RIPON – It seemed almost like Hilmar could do just about anything it wanted on Ripon’s home turf during the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Parkview Elementary.
Except for score.
With the exception of a shot that bounced off of the crossbar late in the first half and another attempt in the second that missed the upper corner by inches, all that the Yellowjackets could do was dominate the ground game and keep taking shots at Ripon goalkeeper Morgan Torres-Unger — hoping to wear her down and eventually plant one in the back of the net.
But while Ripon (18-2-3) was badly trailing in the offensive production department, all it needed was one good move from senior captain Renae McFadden to shake past Hilmar keeper Riley Fielder in the game’s 63rd minute to break what had been a surprising stalemate and secure what would be the game’s only goal and a 1-0 victory. A victory that was a reminiscent of last season’s win against the Yellowjackets in round two of the Division V playoffs.
Ripon only had eight shots on goal in the contest.
“I saw that ball go over the head of the defender, and what happened next was just insane,” said McFadden — who had the advantage after the misjudge by Fielder that left her on the ground and gave McFadden essentially an open-goal shot. “They won a lot more 50-50 balls that we did, and they had a lot more chances. So we had to capitalize when we could.”
Not everybody, however, was thrilled with the outcome of the game.
A brief exchange by Hilmar (14-7-3) head coach Louie Bettencourt and the head referee ensued after the game with Bettencourt arguing that his daughter — standout Haylee Bettencourt — was fouled on the breakaway goal and that he wasn’t even convinced that Ripon was onside when the play began.
“I feel really bad for our girls right now who put everything they had out there on that line and now have to wonder about whether the call was the right one,” Bettencourt said. “But I’m also proud of our girls for coming out and playing the way that they did today.
“She (McFadden) just got to the ball on time and made the play when it needed to be made. It wasn’t like we didn’t have our own opportunities.”
Ripon’s keeper Torres-Unger managed to secure five saves on the day out of the nearly 10 shots on goal that the Yellowjackets took — concentrating them in the end of the first and second halves to leave the game literally up in the air until the final whistle.
It was her 47th career shutout at Ripon High School.
While the Yellowjackets did secure two yellow cards from the officials — with Bettencourt receiving one for what the referee said was “talking” — Ripon was also flagged for 10 penalties in the hard fought-contest that knocked out one Hilmar player and made every close play in the box a physical battle.
“We knew that he had to come out ready to play this team today,” said Ripon head coach Jose Bobadilla. “Every time you play Hilmar it’s a great contest — we knew that he had to come out and control players like Bettencourt in order to stand a chance at winning.
“I was a little concerned at the end of the first half and during the second half when they were moving the ball the way that they were, and I didn’t expect them to be in that position. In that situation you try and find any way you can to score, and we got the last good touch of the game and that was good enough to win.”
The goal that McFadden scored was her 35th of the season.
To contact Jason Campbell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 249-3544.