RIPON – Escalon’s Alana Kualapai played with a killer instinct on Friday.
After Ripon tied the ballgame at one apiece late in the first half, Kualapai immediately answered with her second of three goals that helped lift Escalon to a 3-1 Trans Valley League victory.
“It was deflating,” Ripon assistant coach Bryce Perkins said. “That was just a mental letdown. We were still celebrating, and it’s like we weren’t even set. That one lowered everyone’s spirits.”
After switching its home soccer pitch from Mistlin Park to Stouffer Field, this was the second loss for Ripon (4-2-1 TVL, 7-4-1 overall) in as many tries.
“I don’t want to keep blaming the field, but it’s just different,” said Ripon captain Tia Sidtikun, who scored the Indians’ only goal on a free kick. “This is our second time playing out here and the ball runs fast. I think that makes a difference. We couldn’t keep possession.”
Sidtikun, who is headed to Cal State Monterey to play soccer this fall, scored Ripon’s goal in the 33rd minute to knot the game at one. After a scoreless tie through the first third of the match, first-place Escalon (7-1 TVL) finally cracked the scoreboard.
Kualapai scored in traffic to make it 1-0, which was followed by a beautifully placed shot by Sidtikun that bounced off the bottom of top bar after getting over four Cougar defenders.
“It was a little outside the 18 (yard line), and I was just making sure I put it on the frame,” she said. “I needed to make that to put us back in the game.”
The goal put Ripon back in the game indeed.
Kualapai found the net 30 seconds later to give her club the advantage heading into the half.
“It’s always nice for one player to step up, but it was really a team effort,” Escalon head coach Jaime Peoples said. “A hat trick – that was just awesome from (Kualapai).
“I’m really proud and felt like we dominated. It’s whoever finishes the goals and we finished them this time.”
Escalon outscored Ripon 1-0 in the second half as Kualapai finished the hat trick in the 50th minute, making up the game’s final score.
Ripon had several opportunities to score in the second half. In the last three minutes of regulation, Jessica Carmona, Sidtikun and Morgan Carrico all recorded shots on goal for the Indians, who will resume TVL play on Wednesday on the road at Hughson.
Ripon outshot Escalon 14-8 during the loss.
Valley Oak League
Kimball 3, Lathrop 0
Lathrop dropped another Valley Oak League contest against Kimball Tracy on Friday.
Kimball scored its first three goals in the first half and Lathrop dropped 0-9 in league. Goalie Edna Magana finished with four saves.
Ripon 2, Escalon 1
Ripon’s Caydee Cruz scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second half and the Indians held off visiting Escalon for a league win. Hailey Monroe scored Ripon’s first goal in the first half that tied the contest at one apiece. Escalon scored its only goal during the first 10 minutes to go ahead by a score.