STOCKTON – Ripon Christian made school history this spring.
The Knights’ unforeseen playoff run all the way into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII girls soccer final came to an end Saturday after running into powerhouse Bradshaw Christian Sacramento, who defeated RC 3-0 to claim its fifth straight section championship at Lincoln High.
“We have a pretty dynamic offense when we’re clicking,” Bradshaw Christian coach Michael Rangel said. “Our patterns and pieces and our creativity inside the 18, they executed well.”
Ripon Christian (12-1-1 Southern League, 18-8-2 overall) played solid for the first 35 minutes of the ball game. Despite being outshot 15-2 in the first half, the Knights still managed to clear the ball and keep the score knotted at 0-0 for nearly 40 minutes.
Bradshaw (17-5-4) struck first in minute No. 35 when its Portland State-bound junior Jenni Lawson placed a corner kick perfectly. Pride senior sweeper Natalie Parks got her head on it and banged it in the top-left corner for the 1-0 advantage minutes before the break.
“There’s another perfect example of how disciplined we are in our set pieces,” said Rangel, who coached in his sixth straight section-championship game. “Every girl has a job and every girl has a position to be in. (Parks) was there when she needed to be and did exactly what she does during practice.
“(Ripon Christian) came to play. They pinched the middle and swarmed us inside. They had a good game plan and it was well executed. They gave us a good game.”
RC was outshot 29-6, but goalie Bryanna Heida finished with nine saves, respectively.
Heida had her first save of the contest during the 17th minute. BC senior Angelina Horn, who also scored the Pride’s third goal of the matchup, sent a shot that Heida got to and helped keep the game scoreless.
“Bryanna is an amazing goalie,” said RC senior Ashley Bloemhof, who recorded a shot on goal in minute No. 62. “They were a physical team, and she’s a tough sophomore. She knew coming up to varsity she would be put in compromising situations, and I think she did a swell job in this playoff run.
“(Bradshaw) has something good going on over there. They were a tough team, but we came out hard in the second half and that was the best we could do.”
RC went into the half trailing by a goal. Bradshaw Christian scored its second goal during minute No. 50. Senior speedster Jessica Syracuse aggressively made her way to the net and put up a shot that Heida deflected. However, on the comeback, Syracuse stuck it back in the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Heida made another nice save in the 52nd minute when Brashaw’s Lawson worked it to Oliva Gula, who passed it back to Kenedi Barkley. Barkley put up the shot and Heida made another save.
However, Bradshaw Christian made it a 3-0 ball game (53rd minute) when Syracuse assisted Horn on the cross as the 5-foot, 4-inch forward put the proverbial nail in the coffin.
“We were disappointed with the loss because everybody wanted to win,” RC senior Kaylie Colyn said. “But for our school, we made history. We won our first league title and our first and second playoff games. So just to get to the section (championship) was awesome for us. We played with a lot of heart and stuck with it till the end.”
RC’s Teagan Manus registered the Knights’ first shot on goal during the 13th minute, which was saved by Bradshaw goalkeeper Mary Petree.
“Bradshaw has some good girls,” RC head coach Keith Tameling concluded. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and our plan was to stay together defensively. For the most part, we did that. Our girls played well and they could hang their heads high.
“These girls are happy with the run. At the beginning of the year I don’t think any of them expected to get to the section title game. They played well together and hopefully they’ll have good memories of the season.”
To contact John-Joel Griffiths, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.