Travis Vander Molen found the back of the net twice as the Ripon Christian boys soccer team nearly erased a three-goal deficit in a 5-3 loss to visiting Delhi on Thursday.
Delhi started with a flurry, scoring three times in the first 33 minutes to take control of this Southern League tussle.
Ivan Ramirez and Erick Agiuilar finished with two goals apiece. Ramirez scored twice in the first half for Delhi, which improved to 2-0 in league and snapped the Knights’ three-game win streak.
Aguilar also struck for a first-half goal, beating goalie Lukas Vermeulen with a 22-yard free kick that buzzed the wall and kissed off the post.
But it was his work in the 73rd minute that finally stymied the never-say-die Knights.
Aguilar collected a cross with enough time to set up the game-clinching goal.
“Momentum was on our side, but we still had trouble controlling the midfield,” Ripon Christian coach Keith Terpsma said. “That’s what it came down to. They worked through and found space.”
The Knights had outscored the Hawks 3-1 after their early struggles and were pointed toward another dramatic finish. Ripon Christian topped Le Grand, the reigning league champs, on Tuesday with a last-second goal.
Josh Donoho started Thursday’s rally with a strike just before the half, finishing a pass from Danny Vander Molen.
Travis Vander Molen scored the first of his two goals in the 45th minute, and then slammed home a beauty in the 63rd minute to make it 4-3.
The junior striker controlled a cross into the box from Kyle Colyn with his chest before unleashing a volley for his 11th goal of the young season.
“We were thinking we had a chance,” Terpsma said. “We have a tradition of being a second-half teams, so we were prepared to play the full 80 minutes and hopefully pull out the tie or a win.
“But they stuck the nail in the coffin.”
Terpsma said his defense neutralized Delhi’s forwards, but lost the battle in the middle of the field. The Hawks, he added, were lethal from close range.
Vermeulen finished with five saves for the Knights, which had won six of their last seven games.
Ripon Christian (1-1, 8-4) travels to Waterford on Tuesday.