Every time the ball was kicked into the vicinity of the goal, the Pitman High girls soccer players morphed into a swarm of bees and treated the round object as if it was honey. This approach frustrated their opponent.It also resulted in two goals.And they were more than enough in a 2-0 win over the Merced High Bears in a critical Central California Conference contest on Thursday afternoon at Turlock Sports Complex, considering the two squads were fighting for first place. But now, the Pride are sitting alone at the top with a 4-0 league record to go along with an impressive 11-3 overall mark.The victory was also Pitman’s fourth league shutout, thanks in part to the stingy play of sophomore goalkeeper Sierrah Miller, who finished with 11 saves. Not bad for someone who was a left defender last season, though she went through youth soccer manning the goal.“I feel like no one can get past us,” Miller said.It’s a mutual feeling shared by her coach, Oscar Mercado.“It’s good communication,” he said. “At the same time, it’s the security of having a goalkeeper like Sierrah in the back. I think it really helps the group in the backline.”With the defense holding off Merced throughout the afternoon, the Pride’s offense was effective. Pitman’s first goal happened in the 7th minute, when senior midfielder Marissa Emmons’ shot hit the left goal post before junior forward Marissa Marable, maneuvering through the aftermath of the attempt like a bee, swarmed right in front of the goalkeeper to knock in the score.A similar thing happened late in the second half. The ball was kicked around just a few feet from the Merced goal before senior forward Annabel Perez sailed an attempt, which looked like a high-arching rainbow that breezed past the stretching body of the goalkeeper. The score was more than enough, and the Pride held on for the critical win.“We’re getting a lot better at crossing in to the goal and just being ready for whatever bounces off the goalie,” Marable said, “and it seems like that has been really good to us.”Pitman also got some long overdue revenge, as the Bears have been responsible for keeping the Pride out of the playoffs by beating them in the last two do-or-die regular season finales.But the Pride aren’t completely satisfied, and not just because it’s a long season. They will face crosstown rival Turlock High (4-4-2 overall, 1-1-2 CCC) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Turlock Sports Complex. The Bulldogs have been the superior team, winning or tying all but one in the 15-game series.The Pride’s lone win came April 21, 2005.“I’m really excited for that,” Marable said, “and I think I’m ready for this.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.