Heading into Wednesday’s game, both Pitman and Turlock boys soccer teams knew what was on the line — a claim to the first-ever Central California Athletic League title. The Bulldogs were aiming to hold on to their undefeated record and the Pride had their sights on an upset.
After a hard-fought battle, the Pride came out ahead 3-2, beating the Bulldogs and earning a share of the CCAL crown.
“We have gone 23 games or whatever it is without a loss, by far the best regular season we have ever had,” said THS head coach Doug Sperry. “To think there wouldn’t be a game where you struggle and things don’t go our way is unrealistic and I am sure it was going to happen and I am glad it happened sooner rather than later and glad it happened this week rather than the next one for playoffs.”
Both Pitman and Turlock close out the regular season with a CCAL record of 9-1.
Turlock’s current ranking in the nation is No. 55 and No. 12 in California.
Pitman is No. 99 in the country and No. 24 in the state.
“Turlock has had an amazing year, and it is really good for the town of Turlock and soccer in general, it was a great game,” said Pitman head coach Brian Hofsteen. “Great entertainment and I am sure everyone who watched said the same thing… great game.”
It was a great game.
Turlock notched the first goal of the game after 10 minutes. Following Luke Redman’s 12th minute goal, Turlock went up 1-0, but after that they looked like they were parking the bus and playing defense for the remainder of the first half.
Pitman continued to press and keep the ball on the attacking third for over 25 minutes until they finally notched a game-tying goal before the half. Daniel Borges found the back of the net at the 28th minute to tie it 1-1 at halftime.
Borges scored his second goal off a penalty in the 41st minute to go up 2-1. Exactly 14 minutes later, Borges sliced through a pair of defenders inside the penalty box and hit the cross-bar, nearly completing the hat-trick.
Following the pace of the contest, it took eight minutes for Turlock to tie the game once again after Redman drilled his second goal off a one-on-one scenario with the goalkeeper.
With 10 minutes left in regulation, Pitman’s Luis Cordero erased any doubt after he knocked in the team’s third and final goal of the game off a set piece.
“I thought the first 10 to 15 minutes we played really well and controlled the ball and could have gone up 2-0,” said Sperry. “But Pitman came back and battled with a lot of energy and started to control the game and we made mistakes here and there and gave them opportunities and Pitman took it to us.”
“I anticipated a battle just watching these guys. We started to play more simple ball, which was the game plan coming in, touch the ball as much as we can, and playing at home helped us out,” said Hofsteen. “Our boys really wanted this, so they started to play their game and we’ve been placing the ball well recently and finally put away some shots the last couple games and it carried into this game as well which is good.”
Turlock ends the regular year with a record of 19-1-3, having lost just once to their crosstown foe.
“We will see how they respond, but this could have been the best thing that happened to us since we have coasted some games,” Sperry added. “When you go that long without a loss you fall into bad habits and expect things to go our way, so if these guys can forget about it and fight with the same intensity and when we play to our full potential, I think we are unstoppable. Honestly, I don’t think there is a team in sections that can beat us, so hopefully this will be extra motivation going into Tuesday’s playoff game.”
Pitman closes the regular season with a record of 17-2
“Feels fantastic, going back to last year co-champs feel good,” Hofsteen added. “I said it before throughout the season, the chemistry is there, these guys love playing for one another and with each other. They have fun at practice, they work hard and keep each other’s heads up and very proud of them.”
The tiebreaker for the playoff seeding was based off a coin flip, which Turlock High won.
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