The Turlock FC U13 Elite boys’ soccer team are the best in the state and they did in dramatic fashion this past weekend.
Coming into the Northern California State Cup Tournament from the Mary Grogen field in Modesto, the Turlock FC squad was ranked second, but after toppling the Salinas Galaxy, 2-1, in overtime there is no doubt that the local boys are the best in the Sunshine State.
“It felt pretty darn good,” said Turlock FC head coach Jason Donchak after his team won in the final seconds on a penalty kick from Robert 'Bobby' Ceja. “A lot of credit goes to my assistant Bernie Ceja because he helps and does most of the training; we couldn't have done it without him.”
In his first year as the front man for Turlock FC Donchak along with Ceja worked towards creating a competitive team that played as good as any in the state.
They began their work last March with a sparse group.
“We didn’t really have most of our team till June,” Donchak said. “Me and Bernie knew it would be hit or miss so we had to build it from scratch since we had just put the team together and we have come such a long way.”
Turlock FC entered six tournaments since last summer and made every championship game along with four titles to show for their efforts.
Some of the wins included a title at the Copa del Rey and Copa del Campeonato.
“Soccer is so competitive at any age group, so to win any tournament at any age group is really impressive,” said Donchak. “We were able to win not only the state cup but the Santa Clara Sporting Tournament in August. That was one of my goals and I get both in the same time frame. It’s amazing.”
After a long wait since September, when the first round of the state tournament began, Turlock FC edged out their opponents with ease as they creased their way into a quick 3-0 start in the first round, outscoring all three opponents 15-1.
The next round provided a bit more competition, but the endurance and toughness of Turlock was too much as they outscored their opponents 9-2 after going 2-0-1.
In the final three matches Turlock won three straight and notched 13 goals, while allowing three.
Then in the finale, Turlock and Salinas were neck and neck in what coach Donchak said was an extremely competitive game.
Both teams matched up evenly after the first half as the stalemate was 0-0.
Then in the second half the battle continued and it wasn't until the clocked read 12 minutes left when Turlock's Robert Ceja scored the first goal and six minutes later Salinas scored the equalizer to send the game into overtime.
With the golden goal rule intact the game only needed one goal to decide the winner and the drama continued well into the end of the second overtime period when Ceja drew the penalty kick with only seconds remaining after a goal attempt.
Ceja would eventually score the penalty kick for his second goal of the game, and coach Donchak had won his fourth tournament in six tries for the season thus far.
“If you win big ones you move up and we had to win all these tournaments to move up in rankings,” Donchak said. “We should be number one after the points are posted. We definitely should be up there.”