Manteca already has some quality wins under its belt, but none that have left Coach Justin Coenenberg and the rest of the Buffaloes completely satisfied.
They’re going into the new year feeling pretty good about themselves following Monday’s 5-1 non-league win over two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champion Ripon at Guss Schmiedt Field.
“Since freshman year it has always been a game that we’ve looked forward to because they’re such a talented team,” fourth year Manteca striker Kaley Miller said. “It kind of is a little rivalry in the preseason. Last year they beat us so it was nice to get back at them.”
The Buffaloes (10-0-2) avenged a 3-1 loss to Ripon, which had dropped six in a row leading up to the 2018 contest, and appears to be a real threat to intra-city foe Sierra’s Valley Oak League crown.
Miller started sparked the onslaught Monday with a goal in the fifth minute. Aleah Melendez doubled the lead in the 13th minute, getting a through ball from Esmeralda Ochoa. Freshman Cameron Silva converted on skillful solo breakaway runs in the 34th and 63rd minutes. The Buffs also benefitted from an own goal in the second half.
Manteca looks to remain unbeaten head into its big VOL showdown with Sierra, which visits on Jan. 8. Before facing the reigning SJS Division III titlist, the Buffs have another tune-up match Friday against Franklin of Stockton.
“Our record is pretty good but there are a couple of games we’ve won where we weren’t exactly happy with the way we played,” Coenenberg said. “I think we’re all pretty happy to come out against a really good Ripon team and play the way we did.”
Hailey Peterson got Ripon (6-2) on board with 10 minutes remaining, blasting the ball into the open net to cap off a wild scramble in front of the goal following Kailey Tijero’s direct kick.
Peterson nearly scored on the first shot taken in the match, but her right to-left attempt from outside the penalty box bounced off the crossbar. Manteca took over from there.
The Indians played better in the second half and created more goal-scoring opportunities, but the speedier Buffaloes had the cleaner looks.
“Just wasn’t our day,” Ripon coach Bryce Perkins said. “They have a little more breakaway speed than what we’re armed for. We shifted Devaney (Dougherty) to the back to keep up with them because she’s easily our fastest player. She was able to slow them down a bit but they have some speed.
“Can’t say enough about their play, but I thought we were able to possess the ball pretty well and ended up just about even with them on shot attempts. We just didn’t have the good fortune.”
Ripon returns to Trans-Valley League play Jan. 7 when Escalon visits. Despite the loss, Perkins remains optimistic for the season. Their only other loss so far was to Division I power Pleasant Grove, which edged the Indians in penalty kicks in the Pitman Shootout final.
“We’ve had a real great successful run here in the early season,” Perkins said. “A sobering loss like this is healthy. That’s why we’ve always tried to get Manteca on the schedule right before league, and we’ve probably beaten them about five times in my 19 years.
“It’s not like we come here expecting to beat them but this year I thought we’d have a good, even chance. They’re going to wind up in the playoffs and do very well and I think we are, too.”
Ripon 1, Manteca 0
Teagan Rosales produced the deciding moment for the visiting Indians.