DOVER — The top two seeds won in Wednesday night's Class 4A, District 9 semifinals and set up a Friday night rematch of powerhouse Jesuit and first-year Steinbrenner, which beat the Tigers 2-1 in the regular season.
Only this time, a district title is at stake.
"Of course," Warriors coach Chad Ebright replied when asked if he preferred facing Jesuit again. "We want Steinbrenner to be thought of as a strong soccer program, and to do that you have to play the best."
Five-time state champion Jesuit edged Lennard in Wednesday's opener and Steinbrenner followed with a 4-1 defeat of Robinson in a game that was much closer than the score indicated. The Warriors led 2-1 before scoring twice in the last four minutes.
Steinbrenner's Anthony Melatti timed his leap to head the ball inside the near post off a corner kick by Phillip Jorge in the 76th minute to give the Warriors a cushion against the pressing Knights. Cody Lively added a breakaway goal in the final minute.
Oliver Ortiz scored twice for Steinbrenner in the first half, converting a cross from Spencer Siban before breaking through the middle of the penalty box to beat goalkeeper Tony Seleznick off a through ball from Jorge.
In between those goals, Robinson got on the scoreboard with a long-range goal. Lakota Thomas took a feed from Sahaj Kumar and blasted a 40-yarder under the crossbar from the left side.
"Our key tonight was to try to keep (Thomas) to a limited number of touches," Ebright said. "He did get a goal, an incredible goal."
Brett Durrance had both Jesuit goals in the first half against Lennard. He broke in alone after taking a through ball from Miguel Cadavid in the ninth minute, then scored off Kyle Bellini's free kick by lifting the ball over keeper Brandon Peterson.
Lennard, which lost to Jesuit 7-1 in the regular season, scored before the break when Cesar Rodriguez was credited with a goal that deflected in off a Jesuit player in the box.
Jesuit coach Bob Bauman said Lennard got a spark after that goal, which led to a tightly played second half.
"When Lennard scored, they thought they could get back in the game and even win the game," Bauman said. "My concern right now is our mental approach. The good news is that we're tough. The question is if we play at home or on the road."