Jamie DeBruyn takes a defense-first approach to soccer, so it is no surprise that he nominated Ripon High senior defender Zaire Davis for the Trans-Valley League’s MVP award.
Opposing coaches didn’t put up much of an argument.
“I don’t think I needed to persuade them much,” said DeBruyn, who guided the Indians to their first TVL championship since 2010. “During league we gave up five goals and she’s the rock in that defensive group. She provided varsity leadership and skills. There are not a lot of one-on-one defenders as good as her.
“I think the rest of the league (coaches) saw what she brought to the plate and we decided as a group to give her the MVP.”
Ripon (9-0-1 TVL, 18-2-1 overall) ceded just 12 goals in 21 matches all season. Only twice did the Indians give up more than a goal in a single game; in a 3-1 non-league loss to Sac-Joaquin Section Division III finalist Manteca, and a 2-0 defeat to Amador in the SJS Division V title match.
Davis’ speed and instincts were a nuisance for opposing forwards. Hilmar’s Kinsey Pettigrew — the league’s Offensive MVP — and Carsyn Hoogendoorn of Modesto Christian were the only two players in league to finish with more than 20 overall goals this season. None of them were scored on Davis and the Indians.
“Her speed is her No. 1 asset,” DeBruyn said of Davis. “We play in a league with quick forwards that like to get behind the defensive lines, but when you have the speed of a Zaire Davis it takes that option away.”
Fellow defender and four-year varsity player Jordyn Wall joins Davis on the All-TVL team, along with midfielder Hailey Monroe, goalie/forward Amanda Evans and freshmen Cindy Alvarez and Megan Johnson.
DeBruyn says Wall is “our spitfire at left fullback” and calls Monroe the team’s “lockdown defender in the midfield.” Evans started the season at goalie, but the emergence of Courtney Slamon between the posts allowed DeBruyn to use Evans’ natural athleticism on the attack.
Alvarez tied for the team lead with 12 goals but mostly played defense during Ripon’s run to the section final. Johnson finished with six goals and six assists.
Forward Kaydee Cruz-Sampson (12 goals) and Slamon are among the five Indians to earn honorable mention, with Gia Helppie, Sarah Alves and Haley Simmons also making the list.
Janet Rivera of third-place Hughson was named Defensive MVP, while Modesto Christian’s Jason Hardy is Coach of the Year after turning a one-win team into a contender in just one season.