For most of Wednesday afternoon Yessenia Gonzalez’s absence might have gone unnoticed.
The Atwater sweeper is out of the country to be with an ailing family member, but stopper Melissa Lopez filled in admirably.
The Falcon defense communicated well throughout their Central California Conference showdown with Pitman and was well organized in every area but one.
Corner kicks gave Atwater fits on Wednesday afternoon and the Pride cashed in on a pair in the second half for a 2-0 victory at Falcon Field.
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“We did a pretty good job without (Gonzalez) back there, but in those spots you could see we missed her communication and leadership,” Atwater coach Steve Menezes said. “Melissa is usually our stopper — and while she did a great job at sweeper — she’s usually the one distributing the ball up to our midfield and forwards, so having her out of position hurt a lot also.”
The two teams played a fairly even opening 40 minutes with both sides producing solid, but not great scoring chances.
The game’s first real dangerous opportunity came in the final minute of the first half on a Pitman corner kick.
The ball was allowed to drop in the middle of the 18, starting a wild scramble. Atwater keeper Valeria Perez (nine saves) made two quick saves, but was caught out of position when she couldn’t handle the second.
Lopez gave the Falcons a reprieve, flinging her body to block a sure-fire goal.
The two teams went into intermission scoreless, but the flurry was a preview of things to come.
Pitman (8-4-2, 4-1-2 CCC) got a 6-0 corner kick advantage in the game and Atwater failed to get a clean clearance on any of them.
It finally came back to bite the Falcons (7-5-6, 1-3-3) in the 52nd minute when another wild sequence ended up at the feet of Miranda Davis for an easy tap-in.
The Pride put the game away in the 76th minute when Rayana Plancarte headed in another corner.
“Corners definitely aren’t a strength for us, but we’ve put in a lot of effort to improve at them,” Pitman coach Christina Garcia said. “We throw a lot of bodies in there and try to put pressure on the defense.
“Today it worked out pretty well.”