Hilmar High was not going to be denied a victory on Thursday night.
A pair of late goals in the closing minutes of Thursday’s preseason meeting between Delhi (1-4) and Hilmar High (6-3-1) gave the visiting Yellowjackets their sixth win of the season and their second straight shutout.
Led by goalkeeper Francisco Lepe’s 11 saves, Hilmar was able to perform to their best capabilities while taking advantage of Delhi’s mistakes in the later stages of the contest.
Despite some great opportunities from Delhi, they never found the back of the net and unfortunately fell at home in a 2-0 Hilmar win.
“I’ve been telling the kids all preseason that we must continue to keep improving as the year progresses and I think tonight it really showed that they wanted to make that next step,” Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt said.
“As long as we don’t score, possession does not matter. That is what I tell the kids. We can have the ball for 79 minutes, but if they have one minute and score, it’s still a loss for us,” said Delhi head coach Armando Salazar.
It seemed more dramatic than just a regular loss despite the contest only being a preseason contest, but both sides assessed the game differently.
Hilmar has been pushing to improve upon every game while Delhi had yet to find their final starting 11.
“It’s a preseason game. I would love to win but we are looking for the one team that will be playing a lot of minutes during league and making plays for us and that is one thing we need to do,” Salazar said of the game.
“We have to play everyone to see what we have for league because when that time rolls around the playing time won’t be as shared as it is right now,” Salazar said.
Delhi played great from the onset as they came out and fired away, providing an arsenal of attacks offensively from Jose Manuel Magana’s shot in the opening minutes to Ivan Udave’s shot that clanked off the top crossbar just minutes after Magana’s attempt.
By this time Hilmar keeper Lepe already had several saves but it was also the help of his backline that contained the Delhi attack from scoring, despite missing some open shots.
Jose de Jesus Magan nearly dropped an open header but it sailed up and away from the net and just before the half ended, Lepe, once more, made a great diving save.
“The defense played well. They came out and attacked the ball, which is what you got to do,” Bettencourt said. “In order to win games you got to have a defense that holds up and our goalkeeper stepped up and made some great saves. Everyone came out to play.”
Hilmar eventually notched the first goal of the game with under 10 minutes left after Delhi’s miss on offense resulted in a counter opportunity for Hilmar when eventually Joshua Martinez struck the back of the net from just inside the penalty box.
Then with about three minutes remaining in the game, Adrian Yepez made a tremendous move from about 25 yards out as he received a pass from Delhi keeper Joel Fuentes, who failed to clear the ball and ended in Yepez’s possession, who shot a beautiful knuckle ball over diving keeper Fuentes.
“Far as ball movement, they moved it just as well as we did, but at the end it just seems like we wanted it a little more,” said Bettencourt. “We kept pushing and then we found that first goal then we had the second and that sealed the deal. Delhi played just as well as we did but I think we wanted it a little more.”
“That is what comes and gets you. A couple of mistakes because not to take anything away from Hilmar, but those two goals they scored were on mistakes by our part,” Salazar said. “But we still did better overall.”
Delhi’s next game will be the start of league as they will travel to Denair to take on the Coyotes at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The next game for Hilmar will be the beginning of league as they host Mountain House at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.