The Turlock Express got the 2013-2014 Professional Arena Soccer League season started on the right foot Saturday night, notching a 10-7 home victory against division rivals the Sacramento Surge.
Even Express head coach Art Pulido wasn't entirely sure how his team would perform heading into opening night, after losing a number of key player to free agency. But the slew of off-season roster changes weren't enough to slow down the Express.
“By the look of the score, we lost a lot of good players, but it looks like we're making up for them,” Pulido said. “I think we're going to be in good shape.”
The Express actually trailed early in the contest, down 0-1 after less than 30 seconds of play. But then one of those new players, Herb Garzon, laced a rocket shot past Surge keeper Emanuel Lopez to knot the contest at one all.
The emergence of Garzon, who finished with three goals, was one of the game's highlights, Pulido said.
“A couple months ago, we still didn't know if he would be here or not,” Pulido said. “But he stepped up, he had a couple goals, and it's working out.”
Adrian Gutierrez would give the Express a 2-1 lead just a few minutes later, dashing past his man along the left boards and shooting to the lower right corner of the goal.
The Express never looked back from that lead, thanks in large part to rock-solid defense from new addition Nolan Holdrige. Holdrige previously played four years for the California State University, Stanislaus men's soccer team.
The Surge came within one point midway through the third quarter, when Sacramento midfielder Jesus Mendez scored on a power play to set the score at 5-4.
But the Express turned up the pressure and scored three straight goals – from Guiterrez, Eduardo Meza, and Arturo Pulido – to put the game out of reach. Meza finished with two goals, and Arturo Pulido had a goal and two assists. The Express also had goals from Beau Villanueava and Martin Arista.
With a season-opening win in the books, the Express will now look toward their next opponent: Bay Area Rosal. Rosal will visit the friendly confines of the Turlock Indoor Soccer Arena at 7:05 p.m. Friday.
The Bay Area team poses a threat, Art Pulido said, with a number of good, experienced players. But if the Express play like they did on Saturday, they stand a good chance at taking home a victory, he said.
“We just got to play confident like we did today and be productive like we did today,” Art Pulido said.
Tickets are available at the Turlock Indoor Soccer Arena for $10 in advance, and $12 at the door. Tickets for those age 16 and under are $5 in advance, and $6 at the door.