Denair and Delhi High’s rivalry only continues to grow in athletics and Wednesday's Southern Athletic League varsity boys’ soccer contest was a testament to it.
Although Delhi scored three goals in the first half, Denair pushed through the final 40 minutes and notched a goal in the process, proving the dynamic of this matchup that ended in a 3-1 win for the Hawks of Delhi.
“I think one of the things we told our kids is that they need to come out and play,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar. “Just because you won a game, doesn't mean you are going to win them all. We are taking one game at a time and I am just instilling in them to come out and battle.”
“I just love the way our guys battled,” said Denair head coach Greg Gaudio. “Last year we just didn't have enough guys and were not the most competitive and this year, we are playing hard; they played hard at the end and played two tough games back-to-back.”
The previous night on Tuesday, Denair had gone into a battle with Gustine. In that game, Denair overcame a three-goal deficit in the second half to tie the game at 3-3.
This didn't occur, however, in Wednesday's game.
The game was a stalemate until the 15th minute after Delhi's Venecio Alvarez broke it loose with a solid follow up shot after the ball had ricocheted off the top post and into his possession inside the goalie’s box.
From there, Alvarez drilled a right-footed volley that hit the back of the net to go up 1-0.
“I think it is all the kids who are playing their position,” said Salazar. “Our defense is very strong. Our midfielders are battling and our forwards are finishing and sometimes, even our defenders or midfielders are scoring. It’s not just one guy.”
Both sides swung momentum during the first half, with Denair evenly creating opportunities, but not coming away with anything.
About 13 minutes later, Delhi capitalized on their second chance after Mark Ceja hit a far side left shot that went in between his teammates’ legs and past the keeper’s glove.
Two minutes later, at the 30-minute mark, Delhi plunged in their final goal of the game when Ruban Estrada slammed a far side shot from the opposite end to go up 3-0 at the half.
“There are no weak teams in this league. It just depends who comes out ready to play,” said Salazar. “This year I think so far they’ve been hustling and are really playing hard.”
Jimenez then continued to push his way forward in the final five minutes, creating multiple chances while striking at the goal twice.
In the end, Delhi was able to fend off the Coyotes in their counter.
“We lost our fluency in the second half and they scored, but we kept it cool,” Salazar added. “Overall we did well and hopefully we can keep it up. The second half is the toughest because we all played against each other once and we know who has what.”
Delhi is now 8-5-1 overall and 5-1 in the Southern Athletic League, placing second behind Orestimba (4-0-1). Denair goes to 6-5-1 overall and 2-2-1 in the SAL.
This loss is the first for Denair since losing to Orestimba back on Jan. 4 in a 9-1 beating.
“We had a lot of opportunities and if you look at the total number of shots we had to have been close to even,” said Gaudio. “We moved the ball well and took shots, but some nights, the ball just doesn't go in and it’s just part of the game. I just love the way they played; they played great.”
Next for Denair will be a road contest against Orestimba at 6 p.m. today.
Delhi will next host Mariposa at 6 p.m. today.