Kiana Subia showed her age a bit in the first half of Atascdero High School’s playoff game against Dos Pueblos.
She was struggling to find offense against the pressing Chargers. It was the freshman’s first ever playoff game, after all.
But Subia and the rest of the Greyhounds came alive to the tune of three second-half goals and advanced to bracket play with a 3-1 win Tuesday evening over the Chargers in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wild-card game in Atascadero.
“I think in the first half, we were a little flat,” Subia said. “But in the second half, I felt like I had more energy. I mean, this is the playoffs.”
Subia, the Greyhounds’ top scorer with 12 goals in league play, came out firing after her team was blanked in the first half.
She worked a give-and-go up the home sideline with senior Marina Garcia and scored on a half-volley in front of a charging Dos Pueblos goalkeeper four minutes into the half. Subia continued to dominate the ball with precision dribbling skills to keep the pressure on the defense. After a run up the left sideline 10 minutes from halftime, the freshman beat two defenders and ripped a shot. The initial clearance found the right foot of junior Serena Ramirez, who took it on the bounce and blasted a shot past the keeper from 25 yards to put Atascadero up 2-0.
Then it was the other Greyhound freshman’s turn to make a big play.
Mackenzie Wright, Atascadero’s center-back defender, swooped in to make a goal-saving play on the other end of the field just as Dos Pueblos looked like it would score a quick answer. The team swarmed Wright with high fives and hugs like she had scored a goal herself.
Wright — along with fellow defenders junior Hina Nogi, junior Lexi Setting and senior Melanie Ragain — made play after play against a Dos Pueblos team that became desperate for a goal in the second half. The lone mistake came on a foul inside the penalty box with four minutes left that led to a penalty kick goal to make it 2-1.
Senior Hannah Flickinger’s stoppage-time goal, off an assist from Subia, a few minutes later ended any chance of a Chargers comeback.
Subia said she and Wright are starting to feel like they belong.
“At first it was really nerve-racking ... but I feel like we are doing a really good job of keeping up with the seniors,” Subia said.
“They are great,” Atascadero head coach Miguel Figueroa said. “They have a great future.”
In the immediate future, Atascadero (15-7-2, 8-6 PAC 8) will face another tough test on the road against No. 2-seeded South Torrance (15-1-2) at 3 p.m. Thursday. But the Greyhounds are no strangers to stiff competition, having played well in two 1-0 losses to highly-ranked San Luis Obispo High School earlier this season.
“I feel like we are going in strong,” Subia said. “We have a good chance at winning, as long as we keep our energy up.”
Westridge (Pasadena) 2, Nipomo 1
Hayde Gallardo scored Nipomo’s lone goal on an assist from Jackie Lopez in the Titans’ CIF-Southern Section Division 4 wild-card girls soccer playoff game. The season for Nipomo (10-10-4) comes to an end after finishing third in the Los Padres League.