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Atop The TVL - Bruin Soccer Stellar In League Play
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A stubborn defensive unit has pushed Riverbank High's varsity boys soccer team to a spectacular 5-0 start to Trans-Valley League play. The team showcased some impressive ball control during shutouts over league No. 3 Hilmar (3-2) and No. 4 Ripon (2-3) in consecutive contests.

Riverbank was at Hughson (5-0) on Tuesday for a showdown between the top two teams in the conference, but results were not available at press time.

Riverbank's latest accomplishment was a 2-0 win over Ripon that the Bruins dominated with over 25 shots on goal. Armando Rodriguez and Eric Hernandez each converted for Riverbank scores and watched goaltender Rafael Ramirez stop six shots on goal for his second straight perfect game.

"Really we should have beat Ripon 8-0, but we missed some wide open shots," Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales said. "Ripon had nine players in their (goal box) and we had to pull the ball out just to create some space to go back in."

Riverbank leads all TVL programs in goals scored and (fewest) allowed, with five fewer goals surrendered than Hughson as of Monday.

Coach Gonzales credits an extremely tough preseason schedule to Riverbank's conference success, and it's no wonder why.

Riverbank played eight games during the first nine days of the preseason and battled each of the top three teams in the Division I Central California Conference by squaring off with Turlock (15-1-1), Merced (14-4-1) and Golden Valley (12-3-3).

By the time Riverbank opened TVL play (12-0 over Modesto Christian) they were ready for anything.

"I set up the preseason for us to play all the powers," Gonzales said. "Then coming back to play high schools of our own size, I had to make sure the boys believed in themselves."

Gonzales said that while Riverbank's offense has struggled at times to take advantage of quality opportunities on the offensive front, their sharp defense has been a big reason the team has dominated ball possession in TVL games.

"Our defense holds us together," Gonzales said. "We just need to get past this mental block on scoring."