pride varsity boys soccer team, which concluded their non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon with a convincing and 3-0 shutout over Enochs High at home.

“I’ve been really happy with the overall team chemistry. They have fun, they have passion for the sport, no doubt,” said Hofsteen. “They are playing as a team and any loose ends, they are helping each other out. They have been working well together so far.”

The Pride's overall record heading into league play improves to 7-2-1.

Over the last four games, the Pride have outscored opponents, 14-1.

The Pride also were able to redeem themselves against Enochs after falling to the Eagles on Dec. 9 in a close 1-0 game.

This time, the roles were reversed. Pitman outright controlled the game from the start till the final whistle.

“After the loss you could tell there was disappointment, so I thought today they had that desire to prove themselves, and they want to come back and redeem themselves, early resilience,” said Hofsteen.

Enochs was 8-1-1 heading into the game, now they earn their second loss, giving everyone a glimpse of what to expect next year when these two teams meet for a league clash in the newly created Central California Athletic League.

Enochs' only other loss this winter is to undefeated Folsom, 2-1, which is currently ranked No. 10 in California according to The Eagles were No. 74 prior to Thursday's loss.

Pitman's Jarod Solario scored the first goal of the game at the 19-minute mark after he took a one-step fake to the right from the top of the penalty box, back around to the opposite side and drilled a left footed volley into the right corner, beating the goalkeeper by several feet.

They carried their 1-0 lead into the half after a dominating first half that saw the Pride control the pitch and maintain an edge on possession time.

Then at the 60th minute, Felipe Lopez of Pitman put his team up by two goals after he heaved an upper 90 shot from about 21 yards out, from the top left center, and into to the top left corner as he tucked it neatly over the diving keeper and into the back of the net.

The third and final goal from Pitman came at the 66th minute off a set piece from Sammy Martinez who gently placed a ball for Daniel Borges who beat out all defenders, then placed a leaping header into the left top corner for the goal.

“We had more shots on goal, which is good for us to have,” said Hofsteen. “I thought we matched physically well with them as well. We ran and played smart. That is what it comes down to, I feel this team is doing quite well, controlling the ball. One of the things I’ve seen from them as the season progresses is also that they are opening the field and it's great.”

The defense maintained control until the end, allowing just one open opportunity in the closing minutes, while the offense struck the post on multiple occasions in the last 10 minutes, nearly adding another score.

“Obviously, academics are first for us, and injuries as well are down, but now that preseason is over, we have a break… so we need to keep that focus going into league play,” Hofsteen added. “That is what it comes down to — fundamentals and team play. Even at practice they are also creating space.”

Pitman will open up Central California Conference play with a home match against Atwater at 3 p.m. Jan. 3.