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Third-seeded teams confident on the road

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Third-seeded teams confident on the road

Jared Berglund is one of four Ripon High boys soccer players that were a part of the Indians' last postseason team, which was eliminated by Patterson in the second round in 2007.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED November 9, 2009 2:01 a.m.

Sierra and Ripon have tough draws to start the Sac-Joaquin Section boys soccer playoffs, but they like to think that their opponents do, too.

Sierra, the Valley Oak League’s third-place team, begins the Division IV tournament at Dixon Tuesday, while Trans Valley League No. 3 seed Ripon heads to Patterson in Division V action.

While most games will start at 3 p.m., Sierra’s tough road assignment kicks off at 5 and Ripon’s at 7.

Neither area team is intimidated going in.

Dixon (12-1-6) went 9-0-5 to win the competitive Capital Valley Conference, and Patterson (17-5-4) finished 12-1-2 to earn the Western Athletic Conference crown.

Both Sierra and Ripon feel that they are better than their league finishes indicate, falling a few unlucky bounces or unfortunate calls shy of improving their standing or even capturing league championships.

Regardless, both believe they are capable of reaching the section finals — even if it takes two road victories to get there.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to have to do it on the road,” Sierra coach Jose Montes said. “I think we play our best soccer on the road.”

The traditionally-tough Rams of Dixon are certainly battle tested coming out of the CVC, where five teams finished with at least a .500 conference record — including third-seeded River City, the section’s defending Division IV champion.

River City knocked off Sierra’s VOL rival Ceres in a shootout in last season’s title match.

Ceres, for the second straight season, is the VOL’s runner-up to crosstown foe Central Valley. Central Valley hosts River City in its first-round contest.

Dixon is led by three talented juniors in midfielder Andrew Rodriguez (14 goals) and forwards Eduardo Ramirez (10 goals) and Julio Reyes (nine goals).

Sierra will make its first playoff appearance since 2006, when it claimed the VOL title and lost an overtime heartbreaker to Lincoln in the championship round.

“I don’t know too much about them — just a few stats and some of their results, but not of how they play,” Montes said. “My thing right now is not to be concerned about how the opponent plays, but how my team plays.”

Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn, on the other hand, is familiar with Patterson. The two teams have history, and DeBruyn got to scout the Tigers last Tuesday when they tied second-place Hilmar 1-1 in the WAC finale.

Should the Indians win Tuesday, they could end up squaring off with TVL champion for a fourth time in the semifinals.

“Getting to watch them play was helpful for us,” DeBruyn said. “We got to see them in an intense game and took note of what they were trying to do.  They’re very similar to Riverbank, and we held our own against them.”

Senior forward Rodrigo Aldana is Patterson’s playmaking whiz. He has 16 goals and 23 assists on the season. Gustavo Molina (14 goals, 16 assists) is also dangerous on the attacking third.

Ripon made its first-ever playoff run two years ago and stunned Linden 4-3 to advance to the second round, where it took a 2-0 halftime lead against Patterson. But Patterson fired back with a torrid second-half flurry, winning 5-2.

Ripon seniors Caleb Christian, Matt Ratto and Matty Gay were a part of the 2007 team, as was junior Jared Berglund.

“They remember,” DeBruyn said. “They knew how good Patterson was then, and we know they’re good now. At the beginning of the year I thought they were the favorites to win the section championship, but right now I like the situation we’re in.”

To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3538.

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