Two failed penalty kicks cost the Pitman High boys soccer team an opportunity to go up two-games in the Central California Conference, after Atwater came into town and beat out the Pride in a 2-0 shutout on Thursday.
“Atwater came in and played their game,” said Pitman head coach Oscar Mercado. “They were fast to the ball, recovered every time and they didn’t make too many mistakes and the one’s they did we could not capitalize on.”
With their second CCC contest under their belts, the Pride are 1-1 league and 6-4-2 overall.
The game started with both teams firing away all they had until a penalty kick gave the Pride an opportunity to go up by one in the first half in the 26th minute.
Atwater goalkeeper Mario Chavez had another thing in mind as he blocked Pitman’s Braymn Navarrete’s penalty shot and set the tone for the remainder of the game.
“Just seeing the hesitation of seeing who would take the PKs, the uncertainty of who would take it, that led to our struggles,” Mercado said. “After missing the first one it seemed like that stayed in their heads for the second and it triggered the same mistake in the second PK shot.”
Chavez made his second penalty kick save in the 80th minute after Fernando Maldonado of Pitman struck the right side but Chavez was able to catch the shot with no problem at all after a critical diving grab.
“It does bother us a bit because we had those two clear PK shots and it can’t get more clear than that so whenever you lose 2-0 and know you missed two PKs it is bothersome to the team and coaches,” said Mercado. “It is a long season and we will see what we do moving forward.”
It was an even game in possession but it was Atwater who really grasped each opportunity while the Pride failed multiple times to find the back of the net and turned the ball over more than normal.
The Falcons were consistently putting pressure on the Pride and breathing down their backs.
Whenever Pitman looked to make a pass, the Falcons would close the gaps and steal away any pass.
“We need to get in a rhythm. The loss bothers me but it’s not a huge deal this early on right now,” said Mercado.
Atwater scored their first goal of the game just 15 seconds after Pitman missed their first PK, when Eduardo Cebrero sprinted down the field and launched a perfect shot to the far post to go up 1-0, catching Pitman keeper Jesus Nunez off guard for just a split second.
Ricky Ramirez of Pitman landed a header about eight minutes after the Falcons score but unfortunately it clanked off the top part of the post and ricocheted out of bounds for a goal kick.
Pitman would have to play catch up, playing behind, and it depleted the team, who suffered through cramps late in the contest.
“Some of these guys were already cramping up so we will have to take care of it before playing on Saturday,” Mercado said. “We have to learn to adjust to the injuries also, which can throw us off a little bit. We learn from the defeat and hope this helps us in the long run.”
Atwater would put the nail in the coffin just three minutes into the second half when Brandon Alvarez struck a cross and it nicked off a Pitman player and into the back of the net for the second goal.
“There is a hundred percent trust in the group, we just need to work on the mental aspect of it and we’re not the only ones in a slump,” Mercado added. “Every game is different and we must adjust. There is sunshine sometimes, then other times there isn’t and that’s it.”