Love for soccer unites family

North Bend soccer coach Tony Picatti stands with his daughters, Molly, left, and Morgan after the recent match between the Bulldogs and Pirates at Vic Adams Field.

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NORTH BEND — When the girl in the gold No. 10 jersey went against the girl in the white No. 10 jersey during the recent North Bend-Marshfield soccer match, it was a family affair.

On the sidelines, North Bend coach Tony Picatti was beaming inside, watching his two daughters — Molly, a North Bend senior, and Morgan, a Marshfield freshman, go head-to-head. He could be forgiven if he secretly was hoping better success for Molly.

“As a parent, you kind of wish the best on the field (for Morgan),” he said. “As a coach, you want to win.”

Ultimately, North Bend won the match, 2-0. And the sisters enjoyed a chance to face off, not that they treated each other with sisterly love.

“I guarantee neither one was taking it easy on the other one,” Tony said. “There’s a lot of competition there.”

In this strange pandemic sports year, when the actual soccer season was postponed from the fall to winter, the sisters ended up with a number of opportunities to play each other, since Marshfield and North Bend had a series of matches late in 2020.

“In the fall it wasn’t really like competing, it was like playing for fun,” Morgan said. “It was always really fun.

“When we played each other for real, it was super competitive and it was just a really enjoyable game. It was the funnest game we’ve had all season.”

Fittingly, Molly is a forward and Morgan a defender, so they were next to each other quite a bit.

“We don’t think of each other as sisters when we’re on the field,” Molly said. “But if we’re standing near each other and the ball’s not around, we’ll crack jokes.”

Even though she’s the younger sister, Morgan is bigger, though she didn’t try to physically push her sister around during their matches, even after Molly gave her a playful punch before the match that left a bruise.

“I didn’t get her back,” Morgan said. “I would never do that. I don’t enjoy hitting people.”

But she did all she could to keep Molly from making any big offensive plays during the match.

The battles extended past the pitch.

“It was definitely World War III at our house,” Molly said. “I’m really competitive and my sister is competitive, but in a different way. We’re not the same in any way. Our parents would tell you we’re polar opposites. We’ve very different.”

“We have never been the same,” Morgan said. “She has always taken stuff super seriously and wanted to win and I am more — slow down and enjoy what is happening around you.

“She always wants to win and I just want to have fun.”

Not that she doesn’t give her all during matches.

And this year she has been part of Marshfield’s best season in recent memory.

Aside from the loss to North Bend, Marshfield’s only setback was to Marist Catholic, the team that handed North Bend its first loss.

“I really enjoy watching the progress that we’ve made from when we started in July,” Morgan said. “It’s really come together. I think we have a lot of new people. It’s a fairly young team. With exception to the seniors, (almost the) entire team freshmen and sophomores. It is going to be interesting to see how we grow and build up our team the next few years.”

The change in the Pirates has been obvious to everyone in the family.

“Marshfield’s team has improved drastically,” Molly said. “I think it’s really good. It has to do with their coaching and their girls sticking with it.

“My freshman and sophomore and junior year, we killed that team. It was always a complete blowout. Those girls stuck with it. It’s definitely showing.”

And aside from when the Pirates and Bulldogs met, she’s been a big fan of her sister’s squad.

“I think it’s awesome that my sister gets to be part of a growing team,” Molly said. “My feeling is that if Marshfield sticks with it, they’re going to be a great team.”

There was never a question whether Morgan was going to be a Pirate.

Molly transferred to the North Bend School District to be part of its technical program, and the siblings’ younger brother, Miles, is in the North Bend schools, too.

But the family lives in Coos Bay and Morgan has had a tight peer group since kindergarten.

“I started at Blossom Gulch when I was 5,” she said. “I started with a friends group. I have stuck with them. Marshfield has a soccer team. All my friends are here. There’s no reason to leave.”

The girls may be polar opposites, but there’s two areas where they are the same.

The first is their love for soccer. It’s Morgan’s only sport, while Molly also has competed in wrestling for North Bend.

Molly started playing with Tony as her coach in kindergarten and stuck with the sport all the way through.

The same goes for her sister.

“When we were younger, it was just expected that you would play,” Morgan said. “As we got older, it’s become a choice. Once we enjoy it, we play what we want.”

Tony says he didn’t push his daughters into soccer.

“I said when I was younger, I wanted to sit back and watch (what they wanted to do),” he said. “They were going to pick the sport they wanted.

“They excelled (at soccer).”

It runs in the family.

“My little brother is super into soccer,” Molly said. “My foster brother is into it, too.”

The other similarity for the polar opposite sisters is their uniform number.

It’s the same number Tony wore growing up in high school in Washington and then as a player at Cascade College.

“I remember my freshman year when we were picking jerseys out, I had my conversation with my parents about how I wanted No. 10,” Molly said. “My dad has a few jerseys at the house from when he was younger. It feels like more of a connection. Me and my dad really connect over soccer.”

As for Morgan also picking No. 10, Molly jokingly said, “She just likes copying me.”

Of course, it’s more than that.

“No. 10 has been my number since I was 5 years old,” Morgan said. “I wanted to keep that number. My dad had it and my sister had it, so I thought I should have it too.”

This year, both No. 10s are enjoying great seasons.

“It’s been fun,” Morgan said of Marshfield’s year, which includes a 3-2 record, all three wins coming by shutout, heading into Saturday’s game at Sutherlin. “I’m looking forward to see how our last games come out.”

North Bend, meanwhile, was 4-1-1 before losing at Willamette on Wednesday.

“I feel like our team is doing really well,” Molly said. “We are definitely linking together better than we have been in the past.”

She would have liked a more traditional season, one that included playoffs and traditional league foes.

But she is keeping the year in perspective.

“It’s just good to get out there and be able to play,” she said.

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