Turlock and Pitman High boys’ soccer defied the odds with Wednesday night’s result.
Going into the Central California Conference regular season finale, Turlock had already clinched the league title, but Pitman was fighting to earn the final postseason spot in the CCC or perhaps finish just behind Turlock in second.
Much to their surprise, Pitman came out on fire in the first half and scored with 20 minutes to go up early and followed with another goal late in the second half to secure the second spot in the CCC and complete the sweep of Turlock after a 2-0 win.
“Today was a playoff game for us,” said Pitman coach Sergio Sousa. “It was win or go home. We were in playoff mode coming into this game and we knew that this was going to be a big game even though they won CCC. We just knew if we executed then we stood a chance.”
Turlock had a different mindset.
“Our main focus was getting out of here healthy and make sure we had no guys take unnecessary cards and we accomplished that goal,” said Turlock head coach Doug Sperry. “We weren't too concerned with the outcome, but we wanted to play well, which I thought we did but so did Pitman and they deserved it. But I am not concerned with losing this game.”
Turlock finishes the year with a league record of 7-3-2. Pitman followed in second with a league record of 6-4-2.
The Pride also boasted the stingiest defense in the CCC this year, allowing the least amount of goals with just 10 in 12 games. However, inconsistent play led to a roller-coaster season, according to coach Sousa.
“Turlock deserved the CCC. They were the most consistent team all year. Let them celebrate that but we both move on,” said Sousa. “It’s been an up and down year. Our Kryptonite was not playing a top team in league this year. We did not play well against teams we expected to win and beat Turlock twice.”
Two of the three losses from Turlock this year came at the hands of their crosstown foe Pitman. The Pride also handed Turlock their biggest defeat of the year in league, losing by two goals in Wednesday's regular season finale.
Turlock had won three straight heading into Wednesday's final game of the season.
Isac Contreras broke the game wide open about 20 minutes into the game for the Pride.
The Pride went up at halftime 1-0 with all the momentum and carried some of it over into the second half despite a stalemate in the first third of the second.
Samuel Azizian then took the ball from left side and took two touches and curled in a shot that beat the keeper and bounced off the crossbar and hit his back and went in from about 22 yards to secure the two-goal lead with just two minutes remaining in regulation.
“Our guys knew what this game meant for us. Our team is healthy and confident and I think we will be really tough to beat in playoffs and should go far,” Sperry added.
Pitman ends the year having won three of its last four games.
“The thing with playoffs, I think we will be completely different because there are no bad teams in playoffs,” Sousa added.
The bracket was not announced by publishing time but can be checked for updates at cifsjs.org.