Ripon hadn’t played a match away from familiar Stouffer Field in nearly three full weeks until it traveled to Hilmar on Thursday.
“We looked like we hadn’t played an away game for a while, too,” Indians coach Jamie DeBruyn said.
Be that as it may, Ripon was able to return to form in the second half and escape with a 3-1 victory over the winless Yellowjackets, whom the Indians beat more convincingly 4-1 in the Trans-Valley League opener just two weeks ago.
“I’ll give it to them, (Hilmar) came out fighting,” DeBruyn said.
Ripon (5-0 TVL, 11-6-1 overall) has a quirky schedule this season, partially because there are only five teams in league. Modesto Christian and first-year Mountain House are not fielding varsity squads this year. The eight-game sprint started favorably for the league-leading Indians, who hosted their first four matches.
They came out flat from the opening whistle Thursday, and Hilmar broke the scoreless tie inside the first 10 minutes.
Thomas Sidtikun knotted it with a goal in the 35th minute and vaulted Ripon into the lead in the 56th. Both assists came from Noah Lehmann, who netted the insurance goal in the 67th.
“We were waiting for someone to step up and do something and Thomas did,” DeBruyn said. “In the second half we played more like ourselves. We had better possessions and our midfielders were winning the ball and distributing better for more opportunities.
“Hopefully we can play like we did in the second half next week,” DeBruyn added. “It’s a big week for us.”
Ripon will meet its toughest challengers in the TVL next, starting with Riverbank on Tuesday and Escalon two days later.
Ripon Christian 4,
The Knights (8-1-1, 15-4-1) were able to widen their lead in the SL with four of the teams nipping at their heels playing to draws Thursday.
Kyle Colyn didn’t wait long to begin his quest for a hat trick against visiting Waterford (0-9-1, 2-11-2). Just 43 seconds in, he headed in a pass from Andrew Manes to give Ripon Christian the early lead. Colyn would strike again in the fourth and 35th minutes. Travis Vander Molen also scored and gave RC a 3-0 cushion in the ninth minute.