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Curse of Cougars prevails vs. Ripon
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RIPON — Having lost seven of its last eight outings (the other being a draw) to Escalon has Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn convinced that his team is cursed against one of its biggest Trans Valley League rivals.

How the Indians dropped their 1-0 loss at Mistlin Park Monday legitimizes the Curse of the Cougars.

In a match dominated by the defenses, a lofted head shot that sailed inches over Ripon goalkeeper Tim Combley’s hand decided the outcome and has the Indians (3-2, 14-3 overall) trailing conference-leading Riverbank by two games.

Five minutes into the second half, Escalon’s Eric Hernandez delivered a cross from the right side and connected with Alejandro Valencia near the left post. Valencia didn’t get much of the ball to get the shot he wanted, but enough to get it to carom straight up in the air and over Combley.

“I give credit to our defense,” DeBruyn said. “Really, the only score was kind of a close-your-eyes-and-hope-for-the-best.”

DeBruyn, in Year 3 of Escalon’s dominance over his Indians, is still waiting for the best to come out of his team when it faces the Cougars (4-1, 9-6). Last year, Ripon was in position to clinch a berth into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs going into its final regular-season game, needing just a tie in Escalon.

Escalon won, 3-1.

“After three losses in a row, it was like, ‘OK, they had our number,’” DeBruyn said. “After two years it’s like, ‘Something’s up.’ We’re now going into our third year of not beating them.

“I still think that every time we walk out there against them we’re either as good or better, but for some reason we just can’t execute against their guys. That’s the frustrating part right now.”

Neither team had terrific looks at the other goal, with much of the game being played around the midfield stripe. Combley finished with four saves, and Escalon’s Jordan Hall had five.

The loss marks the first time this season that the Indians have dropped two straight. They were previously dealt a 3-2 loss to defending champion Riverbank last week.

“We had hoped to go through (the first third of the TVL schedule) with five wins, and we figured the Riverbank game would be a battle,” DeBruyn said. “We’re at a point where we can’t lose another one. If we have aspirations of being the TVL champion, we have to win out and take 10 in a row.”

Ripon Christian 3, Modesto Christian 0
In Salida, the Knights (1-4, 7-8-1) notched their first TVL win of the season with Tim Hoeksma, Brad Kamper and Cody Kepler each firing in a goal. Scott Faure and Dylan Van Vliet were credited with one assist each.

Defenders Greg Mulder, Steve Vander Molen, Matt Groningen and Jacob Meeuwse helped goalkeeper Ben De Ruiter (two saves) record his fourth shutout of the year.

— Jonamar Jacinto