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Buff Cup kicks off tourney week today

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POSTED September 5, 2013 12:46 a.m.

It’s a busy week for a handful of area boys soccer teams as league play approaches.

Today, Manteca High hosts its 6th Annual Buffalo Cup at Woodward Park. Upstart Valley Oak League rival Weston Ranch returns to the loaded eight-team field. The tournament concludes with the second and final rounds this Saturday at Manteca High.

Also Saturday is the Ripon Christian Jerry Terpsma Classic, which features small-school programs from around the Sac-Joaquin Section including familiar foes Ripon and Escalon.

Manteca’s tournament has been so competitive since its inception that even the host team has enjoyed little success in it. The Buffaloes are the reigning champions but have twice taken second (2011, 2008) and finished fifth or worse the other two seasons.

“It has been a very strong tournament with quality teams from various divisions from all over Northern California,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “We would like to expand to 12 (teams) in the future but we are comfortable with eight.”

New to the tournament are 2012 SJS Division IV postseason runner-up Galt, perennial Pioneer Valley League contender Lincoln of Placer County and 2010-11 SJS Division VII champion Millennium of Tracy.

Among the returners are Bret Harte and Riverbank, which go head-to-head in a meeting of two SJS Division V contenders. Bret Harte earned the 2009 Buffalo Cup title and is one of the top squads out of the Mother Lode League, while Riverbank has captured five out of the last seven Trans-Valley League crowns.

Another juicy first-round pairing involves Galt and Weston Ranch. The Cougars of Weston Ranch have the young talent to make a splash in the brutally tough VOL and can prove their worth against a veteran team that is usually among the section’s medium-schools elite.

Lincoln takes on Petaluma, last year’s consolation champion of the Buffalo Cup. Manteca (2-0) rounds out the first-round matchups with Millennium.

Ripon Christian’s tournament will be without its reigning champion, Lathrop. Taking its place is Golden Sierra of Garden Valley, which opens with Bradshaw Christian.

Escalon and Ripon figure to be two of the strongest clubs in the eight-team bracket. Ripon Christian coach Keith Terpsma believes his Knights may have to go through three TVL teams to garner its own tournament championship.

They begin with Orestimba, while Escalon takes on second-year Excel Academy and Ripon encounters Forest Lake Christian.

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