Ripon wanted to prove itself to be a legitimate threat in the Trans-Valley League when it kicked off conference play Wednesday against visiting Escalon.
The Indians had little trouble in blanking their traditional rival, 3-0. Mauricio Aguirre scored a goal and assisted another, while returning sophomore Jonathan Soto recorded his first shutout in his third appearance between the posts.
“Traditionally, we’ve had some battles with Escalon over the years,” Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn said. “I don’t think there’s been a year where we swept them.
“I told the guys tonight that we can make a statement. (Defending TVL champ) Riverbank beat them 4-0 on Monday, so let’s show other teams that we’re at the same level and that we can contend this year.”
DeBruyn said the Indians (1-0, 8-5 overall), who had a bye on Monday, had many chances to score in the opening half while controlling much of the action, but they didn’t strike until the 32nd minute. After a corner kick, Aguirre pushed a short pass to freshman Thomas Sidtikun, who carried the ball along the end line uncontested and pounded it past the keeper.
Aguirre scored himself 12 minutes into the second half. Matt Uecker delivered a goal kick to Aguirre near the midline. From there, Aguirre turned and took a few dribbles through the defense and buried a powerful shot from 30 yards out.
Emmanuel Sanchez added another insurance goal with about eight minutes to go.
Soto (four saves) hardly broke a sweat while in the goal area and had the defense to thank. DeBruyn said it was the best all-around effort put forth by the back line anchored by center fullback David Alvarez.
“I was really pleased with the defense today,” DeBruyn said. “It was a good start (to league), now we just have to keep the ball rolling.”
Ripon next heads to Hughson on Monday.