By Jeremy Balan
University High School’s boys soccer team returned five seniors from last season’s team, but it was two of the Red Devils’ least experienced players that led them to a 1-0 win over Mission High School on Tuesday at Kezar Stadium.
It is University’s (1-0-1) first win of the season, and it appeared the Red Devils would remain winless until the 65th minute, when sophomore Jack Wilson knocked in the only goal of the game.
Wilson received a perfect ball on the back post from freshman Diego Lopes, on a set piece 35 yards away, and put the ball past Mission senior goalkeeper Jose Guevara-Fuentes.
“It came down to one play and I’m glad we got it done,” Wilson said. “[The ball] just poked through everyone and there it was. It almost got blocked; I was lucky.”
Wilson, who normally serves as the Red Devils’ junior varsity captain, was called up to play against Mission due to an injury on the varsity squad.
“We’ve got a good core of seniors, but they don’t have a lot of experience,” said University coach Deejae Johnson. “It’s going to take somebody young to come through a lot of times this season to put us on top.”
Lopes, playing in just his second high school game, is barely 5-feet tall, but took every set piece and corner kick when he was on the field.
“Diego is a student of the game and makes good decisions,” Johnson said. “A lot of times that’s what the game is about. You can talk about strength, speed and skill, but it’s the decision making that makes the difference in the game. I trust in his ability to make a good decision.”
Mission (0-3-2) had the majority of the chances for most of the game, but when the Bears got the ball in a scoring position, they often squandered opportunities.
“That’s been our whole season so far,” said Mission coach Scott Kennedy. “We can’t get out of the middle and we can’t score.”
The Bears have struggled through their non-league schedule, scoring only two goals in five games.
“We’re beyond frustration,” Kennedy said. “We’re not getting [the ball] in the box, and when we do, it’s just kick ball. I think we’re just choking and it’s getting bigger, like a cloud growing over our head.”
Mission plays one more game to tune up before their Academic Athletic Association opener and 2009 championship game rematch against rival O’Connell on Friday, but Kennedy thinks it will be ready.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Kennedy said. “I think we’ll be OK by Friday. The guys are going to be on such a high.”