Arik Anaya’s clutch goal in the 77th minute helped Ripon escape Hughson with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday.
The Indians (5-2 Trans-Valley League, 9-7 overall) clinched their first-Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff berth since 2009 when Anaya was a freshman on the varsity squad. Jack Brierly set up the go-ahead score with a corner-kick cross that Anaya trapped with his chest near the opposite post before sending it in.
Brierly also scored Ripon’s first goal in the 31st minute.
“It’s nice for our seniors like Arik and Jack to get to compete in the playoffs,” said Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn.
Things looked bleak for the Indians early on. Within the opening five minutes, Hughson was awarded a penalty kick, but freshman keeper Johnathan Soto deflected the attempt to keep it scoreless.
Ripon got a fortunate deflection to take its first lead. Brierly sent the ball into the box, and it bounced off a Hughson defender and settled into the back of the net with the goalie out of position.
“We weren’t playing all that well at that point, so we gladly took that,” DeBruyn said.
Ripon will look to secure the TVL’s No. 2 playoff seed over its final three matches. First is a road game against first-place Riverbank next Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Valley Oak League
Manteca 6, Weston Ranch 0
Marcus Montano scored three goals and assisted one as the Buffaloes (6-1-1, 15-1-1) remain atop the league standings.
Brandon Landwehr, Ricky Marin and Jonathan Portillo scored the rest of the team’s goals. Manteca tangles with visiting rival Sierra this Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m. with first place on the line.