RIPON — Nothing is coming easy in what is shaping up to be a competitive Southern League boys soccer season.
Surely Ripon Christian could have made things easier on itself in Tuesday’s pivotal 2-1 victory over SL newcomer Orestimba, but coach Keith Terpsma was just happy to get another notch in the win column. With Gustine knocking off Delhi 1-0, there is now a three-way tie atop the standings. Ripon Christian has already lost to Delhi 5-3 and takes on Gustine on the road Oct. 7.
“A record of 4-1 is a lot better than 3-2. We won the game, that’s what counts,” Terpsma said. “We wouldn’t have been happy with a tie. A tie can be the difference between first and second place.”
Backed by a sterling defensive effort, the Knights (4-1 SL, 11-4 overall) appeared to have it wrapped up late in the second half with a two-goal lead. Despite playing with a strong headwind, Ripon Christian remained on the offensive while setting up many opportunities to put it out of reach.
That all changed in the 72nd minute when an Orestimba player was taken down in the penalty box. Diego Garcia slipped it past RC keeper Lukas Vermeulen on the penalty kick, and just like that the tides were turned.
There were some anxious moments for the Ripon Christian side over the final 10 minutes, including injury time, as the Warriors (3-2, 8-6) continued to pressure the home team’s back line.
“I wanted them to keep the ball on the ground and get it to their teammates wide,” Terpsma said. “It’s something we need to work on when the other team is threatening, especially when the momentum shifts at the end of the game.”
Danny Vander Molen converted a penalty kick in the third minute, and Andrew Manes doubled RC’s early lead in the 16th.
Overall, Ripon Christian outshot Orestimba 16-10 and also had the better looks. The Knights had two shots ricochet off the crossbar and missed on two 1-on-1 breakaways. To his credit, Orestimba goalie Luis Perez came up with big saves (five in all).
Fortunately for the Knights, the defense, led by senior captains Kyle Colyn and Coleton Hilaredes, held up well on its end. For much of the match, they were able to shut down Orestimba’s attack that had averaged more than three goals in league play. Until the final minutes, Vermeulen (five saves) had little work to do.
It is the third straight game that RC gave up a single goal.
“The seniors I have on defense know each other, they know how to cover for each other,” Terpsma said. “Those guys read each other so well and they just have a natural flow to the way they play defense.”
Ripon 4, Hilmar 1
The Indians (1-0, 7-6-1) won their league opener at Stouffer Field behind Noah Lehmann’s two goals and an assist.
Fedarico Entrada contributed a goal and an assist, and Victor de la O scored once. Winless Hilmar struck for its lone goal in the 72nd minute off a corner kick to make it 3-1.
“Hilmar is young this year, but we knew they weren’t going to lay down for us,” Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn said. “Starting out league with a win is nice, because we have a big one coming up Thursday against (defending champion) Riverbank.”