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Area teams seeking retribution in second round

Familiar adversaries stand between T’Wolves, Indians and final-round berths

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Area teams seeking retribution in second round

Kayla Cody (right) and Nicole Vanni (left) celebrate with Mariela Pimentel after scoring a goal in an opening-round win over El Dorado.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED May 14, 2009 2:27 a.m.

Up to this point, the soccer seasons for both Sierra High and Ripon have been unforgettable.

But a loss today for either school would be the same old, same old.

Familiar foes are on the postseason docket for both the T’Wolves and Indians this afternoon, as Sierra travels to Sacramento to face West Campus and Ripon heads to Hilmar to face the Yellowjackets.

Sierra’s postseason struggle with West Campus began two years ago when the Warriors, which featured nine freshman starters, edged the Timberwolves, 3-2, in penalty kicks to claim a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV opening-round win.

Last season, West Campus trumped the T’Wolves in the first round again, this time with a controversial 2-1 home win in which Sierra head coach Manuel Pires felt the Warriors used two critical uncalled handballs to their advantage.

Today, Sierra must once again travel to Sacramento to meet West Campus, where all nine of the 2006-07 Warrior freshmen remain.

The Warriors sport a 15-1-2 record, including a 3-0 win over Colfax in the opening round.

West Campus won the Capital Valley Conference championship with its only loss suffered against upstart Cosumnes Oaks, 2-0.

“We expect nothing less (than what West Campus brought the last two seasons),” Pires said. “We know it will be a tough game, we know it will be like a final. We know a little bit about them, and they know a little bit about us. We match up well. Hopefully, we can come out with a win this time.”

Sierra has had an emotional week after Pires lost his father on Saturday and the Timberwolves gave their head coach his 300th career win over El Dorado Tuesday.

“The girls are feeling really good right now,” Pires said. “They’ve handled everything really well.”

If the third time is indeed the charm for the T’Wolves, a meeting with either Sonora or Whitney awaits in the section finals Saturday at noon at Lincoln High in Stockton.

Lincoln High was the site of the 2007 Division V section title game, where Hilmar doused Ripon’s dreams of a first-ever section championship, 1-0.

Blake Lopes led the Yellowjackets that day, and again a year later in the D-V semifinals in Ripon, where Hilmar picked up an overtime win with help from a controversial goal that the entire Ripon contingent felt was scored offsides.

Lopes is now gone, but the sting is not, and Ripon will be seeing red when it packs up the bus this afternoon.

“We’ve never beaten them, and everyone knows it,” Ripon assistant coach Bryce Perkins said. “It’s something like 0-19-1. This is definitely a gorilla that we need to get off our backs.

“This game is as important as any we’ve ever played.”

The rivalry between Hilmar and Ripon began in 2006 on the last day of the Trans Valley League season when Hilmar tied the contest on a goal that an out-of-position official said had to have been scored because of geometry.

As the stakes have risen over the past two postseasons, so too has the rivalry reached a blood-boiling peak.

“They play us very physical, and it gets very personal,” Perkins said. “There’s a physicality, a closeness and a different tempo when we play. They have a way of getting under our girl’s skin, and their fans are tough too, and that tends to get under everyone’s skin.”

Hilmar comes into the semifinals with a 16-5-6 record including losses to Hughson (1-0) and Manteca (3-0). The Yellowjackets upended Amador in the first round, 2-0.

If Ripon finds its vengeance on the road Thursday, a meeting with either Patterson or Central Catholic in the D-V title bout awaits Saturday at 10 a.m. at Lincoln High.

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