The Pitman High girls soccer players and coaches had eight days of rest and practice between their regular-season finale and their highly anticipated playoff game — the first of its kind in three years.
To top it off, the Pride also earned a first-round bye in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament after winning the Central California Conference title. So just imagine how badly they wanted to face Tokay High on Thursday afternoon at the Turlock Sports Complex near Pitman High.
The onslaught started 4 minutes in.
Forward Marissa Marable got a nice assist from Annabel Perez for a score right in front of the goal, as the Pride went on to easily defeat the Tigers 5-0 in the second round of the division tournament in front of a crowd of mostly Pitman fans.
The Pride (21-4-1 overall) will move on to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at Lodi High (14-2-6 overall), the top seed in the San Joaquin Athletic Association. Kickoff is 5:15 p.m.
In Thursday’s game, Pitman boasted three different scorers. Marable and fellow forward Hannah Verschelden finished with two goals apiece, while recent junior varsity acquisition and freshman Katie Hanf managed a first-half score. The offensive prowess, coach Oscar Mercado said, was the product of the Pride’s defense, which only allowed about a handful of shots by the Tigers — with all of them non-threats toward goalkeeper Sierrah Miller.
“The girls were focused,” Mercado pointed out. “They were coming off being league champions. That played a part in the energy that they had coming in today.”
In other words, the Pride are looking unstoppable, especially after their performance against Tokay, the second seed in the Tri-City Athletic League. Pitman made it a 2-0 halftime lead after Julia Harris kicked the ball to Hanf, who then booted the score right in front of the Tigers goalkeeper.
“It’s never enough,” said Perez about her team’s halftime lead. “We knew we needed more points on the board.”
In second half, there was no comeback for Tokay. Verschelden knocked in two goals — including a 20-yarder — and added an assist, with her latter effort finishing with a goal by Marable.
“We beat a team 5-0 in the playoffs. That’s a confidence-booster, for sure,” Marable said. “I think it’ll help us in the next game.”
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