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PLAYOFF BOUND - Soccer Bruins Win TVL Title, Prepare For Postseason
The new Sac-Joaquin Section postseason system couldn't be more exciting for Riverbank High's soccer team if the brackets were balanced by a clown juggling on a unicycle. Riverbank's boys will learn their division and seed on Friday when the section splits 76 teams from 26 different leagues into seven brackets divided by enrollment.

For the Bruins, undefeated in the Trans-Valley League as of Monday, a high seed in a low division is a guarantee.

An early estimate had Riverbank projected as a likely top seed for an eight-team showdown in Division VI, where teams of similar enrollment will square off for the first time.

It's a new look at the postseason for Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales, whose teams were eliminated by Patterson (enrollment of 1,632) and Dixon (1,148) in four of the last five postseasons.

Riverbank carries an enrollment of just 699.

"It puts up a sense of... 'I'm not sure what's going to happen'," Gonzales said with a laugh on Monday. "No matter what, if we get a section title we deserved it. We played hard and played some crazy teams this year."

Riverbank (8-0 TVL, 15-2-2 overall) maintained a perfect league record by ousting second-place Ripon in a 3-1 decision on Oct. 17. Kenny Veliz, Jonathan Rodriguez and Ivan Vigil all scored while Vigil, Ruben Lopez and Noel Garcia landed assists. Rafael Ramirez had six saves.

The Bruins played Hughson on Monday, though results were not available at press time.

A win ends the TVL season and awards Riverbank an outstanding prestige heading into the postseason. If Ripon lands in D-VI, it means a likely showdown with 2012 SJS D-V champs, Capital Christian. The Cougars play with an enrollment of just 377 students, but can only drop as far as D-VI , since they play in a D-V league.

Other teams to land in D-VI could include Encina (8-3 in the Sierra Delta League), Gustine (9-0-3 in the Southern League, Millennium (9-3-1 in the Central California Athletic Alliance), Amador (6-4-3 in the Mother Lode League), Hilmar (3-3-2 in the TVL) and Delta (4-2 in the Central Valley Christian League).

It's not the typical postseason competition Gonzales is used to after four TVL titles in five seasons and eight consecutive playoff appearances. The Bruins haven't missed the postseason since the TVL sent only two teams (Patterson and Hilmar) from a tough eight-team league into a Division IV bracket in 2004.

The postseason begins on Thursday, Nov. 1, when Riverbank will likely host the opening round.