The Sherman Lady Bearcats made sure not to waste an early opportunity to gain the upper hand in the playoff chase.

The Sherman Lady Bearcats made sure not to waste an early opportunity to gain the upper hand in the playoff chase.

With opening matches against Denison and Anna, the Lady Bearcats are half-way to solidifying an early hold on third place as Sherman defeated the Lady Yellow Jackets, 2-0, in the District 17-4A opener at Bearcat Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Kate Oelfke and Madison Craig had the goals for Sherman (5-9-1, 1-0), which has already surpassed its scoring output from last season.

"This was a game we had to have three points. That’s as good as we’ve played all season," Sherman head coach John Williams said. "We won nine points last year and we are shooting for 12 this time, then maybe catch McKinney North or Prosper on a bad night."

Kelsey Jarvis, Bailey Wiggins and Lourden Bell helped Kaelee Fretwell earn her sixth shutout of the season as Denison (4-7-2, 0-1) — which has doubled its win total from 2013 — struggled to gain traction against its rivals.

"Our first half was terrible," Lady Jackets head coach Joe Horn said. "We didn’t do what we needed to. Sherman did a better job in the center than us."

Most of the first-half possession took place by the Lady Bearcats in Denison’s end and Oelfke took advantage to put Sherman ahead to stay less than nine minutes into the contest.

A throw-in from the right side bounced once to Oelfke in the middle of the box and she collected and fired it past keep Erin Armstrong.

"We work so much on set pieces," Williams said. "This year half our goals have come on corner kicks and throw-ins."

The deficit stayed at one when Angela Moreno recovered to block Veronica Sosa’s attempt after she had beaten another defender.

Denison’s top opportunity came with 14:26 on the clock when Stephanie Macedo’s shot from the left went to the short side after a Lady Bearcat turnover.

With just over four minutes remaining in the half, Denison tried to clear after a throw-in and the ball ended up at Craig’s foot and she lofted a shot over Armstrong’s head and the 2-0 lead.

"We put so much pressure on the back line. We were creating counter attack for ourselves," Williams said. "We looked a lot better in the midfield. That’s the kind of stuff you want to be able to do."

Sherman continued to control the action in the second half and had several scoring chances despite not being able to pad its lead.

"We were trying to get that third goal to really ice it," Williams said. "Don’t give up an easy goal. Don’t let them get back in it. Don’t give up something silly."

Craig was looking for her second goal with a chip shot right out of the half and Sami Powers had three strong attempts in the middle of the stanza, including one that went just outside the far post on a shot from the right side of the box. Oelfke sent a header wide with 11:25 left and Sosa followed with a run down the left side but Armstrong came up with the save.

The Lady Jackets weren’t able to muster much in the way of a comeback. Early in the second half a pair of Denison shots were blocked by defenders and then the offense was quiet until Zoie Voight’s high shot was knocked away by Fretwell with just under 20 minutes remaining.

It was another 15 minutes before Denison’s best scoring chance of the match had the possibility of getting with in a goal. Voight’s corner kick from the left side got away from Fretwell at the near post but the Lady Jackets were unable to get a clean shot at the net with 3:24 left.

"The good thing is I think all these things are fixable," Horn said.

Angel O’Brien had a long shot go over the crossbar a minute later and Macedo missed wide in the closing seconds.

"The last five to ten minutes, we could have won if that’s what we could have done the whole game," Horn said. "Second half I thought was even and at the end we had more chances."