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Bruin Boys Battle In Soccer Section Finale
Bruin senior Luis de los Santos, 23, heads the ball during the first half of the last soccer game of the season on Thursday in Turlock. Riverbank took on the Warriors from Orestimba High for the Division VI Boys Soccer championship.News Photos By Ric McGinnis

The Bruin boys varsity soccer team traveled to Turlock High School on Thursday night, March 2 to finish out their 2017 season, competing in the Sac-Joaquin Division VI Championship game. They played hard, only to be disappointed in a heart breaking one goal loss to the Orestimba Warriors of Newman.

Orestimba was the top seed in the bracket, Riverbank was the seventh seed.

Riverbank’s 3-2 loss still earned them a second place finish in this year’s Section campaign.

The final match was played on neutral territory, at Joe Debeley Stadium on the Turlock campus, on Thursday evening, March 2. The stadium features an all-weather track and synthetic surface, full-sized soccer field superimposed on a football field.

Within two minutes of its start, the game was going the Bruins’ way, with a steady attack leading to the first score by senior Javier Luna. But Riverbank spent most of the rest of the first 40 minutes defending in its own half of the field, and the half ended tied, 1-1.

With about 26 minutes remaining in the game, senior Victor Rosas put Riverbank ahead with an unassisted shot from directly in front of the Warrior goal. Still, the Bruins spent the majority of the second half, as well, playing defense in their own half of the field.

It was hard to gauge how much the hard synthetic surface affected Riverbank’s play, especially since the Bruins played most of their games on muddy, dirt/grass fields during the regular season.

With 14 minutes left, Orestimba tied the game with a rebound shot on the goal, and with just over five minutes left, the Warriors scored the game winner.

Riverbank ended its Trans-Valley League regular season with an 8-4-0 record, in third place. That put the Bruins in the section playoffs as seventh seed. They persevered in playoffs on the road, 5-4 against Encina Prep of Sacramento and 3-2 at Delhi, before going to Turlock for the championship contest.

Following the game, disappointment was evident on the faces of the team as well as in the stands full of supporters. Team members received patches denoting their second place finish in the section, and first year varsity coach Juan Harvey accepted the team’s plaque from CIF Sac-Joaquin Section officials.

Harvey told the team how special they were, how proud of them he was, and how much he appreciated their hard work.