“It is an amazing feeling, I am very proud of the kids, they deserved it. They worked hard and congrats to them, they earned it,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt about winning back-to-back section titles.
“Coming into the game I was a little bit nervous, once the game got going that disappeared, but it happens and our guys fought through it,” said Hilmar goalkeeper Ethan Aiken. “We knew the mindset and this game was crazy, and that is it, if it was easy, we didn’t want it. A lot of goals scored, maybe a few less cards would have been nicer, but our guys fought to the end and that is what we needed, that is what it took to win this game.”
The game was wild and the result could have gone either way.
There were over 10 yellow cards called, a red card, multiple penalty kicks and multiple fouls. It was also a highly contested game by both coaches. There were multiple occasions where the coaches had serious discussions with the refs. At one point, the coaches were nearly tossed by a distraught head ref.
The two side refs were not in sync with the head middle ref. Over 10 minutes of injuries were used during the game itself and stoppage time never made up for it.
There was an incident where it took over five minutes for an injured player to get up and off the field. This time was never added to stoppage time.
The game started 36 minutes later than its original scheduled time, and overtime ensued after a last second goal.
It was an absolute maniacal game that had heads spinning and emotions running high.
It took 75 seconds for the action to kick off as Hilmar nearly scored right away with a Jose Guerrero header attempt on a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Guerrero would go on to have a hat-trick once again, as he did in the semifinal, but it took a little time. Also, Linden responded every time he scored.
With about 29:15 remaining till halftime, Guerrero saw his first goal scored after a pass from Jonathan Chavez set him up to turn inside and the momentum saw him reverse to the other side and a left finesse shot to the left side of the net made it 1-0.
It took about three minutes for Guerrero to find the back of the net again and the Yellowjackets went up 2-0 at the 14th minute mark after heading in the goal off a set piece, which set him up perfectly.
Then, with nine minutes left till halftime, Linden was able to draw a penalty kick and cut the lead to 2-1.
Linden tied the game at 2-2 at around the 40th minute, before Guerrero scored the go-ahead during stoppage time, just before halftime to make it 3-2.
At about the 47th minute of action, Linden tied the game once again, but at 3-3, when they struck the back of the net on a power shot that saw Hilmar goalkeeper Aiken jump up and block it, but the power of the shot forced it to cross the line and hit the back of the net.
Marc Matos put Hilmar up 4-3 about 12 minutes later at the 59th minute after Guerrero laid out a perfect pass inside the penalty area and let Matos rip it from about 16-yards out.
By the time was nearing the end of regulation, Linden began to press and push hard, just after Hilmar was called for a red card.
The red card was also questionable after the ref gave Guerrero a straight yellow with about eight minutes left until the end of regulation.
Just seconds later, the ref diverted from his straight yellow and proceeded to bring out the red card—a move that brought questions.
Hilmar then continued to play a man down for the remainder of the game.
Linden tied the game at 4-4 in stoppage time, just after the clock had passed the 80-minute mark.
Playing with 10 players, and heading into overtime, Hilmar’s chances of back-to-back titles were on the line.
“It was ping pong, just back and forth. You felt you had it, then you don’t have it,” said Bettencourt. “That was the worst thing, because us going up 2-0, I knew we would get a little overconfident and get top heavy and they would counter attack and they equalized it at 4-4. It was just amazing, and then going down a man, that was very disappointing, especially because it was one of those calls.”
With six minutes left on the clock in the first overtime, Linden was called for a hand ball inside the penalty box, and Hilmar was awarded a penalty kick.
Matos secured the PK goal for Hilmar and gave them the go-ahead and eventual game sealer, as he ran to his bench and celebrated with his team, causing a major uproar in the Yellowjacket stands.
“They were a good team, but the cream rose to the top with 10 men, that was very impressive,” said Bettencourt.
The ‘Jackets secured their second straight D5 SJS title while they also earned their spot in the Nor-Cal playoffs.
They have scored 11 goals in three playoff games while securing two clean sheets in the past three games. Guerrero has scored six of the last eight goals scored by Hilmar. Guerrero finished the section title game with three goals and an assist.
Next for Hilmar is a berth in the Nor-Cal Playoffs with an opponent and time yet to be determined.
“We did have these goals from the beginning, and we put one away, and our focus now is to regroup again, and get back to what we have our sights on next,” Bettencourt added. “We just have to take it one game at a time and be humble and enjoy this moment, but next step is to push hard at practice and try and get mentally ready for state.”