Ripon has one more chance to get over the Hilmar hump, and the No. 2 Indians (15-4-2) can exact revenge Thursday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship at Turlock High’s Joe Debely Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 and follows the Division VI boys final pitting Southern Athletic League rivals Le Grand and Waterford.
Hilmar (20-1-6) went 9-0-1 en route to winning a second straight Trans-Valley League title. Its only loss of the regular season came on Dec. 4 to Western Athletic Conference runner-up Ceres.
The Yellowjackets have claimed two of their three meetings with Ripon this season and managed to shut out the prolific Indians each time. They first tangled in the title round of the Ripon Christian Tournament, with Hilmar prevailing on penalty kicks 6-5 after a scoreless finish in regulation.
Ripon dominated the action on Jan. 17 when Hilmar visited for a league showdown but lost 1-0 despite an overwhelming 19-5 advantage on shot attempts. JuliAnn Machado, Hilmar’s leading scorer with 25 goals and eight assists, buried the lone goal with a direct kick in the 49th minute.
Then in the rematch at Hilmar on Feb. 5, the two teams battled to a 0-0 draw. Ripon freshman standout Ariana Scholten had a near-miss in the second half, bouncing one off the crossbar.
This could be the start of another dominant run for the two TVL programs. Hilmar claimed all three of its section titles in the mid-2000s, beating Ripon for the 2007 crown. Ripon followed up with championship runs in 2009 and 2010.
Along with Machado, a senior, sophomores Emily Vieira (20 goals, 12 assists) and Lexie Avalos (nine goals, five assists) are among the young standouts for the Yellowjackets.
Ripon counters with fourth-year seniors Cindy Alvarez (eight goals, three assists) and Megan Johnson (seven goals, seven assists), while Devaney Dougherty (13 goals, nine assists), Aubree Pelon (12 goals, four assists) and Scholten (15 goals, 15 assists) leading the youth movement.
The Indians are coming off 3-2 and 1-0 wins over decorated small-school powers Capital Christian and West Campus, respectively. Hilmar opened the postseason with a 2-0 victory over Marysville before edging Venture Academy in PKs, 0-0 (6-5), in the semifinal round.