Pitman High is in prime position in the Central California Conference after Monday night’s 2-0 defeat of rival Turlock High. But while the Pride (4-1 CCC) are currently brimming with confidence as they sit in first place —tied with Buhach Colony High—they are being careful not to let that confidence spill over as memories of last season’s initial success and subsequent fall are still fresh in the mind.
“It’s nice to have that cushion, but there are 10 games left and, in the league that we’re in, anything can happen,” Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado said. “We feel great to be in first, though. The boys are very confident.”
The defending CCC champion Bulldogs (1-4 CCC) opened Monday’s match with aggression, bringing physicality to their home turf as they tried to snap a two-game losing streak. Turlock had a number of scoring opportunities in the first half but a combination of inaccurate shots and clutch saves from Pitman goal keeper Jesus Nunez kept the ‘Dogs off the scoreboard.
Both teams hit halftime scoreless.
“You have to give credit where credit is due. Turlock came out in the first half and were more aggressive,” Mercado said.
Pitman entered the second half with a plan to tamp Turlock’s momentum by controlling the ball and slowing the pace of the match. It didn’t take long for the plan to take effect—only 1:16 to be exact—as Brayan Perez earned the first points of the night with a goal that saw the junior beat two Bulldog defenders en route to the net.
“It was basically an individual effort. It was a well developed play, but he finished it off by beating the two defenders and seeing the opening,” Mercado said. “It gave us momentum.”
The Pride capitalized on their new found momentum six seconds later when Adriel Mancilla penetrated Turlock’s goalkeeper’s defense with a header off a corner kick. From there, Pitman rode out the rest of the match on its way to victory.
“We tried to keep possession as much as we could; that’s the best defense, to hold on to the ball with your offense,” Mercado said.
Pitman will now try and parlay a two-game win streak into another victory against Merced High today at home. The Pride defeated the Bears, 2-1, in the CCC league opener.
“Merced started bad but is coming off a two-win streak. It should be a good match,” Mercado said.
Turlock, on the other hand, will attempt to get back into the winner’s column against first place Buhach Colony on the road today.