RIPON — Despite an aggressive first half, Ripon Christian found itself down by a goal at halftime against visiting Le Grand, the defending Southern League champion.
The Knights did not regain the lead until the closing seconds of the game to come away with a 3-2 win to open the SL soccer season on Tuesday.
“We do well in the second half,” Ripon Christian coach Keith Terpsma said. “If we are down at halftime these guys know they have it in them to score in the second half.
“Unfortunately, that means they don’t get those goals in the first half.”
With 2 minutes left in the game and the score tied at 2-2, a Bulldogs defender was called for a high kick in the penalty box while battling Travis Vander Molen for possession, giving the Knights an indirect kick from 8 yards out.
Danny Vander Molen tapped the ball to his left to his cousin Travis, who got the ball outside the Le Grand wall and just inside the net for what proved to be the winning goal.
“I was just trying to hit it hard and find a hole in the wall,” Travis Vander Molen said. “And I looked to the left and there was no goalie but there was a hole.”
Danny Vander Molen had led the attack for Ripon Christian (1-0 SL, 8-3 overall) all day so it was only fitting that he have the assist on the winning play.
“I told Travis to play it back so he had a little bit more angle,” Danny Vander Molen said. “And the only open spot in the net was the left corner and he kicked the ball right past about three or four guys.”
Danny Vander Molen got the first goal of the game 9 minutes in when he took an assist from Jake Van Vuren and drew out the Bulldogs goalie to get the ball past him into the net.
“The goalie came out and I tried to kick it wide of him,” Danny Vander Molen said. “But it ended up going right between his legs.”
Despite numerous Ripon Christian scoring opportunities the rest of the first half Le Grand (0-1, 0-3) managed a pair of goals for a 2-1 halftime lead.
The Knights defense tightened in the second half and then with 10 minutes left in the game Kyle Colyn took advantage of the wall of his teammates and snuck a 45-yad direct kick past the Bulldogs goalie to tie the game at 2-2.
“I was just trying to put it up there and give them a chance to head the ball in,” Colyn said. “And they got up there and got in front of the goalie and the ball kind of snuck in the right corner.”
Ripon 0, Gregori 0
At Stouffer Field, the Indians (4-6-1) hung tough with a strong Gregori (6-3-2) side for the second time in the last three weeks.
Ripon opened its nonleague schedule at the Hughson Husky Cup on Aug. 30, when it dropped a 1-0 decision to the Modesto power. Johnathan Soto came up with six saves for the shutout in Tuesday’s rematch.
Ripon hosts Mother Lode League champion Linden today. Linden will be the sixth Sac-Joaquin Section postseason qualifier that the Indians will face in seven matches, a stretch that includes Manteca, Forest Lake Christian, Ripon Christian (twice) and Venture Academy.