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Pelon’s hat trick powers Indians in TVL opener

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Ripon’s Devaney Dougherty has her cross deflected away by Escalon’s Adela Ley-Han.


POSTED January 11, 2018 1:27 a.m.

ESCALON — Ripon’s girls soccer team showed no signs of rust in its Trans-Valley League opener on Wednesday.

Playing in their first live match in 19 days, the Indians were in control from start to finish and led by Aubree Pelon’s hat trick in a 4-0 shutout of Escalon. The team took advantage of the long break as it incorporated a new formation that helped create an array of scoring opportunities.

“We’ve played around with it in practice, but this is our first time playing in it in an actual game and this is the first game of league,” Pelon said. “We were a little hesitant, but we’ve been working on it in practice so we felt more confident as the game went on.”

The sophomore striker gave her club a burst of confidence at the start. Cindy Alvarez, one of the Indians’ few seniors, set her up with a perfect cross in the fourth minute for the first goal. Second-year head coach Nichole Meyer said it was “extremely important” to strike first and maintain the pressure on the attacking third.

“We’ve played Escalon for years, and as soon as you give them momentum they tend to take advantage of that,” Meyer said. “We rehearsed quick transitions and stuff like that in practice so it really paid off in the beginning.

“I think we played really, really well,” Meyer added, “For a high school team to take a really complex system like this and do well with it right away is great.”

Ripon (1-0-0 TVL, 6-3-1 overall) had chances to put this one away early. Freshman phenom Ariana Scholten had two open looks — the second of which was slapped over the crossbar by Escalon keeper Leticia Gutierrez (five saves) on a breakaway — before finally breaking through in the 30th minute to double the lead with a low laser shot into the bottom right corner.

In the 65th minute, freshman winger Devaney Dougherty lobbed a through ball past Escalon’s offsides trap, giving Pelon a routine 1-on-1 try. 

The hat trick was completed with a beautiful sequence started by Madison Pugh’s through pass into the penalty box in the 76th minute. Fellow senior Megan Johnson then hit Pelon with a short right-to-left cross on the first touch before the star of the night found the net for the final time.

“We’ve been really working on passing and attacking a lot,” Pelon said. “It just so happen to work in my favor in this game. We have a really good connection with each other. We all get along well in practice and at school, and it just makes it easier to talk and communicate as we’re in the game.”

Escalon (0-1-0, 5-3-0) hardly challenged freshman keeper Ashley Pugh, who came up with three saves. Adela Ley-Han had the Cougars’ best opportunity shortly after a corner kick, but she blew her attempt from the top of the 18 well high. Defenders Deanna Sandoval, Kierra Chavez, Kailey Trejo and Amelia Ruiz shut down any other dangerous runs the Cougars were able to put together.

Ripon outshot them 21-7, and Pelon was on frame on five of her seven shots.

It was an all-around solid TVL debut for this young bunch that is without one of its promising stars from last year. Sophomore Tianna Sidtikun, the TVL’s reigning Most Valuable Offensive Player, has opted to play basketball this winter, but an influx of talented freshmen has made up for her absence.

“It didn’t take very long for them to get into a groove,” Meyer said of her youngsters. She starts five freshmen and three sophomores. “They kind of jumped into it ready to go. We’re fortunate to have girls who are both young but very experienced.”

Ripon has another week to prepare for its next game and it’s a big one, as defending champion Hilmar (2-0, 11-1-5) visits Stouffer Field on Jan. 17.



Escalon 6, Ripon 0

ESCALON — Guillermo Alvarez poured in three goals and three assists as the defending champion Cougars (2-0, 11-2) rolled to their third straight win. 

Ripon fell to 3-8 overall.

“It was more competitive than the numbers look, we just made key mistakes on the back line and couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities up front,” Ripon coach Gabe Keenan said. “Escalon utilized their home field well and took advantage of every opportunity.”

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