The addition of soccer in the winter season meant some schools needed to adjust and certain student-athletes perhaps choose one sport over the other. Turlock and Pitman High varsity girls soccer adjusted a little better than the smaller schools as they head into the 2016-17 season anxious for the new year.
Both squads are ready for the new chapter in high school soccer in the area. However, Pitman will be playing without it all-time leading scorer in Rayana Plancarte, who is now at Stanislaus State.
“We knew that eventually we would have to play without Rayana, we knew the time would come and the time has presented itself but obviously it will be difficult to replace a player of her caliber,” said Pitman head coach Cris Castro.
Last season, the Pride took the Central California Conference title with a league record of 10-1-4 while Turlock took fourth at 7-5-3.
“Last year we did a lot better than I anticipated and we came out and competed. We gave Pitman, Merced and Golden Valley a run for their money and that was my goal,” said Turlock coach Tem Arteaga.
Last year the Bulldogs were a young team, but heading into 16-17, they are now one of the top contenders in the CCC, assuming the progress continues after tallying an overall record of 8-8-3 last season.
“We've got a lot of girls with tons of potential, we just have to bring it out of them and if I can do that, then we certainly can win CCC and beyond that,” said Arteaga. “This year my goal is to compete for first place and playoffs as well, because we are bringing many players back but I don't wanna make expectations so high they don't reach it. We are going to compete for that first place.”
Arteaga strongly emphasized that his team can achieve all they wish to this upcoming season but they have to put their minds and hearts into it.
The 'Dogs will be led by senior Sophie Warda, who will have returners Kishauna Mavis, Danielle Sousa and Natalia Campbell back to name a few.
Pitman finished with an overall record of 15-7-5 last year and have no plans to slow down.
The Pride will return Jill Leon, Giselle Barajas and the CCC Defensive Player of the Year last season, Serena Walls.
“We are definitely counting on Serena to lead the defense since this year the defense will certainly be young again and Serena will be the only senior along with three sophomores,” said Castro.
Sophomore Isabella Shallou-Enes also returns after being second on the team in scoring behind Plancarte just a year ago.
“Luckily we have great players on the team who are hard workers and are willing to take on the challenge to step into that spot and fill the vacuum left, that void,” said Castro said of losing Plancarte.
With the loss of Plancarte, the Pride might look like a weaker team but despite the young backline, Castro is more than confident in his team’s ability.
“Turlock's probably going to be the team to beat in CCC this year,” said Castro. “But we are going to be right there in somewhat of a rebuilding year in a way but playing at a highly competitive level. I think we will rise up to the occasion. I am confident with the players we've got...that we will be right there top three competing for sure.”
Pitman's first game of the season will be at Gregori at 3 p.m. Nov. 30.
The first contest for Turlock will be at home against Oakdale at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1.