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Ranch, RC ready for semifinals
SOC--SJS Playoffs ADV file pic
Francisco Garcia knocks the ball down with a header in Weston Ranchs Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff opener against visiting Woodland last Thursday. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

Sac-Joaquin Section banners are within reach for the Weston Ranch and Ripon Christian boys soccer teams.

Both are hosting their final home games of the season today in semifinal contests. The winners move onto Saturday’s championship round.

To get there for a second straight year, Weston Ranch (22-2-3) must go through another opponent that it had previously faced in the 2013 playoffs. Third-seeded Natomas (14-4-3) visits the No. 2 Cougars tonight in Division IV action. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.

Last year, the two teams squared off in a well-contested opening-round duel won by Weston Ranch via penalty-kick shootout. The Cougars went on to defeated Woodland — the team they beat in the first round last week, 1-0 — in another shootout before falling to Liberty Ranch in the finale.

The Nighthawks of Sacramento were runners-up in the Golden Empire League and advanced to the semifinal by edging conference foe Lindhurst 2-1. Natomas twice battled 10th-seeded Lindhurst to 1-1 draws in league play.

They have two outstanding scorers in Baltazar Silva (25 goals, 17 assists) and Ruben Mendoza (20 goals, 15 assists), who each scored in Natomas’ postseason triumph over Lindhurst. Weston Ranch’s defense will also keep an eye out on 6-foot striker Ruben Mendoza (seven goals, 10 assists).

Weston Ranch, led by junior attacking midfielder Joseph Mayorca (32 goals), are on a 16-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since Sept. 5 in its first game (won by Atwater 3-1) in the Gregori Tournament.

Ripon Christian is also streaking going into its semifinal having won 12 of its last 13. The Knights square off with the Central Valley California League’s second-place team in Forest Lake Christian (11-7-2) of Auburn. The Falcons are the defending Division VII champions.