RIVERBANK — Ripon thought it was ready for its pivotal Trans Valley League match with first-place Riverbank Monday.
But the host Bruins gave the visitors a wake-up call with a goal in the opening minute.
“There was one way that I didn’t want us to start, and that was it,” Ripon coach Jamie DeBruyn said. “To have that happen was a real gut-check.”
Ripon’s play, however, improved as the match wore on, and David Paden’s goal with two minutes to go clinched the Indians’ much-needed 2-1 victory.
Jared Berglund scored the tying goal 10 minutes into the second half, and both scores were assisted by Matty Gay. Gay leads all area players with 18 assists to go with 14 goals on the season.
“He’s been our assist guy all year,” DeBruyn said. “It was good to see him go the full 80 (minutes) and playing real aggressive. He really set the tone for us today.”
With six regular-season matches still left, the Indians (7-2, 18-3 overall) broke the program record for most single-season victories. The old mark was set in 2007, when Ripon finished 17-6-2 and advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs for the first time in school history.
The win also closes Ripon in on the league-leading Bruins (8-1, 10-7-2), who were coming off of a 4-1 victory over perennial contender Escalon.
The Indians will finish the second of three TVL rounds Wednesday on the road against Escalon, which is 0-8-1 in its last nine meetings with Ripon.
Ripon hopes to snap out of the “Cougar Curse,” which resumed Oct. 28 with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.
“After losing that Escalon game, I challenged the guys to win out,” DeBruyn said. “We feel that we can be TVL champs — that’s our ultimate goal. We definitely have to win out for that and take care of Escalon Wednesday.
“That would cap off a very nice week.”
Hughson 5, Ripon Christian 1
At Hughson, the host Huskies got two goals from Alex Montez, and a goal and two assists from Cristian Sanchez against Ripon Christian (1-8, 7-12-1).