Hilmar High varsity boys soccer is aiming to win the league title this year, but first they had to go through Escalon High on Friday afternoon when they hosted them in the first meeting of the year. The result: a 6-0 shutout after a standout performance from start to finish from the entire squad.
“A lot of the returners from last year, I only lost two, so we are looking to see them evolve and it’s been happening. Hopefully, we can keep the ball rolling,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt. “I know that we have a lot of talent, but sometimes it is about working as a unit and not individually. Once we start connecting the dots, we are okay.”
Over the past four seasons, Escalon has won the Trans-Valley League title, with the exception of last season when Livingston won it 11-1 and Hilmar took second at 9-2-1.
With the win, Hilmar has also won five straight dating back to last season.
This year, so far, Hilmar has scored five or more goals in all four league contests.
They also have not lost a game since Dec. 9, when they fell to Los Banos, 2-0. Since then, they have won six straight games, while shutting out five straight opponents.
Hilmar has outscored league opponents, 28-0, following Friday’s shutout win.
“I told them to not take anything for granted, and they were 3-1 with a good league record,” said Bettencourt. “It doesn’t matter whether you are undefeated or not when Hilmar and Escalon face each other, everyone works hard and pushes each other. Today we just had the better hand.”
It started off quickly for Hilmar, which took less than five minutes to get on the board after Eladio Madrigal sneaked a precise cross inside the goalie’s box and found Ivan Silva for the first goal of the game to make it 1-0.
Hilmar continued to maintain possession for the rest of the first half.
They took a 2-0 lead into the half after Marc Matos drilled the first of his two goals at about the 35th minute.
“We really had it as far as possession, we did dominate for a little bit, but like I said, quite a few players I have had for four years, so it is about time that they show up,” said Bettencourt.
They showed up some more in the second half as they went on a scoring frenzy after they notched four goals in the final 30 minutes.
With about 25 left in the game, Hilmar notched their third straight goal to take a 3-0 lead after Madrigal drilled a goal off a corner kick.
Nine minutes later the ‘Jackets went up 4-0 after Jose Guerrero found the back of the net when he beat the defender and the goalkeeper on a one-on-one.
Matos struck the back of the net for his second goal just eight minutes later after sprinting about 20 yards into the penalty area and drilling a right footed volley to the dead right center area.
Vincent Moran scored the sixth and final goal for Hilmar with about a minute remaining as they won by six goals.
“We haven’t won league in a while, so that is the goal to see if we can take league. We’ve been in second place for a long time, but we still have a long way to go. We will keep taking it one game at a time and keep it rolling,” Bettencourt added.
The last time Hilmar varsity boys soccer won a league title was in the fall season of 2010, when they went 11-1 in the TVL under Bettencourt.
Since then, they have been in second place, taking second in the past four straight seasons, despite winning two Sac-Joaquin Section Championships during that timeframe (last winter and the fall of 2015).
Hilmar improves to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the TVL.
Next for Hilmar will be a road contest at Riverbank at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.