RIPON — A team rarely celebrates a tie, and while two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII champion Ripon Christian was not all smiles after tying visiting Waterford 0-0 on Thursday, the Knights did have something to revel in — for the fourth consecutive season, they captured the Southern League title.
“This kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouth,” Knights coach Kevin Tameling said. “We have had a good run going and didn’t want a tie, especially on our own home field.
“But winning league four straight years is a special, special thing and something these girls can be proud of, something all these seniors will be able to remember fondly.”
Ripon Christian (11-0-1 SL, 14-6-1 overall) has given up less than half a goal per game in league play.
“Our forwards, our offensive players get a lot of credit for what our team does,” Tameling said. “But our defensive players and our team as a whole has given up just five goals in league, and that is a special thing for them to be a part of.
“Even though we got the tie, the shutout was something that was important for our defense and our goalie.”
One of the leaders of the Knights back line is senior Jessica Van Vliet.
“We all work our butts off,” Van Vliet said. “Wednesday in practice our whole focus was figuring out how our defense can get better and I think we executed that today.
“We showed what we did yesterday and what we have done in practice all year.”
The main beneficiary of the stellar Ripon Christian defense was goalie Bailey Silveira. The Knights senior did not have to make one save Thursday, while her counterpart for the Wildcats, Nancy Perez, was shelled. Perez had to fend off six shots on frame by the Knights along with seven other shots.
“It was pretty easy back there,” Silveira said. “Pretty relaxed.
“I trust my defense a lot, they do really well. It has been like that pretty much all season where I don’t touch the ball very much, it just rolls into the box. My defense is pretty consistent and I don’t have to worry too much.”
Waterford (8-2-2, 11-4-2) is 4-1-2 in the last seven games and is a point ahead of Mariposa County with two games left with a playoff spot locked up.
“It was a tough game,” Wildcats coach Ruben Casillas said. “But it feels really good.
“Momentum is definitely in our direction. We’re just taking it as it comes but I think these girls will really enjoy the rest of the season.”
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Alysia Templeman knocked in a rebound for the Knights in the second half to cut the gap to 2-1 but Ripon Christian would come no closer.
Renae Heida had four saves for the Knights and teammate Sabrina Van Vliet had two.