Pitman Pride boys soccer head coach Memo Ramirez said his team is hungrier after their 2-0 shutout over Tracy High on Tuesday afternoon from home in the first round of the Division-II Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“We have to realize that we are playing sections, and for some reason the other team, whoever it is, they are in our bracket, so we are not playing any easy games now,” said Ramirez. “Every team out there is going to try and go out there and win, so I am not surprised that Tracy came out strong.”
For the most part, Pitman maintained possession, especially in the first half. That is when Tracy found it difficult to counter or hold on to the ball for long before they lost it or turned it over.
The first 20 minutes in saw Pitman using their speed and dribbling skills to run circles around majority of the opposition and repeatedly strike at the goal or around.
By halftime, Tracy’s goalkeeper had over double-digit saves despite giving up a goal.
Daniel Galdamez of Pitman broke the stalemate just before the half at the 40th minute of play, after taking the ball down the attacking third and into the penalty box and then he kept the ball low and shot it to the opposite end, hitting the back of the net and making it 1-0.
Pitman went into the half leading, but Tracy saw their opportunities, especially on multiple set pieces from about 20 yards out, including a penalty with 2:35 remaining in the first half that saw the Pride goalkeeper draw a yellow card and force a free kick.
Tracy nearly scored on the chance, hitting the far post, but the ball was cleared.
Tracy came out on fire in the second half, and nearly matched Pitman on shots attempted during the final 40 minutes of action, but nothing fell.
“I told the players we had to make sure we had possession and create chances, which we did, but we just have to try and put them in and that is what I told them,” said Ramirez. “I was expecting Tracy to come out strong like they did and I told the guys that every game is going to be like this, it is going to be a war, but we have to be smart, and possess the ball and try to put the ball in whenever we get any chance.”
Pitman goalkeeper Jarod Parsons maintained the clean sheet through the end.
At the 73rd minute, Pitman’s Marco Arias notched the game-clinching goal after he beat the outside defender to the penalty area, then struck the ball on a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, beating him to the far side, as it hit the back of the net with precision to make it 2-0.
The defense didn’t break and Parson finished the game with double-digit saves of his own.
Following the win, Pitman’s overall record improves to 12-8-1 on the year while they have now won seven of the last eight games played.
Next for the Pride is a second round meeting on the road at Central Valley High (pending their game tonight) out of Ceres at 3 p.m. Thursday. Pitman lost to CV back on Dec. 19 in a 4-0 shutout.
“Central Valley is No. 2 so I am predicting we will play them,” Ramirez added.