GSoc: Wolf, Pitney give Dons upper hand over Royals

Julie Pitney - Santa Barbara High Soccer

Santa Barbara High sophomore Julie Pitney beat San Marcos with her first goal of the season.

Bailey Wolf and Julie Pitney scored for Santa Barbara High on Saturday as the Dons were able to gain a measure of revenge against rival San Marcos in a 2-1 Channel League decision at Warkentin Stadium.

Wolf gave the Dons a 1-0 lead in the first half on a stunning blast to the upper net, and Pitney’s second-half goal – the sophomore’s first of the season – proved to be the game winner.

“That was just the best feeling of my life I think,” Pitney said.

San Marcos vs Santa Barbara High girls soccer

Santa Barbara High’s Bailey Wolf, foreground, looks upfield as San Marcos attacker Kaitlyn Saperstein falls back.

Santa Barbara, which had lost the first league matchup with the Royals 3-1, moves in front of San Marcos in the league standings after Saturday’s contest. With one game to play for both teams, the Dons (3-3-1) have 10 points and San Marcos (2-3-2) has eight.

“Against SM, since they beat us last time, we just had to do everything we could to take it back to them and beat them at their home turf,” Wolf said. “This season has been a little shaky for us but to come together as a team for a game like this was incredible.”

The two teams – both battling for a playoff spot  – competed intensely and often physically.

“We didn’t really keep our emotions in check at all but we just tried to focus on the game,” Wolf said. “We just have this rivalry against them that no one can come close to.”

Jackie Lopez was a playmaker for the Dons, helping create both of Santa Barbara’s goals. Wolf’s impressive shot came after Lopez played a ball into the middle that was misplayed by a San Marcos defender and deflected to Wolf. In the second half, Lopez took a pass in the midfield, dribbled into space and passed to Hannah Brisby, who fed Pitney with enough space to beat an oncoming San Marcos keeper Hannah Harrah.

Harrah kept the Royals in the game with three incredible saves and gave the Royals one last chance on the final play of the game with a long free kick into the box that Santa Barbara keeper Kassidy Hession grabbed to end the game.

“It’s still not something you’re used to. She’s still spectacular every time,” said Royals head coach Macie Berlin of Harrah.

After Wolf put the Dons up, the Royals rallied. A free kick from Kaitlyn Saperstein brushed off the fingertips of Hession and hit the crossbar, almost bringing San Marcos even. Ten minutes later, Tasha Wood delivered what the Royals were looking for.

“I think Tasha exemplified exactly what our team does well, and that’s keeping that high pressure on,” Berlin said.

Santa Barbara can secure second place in league play with a win on Tuesday vs Buena.

“This was a big win for the Dons tonight and the girls played some good football, were goal dangerous and matched the physical play of San Marcos,” said Dons head coach Jeff Johnson.  “We deserved the outcome as we earned it tonight.”

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