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Delhi soccer tops Denair in league opener
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Denairs Alex Flores and Delhis Ivan Udave fight over possession of the ball during the second half of Tuesdays league opener at Denair High. Delhi won 2-0. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Delhi’s (2-4) varsity boys soccer team began league play on Tuesday the opposite way of how they started preseason—with a win—over Southern Athletic League foe Denair High (5-1-1).

Despite a great effort from Denair goalkeeper Kyle Cervantes, who had 12 saves for the game, the Hawks of Delhi capitalized on their two opportunities in the contest, once on a penalty kick in the first half then in the closing minutes of the game to tally a 2-0 win at Denair.

“I think it's showing that the kids are actually responding. Denair is a good opponent, but I think we will face tougher teams, so this is a boost for us heading into the middle of it,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar.

“Playing against last year’s league runner up champions, it’s not easy. It was tough playing a team like this at first but it is what it is and at least we were at home and played awesome,” Denair head coach Greg Gaudio said.

Tuesday’s contest marks seven consecutive victories for the Delhi boys soccer team over Denair. The last time Denair defeated Delhi was on Oct. 27, 2011.

The Coyotes played as great of a game as they could, but Delhi executed their offense throughout the contest, especially in the second half when the defense took over the game.

In the first 30 minutes of play, each side was eager to find the back of the net, so both went back and forth with attempts, but neither defense was really breaking.

The backline of Denair was consistent, blocking Delhi’s attempts on about half a dozen shots and Delhi was doing a great job controlling the pitch with accurate passes.

With just under 10 minutes left in the first half, Delhi’s Arnold Perez was fouled by keeper Cervantes in the penalty box. Cervantes was pulled for the penalty kick and Delhi’s Ivan Ramirez nailed the shot on the bottom right corner even after Uriel Gonzalez nearly stopped it.

With a 1-0 lead at the half, the Hawks were able to settle in the game and play more relaxed in the second.

This caused the Delhi offense to go on a shooting frenzy.

“We didn’t make as many subs as we usually do and left the kids in and had a lot of shots on goal,” Salazar said. “The kids got excited about getting shots off. Once you’re in the penalty area, you want to score and put it in. There were many times we had shots go somewhere else.”

The Denair backline that consists of Cesar Flores, Gabriel Maldonado, Juan De La Cruz and Hector Jimenez made it uncomfortable to get many open looks, but when they did, Delhi just couldn’t knock them in or worse, Cervantes saved it.

As effective as the Delhi offense was, the Denair defense was playing from behind up against the wall.

The Hawks kept shooting, and they held Denair from taking a shot in the second half.

“We were undefeated in preseason. [If we] play well and work hard and we look good, then we will see what happens in the rest of league,” Gaudio said.

Delhi’s second goal came after a missed clearance goal kick from Cervantes landed in Delhi’s possession, and the Hawks notched the second one to seal the win.

“I hope our kids can step it up and know that we are a good team,” Salazar added.

“It’s going to come down to staying healthy and if we can with our guys we will be competing,” Gaudio added about league.

Denair’s next game will be at Mariposa at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The next game for Delhi will be a home contest against Ripon Christian at 4 p.m. Thursday.