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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Alanna Blanco, Ripon Christian soccer
AOW Alanna Blanco

With senior striker Dayna Koolhaas, one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s leading scorers, drawing much of the attention from opposing teams, the Knights (22-3-1) have looked to two underclassmen to supplement the attack.

One of them is Blanco, a sophomore who came up big in Ripon Christian’s run to the SJS Division VI championship last week. She accounted for four of the Knights’ nine goals in three postseason matches, including one in the 2-0 final-round win over Stone Ridge Christian at Cosumnes River College this past Saturday.

“Alanna was a standout freshman for us last year, but this year she’s grown even more in her confidence and ability,” RC coach David Morris said. “She’s added a lot of strength to the speed she already had, and has become such a more powerful dribbler and shooter. We also love Alanna’s determination to be the best she can be, and that drive to become better has paid off all season.”

Blanco flashed that speed in the title game. She played a part in the first goal just 10 minutes into the match, as she sneaked in behind the Stone Ridge back line to chase down a perfect through ball from Koolhaas. Stone Ridge goalkeeper Mackenzie Anderson read the play well and was able to block Blanco’s attempt to chip it past her, but Ripon Christian freshman Brooke Barnes reacted to the deflection and put away the open-net goal.

Blanco would not be denied in the 33rd minute, however. After receiving the ball from Koolhaas, she turned on the afterburners to split two defenders on the right wing and slid it past the charging Anderson.

Ripon Christian opened the tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10 with a 5-0 blowout of Esparto. Blanco bagged three goals in the first half, and it’s the third hat trick of the season and her varsity career.

Blanco has 19 goals and seven assists for 45 points on the season, second most on the team behind Koolhaas (41-9-91).

“She was our second highest goal scorer during the year, and our highest goal scorer throughout the playoffs,” Morris said. “We were dangerous all across our front line, and Alanna is a key part of that goal scoring success.”

Up next for Ripon Christian is the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regionals starting Feb. 27.