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Ramirez, Bruins Look For Big Stops In Angels Camp
Sophomore Rafael Ramirez got a look at repeated shots within the goalpost frame on Monday as Riverbank High's varsity soccer team conducted an entertaining team-wide penalty kick tournament.

The Bruin goalkeeper has been superb in recent play, and led a stubborn Bruin defensive unit against Mother Lode League champion Bret Harte during Tuesday's opening round playoff showdown on Nov. 9 - though results were not available at press time.

Monday's penalty kick fiesta was in preparation for tough match-ups in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V postseason, where the Bruins have seen two penalty kick finales in recent years.

"We have had our share of PKs in the postseason, and we always work on those the day before our playoff games," Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales said. "Everybody gets to shoot, so if a PK situation ever pops up we are prepared."

Ramirez, who was selected to the Trans-Valley All League honorable mention team, offers excellent practice for Bruin forwards looking to take on a good netminder. He made 178 saves in 21 games this year, including 48 in the final six games of league play. The Bruins outscored opponents 24-10 and went 4-2 across that span to clinch the last of three seeds from the TVL to the Division V SJS bracket.

"Rafael has been almost like the heartbeat of the team this year, and as he got better and more confident our team improved as well," Gonzales said. "He played sparingly as a JV goalie last year, so he had to really learn through fire this season."

Ramirez joins seven other Bruins on the list of those earning TVL All League recognition. Seniors Carlos Harvey, Hugo Yepez and junior Carlos Jimenez nabbed first team honors while Oscar Navarro (senior), Jonathan Solano (junior), Diego Duran (sophomore) and Kenny Veliz (sophomore) were also given honorable mention status.

Gonzales said he felt his team was ready for the DV bracket after some competitive practice sessions in recent days. The team has seen practices range from intense scrimmaging to teambuilding discussions of survival techniques.

"I wanted to get them away from soccer to help them understand that unless we are mentally together, it doesn't matter what we do physically," Gonzales said. "We are there physically, and now we are in a good state of confidence about us."

A win over Bret Harte would give the Bruins a shot at either Dixon or TVL runner-up Hughson on Thursday. The winner of that semi-final match-up will see a shot at the SJS title on Saturday.