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Pride Cup kicks off soccer season
Pitman, Hilmar finish second; Turlock third
Pitman's Edward Olivera gets a foot in to block his El Capitan opponent from passing during Saturday's tournament. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Saturday marked the conclusion of the 2015 Pitman Pride Cup for Pitman, Turlock and Hilmar high's boys’ soccer teams and also the start of the season for many local high school teams.

Thirty high schools from around Northern California competed in the tournament that divided the teams into five groups. Play began on Friday with two games played for each team followed by Saturday's conclusion of two games apiece.

By Saturday's end, under the scorching heat, Hilmar and Pitman each placed second in their respective groups and Turlock ended in third.

“We had a mix of it all; it’s very good to test out the players to see how capable they were and the players to understand the different levels,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt. “It’s a great way to get ready for the season.”

“We played well overall I thought,” said Pitman assistant head coach Cesar Mercado. “We executed on a few things we've been working on and training so it’s exciting to see and I thought we played well, but didn't find that consistent play throughout like we could have.”

Pitman came the closest to winning their group after a performance that resulted in a 3-1 overall record. The team’s lone loss cost them at the end and Weston Ranch came out with the victory at 30 points as opposed to Pitman's 28.

In the first day of play, Pitman shutout El Capitan 3-0, followed by a tight 3-2 win over Weston Ranch.

Then in the morning game on Saturday, Pitman fell to Fortuna, 0-1, which was their only loss of the tournament. Pitman beat Downey in the final game, 3-2.

“We were not as sharp in the beginning; some jitters at first but then we settled down and played how we've been training and [it's] good to see,” said Mercado. “The end was tough, but we pulled through against Downey.

Ramsin Larios and Israel Lopez each scored two goals apiece behind an offense that tallied three goals in three of their four games.

“Everyone contributed,” Mercado added.

Hilmar finished the Cup with a 2-1-1 record in Group B, amassing 23 points, seven points behind first place Ceres.

In the Yellowjackets opener against Lincoln of San Francisco, they had no problem finding the back of the net as they won 3-1. Later, the 'Jackets failed to convert as they fell to Ceres 0-1 after a late card by Hilmar proved costly.

Hilmar beat Buhach, 4-1, in Saturday's first game before tying Linden 2-2 after a hot 2-0 start in the game.

Behind Miguel Avila and Steven Cardoso, goalkeeper Francisco Lepe was as consistent as any for the 'Jackets this past weekend, providing great defense.

Adrian Yepez provided offense for the team after tallying three goals in four contests with consist play from Joshua Martinez, Jaime Cardajal and Ryan Millan.

Turlock was 2-2 and notched 18 points after beating Central Valley in day one, 2-1, but that was followed by a 3-1 loss to Whitney.

“They [Whitney] outplayed us, but [I'm] not too worried, it was hot,” Turlock head coach Doug Sperry said about the 105 degree weather. “It’s as hot as it’s ever been in a soccer day for me; it was tough.”

The Bulldogs returned to action on Saturday with an early game against Kimball. The 'Dogs made an early mistake in the opening 30 seconds which cost them a goal. The squad stepped it up, however, and scored five unanswered goals behind Johnny Brenda's two, to take the 5-1 victory.

In the final game, the 'Dogs lost to Galt 0-4.

“Galt is a really good team,” Sperry said. “Lots of talent and size and [we] knew it would be tough. The score does not reflect how we played. They capitalized on our minor mistakes and eventually they looked for that, but I was happy with our performance overall since we were trying some different things, keeping the positive direction going.”

Pitman will next travel to play Livingston at 4 p.m. today. Hilmar will host Orestimba at 4 p.m. today and Turlock face the Falcons in Atwater at 4 p.m. Sept. 15.