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Manteca stuffs University in Buffalo Cup opener
Manteca High midfielder Sialei Manuleleua is challenged by University defender Kate Gridley at Woodward Park Friday during a first-round match in the Buffalo Cup. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

The Manteca High girls varsity soccer squad prides itself on defense.

“That’s our strength,” said Buffaloes coach Justin Coenenberg following Friday’s 2-1 victory over University High of San Francisco.

In the opening round of the Buffalo Cup tourney, Manteca (3-0-1) was en route to posting a shutout until Red Devils’ Haily Gavin rifled a kick to spoil that bid.

The host Buffaloes advanced to the winner’s bracket of the fourth annual event held at Woodward Park. They’re scheduled to play either Stagg or Merced this morning at 9 o’clock.

“This tournament is always a good test for us,” Coenenberg said. “Each year, we’re getting more and more competitive teams out here.”

University had several chances at goals in the first half only to come out empty thanks in part to the efforts of Manteca goal keeper Jimi Guibor.

“We have the best goalie in the league,” said her coach.

Guibor had six first-half saves including one diving stop. She also fielded a high-soaring kick that she momentarily bobbled but recovered nicely between two Red Devil players.

Meanwhile, Sialei Manuleleua scored the game’s first goal at the 12-minute mark of the game. The junior midfielder found room inside the box to shoot one to the far right side of the net.

Early in the second half, Avigail Mayen emerged from the crowd, taking a pass from Esmeralda Cuenca and powering a goal from straight away.

The Manteca defense led by the likes of Adaze Nkwocha, Chenayi Tavaziva, Taylor Teixeira, and Mayen kept the game in check.

“I think we did a better job in the second half at creating scoring opportunities,” Coenenberg said.

In other tournament games, Pittman beat Riverbank and Colfax topped Weston Ranch.

Pittman will take on Colfax while Weston Ranch will do battle with Riverbank. Both games will be played today at 10:30 a.m.