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Buitragos 5 goals buoy Knights victory
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Ripon Christian hadn’t given up a goal in Southern League play until Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Knights had to play from behind for the first time.

No problem.

Sophomore sensation Abby Buitrago scored five unanswered goals, as Ripon Christian rallied past host Le Grand 6-4 to remain unbeaten in the SL.

“Abby’s finishing was clinical today,” Ripon Christian coach Kevin Tameling said. “She put herself in very dangerous positions for the opposing defense. Every goal of hers was assisted with great passes from different angles. Even the PK (penalty kick) she scored was set up due to great buildup play by the team.”

Le Grand (3-7, 3-9-1) took advantage of a fortunate bounce to take the early one-goal lead in the 10th minute Ripon Christian keeper Bryanna Heida collided with Le Grand’s Erika Urquiza as the two looked to gain control of a headed ball into the box. Urquiza was able to get to it first and it put it away with Heida out of position.

Alex Erdelatz netted the equalizer five minutes later, cashing in on an initial shot attempt that was deflected away. Buitrago and the Knights took over from there.

In the 24th minute, they took the lead for good on Buitrago’s penalty kick. She struck again a minute later on a pass from Samantha Carvalho to make it 3-1 by halftime.

Buitrago collected three more goals in a four-minute span early in the second half. She was set up by Cynthia Van Vliet, Emily Manes and Carvalho.

Le Grand closed the gap in the final 15 minutes with another goal from Urquiza on a PK and two from Alondra Ceja.

“Even though Le Grand was able to score a few more goals late I was happy with our defensive effort,” Tameling said. “We are a little banged up at the moment and players are being asked to play different roles and succeeding. However, we have to play the whole 80 minutes and finish strong.”

Ripon Christian has a tough task ahead as it plays its third game in four days today at third-place Orestimba (7-2, 10-3).