RIPON — Reinforcements arrived just in time for the inaugural Ripon Christian Classic on Friday.
The host Knights welcomed key players from their CIF State Northern California Regional Championships-qualifying girls basketball team and kicked off their new tournament with a 5-1 thumping of Los Banos. Rival Ripon also won its opener and blanked Big Valley Christian, 4-0.
The win is also Ripon Christian’s first in its new stadium, and Paige Vos became the first varsity girls soccer player from the school to score a goal with her long-range free kick in the first half.
Ripon Christian (3-3) rolled from there, scoring four more in the second half before Los Banos (0-6-1) answered in the waning minutes. Cynthia Van Vliet doubled the Knights’ early lead within the first five minutes of the second half. Emily Manes scored off an initial miss from Van Vliet minutes later, and Molly Hoeksema tallied RC’s final two goals on breakaways.
“The girls played well, but we definitely had some things to work out,” Ripon Christian coach Kevin Tameling said. “We’re throwing in new players that we just got back (Thursday) from basketball, so we’re just trying to figure out our lineups.”
Ripon (3-3) was in full control against Big Valley Christian but was held scoreless by the midway point despite a 13-0 shot advantage in the first half.
“It was a frustrating first half,” Ripon coach Jaime DeBruyn said. “We heavily dominated we just couldn’t put the ball in the net. We needed a senior to step up and Hailey Monroe did that for us.”
The defensive midfielder was moved up to the attacking third and the change paid dividends, as she scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Cindy Alvarez added two of her own. Alyssa Thweattt, Isabella Helppie and Aaliya Reedy pitched in with assists.
“We knew that once we put one in it was going to start opening up a little bit for us,” DeBruyn said.
Ripon gets a much stiffer test today starting at 9:30 a.m. when it takes on perennial Sac-Joaquin Section Division III contender Vista del Lago (3-2) of Folsom, which pounded previously-unbeaten Foothill (4-1-3), 5-0. On the other side of the bracket, Summerville defeated Millennium 2-1 and will face Ripon Christian at 10:45 a.m. in semifinals. The third- and seventh-place games follow at noon, with the consolation and winners-bracket championships scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. start.
It’s an impressive tournament field for a first-year event. Of the eight teams, six were SJS postseason qualifiers a season ago and two of them — Ripon (Division V) and Ripon Christian (D-VII champion) —were finalists.
“I’ve thought about (putting on a tournament) for a few years, and this year it just seemed to work out well with the new stadium,” Tameling said. “It’s a great place to play and the field is impeccable. For our girls it gives them exposure to different types of teams, and we have some great programs here that we don’t usually see like Vista del Lago and Summerville. The majority of the teams have made good runs in the playoffs the last couple of years.”