Ailing Merced falls 3-0

Grueling CCC schedule is taking a toll on the Bears

slynch@mercedsunstar.comOctober 8, 2012 

Javon Prado sat with an ice pack on his left shin.

Goalkeeper Rodrigo Avalos had his broken fingers heavily wrapped in a splint and William Gomez had a thorough tape job on his wrist.

The Merced soccer sideline is starting to resemble the triage room in the Mercy Medical Center ER. The grueling nature of the Central California Conference's triple round-robin schedule is taking its toll.

And Merced's grip on the CCC title has started to go with it.

Monday afternoon offered the latest setback as the Bears dominated possession, but got burned by the Turlock counter attack in the second half. The Bulldogs only produced seven shots, but cashed three of them in for goals, to pull within three points of Merced in the conference standings with the 3-0 road win.

"That's the way it's seemed to go recently," Bears head coach Aaron Ruiz said. "We attack, attack, attack and then get beat on a counter.

"We're banged up, but nobody is going to take pity on us. We've got to find a way to get the offense going and get the ball in the net."

Merced's loss, coupled with wins by Atwater and Golden Valley, creates a log jam in the standings as the final round of play opens on Wednesday.

The Falcons moved to the top of the table with 17 points. Merced fell to second with 15 and Pitman is hanging around in third with 14. Turlock and Golden Valley each have 12 points, with the top three teams making the playoffs.

The Bears fired 13 shots on Monday, but only got three on goal, and all were comfortable saves for Bulldogs goalkeeper Daniel Saldana.

Merced's best chance came when Izy Lor deflected an attempted clearance and had it ring off the post.

After being held in check for the first 40 minutes, the Turlock (3-3-3 CCC) counterattack broke through seven minutes into the second half.

Martin Castoren chased a ball down on the right wing and fed Jose Aguilera with a cross. Aguilera made a quick move to beat his defender and fired into the net.

Desmond Madrigal headed home a back-breaking goal in the 56th minute and Castoren put things away with a goal in the 72nd.

"We've just got to put a ball behind the net," Gomez said. "A lot of us are getting frustrated because we'll control the whole game, but not score.

"Then one breakaway for the other team and we lose.

"We have to dig deep and get it done."

Atwater 4, Pitman 0

ATWATER -- Sal Martinez scored a pair of goals to help the Falcons move to the top of the CCC standings with a win over Pitman.

Golden Valley 3, Buhach Colony 0

ATWATER -- Jose Hernandez and David Mejia each had a goal and an assist as the Cougars stayed hot in a win over the Thunder.

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