ATWATER — It seemed like it was just a matter of time.
The Atwater soccer team spent most of the first half in Pitman's defensive third on Friday afternoon. The Falcons turned high-pressure defense into a string of scoring chances, but lacked finishing conviction.
The Pride, on the other hand, could get little going offensively, but had the game's most dangerous chances thanks to its collective height on a handful of set pieces.
Pitman pressed its size advantage and finally cashed in on a corner kick in the 34th minute. Atwater unraveled from there and the Pride stretched their Central California Conference lead to 11 points with a 3-0 victory at Falcon Field.
"This was a very disappointing showing," said Falcons head coach Jimmy Brewer, whose team fell to 11-9-2 overall and 5-4-1 in the CCC. "I felt like we spent a lot of the first half on the attack, but the urgency wasn't there.
"We just weren't aggressive with our chances and it really cost us a golden opportunity to get back into the title race.
"Pitman is a big, physical team and they play to their strengths. We don't defend set pieces well, so we knew we needed to limit the number we gave them in dangerous spots."
Pitman goalkeeper Jesus Nunez was called upon to make eight saves to earn the shutout, but the Falcons failed to ever challenge him. Just a couple shots came from inside the 18-yard box and every single one was basically right at him.
The Pride (16-2-3, 9-1 CCC) struggled to get shots on frame, with sweeper Alex Rios and the rest of the Falcon defense gobbling up everything sent over the top.
Atwater was far less comfortable looking on the Pitman set pieces, however.
The Pride had three near misses on them in the game's first 20 minutes and finally opened the scoring with an Adriel Mancilla header in the 34th minute.
Atwater lost all its energy after that and Pitman doubled its lead just before the half.
Grant Tallent found space on the right wing and slid a cross through the Falcon 6-yard box for an easy Braymn Navarette tap in.
Fernando Maldonado put the game away just nine minutes into the second half, unloading on a left-footed blast from 30 yards out.
"This probably cost us a chance at the CCC title, but I told the guys, there's still teams behind us that are hungry for the last two playoff spots," Brewer said. "Hopefully we can put this behind us and get back to playing good soccer."
Golden Valley 2, Buhach Colony 2
Golden Valley's Alfredo Arroyo scored a pair of goals to keep Buhach Colony (4-4-2 CCC) winless in its last six CCC contests.
Ulises Ramos and Salvador Davalos each scored to earn the Thunder a draw.