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Express one-up Las Vegas at home
Eduardo Meza (right) of the Turlock Express clears the ball away as goalkeeper Sanaldo (left) dives at the Las Vegas attacker. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

After losing to the Las Vegas Legends in the first game of the season, the Turlock Express were seeking revenge against their Pacific Division rivals in Friday’s showdown at Turlock.

With the help of a sold out crowd in their home facility and Arturo Pulido’s hat trick, the Express were able to grind out a 6-5 victory to snap their three-game losing streak.

“We just needed a win no matter who we played. We need it bad because our road trip we went 1-3 so we need the win desperately to stay in the playoff hunt,” said Express head coach Art Pulido. “So this game was going to be emotional no matter who we played today.”

For the first time since their existence the Express beat the Las Vegas squad as they leaped their way to a 4-4 record while the Legends dropped to 2-5.

The Express were able to control the pace of the game from the start despite being held scoreless themselves as the first quarter ended in a stalemate at 0-0.

By the end of the first half the Express had taken a 3-1 lead after Enrique Tovar, Ryan Daly and Pulido each scored a goal for their squad.

“Today, they [Enrique and Arturo] started to play looser,” Pulido said. “We were not too worried about small details but rather played looser and had some fun because they were tense due to the losing streak but you have to just play.”

With the help of Brazilian goalkeeper Sanaldo, who finished the contest with 28 saves, the Express’ defense was on point as they looked well on their way into a victory despite making it closer than the score said near the end.

“We were more defensively organized,” Pulido said. “We also got our top scorers scoring again after playing flat and defensive on our road trip, which sometimes we have to do that but today we came out shooting.”

By the start of the fourth quarter the Express had built a 5-2 lead but some questionable calls from the officials forced the local team to play a man down and before the six minute mark, the Legends of Las Vegas had cut the deficit to one at 6-5.

Luckily, the defense held on at the end and the Express picked up their first win since Nov. 22.

“Even though we gave up some late goals we still hung in there,” said Pulido. “That has been our problem to close out the games, but I was confident that they did what they had to despite those minor mistakes out there but we held them off pretty good.”

Turlock will look to start a winning streak nearing the midway mark of the season, especially if they hope to clinch a playoff berth, with a home contest against Sacramento at 7:35 p.m. next Friday.

“We just need to keep the same focused mentality because the first time we played them we let up a bit and they came back but we still pulled out the win,” Pulido added. “We need to stay focused and play like we did today and we need to win out to be in the playoffs this season.”