Turlock and Pitman High met at Joe Debely Stadium for the 15th and final Central California Conference match of the season on Wednesday. With a slight lead over second place Golden Valley High in the league standings, the Bulldogs were playing for their second consecutive outright CCC championship.
The Pride (7-5-3 CCC) had other plans, though, as they looked to replace lost post-season hopes with a victory over their cross-town rivals. With the help of leading scorer, freshman Rayana Plancarte, Pitman topped Turlock, 2-0, to end its season on a high note. The Bulldogs (9-5-1 CCC) still earned the CCC championship but were forced to share the title with the Cougars (9-5-1 CCC).
“It was the most important thing for us at this point. We know playoffs aren’t in our future, but we still want people to see how good we are and see what we are capable of doing,” Pitman head coach Christina Garcia said of the win. “Our record doesn’t reflect our team and the talent that we have. It’s unfortunate that we had some games where we didn’t hold on to the lead, so this means a lot.”
“Pitman came out and they wanted it more than we did,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said.
Both teams were evenly matched throughout the contest as they relied on team defense, but the tide turned in Pitman’s favor in the 34th minute when Fallon Beaber was red carded for an intentional hand ball on a would be Plancarte goal. Plancarte received a penalty kick and scored anyway while Turlock was forced to play the remainder of the match with only 10 players.
“We didn’t make any adjustments; we just played our regular game. We didn’t change our lineup differently we just came to win,” Garcia said.
Despite playing short-handed, Turlock remained competitive through the second half. Still, the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on their offensive efforts and were left stifled and frustrated. Pitman made it official in the 76th minute with another Plancarte goal as she chipped it into the net after a Vanessa Orozco block and a Mariah Emmons rebound pass.
It was Plancarte’s fourth game with multiple goals and she finished with 12 on the season.
“Definitely look out for her in the future; you’re going to see her name a lot,” Garcia said. “She’s a great kid with lots of talent and I look forward to seeing her play in the years to come.”
Turlock was visibly disappointed with the loss but news of a co-championship helped to lighten the mood of the team. The Bulldogs and Pride finished with 12 shots on goal and six saves a piece.
“I’m excited for the girls, they did come from behind in the season to work their way back to the championship,” Schali-Lopez said. “Even though it’s a co-championship I’m very proud of their work.”
Though they tied for the CCC championship, the Bulldogs bested the Cougars in the head to head matchup and were awarded the number one seed for the playoffs which begin next week.
“We’re just going to continue on with our practice and focus in again on bringing our skills to the field and play the soccer that we know how to play,” Schali-Lopez said.