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Bruins Take TVL Lead With Win Over Escalon
Riverbank and Escalon High soccer teams may have slapped hands after their Trans-Valley League showdown on Thursday, but the two teams were anything but friendly in a dramatic 1-0 Riverbank win in Bruin territory.

Second half penalties sparked heated confrontations on the field, and post game jawing left little room to doubt the emotion generated for the teams' Oct. 12 re-match in Escalon. Thursday's game broke wide open when a foul in the goal box set-up Hugo Yepez for a penalty kick score with only five minutes to play in the first half.

Riverbank nearly widened their lead in the final period when a beautiful Kenny Veliz cross left Jonathan Solano wide open in front of the Cougar net. His shot sailed over the crossbar, but continued Bruin possession lasted until the final whistle could spark an eruption of celebration from the Riverbank sideline.

Escalon entered the contest as heavy favorites despite Riverbank's back-to-back TVL championships. The Cougars went 10-1-1 in the preseason, including a 3-0 romp to win the TVL-strong Ripon Christian Tournament.

But their preseason success did little to control possession against a hungry pack of Bruins (2-0 TVL, 4-6-1 overall) on Thursday.

"Escalon is a quality team, but we were dominating them in this game," Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales said. "With our preseason record most teams would probably think we are garbage, but we played some tough teams and we have continued to get better."

Yepez was carded for some aggressive play late in the game, but his stalwart control of the ball at midfield did much to keep momentum in Bruin favor throughout the contest. The senior captain saw classmate Carlos Harvey also turn in an impressive game with lights out defense of the Bruin side of the field. Harvey, who suffered a painful ankle injury at the close of preseason, wasn't about to miss his final home game against the Cougars.

"There was just no way I was going to miss this game," Harvey said. "This is a very good feeling to win at home against Escalon."

Harvey's efforts left goalkeeper Rafael Ramirez with little to do in regulation, but the netminder did manage five saves between the posts. He saved three goal attempts in a 6-1 rout of Modesto Christian for the Sept. 14 TVL-opener. The Bruins spread scoring around with tallies from Yepez, Veliz, Jose Vigil, Aniano Vasquez, Carlos Jimenez and Diego Duran in that contest. Riverbank faced undefeated Orestimba (2-0 TVL) on Tuesday, after The News went to press, to continue league play. The Bruins host Hilmar (2-0 TVL) on Thursday.