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Pride soccer scores two in the first, holds off Bella Vista
Second round for second season in a row
Pitman soccer 2
Pitmans Ramsen Larios sprints down near the sideline of the field during Tuesdays first round playoff win over Bella Vista. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Pitman High's defense bent but never broke on Tuesday afternoon in the boys soccer first round match in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Division II Section playoffs when the Pride hosted Bella Vista.

The Pride came out and took control of the pitch from the onset, controlling the tempo of the game and aggressively pushing up and pressing the Bella Vista defense. Jonathan Galdamez shot a ball just 14 minutes into the game before the ball ricochet into Brandon Pineda's possession and he jammed it in.

The press kept on coming against Bella Vista, which looked a bit lost early in the game, but inevitably the Pride's Miguel Galdamez nailed the eventual game sealer at the 23rd minute and the defense held on for the team's first round playoff win, 2-0.

“First of all, my respects to Bella Vista because they are a good team,” said Pitman assistant coach Cesar Mercado. “They made us bend but not break in the second half but that was the plan of the first half with the wind behind our backs and we did a good job pressing.”

The victory also marks the team's second in the last three games since losing two straight before that.

In the opening half, the Pride dominated the contest, keeping the ball on Bella Vista's half of the field and passing with precision.

The Pride had an opportunity to go up by a larger lead but the offense failed to execute.

With less than four minutes left until halftime break, Ricardo Casillas found himself in a one-on-one with Bella Vista's keeper but was robbed of the ball as he looked to make a move around the goalie.

“We spoke about going after them right away and the key moment in the game was the first goal which determined the outcome of things moving forward,” said Mercado. “Luckily we played well in the first half and were rewarded with two goals and probably could have been three but you can't finish them all.”

Pitman led 2-0 at the half but once the whistle blew, the second half belonged to Bella Vista, which came out firing away and essentially forced Pitman's goalkeeper Jesus Nuñez to move around more than he did in the first half, making three early saves within an 11 minute frame.

The defense for Pitman was sensational, attacking the offensive counters for Bella Vista with precision and not allowing them to get any comfortable shots off.

“We wanted to maintain the discipline because I thought they would switch formations and they did, putting more bodies up top,” said Mercado. “Once we get to our last third, then we held it down and went from there.”

Pitman kept on with their game plan and almost sealed the deal with a third goal with six minutes left, after Fernando Salas found himself with a wide open net, but his shot clanked off the top crossbar.

“They need to take a second to think in those situations,” said Mercado. “In league we lost focus in key moments of the game and lost points and we prepared for playoffs, but this was a good example since we have great teams.”

Next for Pitman will be another home game against either Ponderosa or Del Oro at 3 p.m. Thursday.