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Manteca rides early barrage to semifinal berth
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In the first 29 minutes, Manteca High mustered up all the scoring in Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinals against Benicia at Guss Schmiedt Field.

 “We wanted to come out scoring early,” said senior forward Leah Manuleleua following the 3-0 victory. “We did that and had the momentum going.”

The top-seeded Buffaloes (23-2-1) wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against No. 8 Panthers (10-9). 

It took all of four minutes before Kaitlynn Funsch found in the seam in the defense, delivering on the open field to give her team a 1-0.

At the 16-minute mark, Manuleleua found herself in a similar situation, going one-on-one with the goalie before knocking in the goal.

The Buffaloes made it 3-0 in the 29th minute thanks to a Madison Burch score.

“I was satisfied the way we came out – we were aggressive,” said coach Justin Coenenberg, who is trying to lead his team to a second straight section finals.

He also praised his defense, in particular, junior mid-fielder Natalia Duran, sophomore mid-fielder Alexa Mayen, senior defender Sandra De La Riva, and senior defender Jasmine Basuil.

“We’re a solid group,” Basuil said. “We’ve been playing together (as a team).”

Benicia twice applied the pressure in the 48th minute. Both times, the Buffalo defense came to the rescue – goalie Ashlee Miller came up with a big-time save in one of the second-half attempts, according to Coenenberg.

The Buffaloes also came out empty on several of their scoring tries, including Mayen’s corner kick in the 67th minute. The Benicia goalie batted the shot away.

“We had our chances (in the second half) but just couldn’t finish,” Manuleleua said.

Manteca will play No. 4 Vista de Lago or No. next Wednesday.

Manuleleua, who has been to the postseason in three of the four years playing varsity, would like to add a section crown next to the Valley Oak League title.

“That’s been our goal this year,” she said.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail