Desperate for a spark in the offensive third, Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn has looked to a defender and a goalie for help as the Trans-Valley League race for three postseason berths heads down the final stretch.
The experiment has paid off in the past, but for the first time on Wednesday usual sweeper Zaire Davis and freshman keeper Amanda Evans were the starting strikers.
Evans scored one and assisted another, while Davis’ speed wreaked havoc on the Riverbank defense in a needed 3-1 victory at Stouffer Field.
“The question I had to ask myself was where do we draw the line to help the team get some speed up front?” DeBruyn said. “We’re not going to have our strongest backline without Zaire and Amanda there and we knew we were playing a team with a good forward today. We found out that we’re still pretty good (defensively), and they gave us what we were missing up front.”
All scoring was done in the first half. Evans broke the ice in the 21st minute off a feed from Hailey Monroe. Five minutes later, Monroe was on the receiving end of a give-and-go with Evans and she converted to double the early lead.
Daeshya Battle, Riverbank’s talented forward, put the Bruins (1-9 TVL, 3-13 overall) on board in the 32nd minute. Gia Helppie’s long-range blast in the 37th minute provided Ripon (5-1-4, 8-2-5) the insurance goal.
The Indians outshot Riverbank 30-5, and keeper Sam Brooks came up with three saves.
DeBruyn added that another recent lineup change has helped solidify the team’s 4-4-2 formation. Jordyn Wall was moved from the midfield to left fullback two weeks ago. With Sarah Alves on the other wing, that gives the Indians a dangerous tandem of skilled players coming out of the back line.
“It was probably one of the best passing games coming out of the back line today,” DeBruyn said. “With Jordyn and Sarah Alves on the wings, it not only gives us speed but good passers who are capable of advancing the ball offensively. Their consistent play allowed me to move Zaire up and take Amanda out of the goal.”
Ripon hosts Orestimba tonight at 5:30 in a big match with playoff implications for both sides.
Ripon 2, Riverbank 0
Bella Helppie accounted for both unassisted goals, and defender Devon Denhart played a key role in the shutout for the Indians (6-2).