Turlock High’s girls soccer team found itself stuck between Granite Bay and a hard place Tuesday afternoon during the first round of the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The reigning Central California Conference champions hosted the Grizzlies in what started as a fast paced matchup, but the Bulldogs soon found themselves outsized and outmuscled in what turned into a 3-1 loss and an early post-season elimination.
“At this level of play, there’s no room for any mistakes and they played the ball well offensively and defensively,” Turlock head coach Cathi Schali-Lopez said of Granite Bay. “We’re very proud of our girls and how they stuck together as a team and played hard and the best that they could.”
Turlock nearly lit up the scoreboard in the first five minutes of regulation with two close shots on goal. Maddy Bowen found herself in a one-on-one situation with Grizzlies keeper Colleen Vivaldi in the second minute but her left footed shot was picked up with ease. Mariya Fefilova followed with a booming kick from 15 yards out in the fourth minute only to have Vivaldi snatch it out of the air with her mitts.
Granite Bay responded with a Chloe Dobson goal in the ninth minute as she took advantage of Bulldog keeper Vanessa Orozco who was out of position to make the save. Turlock immediately knotted the score when back-to-back free kicks resulted in a Bowen goal from the top of the box.
That was the last Turlock saw of the net, however, as the Grizzlies utilized their superior height and played the ball through the air for the majority of the match.
“We did good hard-work wise, but we didn’t have the ball on our feet very much at all,” Bulldogs captain and leading scorer Aubrey Glidden said. “The ball was in the air, they were really big, and they kept hitting headers over us.”
“When you’re in the playoffs every team is strong,” Schali-Lopez said. “We expected and anticipated a game that would challenge both teams on the field.”
Granite Bay’s physical strategy paid off in the 22nd and 23rd minutes when Maggie Bell and Brigit Lummis found the net, respectively, and forced Turlock to play from behind. Turlock found itself with one more scoring opportunity in the 64th minute when Morgan Shakeshaft nearly scored from inside the box on a free kick rebound, but a Granite Bay defender denied the try and ensured her team a two-goal victory.
“Again, we’re extremely proud of the Lady Bulldogs,” Schali-Lopez said. “They worked hard all season to get here and play this game. This will create lifetime memories for them.”
“I feel like we proved ourselves. Starting off the season, we lost three games right off the bat,” Glidden said. “We had big heads from last season, being undefeated, and we let that get to us at the beginning. Throughout the season we brought it back and became the good team we knew we could be.”