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Riverbank dominates RHS to capture TVL title
Ripon defender Ian McDonald tries to keep Riverbank forward Quintero Rodrigo in front of him in Tuesdays Trans-Valley League match at Ripon Elementary. Rodrigo scored twice in Riverbanks 3-1 win - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

RIPON — It didn’t take long for the Ripon High boys soccer team to get Trans-Valley League-leading Riverbank’s attention Tuesday at Ripon Elementary.

The Indians — who needed to win their final two regular-season contests for a chance to gain a Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoff berth — scored on their first possession and second shot in the opening minute.

The next 79 minutes belonged to Riverbank.

Led by freshman Quintero Rodrigo’s two goals, the Bruins captured their third conference title in four years while eliminating Ripon from postseason contention with a 3-1 win. Their title-clinching moment was delayed a week with runner-up Hilmar handing them their lone TVL loss 1-0 on Oct. 18.

“In that game against Hilmar we were getting a little too cocky, and we didn’t start playing until they scored on us. But we washed that away with this one,” Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales said just moments before getting doused with water by his players.

On the game’s first scoring sequence, Ripon’s Andre DeDonatis won the ball near the center line and beat two defenders before pushing it ahead to Jack Brierly.

Brierly juked a Riverbank defender to penetrate into the penalty box but had his 1-on-1 shot deflected by goalie Rafael Ramirez. Sam Bennet finished the play off the rebound.

“After that we didn’t let them out of their half that much, probably for 60 to 70 percent of the game,” Gonzales said.

Rodrigo poked in the equalizer in the 18th minute following Jose Vigil’s free kick from about 40 yards out, and Ripon was able to stave off an onslaught of Riverbank shots to keep it tied by halftime.

Riverbank outshot the Indians 14-3 in the first half and 21-4 overall (12-2 on frame).

“We didn’t possess anything in the first half,” said Ripon coach Jaime DeBruyn said. “They just kept pounding away at us.”

Jonathan Rodriguez catapulted the Bruins (9-1-1, 11-9-1 overall) ahead in the 52nd minute after Jonathan Solano’s crossed ball was bobbled and dropped by Ripon goalkeeper Henk Gaalswyk (eight saves).

Ripon (6-5, 8-14) was at its best over the final 15 minutes.

Typically a team that relies on counterattacks, it displayed possession ability rarely seen all season that led to several well-mounted attacks that were a touch away from legitimate shots. One example is Sam Bennet’s well-timed cross from the right corner in the 56th minute. Freshman Emmanuel Sanchez was on the receiving end of the pass in the goal area, but the ball sailed inches high of his head.

In the 79th minute, Rodrigo put the match out of reach by finishing off a cross delivered by Kenny Veliz.

“I gotta give it to coach Jaime, he’s really brought his team a long way,” Gonzales said. “Our first game against them was pretty easy.”

Riverbank rolled to a 2-0 win in their first meeting on Sept. 29, but Ripon pieced together a valiant surge over the second half of league play.

The Indians upset Hilmar and Hughson in a four-game winning streak leading up to Tuesday’s showdown with Riverbank. The return of standout midfielder Arik Anaya (knee) from injury provided a big boost.

“This is where you ask yourself ‘What if?’” DeBruyn said. “What if Arik and (defender) Cesar Nuno (ankle) were healthy all year? The injury bug got us this year and his hurt us enough to where it was too late for us to put it all together.”

Ripon’s season ends Thursday with a home match against Orestimba.