Delhi and Hilmar High are separated by less than half a dozen miles. While the population is nearly twice as big at Delhi, Hilmar is well known in the valley for its ability to compete in athletics at a higher level than many others of its size, however the Hawks bested them on Tuesday night when they hosted the Yellowjackets to a 3-2 final.
“Like I said, sometimes the kids come out to play tonight and had a good game,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar. “We got a couple yellow cards from our back line so we put backups in there and kind of got things going and neutralized them, but they got their chances.”
“They played good; they always play hard against us,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt. “We had our chances and didn’t put it away and that is what happens when you leave it on the hands of the refs, I told them we need to rely on ourselves.”
Both varsity boys’ soccer teams showcased their talent and did a great job of executing their quick up-tempo style from start to finish, although it was Delhi who capitalized early on and maintained a two-goal lead for nearly 1/3 of the game.
Once the pace was set in the opening seconds, each side knew this game would be a close call.
Alejandro Contreras of Delhi didn't take long to put in the first goal of the game just five minutes in.
Delhi followed with their second goal at the 27-minute mark after Roman Corona leveled a finesse shot between defenders and over the head of the keeper to go up 2-0.
“First half they couldn’t get much,” said Salazar. “In the second half we got some players together but we made subs and it changed the level and it went down; the last 10 minutes we got after it and balanced it out.”
Hilmar continued to press heavily with their speed on the outsides and tremendous abilities from Michael Cardoso and Bryan Milan but the opportunities were just missed or Delhi managed to pull away with a strong defensive effort and clearance.
It didn't help that Hilmar was called on multiple yellow cards as the game carried forth and became even choppier between both sides.
“We didn’t really lose this game, the refs beat us in this game. We ended up with a third of the balls called offside. One of those things, we were not lucky, but they were lucky,” said Bettencourt.
About 15 minutes into the second half, Hilmar's Esau Madrigal nailed the first goal for the 'Jackets to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Hilmar failed to tie the game in the following minutes after multiple opportunities, including a 1 v. 1 situation.
Not even 10 minutes after Hilmar scored, Delhi's Abel Cervantes was able to counter on a broken down play from Hilmar's back-line, and essentially secured the victory with a two-goal lead.
“I think what happened is we were up by two so we made subs and they scored and they got some momentum going,” said Salazar. “Then we scored so we got our momentum to get us back into it and they started to get physical.”
With under 15 minutes remaining in the game, Hilmar's Milan finally found the back of the net to cut the lead to 3-2.
“He had multiple through balls and was great and he got the goal, just very pleased on how we played but sometimes that’s how the ball rolls, take something from this game,” said Bettencourt. “We should take it in league and play tough and should play hard every game.”
It hasn't been the expected preseason for Hilmar, who come off a Sac-Joaquin Section title from a year ago.
So far, the team is 3-7-1, while Delhi picked up their second win in six games played thus far to go to 2-4.
“We have talent but we need to stay healthy. We lack depth a bit this year is all, not the same so take It easy,” Salazar added.
Hilmar's next game will be their first Trans-Valley League meeting, on the road against Mountain House at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 4.
Delhi's first league contest in the Southern Athletic League will be on the road against Mariposa at 6 p.m. Jan. 4.