By Jeremy Balan
KENTFIELD – The Marin Catholic High School girls soccer team played as advertised against visiting University in the North Coast Section semifinals on Wednesday.
The undefeated and top-seeded Wildcats scored two goals in the first 10 minutes and coasted to a 4-0 victory to knock the Red Devils out of the playoffs.
“They came out firing and were in cruise control the whole game,” said University head coach Deejae Johnson. “We just lacked the quality or luck or a bounce or whatever.”
Soccer can often lend itself to upsets due to unfortunate bounces, a key mistake or through strategy, but the Wildcats played flawlessly, especially on the defensive end.
The fifth-seeded Red Devils (17-5-4) didn’t have a solid scoring opportunity throughout and only had one shot on target, a rolling attempt from 20 yards out by sophomore midfielder Rosie Warren in the 13th minute. The Wildcats have recorded 21 shutouts this season and have only allowed four goals.
“All year long, we’ve been stressing team defending,” said Marin Catholic head coach Rob Funes. “When we have the ball, we have 11 attackers, and when we don’t have the ball, we have 11 defenders.”
With a gusting wind in their face to start the game, the Wildcats (20-0-4) got goals from sophomore Camille Wilson in the fourth minute and Kristi Cascio in the 10th minute. Both were unmarked on balls sent into the penalty area.
“We forgot to compete on the defensive end in two moments and it’s not like they were pounding us in the first half. They had three goals on five chances,” Johnson said. “The two early goals they got were wide-open looks inside the six [meter box]. It’s hard to win games when that’s the way you’re starting off.”
University had its share of possession in the first half, but with the wind in their faces in the second and a pinched-in Marin Catholic defense applying pressure, the Red Devils struggled to get the ball out of their defensive half.
“I will say it was definitely one of our best games of the year,” Funes said. “The wind in high school soccer can play a huge part and the fact that we were able to get three goals in the first half against the wind definitely made me feel good about where we were at.”
The Wildcats added goals in the 35th and 43rd minutes and continued a foreboding trend for University.
The Red Devils have lost the last game of their season on Marin Catholic’s field in four of the last five years. In 2010, it was a loss to the Wildcats in the NCS quarterfinals, and University also lost back-to-back championship games to Tamalpais on the same field in 2009 and 2008.
“We hate this field,” Johnson said. “I hate this field.”