TURLOCK — Ripon High captured the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title Thursday, defeating Trans-Valley League rival Hilmar in overtime, 1-0.
In the third minute of the first overtime, Devaney Dougherty converted Ariana Scholten’s corner kick for goal.
“I’m super excited,” she said during the ensuing celebration at the Turlock High stadium. “This was the fourth time we played (the Yellowjackets) and we finally beat them.”
The Indians (16-4-2) were 0-2-1 against league champion Hilmar (20-2-6) entering the all-important section championship game.
Ripon coach Nichole Meyer made some adjustments, focusing on her defense to neutralize the likes of Yellowjackets’ Juliann Machado, who nearly scored in the final minute of regulation.
Indians’ goalie Ashley Pugh delivered her only save of the game, keeping the game scoreless to force the extra sessions.
“The defense did a great job clearing the ball,” she said.
Madison Pugh came away with nine steals. Kierra Chavez played back to prevent Hilmar from any breakaway threats.
Perhaps the biggest move was Meyer’s decision to put four-year varsity player Cindy Alvarez on defense.
“I didn’t mind that at all,” she said. “We knew defense would be the key today.”
Meyer liked her team’s chances on the neutral field consisting of the faster synthetic surface.
“I think neither team benefitted from that since we really don’t play (on all-weather turf),” said the Ripon coach.
This was her first section crown and the program’s third in the past nine years.
Ripon will play in the regionals come Tuesday against a team and place to be determined, she added.
The Indians controlled the action during most of the first half.
They had a chance of scoring on the 70th minute but the direct kick sailed over the crossbar.
Hilmar went on the attack towards the end of regulation only to be denied by Ashley Pugh’s save.
After Dougherty’s goal in the 83rd minute, the Indians kept the Yellow jackets off the scoreboard during the duration of the first overtime and the second OT.
“It was really nerve-wracking,” Meyer said.
In the end, it was worth it.
For winning the third section title in program history, the Indians will get to compete in the first-ever CIF Northern California Regional Championships starting next Tuesday. Brackets will be posted online at www.cifstate.org no later than 6 p.m. on Sunday.