RIPON — Ripon High had never won a Sac-Joaquin Section girls' soccer title before last year. Now the Indians have an opportunity to win it twice in a row.
They moved a step closer to that with a 3-2 win over Central Catholic, earning a spot in Saturday's Division 5 final at noon at Lincoln High in Stockton.
In a rematch of last year's section final, which Ripon won 1-0, the Indians again prevailed by the slimmest of margins by scoring in the closing minutes.
Kallie Jacobs scored from the top of the box with 5 minutes left to snap a 2-2 tie, then Ripon (19-2-3) fought off a series of furious challenges the rest of the way.
Jacobs' goal early in the second half gave Ripon a 2-0 lead, forcing the Raiders (20-4-3) to devote more of their energy to attacking. That paid off quickly.
Maddy Meyer scored off a well-placed corner kick by Sara Pimentel in the 69th minute, and then Anna Hernandez tied it 3 minutes later. Hernandez started in the goal, but came up to the front line after Central fell behind by two goals.
"That corner kick by Sara helped get us going," Central coach Marten Oliveira said. "We've been to the playoffs each year that I've been here, and each time we've lost by one goal. We're so close."
Ripon will play Linden (18-3-4) for the section title, after the Lions beat Hughson 3-2 in a penalty-kick shootout. That prevented an all-Trans-Valley League final. It would have been the first-ever title match featuring TVL teams since the section began its soccer playoffs in 1980.