November 30, 2022

Tiffani Hunter was 5 minutes away from getting her first goal as a Ripon goalkeeper on Tuesday.

That was the extent of the drama during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal at the Ervin Zador Aquatic Center, where the second-seeded Indians dominated No. 3 El Dorado, 13-2.

El Dorado’s Aurora Klier broke the goal bid with 4:40.02 remaining, scooping up the loose ball after Hunter deflected a kickoff from Betsy Yost. Camille Robertson scored the second goal for the visiting Placerville Cougars with 1:00.59 left.

Both of the goals given up were on bench players in the Ripon field, and Hunter made five of his 12 saves in the fourth quarter.

“It would have been my first goal, but it’s not the end of the world,” Hunter said. “We had a really good game and it’s exciting to get back to sectionals.”

The Indians (12-10) have advanced to the Sectional final for the second consecutive season, making it the first time in program history last year. They face top-seeded Christian Brothers (17-13) in the championship round Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Roseville Aquatic Center. It is a replay of the 2021 semi-final won by Ripon 9-4.

“I was really nervous going into this game,” Hunter said. “Normally I’m not afraid, but today I was. This is my first year as a goalkeeper. Last year I played on the field and didn’t get a chance to play in a Sectional game, I just watched from the bench. This was a very exciting experience.”

Mia Sickler-Lopez hopes to get the job done this time. The senior set the tone for the Indians on both ends of the pool Tuesday, finishing with three goals, eight steals and one assist.

“I think we have a real chance to get our first blue banner, which is what we’re really hoping for,” Sickler-Lopez said. “I know the whole team is excited for what’s next.

Hailey Knief led the offense with five goals and two assists, scoring twice in the first quarter. Maddie Staley added two goals and two steals. Hunter assisted on Staley’s second goal of the first quarter with a long pass to make it 4-0.

The Indians led 9-0 at halftime and 12-0 after three periods. Crystallyn Tran contributed three assists; Valerie Chun had a goal, a block and a steal; Chloe Price collected a goal and three steals; and Maddie Stewart scored once.

Ripon gave El Dorado problems from the start with a tight defense with pressure on and off the ball. The Indians were also adept at passing, especially in transition. His second goal of the game was a penalty kick by Knief, which was set up by a well-coordinated passing sequence from Hunter on the right wing Staley to Price, who drew the foul for the penalty kick.

“I’m a little bit more excited about this game by the Los Banos girls, because they went for it a lot more,” Ripon coach Erik Zador said. The Indians defeated Los Banos 13-4 in the opener, but wanted to see more efficient ball movement.

“They were looking to make assists, and their energy seemed to be more lively. They seemed to be having a lot more fun this time, and that was good to see. I think that’s the most important thing for these girls, is to play strong and have fun. I think we accomplished that, so now we’re excited for Saturday.”

Zador expects a challenging match on Saturday and wants his team to come out with the same intensity as it did for the semi-final.

“I don’t want them to ever think it’s going to be pies,” Zador said. “There’s a lot of great teams out there, and you never know. We didn’t know anything about El Dorado and how they play as a team. I tell my girls I want us to play our game, play the way we’re supposed to that we have to play and that I don’t let anybody else make them play a different play. When we do that, we’re successful as a team.”

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