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Delhi, Hilmar soccer squads go down in playoff games
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The Delhi soccer team, down two players, found themselves in the playoffs for the sixth straight year, this time in the semi-final game of the CIF SJS Division-V championships at Riverbank, which resulted in a thrilling overtime oust, 3-2.

“I am proud of my kids,” Delhi head coach Armando Salazar said. “At the beginning I did not feel we would end up very far due to losing many key players, but the kids proved me wrong and they pulled away with key wins to get this far in the playoffs. I could not ask for much else, besides of course wanting to go into the next round, but that’s how it goes.”

Riverbank led by the halfway mark 1-0, however in the onset of the second half Delhi was able to put pressure on the opposing defense as they equaled up the score when Sergio Espindola drained a penalty kick.

Two critical red cards became key factors in the loss for the Hawks as they fought a man down by the start of overtime, but by the time the game nearly ended, Delhi had only nine players on the field.

“I felt that the red card incidents were a game changer,” Salazar said. “We have to take what happens and learn. I give credit to my players, somebody has to lose and it was us. They played their hearts out and made mistakes and that was the difference maker. We were equal but just couldn’t do it.”

Down two men and the score tied, Delhi knew their chances were slim but they held it together as much as possible until two scores were tacked on immediately before the end of the second overtime. Delhi’s Ismael Udave was able to head in the second goal for Delhi in the closing seconds of the match.

In one the most atrocious and horrid conditions for a soccer field in the second round of the CIF SJS Division-VI playoffs, Hilmar visited Encina High as both struggled to handle the ball in what looked like a kick-ball scenario.

The game resulted in a 3-0 loss for Hilmar with the final two goals for Encina coming in the closing minutes.

“We just couldn’t get it done because we’re used to a flat and nice field and we just never could get it going. The ball flowed differently. The score did not match the actual game. It was close till the end,” Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt said. “You can’t play soccer on a field like this. There was no possession or creativity. We had to play kick ball because the field was so bad.”

Due to the poor field conditions, handling the ball and making accurate passes became the Kryptonite for the Yellowjackets. They are a team which focuses on keeping the ball down with low and quick passes, coach Bettencourt said, but the setting forced both teams to play the ball high, which also forced the ‘Jackets to play out of their rhythm.

“There were dips in the ground. We could not make more than three touches per kid. A person can’t play soccer on that and the conditions were horrible and worked out for them,” Bettencourt said. “I told the coach it’s not his fault, but there should be rules on the field conditions and not play on a field. It was a game to see who could kick the furthest and run the hardest.”