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Prides Ramirez heads in game-winner over Bulldogs
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Adolfo Maldonado (left) of Pitman looks for a header while Turlocks Marcus DeCouto (13) looks to contest the ball during the second half of Tuesdays CCC match. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

The second time two teams meet rarely results in the same outcome as the first matchup.

When Turlock and Pitman High’s boys soccer teams met last month for their annual crosstown and Central California Conference matchup, Pitman shutout the Bulldogs, 5-0. This time around it was a much closer game, however, with the same result.

Pitman captured the 2-1 victory over Turlock at Joe Debely on Tuesday night after Ricky Ramirez headed in the game-winning goal in the 71st minute to snap the Pride’s three-game losing streak.

“At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to go up for it but then it took a while to set up the corner,” said Ramirez. “So I took some people down and I just got a great set piece from Adolfo [Maldonado] and so it was hard to miss it.”

“It is frustrating, we had opportunities [but] just couldn’t finish it,” Turlock head coach Doug Sperry said. “I know I keep saying this over and over again, but we don’t finish and make one or two mistakes, but they finished, we just couldn’t.”

The win not only ends the losing streak for the Pride, but it also gives the team their first win since Sept. 23 as they currently sit third in the CCC with a 3-4-3 record.

“We are pleased with the game and win, we just gotta keep working and hopefully this helps us for Thursday’s game,” said Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado. “We are still fighting to make the playoffs and a championship depends on other factors, but hopefully everything goes in our favor.”

Turlock has lost three of the last four matches against Pitman, as they picked up their second straight loss, now sitting second to last in the CCC at 1-6-3.

“We have five underclassmen starting, so it’s been tough at times but encouraging how well they are playing and how much they are improving game to game,” said Sperry. “They are getting more confident and everything else, they are just getting so much better so it’s great to see that.”

The game started off really stiff with multiple yellow cards being called on both sides in the opening 10 minutes.

After multiple saves from both goalkeepers and outstanding defense from both Pitman and Turlock early on, the first half ended with the score even at 0-0.

“First 10 to 15 minutes I think we all saw this match was tougher and different, so our players' mentalities changed,” Mercado said. “I am pleased with the game, I just think we need to finish. Their keeper saved many goals and need to give him credit as well.”

Pitman began the second half with a boom after striking at the net in the opening minute, but Turlock keeper Raul Castro was able to make a critical save.

Three minutes later, Castro was unable to stop the first goal of the game when Pitman’s Jonathan Galdamez found the back of the net with a one-touch boot.

“Turlock, I think, they played well,” said Mercado. “When you have a first game blowout there is a mentality that it will happen again but I told my guys it is a whole new match.”

The Pride were only able to hold on to the lead for nine minutes.

Turlock tied the game in the 53rd minute when Sergio Jiminez knocked in the Bulldogs' only score of the contest to tie it at one apiece.

“We have been playing well for a while now, we just haven’t been able to get the results we wanted,” Sperry said. “I thought we played well, we just gave up more opportunities in the back and didn’t clear too well.”

Turlock then grabbed momentum for a short amount of time and at the 59th minute of action Bryan Tzul eased a pass to Jonah Knopp, who then headed the ball into the far post, but Pitman keeper Jesus Nunez made a diving punch save to stop any possibility of the ball hitting the back of the net.

In the final 10 minutes, Maldonado set up Ramirez perfectly in the center front of the goalies box and he was able to head in the game-winner just over Castro .

“They got closer than we thought and it made a better match for us and helped us develop as players,” said Ramirez. “It’s a big team rivalry especially in town being from Turlock, but hopefully the win can get our momentum going for the third round of league.”

With only four matches left, Pitman will continue its playoff hopes as they travel to Merced to take on the Golden Valley Cougars at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Turlock will host first place Atwater (8-1-1) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.