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Riverbank Regrouping After Spartan Classic
The Riverbank High Soccer program took to the field against some of the bigger soccer programs in the area during the annual Spartan Classic hosted by Davis High and the Bruins got a good gauge of themselves on the young season.

The defending Trans-Valley League champions seemingly are on the right path, yet had to fight off a couple late-game runs on the first day of action in tournament play.

Riverbank always comes into its preseason schedule looking to establish themselves for a lengthy postseason run, but the squad had to look deep within after dropping a heartbreaker on day one of the two day event.

"We're still not a complete team," Riverbank head coach Martin Gonzales said. "We lost four defensive senior starters from a season ago, so on the defensive end we are struggling."

The Bruins joined programs from Davis, Downey, Modesto, Johansen, Beyer, Golden Valley, Buhach Colony, Hilmar, Oakdale, Ceres and Merced for the pursuit of the tournament title, yet it was the Modesto High squad that was able to fend off the host Spartans for the Tournament title.

The Bruins have a goal that they follow throughout the season and their schedule is built to give the team tough matches early so they will be ready for an always-challenging TVL season.

"Our schedule has been very, very strenuous," Gonzales said. "We started a week ago up in Sonora, then we went to the Pitman Tournament, then we had a game against Delhi and then we had another game against Johansen.

"We are playing all the monsters and that is for a reason."

Riverbank showed glimpses of what Gonzalez has grown to expect from the perennial postseason power, yet the Bruins also revealed a side of the squad that will obviously be a focus over the remainder of their preseason work.

"Considering last year and how we didn't do very well in the preseason," Gonzales said, "but we tied a bunch of games. This time we're losing a little bit more, so I'm a little more concerned than last year.

"Not with the fact that we are losing so much, but how many defensive mistakes and inconsistencies."

Riverbank was battling to a 1-1 tie with a solid Downey High program, but the squad was not able to close the door, sinking after Downey got loose for a pair of late second half goals.

Riverbank put themselves in position to make a strong statement in the tournament opener only it was Downey who seemingly rose to the challenge over the final 15 minutes of action.

The Bruins dropped their next two contests, falling to Buhach Colony by a goal, 3-2 and then slipping to Merced 4-2 to close out tournament action.

The team will have no choice but to refocus and make the necessary transitions before opening their hectic TVL grind.

"We're going to have a little spaghetti dinner as a team," Gonzales said of his efforts to change the squad's direction. "We are going to have some team building and try and make sure that we understand that we have set this up for a reason.

"And hopefully we can close out the preseason with a nice little win and start to roll."

The Bruins will continue to woark hard over these closing stages of the non-league schedule, playing against another Division I program when they travel to Stockton and look to expose the McNair Eagles in their final action before TVL play gets under way.