The beginning of the Central California Conference season has been trying for Turlock High’s girls soccer team. One year removed from an undefeated CCC championship, the Bulldogs (1-3 CCC) dropped their first three games of league play, each by only one goal.
The trio of losses led to a team meeting prior to Monday’s match against Buhach Colony High in which the Lady Bulldogs resolved to regroup, band together, and save their season.
“We said, ‘We are champions and we need to come out and continue to play as champions and not let our losses define our season’,” Turlock’s head coach Cathi Cshali-Lopez said. “I think it brought back the determination and will in the players to persevere through the losses we experienced through the first three games.”
The meeting produced its desired effects— a fact the Thunder (1-2-1 CCC) can attest to. With their backs against the wall the Bulldogs posted their best league performance to date, defeating Buhach Colony, 3-0, and notching their first CCC win.
Turlock scored its first two goals within the first five minutes of regulation as it wasted no time in turning the page to a new chapter of winning. Maria Fefilova secured a goal off a cross kick for Turlock’s first score and was promptly followed by Fallon Beaber who found the net off a corner kick.
Turlock entered halftime with a 2-0 lead. In the 50th minute another cross kick led to a Bulldog score, this time via Aubrey Glidden, and just like that the pressure to win was lifted of Turlock’s back.
“They regrouped as a team and now they’re playing together, and well,” Cshali-Lopez said. “We took those losses and turned them into motivation.”
Though the Bulldogs are no longer winless, they still have a long road towards contending for another CCC title. The next step on that journey involves rival Pitman High in the last matchup of the first round of league play tonight.
“We know it’s going to take a lot of hard work as a team on the field to get these wins, but I don’t think we’re out of contention and neither do the girls,” Cshali-Lopez said. “Our opponents have been able to capitalize on our mistakes, so our focus is to limit our mistakes and to capitalize ourselves with our speed, communication and team work.
“We want to unleash the champions inside of us,” she added.
Tonight’s match between Turlock and Pitman will be held at Joe Debely Stadium and is set to start at 7 p.m.