RIPON — It was a sigh-of-relief type of win for Manteca, while Ripon felt like it let one slip away at Stouffer Field on Tuesday night.
Never mind the 6-1 result that favored the visiting Buffaloes, who improved to 2-0 and were led by Kevin Rodriguez’s three goals.
Ripon (3-3) held its own against the defending Valley Oak League champion for the better part of 70 minutes. Then Manteca connected with a knockout flurry of three goals in a four-minute span.
“That’s a quality team, and that’s why I think it’s such a big win for us,” Manteca coach Justin Coenenberg said. “They’re not the Ripon team we’ve played the last few years. They’re pretty solid all the way across (the field) and they have some dudes. They’re going to win a lot of games this year, so I’m happy to come away with a score like this.”
He can thank his slick sophomore for that.
Ripon broke the ice in the 23rd minute with Flavio Valadao’s goal, but six minutes later Rodriguez breathed life back into the Manteca attack with the equalizer. He struck again in the 46th to widen the Buffaloes’ lead to 3-1 and sparked their late barrage in the 70th minute when he completed the hat trick.
“I didn’t expect to score three goals,” said Rodriguez, who tallied his first three as a varsity player on this gusty night. “I just kept playing my game and did what I could to help the team. My shots were just going in.”
Standout striker Marcus Montano scored the go-ahead goal in the 33rd minute and nailed another in the 71st. Jason Maravilla capped the final score in the 74th. By that point Ripon appeared spent, though not entirely physically.
“I don’t know if it was our legs, but I think it was more mental than anything,” Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn said. “It’s hard to bounce back when it goes from 3-1 to 4-1 to 5-1 like that.”
While the outcome doesn’t show it, the Indians’ showing was much improved from their previous ones with Manteca, which routed them 6-2 and 4-0 the past two seasons. Ripon matched the Buffaloes’ play throughout and played well enough on defense to stifle most teams. Manteca, however, is unlike most teams the Indians will face in the Trans-Valley League.
“Defensively, I thought it was good to have faced that caliber of forwards,” DeBruyn said. “They pass of their midfield better than anybody we’ll see this year, and they have strikers who make great runs. It showed us that we can play up to that (level), but it also showed us what we have to work on.”
Manteca 7, Ripon 0
Alexis Ochoa recorded a hat trick for the Buffaloes, who also had scoring contributions from Raul Marquez, Aron Navarrete, Josue Nunez and Ramon Rojas.