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Ripons win streak snapped at seven
East Union hangs with Indians with impressive effort
East Union’s Julie Lennert knocks the ball away from Ripon striker Renae McFadden during a non-league match under the lights of Woodward Park Friday night. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Nobody likes a tie, but nobody was doing much whining about it after Ripon and East Union battled to a 1-1 stalemate at Woodward Park Friday.

Both sides had reason to walk away upbeat.

East Union (1-3-3) snapped Ripon’s string of seven straight victories to start the preseason, proving that its record is misleading, while the Indians (7-0-1) are still unbeaten after going toe to toe with a deceivingly tough opponent that has made some noise in the always-competitive Valley Oak League in recent years.

“You know what, we saw their record but we knew this was going to be a hard game,” Ripon coach Jose Bobadilla said. “We try to win every game like everybody else. This doesn’t feel like a loss; it’s a preseason game, and everybody is still tuning up.

“This was a good test for both teams. East Union has a really strong team, and the future is bright for them.”

East Union’s slow start to the season can be attributed to both a rigid non-league schedule and key absences. Starting senior stopper Rachel Bonds and midfielder Leilani Villasenor were both out Friday, and wing defender Alyssa Wegner hasn’t played yet because she’s coming off the basketball season.

“We’ve been working different people in,” East Union coach Jim Todd said. “We had a couple girls with the flu tonight and they were still playing, but I knew we were still going to play this good.”

East Union proved to be no pushover after kickoff, controlling the pace, distributing the ball well at every level and outshooting the Indians 10-7 in the first half.

It took just five minutes for the Lancers to strike, with sophomore striker Megan Howley delivering a well-placed shot out of Ripon goalkeeper Morgan Unger-Torres’ reach and into the lower-left corner of the goal.

Ripon tied it six minutes into the second half, and the goal came from an unexpected source.

Sweeper Kate Isganitis controlled a 50-50 ball in Ripon’s territory and bolted down the center of the field to jumpstart a counterattack. It turned out that she was the counterattack, as East Union’s midfielders and defenders were caught out of position to stop her.

“I got the ball and thought there was going to be a bunch of people there, but there wasn’t anybody in front of me,” Isganitis said. “So I just kept going.”

Isganitis pushed her slow-rolling attempt past charging keeper Gianna Hedin, settling it inside the right post.

Ripon dominated the second half but missed several opportunities to take the lead. Standout forward Renae McFadden took the Indians’ final six shots of the game, and two of them were open looks from the middle of the penalty box.

East Union also had its fair share of near misses, especially in the first half.
The stars of the game did their work in the goal box. Hedin finished with seven saves, single-handedly stuffing a few breakaways in the process.

“She had a massive game,” Todd said. “For her, that was her best game of the year so far.”

Unger-Torres recorded four stops. Her last save came with eight minutes to go, when Lennert blasted one from 40 yards out. Unger-Torres jumped straight up and reeled it in while maintaining enough balance on the way down to keep the ball from crossing the goal line.

“Morgan saved us at the end there,” Bobadilla said.

Ripon will begin defense of its Trans Valley League championship Monday, 4:30 p.m. at Riverbank. East Union, meanwhile, continues non-league action at crosstown rival Sierra’s Vern Gephardt Tournament next Friday and Saturday.