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Pabla nets pair in Buffaloes’ playoff win

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Manteca head coach Justin Coenenberg goes over the game plan during halftime of Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener against visiting Vanden.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/

POSTED May 9, 2014 12:38 a.m.

Harleen Pabla overcame an ailment that forced her lung to collapse and required a surgery and sidelined her for the rest of her junior year.

“We thought she had a muscle spasm,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “She had a huge bump in her back and it ended up being a bubble in her lung.”

Pabla’s lungs have been back at full strength since, and last fall she qualified for the CIF State Cross Country Championships for a third time in her prep career.

On Thursday, Pabla added more to her athletic resume as she scored twice during the third-seeded Buffaloes’ 3-0 victory over Vanden-Fairfield at Guss Schmeidt Field during the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III soccer playoffs.

Pabla netted her second goal in the 63rd minute on an assist from Ashlee Miller, who sent a perfectly-placed pass up the field to a streaking Pabla.

“I’m really bad at 1-on-1s,” Pabla said. “(Miller) hit a straight pass to me and I had to do it for the team. I knew I had to hit the corner.”

Plan executed.

Pabla hit the top-left corner on a 1-on-1 fast break while defenders from sixth-seeded Vanden (12-7-2) trailed her rear.

Manteca (17-4-2) outshot the visitors 17-5 overall and 10-2 in the first 40 minutes. Vanden goalkeeper Heather Walsh finished with 19 saves, while the Buffaloes’ goalie Alyssa Burch had somewhat of a stress-free day in the net, collecting five saves.

One of those saves, however, caused a brief scare for the Manteca sideline.

Vanden’s Heidi Carr forced the Buffaloes’ first turnover and picked a Manteca defender’s pocket and nearly made it 1-0 Vanden on the game’s first possession.

Burch delivered a clutch save to keep the match scoreless, though.

“Burch stepped up and made a big save,” Coenenberg said. “We’re happy with the way the girls played. I’d say the only thing I was a little disappointed in was our finishing. I thought going into halftime we probably could have been up 5-0. We missed a couple of golden opportunities.”

More like a few.

Natalia Duran nearly assisted a header by Leah Manuleleua in the ninth minute but was off the mark slightly. Manuleleua also had a shot on goal in the sixth minute.

In the 15th minute, Pabla struck for her first goal of the match unassisted.

Pabla got loose down the right wing. After Pabla fired the ball at the net it ricocheted off a Vanden defender and around the keeper Walsh for the 1-0 advantage.

“She’s non-stop,” Coenenberg said. “She’s in great physical condition and she’s just getting better and better. The Delta (College) coach was even here tonight to take a look at her.”

Pabla, who plans on running cross country and play soccer at the next level, crossed a ball to Duran in minute No. 18, but the freshman misfired. Pabla had another shot on goal in the 19th minute prior to Jasmine Basuil making it 2-0 in the 22nd minute.

Basuil fired a shot with her heel from 25 yards deep and sunk it in the top-left corner of the net where Walsh could not get a finger on it.

No. 3 Manteca will travel to Elk Grove to face second-seeded Cosumnes Oaks, a 5-0 winner over River Valley-Yuba City Thursday, in the second round of the D-III tournament Wednesday.

The winner of that will face the winner of Benicia and Christian Brothers/El Camino in the section championship May 17.

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