Patterson High, picked by local pundits as a contender for the Western Athletic Conference championship this season, picked one of the toughest opponents it could find for its home-opener: Turlock High, a perennial Central California Conference contender.
The result left the home team encouraged, if not entirely satisfied.
“This was exactly the kind of game we wanted when we scheduled it,” said Greg Hartsell, the Patterson coach. “We wanted a real tough game at home. This felt like a league game, and we hope it will get (the Tigers) ready for the regular season.”
Hartsell called the game a “good test” for his team in its pursuit of a WAC title.
“We’re not necessarily happy with a tie, but getting it against this kind of a team is a good achievement for us,” he said.
The Tigers found themselves trailing the Bulldogs about 20 minutes into the first half.
As Patterson players tried to clear the ball from the goalkeeper’s box, Turlock’s Carlos Ochoa intercepted a bad pass, dribbled in and beat goalie Jose Rodriguez, a sophomore, with a right-footed shot.
Patterson kept possession of the ball for a majority of the second half, tying the game in the 58th minute with a goal by junior Marcos Melendez .
“I thought that we played a good, solid 30 minutes in the first half, but we somehow lost our focus,” Melendez said. “We wanted to come out stronger in the second half. We wanted to bring the same energy that made us successful in the first half, but we had to finish our chances.”
Leading up to Patterson’s lone goal, junior Osvaldo Barbosa took a short pass from a teammate and broke into the Bulldogs’ half of the field. He fired at the goal, but a Turlock defender got a foot in the way of the shot. The ball bounced into a gap between the Bulldogs’ keeper on one side and Melendez on the other.
Turlock’s goalie dived out to smother the ball. But at the same moment, the Bulldog defense tried to clear it from harm’s way.
Instead, the ball fell in front of the goal, directly in Melendez’s path. He pounced on it and shot it into the net for Patterson.
“These players have lots of heart and pride,” Hartsell said. “It was their home opener, so they wanted to put on a good show for the fans.”
Patterson found itself a man down late in the game when junior Israel Sotelo was sent off the field for a a red card . The Tigers fought hard on defense for the remaining 15 minutes to prevent the Bulldogs from converting their advantage into a goal.
Rodriguez made a crucial block in the 71st minute, deflecting Turlock’s last notable shot on goal. For the remainder of the game, both sides battled but were unable to create a game-winning opportunity.
“Everyone put in a good effort,” Rodriguez said. “We’re proud of that. I’m happy for the team and the potential that’s there. I can’t wait to see what this team can do with more time on the field together.”
Patterson’s JV had no trouble with Turlock, outscoring the visiting team 3-0.
“The team is playing very positive right now, and that’s helping us to build some confidence,” Patterson coach Cade Tomasegovich said. “We’re starting to take advantage of what other teams are giving us. It seems like we’re getting there — to the way we should be playing.”
Freshman Mauricio Gallardo tallied two goals for Patterson. Jordy Corral, also a freshman, added a third goal.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.