The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs begin for three local teams today:
• EAST UNION: The top seed in the Division IV tournament, East Union hosts Foothill at 6:30 p.m.
• RIPON: The seventh-seeded Indians travel to Modesto to face No. 2 Central Catholic. Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
• RIPON CHRISTIAN: The third-seeded Knights host No. 6 Delta in their Division VII. Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
The Sac-Joaquin Section’s new playoff format has created plenty of intrigue.
Teams have moved up and down in divisions based on school size, clout and strength of schedule.
One of the more intriguing first-round matchups belongs to the Division V tournament, where No. 7 Ripon clashes with No. 2 Central Catholic.
Not only is it a rematch of a 2009 section final won by Ripon 1-0 in overtime, but because of the boundary-less nature of private school enrollment, it has the chance to divide a town.
Three members of the Raiders’ Western Athletic Conference championship team call the City of Ripon home, including twins Jaqueline and Jenavieve Kisst. The third is three-year varsity player Annalicia Machado-Luis.
All three are seniors and provide leadership on a team built for the future. Central features four juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.
“These girls are very coachable,” said Central Catholic coach Dominic Figueroa, whose team shocked heavily-favored East Union in the first-round of the Division IV tournament last spring. “They have been critical members of our team.”
There’s more to this matchup.
The Kissts won’t be the only set of twins on the field. Ripon, the third and final qualifier out of the Trans-Valley League, features a set of its own.
Yvette Serrano is the starting goalie, while Yvonne might be Ripon’s most versatile player. She has played along the defensive, midfield and forward lines for head coach Jose Bobadilla.
“These two are critical to our success,” Bobadilla said. “Without Yvette in the goal we are in trouble and Yvonne can play wherever she is needed.”
This won’t be the first time the twins have squared off against one another.
They last faced each other in 2005 during a City of Ripon recreation championship for 10-year-olds. The Serranos’ team emerged victorious that day, with each sister contributing to the win. Yvonne had an assist, while Yvette guarded goal.
“We underestimated them in that game,” Yvonne recalled. “We easily beat them in the regular season but the final turned out to be a very close game.”
The Indians (10-5-2) hope for a similar outcome this afternoon. Ripon has won its last two meetings with the Raiders, dating back to the 2009 Division V section championship.
The Indians knocked Central Catholic out of the playoffs in 2010 en route to the program’s second consecutive title.
“We have some history with this team,” Ripon assistant coach Bryce Perkins said.
This time around, though, the Raiders are the favorite to advance. Central Catholic (12-2-4) enters the D-V tournament unbeaten in 16 of its 18 games, including an 11-0-1 assault on the WAC.
The Kissts and Machado-Luis have played key roles in the Raiders’ success.
Jaqueline is third on the team in goals with seven, while Jenavieve is tied for third in assists with six.
Machado-Luis has two goals and four assists.
Kickoff is set for 3:30.