HUGHSON — It was a big game, one of the most important in the Trans-Valley League girls soccer season. And the teams played like it.
With a steady wind giving a distinct advantage to the team behind it, Ripon High seized control of the TVL championship race with a 1-0 victory over Hughson on Wednesday afternoon at Hughson High School.
With the victory, the Indians (16-4-1, 12-1) are alone atop the TVL standings with two games to go. Hughson (10-1-1 TVL) now trails the Indians, but should each team continue its winning ways, they'll meet in the season finale — next Tuesday at Ripon High — for the TVL championship.
"We knew this one was going to be tough," Ripon coach Jose Bobadilla said. "The winner here was in the driver's seat, we both knew that."
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Ripon opened with the wind, and kept the ball on the attack for most of the half. About 20 minutes in, senior midfielder Kylie Pillon put a well-placed free kick into the net for the Indians. It would be the game's only score. It would also be Ripon's third consecutive shutout victory.
"She had a perfect placement into the right corner," Bobadilla said.
Hughson had several chances in the second half, three of them great chances. But twice, Indians goalkeeper Morgan Torres-Unger made a nice grab for the save, and a third shot was just wide.
The Indians were missing all-District midfielder Ariel Anaya, their junior catalyst. She's been out with a sprained ankle for weeks. But, Bobadilla said, he's most proud of how his team has responded.
"Everybody has picked it up," he said. "Ariel's a big part of our team. She's a great player."
The rest of the Indians did just fine Wednesday.
"They're playing like champs," Bobadilla said. "I'm so proud of how well they've been playing."
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.