Asked to recount her version of the goal that gave her Pitman High girls soccer team its first win over crosstown nemesis Turlock High in six years, senior forward Hannah Verschelden could not provide all the details. All she remembered was she wanted to lace the ball with some power and kick it away from the goalkeeper.
“I saw the opportunity and powered it through the far side,” she said.
Here’s how it went down: After a deflection, Pitman’s dangerous scorer got the ball about 20 yards from the goal in the 69th minute of Tuesday’s showdown at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex. For the most part, it was just her and Turlock goalkeeper Tommi King. Verschelden then unleashed a shot to the right side, which went across King’s diving body to the back of the net.
The Pride won 1-0 — a rare accomplishment since their last win over Turlock happened on April 21, 2005. That’s the same year Pitman last won a league title.
“It’s great,” said Pitman assistant Cesar Mercado. “We have seniors who are four-year varsity players who have not experienced what it’s like to beat their crosstown rivals. It makes me happy to see them fulfill that.”
This win will likely raise some eyebrows around the Central California Conference, if the Pride haven’t already done so this season. The Bulldogs have been the masters of their league, having captured five straight titles before this season under longtime coach Dennis Bishop, who suddenly resigned midway through last season because of health reasons.
They’re going through a transitional period under first-year coach Cathi Schali-Lopez, who has guided the Bulldogs to a 4-5-2 overall and 1-2-2 league records.
Pitman, however, is happy about being 11-3 overall and 5-0 in the CCC.
It wasn’t like the Pride didn’t have to battle to get to this point. They only outshot the Bulldogs 10-8 on Tuesday, with both defenses keeping the game in a standstill for most of the afternoon. Both goalkeepers made crucial plays, though the efforts of Pitman’s Sierrah Miller earned congratulatory shouts from the crowd.
At the same time, neither team wanted to settle for a tie.
“We had our opportunities,” Verschelden said. “I feel like they had more opportunities, but we finally executed one.”
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