Patterson High goalkeeper Carlos Moreno kept the Turlock Bulldogs from claiming their first win of the year in the team's home opener on Tuesday night after a string of superb saves that enabled the Tigers to leave Joe Debely Stadium with a goalless draw.
The consistent attack combination of Johnny Brenda, Marcus Decouto, Berayner Mikhtarian, Ramon Soltero and Noe Rangel were kept at bay by Moreno in the first half, although the Bulldogs nearly finished on two occasions in the first 15 minutes.
First, Mikhtarian strung a pass inside the box, but the ball deflected off a defender, which was followed by a Moreno save after Brenda's shot on a one on one chance.
“Their goalie played a good game,” said Turlock head coach Doug Sperry, whose team is now 1-1-1. “It’s been one of those things we struggled with last year, not capitalizing on chances and making mistakes. It was the same situation, but luckily this time we didn't make that mistake.”
Luckily for Sperry and the 'Dogs they controlled the game for the majority of the stretch, holding on to possession and easing their way into attack position on countless efforts, although the Tigers were handed their fair share of chances.
With about 20 minutes left in the first half, Brenda missed inside the box on another opportunity and with 16 minutes remaining, the Tigers almost struck gold on a free kick from about 27 yards out, but luckily for Turlock, Luis Carrillo made a goal diving save.
Decouto's opportunity for a goal came at about the 30 minute mark after a free kick, but Moreno was again a stalwart, making one of his 11 saves for the game.
“He [Moreno] made some great saves during the game and we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities again,” said Sperry. “I feel we controlled things from start to finish. I think we did a good job overall.”
With less than six minutes remaining till the half, Moreno, once again, made double saves after a Brenda shot on both tries.
A golden chance for Brenda occurred in the first five minutes of the second half after keeper Moreno mishandled and bobbled a ball that he tried catching in the air, giving Brenda a wide open chance at the back of the net, but he caught the inside of the ball and it sailed away from the net.
After both teams went in attack mode in the closing minutes, no play proved to be more crucial than the penalty kick in the final 10 minutes of the game when Decouto's first shot was saved by Moreno but after an offside penalty by the defender, the Bulldog was given a second chance.
With the pressure on and the opportunity to go up in the final minutes, Decouto decided to shoot to the right once more, and again, Moreno made a diving save to keep the shutout intact.
“I always go to my favorite spot and I just don't know what happened. First one I thought I hit it good but the keeper guessed right, then the second one he guessed right again,” Decouto said. “It’s disappointing not to put my team in the lead, but everyone misses and I just have to look forward into the next game and play with the same confidence.”
The Bulldogs will compete in the Summerhays Tournament on Friday and Saturday with the times and opponents yet to be announced.