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Hawks one match away from section finals
delhi soccer pic
Delhis Sergio Espindola leaps above two Highland defenders on his way to the ball during Thursdays first round Div. V SJS Playoff win.

Delhi High earned its second Southern Athletic League banner in school history this year, the prize of a co-championship season on the soccer field. Now, the Hawks’ boys are on a mission to add a Division V SJS Section Championship to the mix, and after a 3-0 first-round victory over Highlands High, they may very well be on their way.

Thursday marked the second straight match Delhi has kept an opponent off the scoreboard. The Hawks continued to emphasize the importance of their passing game, maintaining ball control and opening scoring lanes early. Ismael Udave was the first beneficiary of Delhi’s passing game, scoring a goal in the 10th minute with the assist of a cross. Highlands found itself on the short end of Delhi’s offense again in the first half as Erik Tapia found the net with a distance shot. The Hawks led 2-0 at the half.

“He’s one of our top players; the midfielder that controls the game,” Delhi’s head coach Armando Salazar said of Tapia. “He’s one of our leaders but the other players have been a support for him as well.”

Tapia showed his leadership abilities again in the second half when he nailed a 40 yard shot that floated over the goalie’s head and landed at the inside far post. The shot sealed a second-round road trip to Riverbank High to face the Bruins.

“In order for us to make it to the finals we need to play the way we did against Highland, controlling the ball and making sure everyone plays,” Salazar said. “Whoever controls the ball more is probably going to win the game.”

Riverbank is very comparable to Delhi with speed to spare and a propensity to spread the ball around. Delhi made it to the semi-finals last year before being knocked out with penalty kicks, but Salazar thinks this will be the year his team goes all the way.

“We’re in the same spot but I think I have a stronger team than last year,” Salazar said. “They are excited but I’m pushing them to take it one game at a time. I think as long as we execute our passing game and finish we should be okay.”

Wednesday’s game at Riverbank will begin at 3 p.m.