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WATER POLO: Ripon girls open playoffs with win
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon's Maddie Stewart fights off the defense of Amador's Elizabeth Rodriguez (13) - photo by SEAN KAHLER

No. 2 Ripon scored the match’s first 10 goals Thursday and kept that differential most of the rest of the way as the Indians downed seventh-seeded Amador 17-7 in opening-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls’ water polo playoffs at the Ervin Zador Aquatic Center.

Ripon (17-6) went to the bench early and gave substantial playing time to everyone.

“It was good to get a chance to allow these young players to get a chance to play in a playoff game,” Indians coach Erik Zador said. “That’s a pretty cool thing to happen.

“Our starters did a pretty good job of putting the ball away quickly and that gave us a chance to do that.”

Hailey Knief (four goals, assist, steal) posted three goals in the opening period.

“We just wanted to come out strong,” Knief said. “We didn’t want to assume anything – we just wanted to play our best.

“We always play as if this could be our last game so we will play our hardest and not have any regrets.”

Mia Sickler-Lopez (four goals, steal) scored a pair of goals in the first half and two more in the second half.

“We have been practicing a lot on our drills,” Sickler-Lopez said. “We weren’t focused on who we would be playing as much as how we were going to play, make good passes, be supportive and look for each other.

“We talked before the game and communicated during the game.”

It is tough to lose when you don’t give up many goals, and in the first half Delaney Brubaker yielded just one goal to the Buffaloes (13-4) while posting seven saves. Isabella Miller came on in the second half and made seven more saves.

Brubaker gave this outstanding performance after battling back from shoulder surgery.

“I’m really happy,” Brubaker said. “I didn’t even know if I was going to have a season because I have had shoulder issues for the last couple of years.

“So being able to go to section playoffs and allow just one goal is really cool. With this shoulder injury I have worked really hard to get where I want to be and I am super proud of how far I have come.”

Kennedy Brubaker added six assists for Ripon with Kennedy Winter making two steals and an assist and Chloe Price two assists.

Jacquie Garcia scored four goals for Amador.

The Indians face No. 3 Christian Brothers of Sacramento on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. in a semi-final match at Johansen High School in Modesto.