Competing in the Trans Valley League is tough in every sport, and girls soccer is no exception.
The Yellowjackets of Hilmar are coming off a semifinal finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs, while the Huskies of Hughson won just a single game all of last season.
The Yellowjackets closed out last year with a 16-11 overall record, while their Trans Valley League record was 7-3, which placed them in a two-way tie for second place with Livingston which also went 7-3.
Last year, Hilmar outscored league opponents, 40-16, after their 10 games played.
Hilmar is off to a 3-2 start this season after their first five pre-league games.
This year they bring back four freshmen from last year's squad, while the roster of 20 also consists of 10 seniors, including standouts Lexie Avalos, Emily Vieira, Sarah Alvarez and Ainsley Wood.
They also bring back their leading scorer from last year in Genavieve Fontes and standout Liliana Johnson.
“Started off well, trying to figure things out with our lineup, but best game of the year so far was against Ceres, our second half we played pretty well and scored three goals in the second half and loved that effort,” said Hilmar head coach Doug Delay.
The Yellowjackets’ back-line is completely different from a year ago, but Delay is optimistic.
“I think the depth is great this year. Obviously, we have some key players that will play large minutes, we have a talented squad, but we are young as well,” said Delay. “This year, like most years, our goal is to progressively get better, not necessarily on wins or losses. We want to play a full game and not give up on some games. We played well, but had moments not in the game, and especially against Ripon and teams like that, can’t have those episodes and our goal is to play fundamental soccer and that gives us an opportunity to win our match, if we play sound soccer we have a chance to compete.”
The Huskies welcome first-year head coach Marissa Emmons, who brings in a wealth of knowledge.
“I love soccer, still play, not at a competitive level, but I thought it would be fun to do that for my high school in the district I work in,” said Emmons. “Definitely will be challenges, but building our program forward we will have players for years to come, I am excited about this season.”
Emmons was part of the Pitman Pride varsity team in the spring of 2011. That Pride team went on to amass a record of 22-5-1 overall and won the Central California Conference with a 13-1-1 record and they reached the semifinal round of the SJS D1 playoffs.
“I work as the school (Hughson) psychologist and when the opportunity opened up, I thought it’d be a neat opportunity to coach,” said Emmons.
Hughson has already secured at least three times as many wins over the first four games, they beat Gustine, Ripon Christian and Central Catholic as of Tuesday.
“I think ultimately I just kind of want our team to have this mentality that we are going to be a tough team to beat,” said Emmons. “I want them to always step on the field thinking they are the team to beat... Ultimately, we want to be competitive with every team we play with. So, that is on the kids and as a coach strategically I need to be able to switch the lineup or move things to keep us in games; it will be interesting.”
Last season Hughson finished in second to last place with a 1-7-2 TVL record, while they also allowed the second most goals in league (41). The Huskies finished at 1-11-4.
Hilmar will next take on Pitman High from the Sports Complex at 9:40 a.m. Friday.
Hughson’s next game will be at home against Summerville at 3:30 p.m. Friday.