Women’s soccer teammates Moran and Pruitt go way back

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

For being the most popular sport in the world, soccer is a small community.

Players will typically grow up with each other, playing together from their youth days, club teams and sometimes high school teams.

The close community has kept freshman forward Leah Pruitt and sophomore defender Stacie Moran of San Diego State women’s soccer together since their early club days.

Hailing from the Alta Loma and Rancho Cucamonga area, the two met playing on their local club team, Arsenal.

Although Pruitt is a year younger, she played up to the age group above her, where she could be paired with her older sister and Moran.

“The better memories (of playing soccer) are when I started playing club at Arsenal,” Pruitt said. “That’s where I met Stacie, too.”

Following their club days, the two then went on to play for Alta Loma High School, where they grew closer on the field and became the leaders of the team.

“Playing in high school was really cool, because we had the background of playing together already,” Moran said. “So we already knew how each other played and it was easy to work off of each other.”

In Moran’s senior season, and Pruitt’s junior year, they led Alta Loma to the 2014 Baseline League Championship.

Pruitt and Moran drew interest from schools quite early.

SDSU head coach Mike Friesen said the coaches had been recruiting Pruitt since the end of her freshman year of high school when they first saw Moran play.

“Stacie was in the beginning of her junior year, and we ended up watching Stacie play (for the first time) the night Leah committed,” Friesen said.

Despite both players receiving interest from schools like UCLA, USC, and Loyola Marymount University, they ultimately chose SDSU.

Pruitt’s father played linebacker for SDSU football back in the ‘90s, and one of Moran’s coaches is an Aztec alumnus.

But the two said they ultimately chose SDSU because of Firesen, the coaching staff and the team environment.

“The coaches here just made the decision really easy,” Moran said. “They made the atmosphere very family-like.”

“The coaches really wanted me here and I just felt very welcomed,” Pruitt said.

After graduating from Alta Loma in 2014, Moran quickly became a cornerstone on SDSU’s backline.

As a freshman, she started all of the team’s 22 games, playing the full 90 minutes 20 times and leading the team with 2,039 total minutes.

Meanwhile back at Alta Loma, Pruitt finished up her high school career by setting the school’s record for most goals in a single season.

After a one-year hiatus, the two were reunited on the Mesa in 2015.

They continue to impress each other — and Friesen — every day.

“Stacie is one of the best (one-on-one) defenders we’ve had in our program. She can deal with almost anybody she goes up against in the country,” Friesen said. “(Pruitt) has been somebody for us who is just starting to blossom right now, and we know her ceiling is so high. Over the next year-and-a-half, you’re going to see her really take off.”

Pruitt and Moran share a mutual respect and speak very highly of each other’s play on the field.

“I think (Stacie)’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. She’s super strong on the backline, and I’ve seen her play every other position,” Pruitt said. “She always stands out no matter where she is.”

“Leah is a stud, she amazes me every time she touches the ball, and gets out of things I would never expect anyone to,” Moran said.

Friesen believes their prior experience of playing together early on brings an advantage for the team.

“If they have a good connection, play well together and are comfortable with each other, I definitely think it helps get them a good start,” Friesen said. “Anytime you have a connection with any team, it really helps the way they play together.”