After splitting last year’s Central California Conference title with Golden Valley High, the Turlock girls soccer team came back this year with a vengeance, to top out in league—alone—and they did after shutting out Golden Valley, 3-0, at home on Monday.
On senior night, Morgan DeLay topped out with two goals for the day, scoring one in each half, just before the third score came in the 77th minute to give the Bulldogs their third consecutive CCC title.
“I think my biggest attribute is speed, so if I can get by the defense, I feel confident, but I wouldn’t have been able to get any of those goals without my team,” DeLay said. “Being a senior it is nice to win the league title with the season not over.”
“What was exciting was that we got to play all of our seniors. They all had great time out there on the field and we were able to make some connections and finish off that ball,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said.
The Bulldogs still remain, not only undefeated, but ranked top 10 in state heading into the final two CCC bouts of the year sitting with an 11-0-2 league record and have given up only four goals in 13 contests thus far.
By claiming 1st place in the CCC with two contests to play, the Bulldogs have secured themselves a home game in the 1st round of the CIF playoffs set for Tuesday.
“The first year I stepped on to the field to coach, these seniors were freshman, so it has been great to see them climb up the rankings year after year,” said Schali-Lopez. “It’s a great feeling to win league. The girls deserve it because they worked so hard. Our goal is to be undefeated, so we have two tough matchups coming up that we must prepare for before we can do that.”
Coming back from spring break showed its signs as both teams were a little stagnant in the first half, despite the Bulldogs outshooting the Cougars, 13-1.
DeLay nearly notched a score in the 12th minute of the game as her speed proved her effectiveness as she got behind the defense inside the penalty area, only to be denied by GV goalkeeper Marina Arroyo.
The Lady ‘Dogs did manage to strike a goal in the 30th minute of the first to break the stalemate wide open when DeLay drained a shot from about 35 yards out, near the left sideline as the ball took a vicious bounce over the head of Arroyo to take a goal lead heading into the half.
In the second half, the ‘Dogs had to battle with the wind in their faces and this proved the disadvantage as they were outshot 9-4, but this wouldn’t matter as the Bulldogs tacked on two more scores before the whistle blew.
In the 65th minute, Carissa Lopez managed to sneak in a pass to Estephanie Partida, who then chopped the defense with a pass to DeLay who scampered behind the defense as she struck the back of the net, with Arroyo standing no chance.
Ashlen Kuntz, who is normally a keeper, put the cherry on top after receiving a deep through ball from Mariya Fefilova and beat Arroyo in a one-on-one to add the third and final score of the game.
“My co-captain Mariya [Fefilova] and I like to mess around and have fun, but when it comes down to business we know it is business and we know how to stay focused,” DeLay said.
“Feels wonderful to actually have this game behind us and move on into the final part of the season,” Schali-Lopez said.
Just before the much-anticipated rivalry matchup against Pitman, the Bulldogs will travel to Merced to take on the second place Bears at 4 p.m. today.
“With Merced and Pitman possibly the toughest competition and away games, ... we need to stay focused and determined... It is nice to stay undefeated but I also like to be the underdogs because that way you are not as confident or cocky, so we need to stay focused,” DeLay added.