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Express fall in overtime
Turlock gets the horns for second week
Mexicos Gerardo Guerrero and Turlocks Jesus Belmonte battle for the ball during the first half of Fridays PASL match between the Toros and Express. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Four quarters wasn’t enough to decide Friday night’s matchup between the Turlock Express and Mexico Toros. After battling back and forth, point for point, the two Professional Arena Soccer League clubs carried the match into overtime to the delight of all in attendance at the Turlock Indoor Soccer Complex.

But for the second week in a row the Toros managed to stop the Express in their tracks, scoring the winning goal 2:29 into the overtime period off the foot of Jose Juan Caballero. It was Turlock’s fourth consecutive loss.

“There weren’t many positives tonight; there are not a lot of positives when you lose,” Turlock’s head coach Art Pulido said. “We could have put the game away. The guys hustled and they played hard but when you get into a skid you start looking for breaks and they aren’t happening right now.”

Mexico opened the match with a quick goal but was answered right away when Turlock’s Ivan Campos sent a laser of a kick into the defending net. The Express took a 3-1 lead in the second quarter with two consecutive goals from Jesus Belmonte and Bronil Koochoie but a pair of Toros goals knotted the match at 4-4. Another Koochoie goal and an unassisted score from George Carmona again gave Turlock the lead and by halftime the Express led 5-4.

Mexico responded with an excellent three-goal third quarter but with four minutes in regulation Turlock still held the lead thanks to back to back goals from Adrian Gutierrez. Mexico’s Jose Hernandez and Octavio Valenzuela had Turlock fans gritting their teeth with three minutes left on the clock, however, as the Toro duo gave their team a one point lead.

But a final Roberto Castaneda goal, assisted by Iriel Robledo, brought hope back to Turlock’s bench and sent the game into overtime. The comeback was short lived though. Mexico took advantage of an unfocused Turlock team, exploited its inability to transition into defensive positions, and scored the golden goal despite being outnumbered on the field.

“At the end we didn’t transition completely,” Pulido said. “I think when they start losing they get distracted and concentrate on scoring instead of defending.”

The loss comes after a grueling schedule on the road which included four games spanning from Las Vegas to Mexico. Though the losing streak is disappointing, Pulido and his players are still eyeing the post-season and a number two spot in their Pacific Division.

“We had one week rest to get ready but the effects of the travel are still lingering,” Pulido said. “We need to win out now. We’re still confident we can make playoffs.”

Turlock hosts another home game next Friday when the Tacoma Stars come to town. The match will begin at 7 p.m.