The Pride are moving on to the second round of the postseason for the second consecutive year.
The Pitman High boys soccer team was able to pull off the upset over the Modesto Metro Conference champions, Modesto High, in Tuesday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin opener after Jonathan Galdamez scored the game-winning goal in the 63rd minute and the defense held on for the 3-2 victory.
“Our guys kept their composure and stayed focused,” said Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado. “Modesto began strong and then we had to make some adjustments that we saw at the half and we just took advantage of the opportunities and learned to be patient.”
The Pride finished the regular season with a deceptive third place standing in the Central California Conference with a 6-5-4 record while Modesto was 10-1-1 in the MMC.
“I knew that in the season we were kind of messing around but I knew that we play those big kind of games, we pick it up and since this is a playoff game we knew the importance,” said junior goalkeeper Jesus Nunez.
Pitman’s next game will be at Oak Ridge against the 11th ranked team in the state.
Tuesday’s game was a physical matchup between both squads as the stakes were high, but the level of play was superior between Modesto and Pitman.
Pitman scored the first goal of the game, only 27 seconds into the contest, as Miguel Galdamez found the back of the net to go up one-nil.
The Pride held on to the lead for majority of the first half, despite playing with their backs against the wall due to the intense pressure that Modesto put on the Pride defense.
In the closing seconds of the first half, Modesto’s Julio Corona found a hole in between Nunez after beating defender Ricky Ramirez on a one-on-one and the score was tied at one apiece heading into halftime.
“I don’t think we were scared of going up against anyone being that we can fight and put up a battle against any team,” Nunez said. “I don’t really get nervous, I take it as another game and another opportunity to show what I can do and if I don’t do that then I shouldn’t be playing.”
Nunez showed just what he could do after finishing the game with seven saves.
“We went deep into the playoffs last year and I am pretty sure we can do that again,” said Nunez. “I need to step on the field and help my teammates out and be great myself.”
Not only was Nunez on point but in critical situations the defense stepped up after Coach Mercado made numerous subs throughout the game until he saw what he liked.
“We tried to put some speed in different areas of the field and tried to have some of the good visual readers in certain spots and they all did well,” Mercado said. “I think everybody that played contributed to the win and they did their role and that is key.”
Serafin Alberto of Modesto scored the second and final goal in the 47th minute and the Panthers took their only lead of the game.
It wouldn’t last long after recently moved up sophomore Isaiah Marable made one of many very crucial crosses three minutes later which resulted in the game-tying goal when Adolfo Maldonado knocked in one-touch in between the goalkeeper's arm and the far post.
The stalemate continued into the closing minutes of the game then, finally, in the 63rd minute, Marable’s corner kick ricochet into Galdamezs’ possession and he sunk what would be the game-winner.
“This win reminds the team of the talent they have when they come together and we saw glimpses of it throughout the season but it's good, can’t really complain after this victory,” Mercado said.
“I think this emotion after a game, knowing what we can feel after a game then that kind of picks us up,” said Nunez. “We start from the beginning and we start to say that nobody will just come out and beat us nor will we lose anywhere for that matter in the playoffs.”
Pitman and Oak Ridge will battle in the quarterfinals at Oak Ridge with the game set to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday.