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Defending D6 champs Hilmar eliminated in opening round
Hilmar boys 1
Marc Matos of Hilmar (17) attempts to steal the ball from an Amador player during the first half of Tuesdays 1-0 loss in the opening round of the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

No. 4 Hilmar High boys soccer failed to defend the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section title after getting upset by No. 5 Amador in Tuesday’s first round match that ended 1-0.

“It takes 11 to beat a team and we sort of fell apart,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt. “Too much dribbling, everything was pretty much wrong today, and again, we kind of beat ourselves to a certain degree. We started panicking and had plenty of time to score, we just didn’t find a way because we didn’t know how to relax and keep it under control.”

Exactly one season ago, Hilmar was coming off a dominating year that led to a 17-4-2 record that included a blue banner.

This year, despite not having the same amount of experience, Hilmar was hoping to go back-to-back to the final after a 9-3 season in the Trans-Valley League, which earned them the second spot in league.

Once again, Hilmar was dropped down a division but this time they failed to live up to their expectations.

“It’s what happens, you get caught up in the moment and it’s the way it goes, good luck to Amador,” said Bettencourt. “They just came out ready to play and we didn’t play at all, this is not how we play.”

Hilmar created three early chances in the opening six minutes, but after that it looked as if they settled and Amador began to control possession and the pitch.

At halftime, the score was dead even at 0-0 after both sides saw opportunities slip away from them.

“We should have put at least three in the back of the net in the opening minutes, but you give the other team life; they kept pecking at it,” said Bettencourt. “Then, too much finger pointing and too many individual stuff and that doesn’t work.”

Unfortunately, Hilmar struggled to play together, especially in the second half, while Amador continued its pressure and was playing in sync.

The passes were more precise and despite a 0-0 game at the 52nd minute, Hilmar nearly scored on a free kick attempt from Michael Cardoso, however, the shot sailed away.

Just a minute later, Amador countered and Reyes Zuniga was able to weave around multiple defenders and found the back of net on a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Amador took the 1-0 lead and never gave it up.

Cardoso and Bryan Milan almost created several chances for Hilmar, along with Jaime Carbajal in the final minutes but every shot was either saved or deflected off one of the Amador defenders that included a wall of defenders Francisco Mora and Adrian Leal.

“I have to tip my hat to the freshman since I started five of them and that is what it is, the inexperience and today we didn’t even come out to play,” said Bettencourt.

Hilmar finishes the year with an overall record of 12-11-1, losing two of their final three games.