The first time Delhi and Denair High’s boys’ soccer teams met on the field last month, it was a lopsided victory for the Hawks of Delhi over the Coyotes with a 6-1 win, but this time it was much closer than that.
It seemed like the Hawks came in a bit overconfident and it was the Coyotes who played shutdown defense for most of the game, but the talented Hawks squeezed out two goals to win it 2-0 at Denair on Thursday.
“The first time the game plan we had did not work out as we were chasing the ball for the entire game and basically they outplayed us,” said Denair head coach Paul Oei. “This time I told them to make sure they sat in and communicated and it was a lot more disciplined and they played zone better.”
“I think like I said before is that the second time around is different. We know who we are playing and they also know who they are playing,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar. “When we play a team a second time we seem to get overconfident and I think that was the case this time.”
Delhi has won seven of their last nine and are now 6-2 in the very tight and competitive Southern Athletic League after the win and are currently in second place, behind only Ripon Christian (6-1-1).
“I think we can finish high in league, it is just how we play and I will say that every game is different,” said Salazar. “We always go in with a mentality that we can beat a team because we have before, but all teams make adjustments and it depends how we go out and play.”
Denair adjusted well the second time around as the game was a stalemate until the 36th minute when Jorge Aguilar was able to head in the game’s first goal after a missed header off a corner kick from Ivan Ramirez.
Aguilar sat right under the rebound from Ramirez that bounced off the top post and struck the ball with his head and barely managed to sneak the ball under Denair goalkeeper Kyle Cervantes to go up 1-0 before the first half ended.
Denair played stout defense and held their own against the Hawks but the first goal was just a perfectly placed header from Aguilar.
“Every practice the next day we work on what went wrong and we work on that with passing and what not,” said Oei. “You can see the improvement. The guys are improving every day, it’s been a lack of discipline and playing out of zone but now were looking better.”
The second half was a physical battle and seemed to be even despite the 1-0 score as Denair’s defense was able to counter any attacking opportunities that Delhi presented.
Three minutes into the second half, Delhi nearly saw an open opportunity after an Aguilar cross was just inches off from Mario Moran’s touch but that was the last open look Delhi would get.
“I think we have made big progress and again like I said, is that if we play as a team we have a great group of talented kids and can be successful,” said Salazar. “It’s when we start to play individually that it is when it hurts us and we have a challenge.”
It wasn’t until the 70th minute that Delhi would capture their second goal of the game when Venancio Alvarez struck a rifle of a shot from about 28 yards out.
Denair keeper Cervantes was able to get a touch with his hands, but the power of the shot was too much for him to handle as it went right past him and into the back of the net for the final goal of the contest.
“I think sometimes you always deal with player chemistry and sometimes when the chemistry is not there then you have little sparks and we have to work on those sparks,” Salazar added.
Denair is 1-7 in the SAL but things have improved drastically for the Coyotes.
“It’s a great feeling watching them improve and grow since the beginning,” Oei added.
Denair will next host Mariposa (4-3) with the game scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Tuesday.