RIPON — Kyle Colyn’s cheek twitched with nervous excitement and it was all he could do to suppress a smile.
Eventually, the Ripon Christian senior, a captain and king of cool along the back line for the four years, surrendered to the moment.
After a close-call last season, the Ripon Christian boys soccer team will play for a Sac-Joaquin Section championship following a 5-1 show-of-force against Forest Lake Christian.
“You feel this want to do it,” Colyn said of winning the program’s second-ever boys’ soccer section title. “I’ve been a starter for (four) years, so it’s great to see all the hard work come together.”
Colyn had a goal and an assist early, Lukas Vermeulen stopped a penalty kick during a crucial juncture in the game and Travis Vander Molen iced the win with a hat trick as the top-seeded Knights punched their ticket for Saturday’s Division VII final.
Danny Vander Molen also had three assists, the last two pin-point crosses that found Travis’ head in the second half.
Ripon Christian (21-4-1) will play No. 2 Sac Country Day, a 4-2 winner over Delta, on Saturday at Stockton’s Stagg High. Game time is set for 10 a.m.
“It’s been our goal since the beginning of the season to win league and to win sections,” head coach Keith Terpsma said. “We weren’t planning to stop at league. We’ll take it one game at a time, but for this soccer program, it was important to make it past the semifinals.”
Ripon Christian returns to a boys’ soccer section final for the first time since 1996. It’s the program’s fourth appearance overall and the first for Terpsma, its longtime head coach.
“I’ve never been there, but our team has earned their spot in the section final,” said Terpsma, the face of the program since 2001. “It’s exciting. I’m excited for the guys. I’m excited to see all of their hard work pay off. I’m proud of what they’ve done, and ...
“We’ve got one more game to go.”
In his final home game, Colyn, a rangy attacking fullback, wouldn’t let his team be denied.
His hustle and offensive thrust helped Ripon Christian overcome an early 1-0 deficit.
Forest Lake Christian silenced the home crowd with a goal in the second minute. Kyle Soria bounced a shot off the far post and past Vermeulen for the quick 1-0 lead.
“Coach always stresses a quick start,” Colyn said. “We got beat early so we had to step it up.”
So Colyn pressed forward off the restart and eventually won a bouncing ball in the Forest Lake Christian penalty box, near the end line.
With his long legs, he was able to control the ball and place a cross on the foot of senior Andrew Manes, who pushed his shot past Falcons goalie Noah Hussain to level the score at 1.
Hussain was under duress throughout, finishing with 11 saves.
“That’s just a lot of chemistry right there. We got a great feel for each other,” Colyn said of Manes. “You’re trying to give your guy a chance there. ... I was just trying to put it all out there in my senior year. I was just trying to get it done.”
The final 77 minutes was an exhibition in “getting it done” by the attack-minded Knights, who had 17 shots on frame.
Colyn netted the go-ahead goal in the 23rd minute on a 20-yard drive to the far post. Terpsma credited his defender for launching himself into the offensive third and sticking with plays -- even when they appeared busted and broken.
“He’s been loose to roam quite a bit this season. He’s the guy we want to move up the sideline if we can,” Terpsma said, “because he can put a great head on the ball and he’s got a great crossing foot.
“He’s taken charge as a captain and four-year varsity starter. If we’re not scoring right away, he will make a move on his own.”
Travis Vander Molen scored in the 25th minute, controlling the ball with his chest as he sprinted by a defender. The junior finished the scoring sequence with a sliding shot to make it 3-1.
The score stayed that way through halftime thanks to Vermeulen, who swatted a penalty shot over the crossbar in the 36th minute. The 6-foot-5 Vermeulen finished with four saves.
A goal there, Terpsma said, changes the complexion of the game.
“3-1 is a dangerous game. If a team gets back to 3-2, it changes the momentum completely,” he said. “It was important for Lukas to show up today and he did, getting key saves when necessary.”
Travis Vander Molen took Forest Lake Christian out of the game completely with in the 41st and 66th minutes, his fourth and fifth of the postseason.
The junior showcased his touch on each header, floating the goals over Hussain and into the opposite panel.
Both goals were set up by Danny Vander Molen, who created just enough time and separation to locate his younger cousin with the crosses.
“I love throwing Danny into a corner and letting him work his moves,” Terpsma said. “He’s probably the best skilled player on the team. If he can get open and throw a cross in, if it’s high enough, Travis will get his head on it.
“... There aren’t too many guys who can challenge him in the air.”