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Hilmar boys soccer remains second in TVL after home win
‘Jackets clinch playoff berth
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Bryan Millan of Hilmar High scored a hat-trick in Friday’s 4-1 win over Hughson High (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Hilmar High head coach Louie Bettencourt is happy about being in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after his Yellowjackets swept the Hughson Huskies on Friday in a 4-1 home victory.

Bryan Millan was the savior for the ‘Jackets after the football state champion also added a hat-trick for the game after he dominated the opposition.

“That is the whole thing, when Bryan is in his position, that is a big plus,” said Bettencourt about Millan. “This one was a much better game and we played with a little more enthusiasm, but we’ve been kind of flat lately. One of my strikers has been sick, and not sure if it is affecting us, but one player cannot make a huge difference, we need others to step up. But I was pleased with this one today, everybody did their job.”

So far the ‘Jackets are 13-5-2 overall and 8-1-1 in TVL play.

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Elvis Valenzuela of Hilmar tries to get past the Hughson goalkeeper during Friday’s 4-1 home win (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Hilmar has not lost a game since Jan. 16, when they fell to No. 25 in the state Livingston High.

Prior to that, their other loss came at the hands of Pitman back on Dec. 21, when they fell 4-3.

Pitman is currently ranked No. 31 in the state.

Going into the game, Hilmar needed a victory to ensure at least a second-place position in the Trans Valley League.  They did that and then some, but it took an entire game.

Millan found the back of the net just 27 minutes into the game after the ‘Jackets pressed early.

He beat two defenders and from the outside corner of the goalie’s box, he ripped a low shot to the opposite side net to make it 1-0.

Eladio Madrigal added the ‘Jackets’ second goal off an 18-yard free kick goal from the top of the penalty box after he shot to the far side net, leading 2-0.

By the 60th minute, Millan added his second goal after from 13-yards out he drilled a finesse shot from one opposite end, then placed it in the far corner gently, to make it 3-0.

Millan completed the hat-trick with his third goal in the 63rd minute after he beat the last defender on a one-on-one scenario and sprinted 30 yards past the final defender, essentially beating the keeper head on with a shot from seven yards away to the opposite far post.

“We definitely needed a win to make sure we were in the playoffs,” said Bettencourt. “Now it is a matter of preparing yourself for playoffs; we have two games left and hopefully we get good results and build from it. Today we had great enthusiasm and intensity since we’ve been kind of flat lately, I don’t know why, but I tell them they have to play two halves in the playoffs cause if we don’t, we are done.”

Hilmar’s penultimate game will be on the road at Riverbank High at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Livingston is the last game of the regular season and that will be fun to measure ourselves because the last game we played it was 4-0 and we gave them three. It is all a plus going into the playoffs,” Bettencourt added.