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Soccer Showdown Bruins Tie Ripon To Stay In First
The Trans-Valley League championship was once again left unresolved in a game that seemed sure to finally settle the score between first place Riverbank and second place Ripon on Wednesday at Mistlin Park.

With powerful winds at its back, Ripon rallied to a 1-0 lead at the half, but Riverbank snared the equalizer with 13 minutes to play and left with a 1-1 tie on the road.

Riverbank played Hughson on Monday to clinch the league title and No. 1 seed from the TVL into the Division V Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, though results were not available at press time.

"Control is in our hand," Riverbank coach Martin Gonzales said. "If we win, there is nothing anybody can do to keep the title from us."

Ripon's Jared Ratto scored with eight minutes remaining in the opening half after a botched Riverbank corner kick left Bruin defenders scrambling to cover a perfect deep pass from Ripon defender, Jared Berglund.

The Indians kept the lead despite repeated Riverbank pushes into Ripon's goal box in the second half. Christian Albor made the opportunities count when he headed a beautiful cross from Adrian Pantoja past Ripon goalkeeper Tim Combley to tie the score for good.

Riverbank outshot Ripon 31-15 and saw 10 saves from goaltender Hugo Calderon. Combley played well at the Ripon net to corral 24 Bruin shots on goal.

The Bruins (10-2-2 TVL, 12-7-4 overall) will kick off the three-league D-V playoffs on Tuesday Nov. 10. If the team enters as the No. 1 seed from the TVL, they will host the Mother Lode League runner up (either 9-4-1 Linden or 8-4-2 Calaveras) in the postseason's opening round.

A No. 1 seed would also place Riverbank on the same side of the D-V bracket as Western Athletic Conference champion, Patterson (12-1-1, 17-5-3).

It's a tough lineup of playoff opponents, but Gonzales is hoping competitive TVL bouts will help prepare the Bruins for a tough SJS postseason.

"If you play soft teams you will not be ready for the playoffs," Gonzales said. "These are playoff-type games we have played lately, and there is no better way to get experience before the playoffs."