Ripon High’s best effort wasn’t good enough in its Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff match at West Campus Thursday.
The No. 8 Indians dropped a 4-1 decision in Sacramento, but they trailed by just a goal in the waning minutes. West Campus standout Deondre Hamblin completed a hat trick in the 77th minute before the Warriors struck for the final goal in the 80th.
“I can’t complain with how we played today,” said coach Jamie DeBruyn, who guided Ripon to its first postseason appearance in three years. “Realistically, it was some of the best soccer we’ve played all year; we were just going up against a team that is a legitimate section champion.
“And we played with them for 77 minutes.”
The Warriors (18-2-2), runners-up in last year’s SJS playoffs, staved off Ripon’s valiant comeback attempt sparked by fourth-year senior Arik Anaya’s free-kick goal in the 70th minute. Matthew Uecker and Flavio Valadao each had opportunities to tie it after that.
The Indians (10-10) had their spirits broken with Hamblin’s third goal, the result of a penalty kick.
“That one just knocked us on our can,” DeBruyn said. “I could sense that they were spent.”
Freshman Johnathan Soto was in goal for Ripon, but not for long. Still hampered by a sprained ankle sustained in the Indians’ final Trans-Valley League contest at Hilmar, Soto was replaced by senior Hank Gaalswyk in the 17th minute.
That was when Hamblin started his scoring spree, beating Soto to the loose ball near the right post.