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Pride notch first league win over Merced
Pitman girls soccer B1
Pitman's Katlyn Hanf dribbles the ball downfield and away from a Bear defender during the first half of Wednesdays victory over Merced. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Pitman High passed it first test in the Central California Conference Wednesday afternoon when its girls hosted Merced High in the league opener. The Pride overcame the speedy Bears with a second half effort, shutting them out 3-0.

“Getting that first CCC win is huge and hopefully it sets the tempo for the rest of the season,” Pitman’s head coach Christina Garcia said.

The Pride were in attack mode from the onset of the match but poor passes and a lack of quality touches led to a string of first half turnovers. Merced utilized its speed by regularly intercepting Pitman’s passes but was unable put pressure on the Pride’s goalie. Pitman, on the other hand, had several scoring opportunities. Both Katlyn Hanf and Janae Marable had close shots in the first half, with the first bouncing off the goal post and the second sailing just over the crossbar.

The match remained scoreless at the half.

“Even though our touches were off we maintained our confidence through the whole game,” Garcia said. “We’re working on finishing our opportunities.”

The Pride maintained their tempo in the second half and were able to overcome Merced’s speed after shifting several defenders. Pitman’s adjustments, its ability to get players into the box for crosses, and its consistent pressure finally paid off in the 50th minute when Ryana Plancarte dished the ball to Mariah Emmons for the first goal of the match. Pitman was back on the board nine minutes later when Marable and Hanf played a give-and-go that resulted in a Marable score and gave the Pride the match’s momentum. Finally, Plancarte got into the scoring frenzy in the 70th minute when she took advantage of a dropped ball by Merced’s goalie and pushed the ball into the net.

“Our girls have good conditioning, so I think that played into the second half when Merced got fatigued,” Garcia said.

Pitman’s next match will be played at home against Atwater High on Monday. The Falcons, who snapped Turlock High’s 15 match win streak in the CCC, will be a formidable opponent for the Pride.

“Our match against Atwater is definitely going to give us some insight as the where we stand in the CCC,” Garcia said. “We know it’s going to be a tough game.”