(1 Bradshaw Christian 7, (8) Elliot Christian 0
(5) Forest Lake Christian 1, (4) Trinity Prep 0
(3) Ripon Christian 2, (6) Delta 0
(2) Victory Christian 5, (7) Vacaville Christian 1
RIPON — It was two years ago on this same field that four current Ripon Christian seniors experienced heartache.
In what was the Knights’ first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game in over a decade, they lost to Forest Lake Christian on penalty kicks (4-3) after battling to a 1-1 tie.
“I’m sure they had vivid memories of that as sophomores,” said RC coach Kevin Tameling, who was then an assistant. “They really wanted to come out here today and get the win as seniors.”
Junior Teagan Manus helped captains Ashley Bloemhof, Kaylie Colyn, Kaylin Groen and Vanessa Vallo erase that memory Thursday, as she scored twice to lead the third-seeded Knights to a 2-0 victory over No. 6 Delta of Clarksburg in the SJS Division VII opener.
Those seniors are now part of school history, as the team recorded its first postseason win ever. Ripon Christian is also coming off a Southern League championship run for its first overall title.
“It’s just exciting because it’s the first time this has happened at our school, and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this group of players,” Manus said.
Ripon Christian (17-7-2) dominated from whistle to whistle, giving the Saints (7-7-1) from Yolo County few, if any, openings to strike.
Manus broke the ice in the seventh minute after Natalie Prins’ initial attempt was blocked by Delta keeper Claire Schauer. Manus buried her other goal just seven minutes later. She nearly secured a hat trick in the seventh minute of the second half, as her one-touch attempt from Kaylie Colyn’s perfect through pass rolled just wide of the right post. Prins had a 1-on-1 opportunity thwarted by a sliding Schauer in the 55th minute.
“We talked about winning the game right away,” Tameling said. “We knew that having a playoff game on our home field that we had an opportunity to come out and play well.
“What we’ve done really well this year is start the game really well. It was nice to get the goals early, and from there it was a very technical game. Just play smart, stay compact defensively and play together.”
Delta’s best attempt came with about four minutes left in the game. Mayra Estrada pounded a free kick from distance and put some good pace behind it, but the ball went directly Ripon Christian sophomore goalie Bryanna Heida. It was one of her five saves.
“The defense did really good,” she said. “I rely on them a lot, and they pretty much kept the ball away from me.”
The Saints took just one shot in the first half but were able to string together a few decent runs in the second half. Ellen Blankers, Kamryn Bylsma, Amanda Evans, Emily Hoeksema and Taylor Vos anchor Ripon Christian’s rotation of defenders.
“They didn’t have much to do in the first half, but in the secon half when Delta put more pressure on us they really held up,” Tameling said. “They played about as perfect a game as they could play defensively.”
Second-seeded Victory Christian (19-2) hosts Ripon Christian in Carmichael next Wednesday for their semifinal matchup. Victory swept Delta with 4-2 and 4-1 wins en route to claiming the outright Central Valley California League title. The Vikings downed No. 7 Vacaville Christian 5-1 on Thursday.