You might have thought the Mission varsity soccer squad had a lifeguard on their team with all the saves by goalkeeper Marcos Lopez against the University High Red Devils Tuesday evening at Kezar Stadium.
But despite the stellar defense, the Mission Bears could not find the net on offense, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Lopez, a senior, came up with a crucial save off a University High penalty kick midway through the first half.
“I felt nervous, I thought he was going to score, I picked my side, I got lucky and I stopped it,” said Lopez, who made six saves during the game.
The Bears were hurt in the first half when right forward Tan Le went down with an injury to his right knee. He was forced to exit the game and did not return. However, head coach Scott Kennedy said that Le is tough and will most likely be back for the next game.
Even without Le, the Bears did a good job on the attack. Yet they had difficulty transitioning back to defense when they needed to, giving University more scoring opportunities than they deserved. Senior Captain Marco Caballero said the Bears’ defense needs to be more of a team effort that includes both the midfielders and the forwards.
“With luck, they didn’t score,” Caballero said. “We did great attacking, but when it is time to play defense, we fall asleep.”
At the start of the second half it was all Bear possession, but while they were able to create opportunities, their shots were either deflected or off target. Around the 65th minute, momentum changed and the Red Devils brought the heat, shooting from outside the box and putting pressure on the Bears’ defensive line.
Marcos’ diving saves and uplifting spirit kept the Bears in the game. But in the last 10 minutes the Red Devils brought hell onto the soccer field, playing aggressively by sending their defense up to attack.
“It was just two really good teams going head to head,” Kennedy said. “We want to play the best and University is one of the best.”
The Bears will open up league play against Balboa at home at 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 11.
Jamie Goldberg contributed to this article.