By Dante Quazzo
The University defense has held strong all season, and on Saturday night it was no different.
The both defenses blanketed attackers all night, but University broke through late to defeat San Marin of Novato 1-0 in the North Coast Section quarterfinals at Kezar Stadium.
In the 71st minute, University senior captain Adrian Kerester gathered the ball on the far end of the field and sent a clean cross into the box, where teammate Mikaela Symanovich knocked the ball in for the only goal of the match.
“Adrian played a mid-height ball towards the near post, and I just pushed it in,” Symanovich said. “It means a lot for me to be there from my team. I think that contributions come from everybody, and just to be able to be there for everyone when we needed something big was the biggest part for me.”
The tough test for the Red Devils (22-2-1) showcased their taut defensive ability, and when combined with timely goals from the University offense, that combination is difficult to stop.
“I think they understand that every game is a fight,” said University head coach Deejae Johnson. “We’re tough to score on, and as long as we keep it out of the net, we give our attack more time to solve the defense that’s in front of us.”
While University had a few chances early in the first half, including a Niki Leong shot from outside the box that bounced off the crossbar in the 16th minute, the teams battled to a 0-0 stalemate in the first half.
The teams looked dead-even in the second half, but with the Symanovich goal the Red Devils were finally able to break the Mustangs’ (11-6-8) defense that had held so strong.
“I was really proud of the way they played. We knew going in that we clearly weren’t the favorites, and we were gonna be up against it,” said San Marin head coach Tyler Gottschalk. “We definitely weathered the storm at times, and in big moments our players came up big and that kept us in the game until late.”
With the victory, top-seeded University advances to play the fourth-seeded Redwood on Wednesday.
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