Noah Lehmann has a knack for being at the right place at the right time, the deceptive speed to blow by defenders and the requisite finishing touch of a striker.
The Ripon senior put all of his talents on display Thursday during a jarring 25-minute stretch in the second half of the Indians’ anticipated match with Trans-Valley League rival Riverbank. That was when he poured in all four of his second-half goals and boosted Ripon to a surprisingly lopsided 7-1 victory at Stouffer Field.
“No goal is scored by one person; it takes a team to score a goal,” Lehmann said. “Every touch has to go as planned and everything has to be perfectly set up. It’s not my goal; it’s the team’s goal. Just so happens my foot put it in.”
Sophomore striker Thomas Sidtikun added a hat trick, and Fedarico Entrada dished out three assists.
Although Ripon (2-0 TVL, 8-6-1 overall) is theAdefending champion, Riverbank (1-1, 10-6-2) is almost always the favorite. DeBruyn thought the Bruins were the team to beat entering league play.
“It’s a good statement game,” Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn said. “The last couple of years it’s been us and Riverbank. I challenged our guys to defend our home field today … I didn’t expect them to defend it that well.”
He certainly didn’t expect seven goals either.
Lehmann put Ripon up for good in the second minute of the second half. Entrada delivered a cross to him from the near the left corner. Lehmann trapped it with his chest, turned and fired.
The controversial knockout blow came in the 55th minute. Ripon keeper Johnathan Soto (two saves) launched a goal kick into Riverbank’s third of the field. A Riverbank defender attempted to clear it off the bounce, but Lehmann was there to deflect it off his midsection.
The Bruins’ back line and keeper were caught flat footed, as they lobbied to officials that Lehmann had knocked it down with a hand. That led to an easy breakaway goal and the unraveling of Riverbank’s emotions. Riverbank lost its goalkeeper because of a red card, forcing it to play a man down for the remainder of the match. Another player was booked for a yellow, as was head coach Martin Gonzales.
“It’s hard to compete (with) one man down,” Gonzales said. “We lost our heads, it’s that simple. Stuff happens. They come to our house in a couple of weeks. We’ll see what happens then.”
With the one-man disadvantage, the Bruins loaded up at the top of their formation but were susceptible to counter-attacking runs on the back end. Lehmann completed the hat trick in the 63rd minute and put away his team-high 14th goal for the season four minutes later.
Sidtikun, who headed in the game’s first goal in the ninth minute off Entrada’s laser-accurate corner kick, capped two breakaway sequences with goals in the 79th minute.
While the offense broke out in a big way in the second half, much credit should go to Ripon’s defense and veteran goalie Soto for limiting Riverbank’s quick-striking attack throughout.
After Sidtikun broke the ice early, the Bruins controlled the pace with their possession game for the final 30 minutes of the half. Senior captain Emmanuel Sanchez twice intercepted dangerous crosses in front of an open net.
Riverbank continued its threat as it dominated the action at midfield. Sophomore Edgar Garcia slipped one past Soto to tie it in the 36th minute, following up on Edson Duran’s shot that was slapped away by Ripon’s netminder. All things considered the Indians defense held up well. Riverbank was 0 for 6 on corner-kick opportunities, five of them coming in the first half.
“That was probably the best defensive game we’ve played in a while,” DeBruyn said. “They have offensive guys and they’ve been able to score all season. They have a couple of guys who are third-year varsity starters so we know them, and I thought we defended well against them today.”
Ripon gets another stern test next Tuesday when it hosts traditional rival Escalon, which dropped a 3-2 decision to Riverbank earlier this week.
Ripon Christian 5, Denair 0
It took 31 minutes for host Ripon Christian (5-1, 12-4) to break the scoreless tie.
Defender Kyle Colyn sparked the offense with a counter-attacking run and placed a through ball to Danny Vander Molen to set up the match’s first goal. The floodgates opened from there, as Vander Molen scored again on a penalty kick and assisted Andrew Manes’ goal to make it 3-0 at halftime.
“It took a while for us to figure out how to break through an 11-man defense,” Ripon Christian coach Keith Terpsma said. “Once we did, though, there was no stopping us.”
Manes netted his second goal in the 50th minute, and Travis Vander Molen capped scoring off a headed pass from Cole Brouwer.