The third time was the charm for Turlock High’s girls soccer team. After two ties the Bulldogs finally defeated rival Pitman High on Tuesday in their third conference matchup of the season, 2-1. The victory brought the Central California Conference crown back to Turlock and denied the Pride back to back championship seasons.
“It feels amazing to finally prove who the better team is,” senior Nicole Larson said. “We’re back to where we should be.”
Turlock’s determination was evident from the beginning of the match and manifested itself early in the form of a Morgan Shakeshaft goal. After an ill advised Pitman pass, Turlock’s Maria Fefilova took control of the ball and passed it to a streaking Shakeshaft who placed it into the left hand corner of the goal with her left foot from 20 yards out. Turlock nearly notched a two point lead two minutes later when Morgan Delay took a point blank shot alone in the goal but Pitman’s Karly Reed stoned her attempt with one of her 14 saves on the day, keeping Pitman in the game.
Moments later, Pitman’s Marissa Rouse gave the Pride another boost with a beautifully placed high shot that sent both the ball and Turlock’s Ashlen Kuntz falling into the goal. The game was tied 1-1. Like the Bulldogs, Pitman nearly scored back to back goals when Marissa Marable sent a free kick over the heads of Turlock defenders and straight into the crossbar, causing Bulldog fans to gasp and then sigh with relief.
It wasn’t until the 68th minute that Pitman’s defense finally slipped up . Lindsey Aldax pushed through a ball to Fefilova who then executed a sliding shot against Reed to take the lead, 2-1, causing the Bulldogs to embrace each other and celebrate in the middle of the field.
“I feel like everyone was a lot more focused,” Aldax said. “We just wanted to win.”
Pitman nearly answered back with a goal of its own when Rouse took a shot in the final minute of regulation but the ball hit the crossbar and bounced away from the net. Turlock ended the game with a 15-7 advantage in shots on goal and a 21-11 advantage in attempts on goal.
“I am extremely proud of these ladies. They proved they are the better team on the field,” Turlock’s head coach Cathi Schall-Lopez said. “They played as a team and they never let down. When we play our ball we control the game and that’s what we did today.”
“We all love each other so much. We came in to this game playing for each other,” Larson said.
Turlock and Pitman both have one conference game left on the schedule but win or lose Turlock has cemented its position as outright champions. Both schools will be involved in the CIF playoffs which begin on May 8, creating a possibility of a fourth Turlock-Pitman matchup.
“We want to win this game against Atwater then we’ll be focusing on playoffs,” Schall-Lopez said. “We have a sisterhood here. It’s strong and it keeps developing into stronger bonds which is awesome to see as a coach.”