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Soccer's Second Season: Bruins Host Semifinals
Today's 3 p.m. contest on the Riverbank High soccer field, Nov. 7, is a bit more than the typical Bruin affair.

The game represents a chance for the Bruins to see their second trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section finals in school history.

Second-seeded Riverbank (17-2-2 overall, 9-0 Trans-Valley League) will host Southern League champ and No. 3 seed, Delhi (15-3-2, 11-1-2), in one of two semifinal contests Wednesday to decide the matchup for a SJS Division V title.

The semifinal appearance was made possible by Riverbank's 4-2 victory over Bret Harte on Thursday, Nov. 1 during the opening round of playoffs. Bret Harte fought back from a 3-0 deficit with two goals late in the game, but Jonathan Rodriguez blasted a penalty kick goal in the final second of the game to polish off the Bullfrogs and join a frenzy of celebration with teammates and Bruin football players in attendance.

"Hopefully it doesn't have to come to that again," Riverbank Martin Gonzales said afterwards.

Riverbank exploded early with three goals in the first 16 minutes of the game. The first was a brilliant boot by Martin Pantoja from well beyond the goal box that soared into the corner of the net just five minutes in. A fantastic cross Oscar Jimenez gave Quintero Rodrigo the opportunity for a swift score just a minute later and Quintero capped the run when a goalie deflection landed in his lap for a second score at the 16-minute mark.

Bret Harte would rally to a pair of goals late in the second half, but when a Bullfrog defender upended a Riverbank forward in the final moments, Rodriguez was set up for a penalty kick. His shot found the right side of the net. When referees signaled an end to the contest as the ball dropped to the grass, Riverbank players and fans mobbed together in a sideline celebration.

The score was No. 22 on the season for Rodriguez. Rodrigo advanced to 13 goals with his two scores.

"It felt amazing to get those goals," Rodrigo said afterwards. "It took a lot of pride to win this game."

Delhi locked advancement to the semifinals with an impressive 3-0 win over Sierra Delta League champ, Highlands (9-3-4).

Delhi struggled to a 1-1-1 finish in their final three games of league, but soared to a nine-game win streak after a 2-0 loss to Hilmar on Aug. 28. Riverbank beat Hilmar 7-1 and 5-2 during TVL play.

Since Hilmar fell in penalty kick overtime to Cristo Rey in the D-VI bracket and TVL runner-up, Ripon, was bested by D-V No. 1 seed West Campus 4-1, Riverbank is the lone TVL team still standing in the postseason.

If the Bruins beat Delhi, they will play the winner of the West Campus and Linden match up in the SJS finals on Nov. 10 at either Cosumnes Oaks High or Lincoln High (Stockton).