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Ripon Christian shuts out Stone Ridge for SJS Division VI title
Barnes, Blanco tally 1st-half goals; Knights await pairings for NorCal playoffs
Stone Ridge-Ripon Christian girls soccer
Ripon Christian’s Alanna Blanco (14), Dayna Koolhaas (24) and Brooke Barnes (8) celebrate after a first-half goal against Stone Ridge Christian during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship held Saturday at Cosumnes River College. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

SACRAMENTO — Before Saturday, the last time the Ripon Christian girls soccer team won a Sac-Joaquin Section title were back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015 when some of the current Knights were still in kindergarten.

That dry spell ended Saturday at Cosumnes River College, where top-seeded Ripon Christian blanked No. 2 Stone Ridge Christian 2-0 for the SJS Division VI championship.

Stone Ridge-Ripon Christian girls soccer
Ripon Christian’s Tara Heida intercepts a cross in front of her goal and a pair of Stone Ridge Christian players. - photo by SEAN KAHLER
This was the culmination of a three-year process for Ripon Christian coach David Morris.

“It has been a long time between Section titles,” Morris said. “I am so thankful to coach these girls. We have had a great season and we do not even have a single club player.

“Three years ago, when I started coaching here was the first time in about nine years there was a JV program. It was great to get that JV program going and see the fruit of that three years later with girls that we have worked with for multiple years now. I am so proud of them and so happy for them to enjoy this win.”

Ripon Christian (22-3-1) opened the scoring 10 minutes into the game when Alanna Blanco split the defense and took on the onrushing goalkeeper, who was only able to push the ball aside where Brooke Barnes collected it and then placed the ball into the open net.

“It was a rebound and I had to follow it,” Barnes said. “It was a jumble, but we made it work.”

In the 33rd minute Blanco took an assist from Dayna Koolhaas and fired a low shot into the far corner for what proved to be the final score of 2-0.

“The pass from Dayna (Koolhaas) was perfect,” Blanco said. “We have been working on that diagonal pass all year.

“Our coach has emphasized it, and I knew I just needed to hit the far post, but I could not have done it without Dayna’s pass.”

Ripon Christian goalkeeper Tara Heida posted five saves, but only one in the second half as in the final 40 minutes Stone Ridge Christian (19-4-2) would manage just two shots.

“The defense does everything for me,” Heida said. “They are so good at covering each other and covering me if I have to come out, so I know I can trust them with everything that goes on.”

Barnes, Koolhaas and Blanco was a formidable front line for Ripon Christian this season.

“Our front three have combined for over 75 goals,” Morris said. “When you pair that with a defense that only gave up six league goals all season and one goal throughout the entire playoffs, you have a winning recipe.

“I’m so happy for these girls that they get to enjoy winning a section final after a season of development and hard work. Our goals for them included growing as players but also as people, and it’s been a joy to see both happen.”

Ripon Christian will have until next Sunday for the NorCal brackets to be announced for action that begins on Tuesday, Feb. 27.