Ripon used its Valley Oak League openers with visiting Sierra as tune-ups for the high-caliber competition ahead.
For Sierra, it was a chance to see how far it has come. Although the Timberwolves have certainly improved every season, Ripon remains another level above everyone else in the league. The Indians showed us much in their comprehensive wins Thursday, as the girls prevailed 14-2 while the boys coasted, 20-5. They’re both reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions, although the boys have been elevated to Division II because of continued success.
Ripon’s boys are participating in Grizzly Classic, four-game round-robin in Granite Bay today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, the girls will be in Roseville for the Woodcreek Invitational.
“We have four big games this weekend against Division I teams up in Sacramento,” Ripon boys coach C.J. Britton said. “I wanted us to prepare well for that. We’ve talked a lot about building championship habits, because moving up to Division II for (the SJS playoffs) is going to be a new level of pressure.
“We have a lot of respect for Sierra. They are building a really strong program, but in games like this I still wanted to see us execute and build good habits.”
Ryan Bell led the barrage with seven goals. Brody Biedermann and Matthew Lee each contributed three goals and two assists. McKeane Beier racked up seven steals, two assists and a block to go with his two goals. Chetan Harvey added two goals, two assists and three steals. Nate Selna chipped in two goals and an assist, and Trevor Bell scored once. Benny Rogers (three saves) and freshman Andrew Hanker (two saves) split time in goal.
Sierra showed some fight early on, tying it at 1-1 on Erfan Ballew’s goal. The game was still within reach down 4-1 after the first period, but Ripon surged to a 12-2 halftime lead.
Ballew finished with two goals, and Collins Schluer tallied three in the second half. Goalie Troy Morrow finished with nine saves and four steals.
“I hope it lights a fire under them,” Sierra coach Corey Winter said. “It shows them that we still have work to do. We got third in the bronze division of the Sierra Shootout and we’re happy with that, but this is just proof that we have plenty of room to grow and get better.”
In the girls game, Ripon played tough defensively but looked to sharpen things up offensively in the meantime.
Freshman Reyna Biedermann led the Indians with five goals, three assists and two steals. Senior Sami Scheid netted three of her four goals in the second quarter. Maddie Stewart contributed two goals. Crystallyn Tran (four steals, two assists) and Danika Potter scored once apiece. Faith Fasani registered five steals and two assists. Maddie Curtiss collected four steals.
“This is a late start to the season for us, being that we had a first-round bye (in league) and Central Catholic had pulled out,” Ripon girls coach Erik Zador said. “This was our first league game, and the girls played well.”
Gianna Ramos (three steals, assist) and Mele Sanchez (two steals) scored the goals for Sierra.