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Heartbreaker - Bruins Fall Just Short In Section Soccer Finale
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Chasing the go-ahead goal in the second half, Riverbank High's varsity boys soccer team was painstakingly close to the school's second ever Sac-Joaquin Section title on Saturday.

But West Campus would not be denied their first.

The Warriors scored two late goals and fought off desperate Bruin efforts in the final moments to claim a 3-1 win and the program's first blue banner at Lincoln High in Stockton. Riverbank soared into the finals on the momentum of a thrilling 1-1 (5-4) victory over Delhi in penalty kick overtime on Nov. 7, but couldn't capture the same finish against a West Campus team that snared an undefeated conference championship from the prestigious Golden Empire League.

The GEL runner-up, Capital Christian, shellacked Gustine 6-2 to win the D-VI SJS title as well.

"We were the underdogs," Riverbank senior Jonathan Rodriguez said. "We were pretty motivated. We wanted it bad.

"We made playoffs last year but got eliminated in the first round. We made a huge improvement this season."

The finals trip was only Riverbank's second in school history. The team won their first in 2000, and plans to add additional treks to the SJS finale in the near future.

"We'll be back," Bruin coach Martin Gonzales said. "The boys gave everything they had."

Riverbank trailed 1-0 early, but drew even with West Campus in the 37th minute when Rodriguez landed the game-tying score. Rodriguez nearly scored on two occasions later in the contest. West Campus converted their opportunities to burst ahead late.

"It would have been nice to win it (section title)," Rodriguez said. "We gave it all we had. We played our hearts out."

"I felt the tide turning," Gonzales said in reference to Rodriguez's game-tying tally. "I thought we were going to bring it home."

The Bruins led 1-0 20 minutes into their semifinal win over Delhi after Armando Rodriguez found the net. Delhi would rally to score eight minutes later for the final tally in regulation. The Bruins battered the Delhi goal in overtime, but couldn't avoid the trip to penalty kicks when shots missed their mark.

The Hawks gained momentum early in PKs with a 3-2 lead but missed two of their next three shots. One was stopped by Bruin goalie Rafael Ramirez, who dove to his right to deflect a sharp shot.

Riverbank scored three straight on the Delhi keeper and exploded in an exuberant celebration when Delhi's last shooter sent a ball over the Riverbank goal to send the Bruins to the finals. Noe Garcia, Eric Hernandez, Kenny Veliz, Jonathan Rodriguez and Ramirez were responsible for the penalty kick scores.

Riverbank ends the season with an impressive 18-3-2 stanza against opponents.

Dale Butler of the Ceres Courier contributed to this report.