Three shots — that's all it took for the No. 7 Riverbank Bruins boys soccer team to upset No. 3 Delhi High in Thursday's semifinal battle in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-VI tournament.
Delhi scored first and dominated possession as well as momentum, but Riverbank capitalized on a penalty and two free kicks that proved to be enough in a 3-2 stunner over the Hawks.
“It might have been a factor, just tiredness on our part for playing three games in three days basically, but I think we outplayed them,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar. “The only time they got to the goal was when they had the penalty and two free kicks, those were the only times they really hurt us.”
Delhi was also a victim to a postponed game that had resumed action at Atwater High the prior afternoon.
Delhi was battling Delta in the opening round and was up 2-0 on Tuesday before the officials called the game due to the unplayable field conditions at the 25th minute.
With little time, the Section and both teams agreed to meet in a neutral site the following day, however, that didn't matter as the Hawks surged to a 4-0 victory over a Delta team that had not lost in over 70 days.
That momentum carried into Thursday's semifinal early on, and at the 20-minute mark Delhi was up on the board first with a Venecio Alvarez goal off a Roberto Calderon assist to make it 1-0.
Just five minutes later, a contentious call was made inside the penalty box which gave Riverbank the goal off a PK to tie it at 1-1.
“I think the first half, first 10 minutes, it was back and forth but we scored and got hyped up but then they scored on a penalty, but I say it wasn't but they might say it was, and that was the equalizer,” said Salazar.
At the 30th minute, Benji Aguilar crossed to the far side post where Calderon then drilled a diving header with the center of his forehead to put his team up 2-1, but Riverbank wasn't done for the half.
Delhi was called on a foul with three minutes remaining in the first half and Riverbank was able to tie the game off a finesse free kick goal from 20 yards out.
“I think the fouls called... Riverbank took advantage of those and you can't blame it on the ref, at least that is what they tell us,” said Salazar. “Besides that, we really have to give it to their goalie, he saved some good ones, at least a couple that should have went in.”
Delhi nearly scored on over half a dozen occasions in the second half, but it was Riverbank who found the back of the net for the only goal of the half with 20 minutes left in the game after once again, another free kick goal that was neatly placed over the defending wall and goalkeeper Joel Fuentes' leaping attempt to save it.
“Like I always say, in soccer you can have 90 percent possession, but if you don't score the other guys are going to win,” said Salazar. “The kids played their best and I think this was the best game they had, unfortunately, it didn't go our way.”
Delhi won six straight prior to Thursday's loss and end the season with the most wins in a regular season for any program at 17.