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Indians make history with huge victory
Ripon finally overcomes Hilmar, will face Raiders for section title
Meredith Perkins flies into Renae McFadden’s arms after McFadden headed home the game’s first goal off a Kallie Jacobs header Thursday at Hilmar. Ripon beat the Yellowjackets, 2-0. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN
HILMAR — It took 10 years and 23 matches.

But it was well worth the wait.

Following Ripon High’s decisive 2-0 road victory at Hilmar – its first ever over the Yellowjackets – in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals Thursday, center-mid Thalia Bobadilla declared among the revelry, “It feels like Christmas came twice this year.”

For all of the talk heading into the contest about Hilmar’s physicality, the Indians were the aggressors throughout, winning both the shots-on-goal (18-7) and fouls (8-7) battles.

After a first half in which Ripon missed on two golden opportunities with the wind in its face, Kallie Jacobs and Renae McFadden wasted little time in lighting up the scoreboard.

Just three minutes into the second half, Jacobs curled a perfectly-placed corner that McFadden headed between the near post and Hilmar keeper Riley Fielder.

“My coach told me to curl it in and Renae got her head on it,” Jacobs said. “It was just beautiful.”

The win was especially important for Jacobs because her sister, Shayna, the top defender on Ripon’s 2006-07 section runner-up squad, was injured early in a 1-0 finals loss to Hilmar.

Somewhere in Iowa, the elder Jacobs was smiling brightly Thursday evening.

“This means the world, I can’t even describe it in words,” Jacobs said. “I’ve wanted this for so long. This was not only for my team and for myself, but for my sister. I know this means so much to her.”

Prior to the contest, Ripon assistant coach Brad Keethe spent a few minutes watching Fielder warm up, and determined the keeper’s length could be used against her.

At halftime, Ripon’s coaching staff instructed Meredith Perkins, who went high on an unsuccessful attempt in the first half, to keep the ball on the ground if she had another crack at it in the final 40.

Perkins got her breakaway in the 11th minute, and sent a screamer on the ground to the far post that trickled past Fielder’s grasp and into the frame.

 “It took me nine years to get this win over Hilmar,” Ripon head coach Jose Bobadilla said. “It’s great, but we have one more game. We’re not going to celebrate, but this is something that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time.

“The girls wanted to show that this was the team that was going to do it, and you know what? It feels like a million bucks.”

Ripon keeper Morgan Torres-Unger was a force for the Indians, racking up six saves, three of the spectacular variety.

It looked as though Hilmar would threaten late when Torres-Unger made a play on a loose ball that knocked down a Hilmar forward.

“I slid out and supposedly took out her legs,” Torres-Unger said. “I went for the ball and it slipped out. I didn’t have possession, so they called a (penalty kick).”

Hilmar sent sweeper Alicia Barros to the box to attempt the PK, but she sent it over the crossbar.

“I was trying to intimidate (Barros),” Torres-Unger said.  “I was staring at her; I didn’t look at anyone else. If it went in, it went in, but you know what? I psyched her out.”

After the final whistle sounded, Ripon’s bench stormed the field and mobbed their teammates, igniting a wild celebration.

“It feels amazing,” Torres-Unger said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for. Our seniors deserve this so much. We did this for them.”

Ripon (23-1-1) will now move on to the D-V section finals against Central Catholic, which knocked off Patterson Thursday, 3-0.

The Raiders (18-5-2) finished second to Hilmar in the Western Athletic Conference.

Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Lincoln High in Stockton.