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Ripon Highs Siditkun signs letter of intent to play soccer
Ripon High standout Tia Sidtikun feels the pressure against the Escalon defense during a Trans-Valley League match at Mistlin Park on March 20, 2012. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

The leader of the Ripon High girls soccer team won’t get pushed around or pigeon-holed.

Those are the qualities assistant coach Bryce Perkins loves most about his star, Tia Sidtikun, a stout 5-foot-8 center midfielder.

The senior plays every inch of the soccer field, chasing team goals – not personal glory.

 “The thing about Tia, she doesn’t have the gaudy stats because she’s such a midfield yeomen,” Perkins said. “She’s just a hard worker.

“She’s usually found in transition. She’s usually found in the back, helping the stopper. She’s more inclined to dish, and dish to wings that set up the score.”

Wednesday was her moment in the sun.

The versatile Sidtikun signed a national letter of intent to continue her soccer career at Cal State Monterey Bay on Wednesday morning in the North Gym.

She says she spurned interest from Cal State Stanislaus, Cal State Los Angeles and Azusa Pacific to accept a partial scholarship with the Otters.

“Last season they improved a lot. I want to be a part of that improvement; to come in and be a part of that program,” said Sidtikun, who was first recruited by the Otters’ Erin Reinke last summer at the Pleasanton Rage Showcase. Sidtikun plays for the Modesto Ajax club team.

CSUMB is coming off a historic season.

Monterey Bay finished the season 5-9 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play with a 2-1 victory over then-No. 14 Chico State. The Otters were 8-9 overall, setting a program record for most wins.

Perkins believes Sidtikun’s physicality and talent will allow her to contribute as true freshman.

“She’s one the few girls who has the frame to make it in college,” he said. “The wispy ones get beat up really bad.

“More than that, though, she’s a delight to coach. (She has) an absolutely sunny disposition and really supportive of her teammates. She’ll bloom at Monterey.”

Sidtikun is a four-year varsity player and three-time all-Trans Valley League selection. She is the last remaining piece from the Ripon’s ultimate triumph – a Sac-Joaquin Section championship in 2010.

“When you put her on the field, she absolutely owns it,” Perkins said. “She changes the game the moment she goes in.”

The Indians can’t wait for her return. Sidtikun is playing a starring role for the Ripon girls basketball team, averaging 11 points, 5.3 rebounds and nearly two steals for a team pointed toward the postseason.

She won’t join the soccer team until after the basketball season.

Her strengths on the hardwood have been her strengths on the soccer field. Her stats won’t blow you away, Perkins said, but her presence will.

“I’m more of a playmaker,” said Sidtikun, a former All-Area midfielder. “I pass the ball a lot. I’m more technical.”

And she’s the unquestioned leader of a team that will push Escalon and Hilmar for the TVL crown.

“Our senior leadership is the best since 2009,” Perkins said. “We’ve had strong numbers in conditioning and the older players are staying after to get some extra work in. It’s the kind of spirit we’ve seen come and go, and it’s nice to see it come back.”

“This year, we’ve got a number of strong girls – solid girls that don’t get pushed around. So I think we’ll have a physical presence in every game,” he later added. “Tia is the leader of that team.”