The Ripon Christian boys soccer team ended an eight-year drought under soggy conditions at Le Grand Monday.
Sophomore Danny Vander Molen scored all four of the Knights’ goals in a 4-2 win that clinched the team a berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs. Ripon Christian (7-3-3, 11-4-4 overall) was part of a three-team rumble for the Southern League’s final postseason bid. Le Grand and Waterford, both 7-6, were eliminated from the race.
It wasn’t until Vander Molen scored his final goal in the 78th minute that RC could smell victory. Paul Cho mounted a run down the right sideline and crossed it to Vander Molen, who connected with an acrobatic shot while absorbing a tackle from a Le Grand defender.
“That was the moment the guys knew they made the playoffs,” RC coach Keith Terpsma said. “When the final whistle blew it was time to celebrate, and the guys jumped around in the mud and celebrated their accomplishment.
Le Grand never led but remained a threat until the final moments. Kyle Van Vuren assisted Vander Molen’s first goal in the 15th minute, but Le Grand’s Jose Hernandez punched in the equalizer six minutes later.
Van Vuren again hooked up with Vander Molen for the go-ahead score with about 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
“It was ours to lose at that point, but I knew anything could happen in these conditions,” Terpsma said.
It didn’t take long for Le Grand to tie it back up after halftime, as Daniel Rosas punctuated a breakaway up the middle with a goal in the 47th minute.
Ripon Christian went up for good when Vander Molen rebounded Cho’s initial shot on goal and put it away. Goalie Brayden Van Vuren and fullback Christian Manes thwarted the Bulldogs’ desperation attacks the rest of the way out.
Orestimba 2, Ripon 1
The Indians (5-4, 9-9) suffered an upset defeat but can still wrap up the TVL’s No. 2 seed for the SJS Division V playoffs with a win at Hilmar Wednesday.
Matt Uecker scored Ripon’s lone goal in the first half off Jack Brierly’s assist.