It's a wrap for Hilmar High's girls soccer team after Wednesday's semi-final loss to Liberty Ranch High in this season's Division V Sac-Joaquin Section playoff tournament. The reigning Trans Valley League champion Yellowjackets and reigning Sierra Valley League champion Hawks played it tight during the first half of the match, but a pair of mental lapses in the second half spelled doom for Hilmar as its girls fell 3-1 and watched their season end abruptly.
"We pushed pretty hard in the first half and I think we were a little too relaxed in the second half," Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt said. "It was just a matter of mental mistakes. We let our guard down a little bit and that's all it took."
After falling behind within the first 10 minutes of the match, Hilmar's Kinsey Pettigrew knotted the score as she dribbled the ball half the length of the field, shook three Hawk defenders, and pushed the ball neatly into the right corner of the goal.
"It was a beauty," Bettencourt said.
The ‘Jackets nearly topped Sierra Valley five minutes later with a Jaimee Rocha penalty kick but the shot hit the post. Bernadette Silveira took a shot on the rebound, but her shot also missed. It was the last, best chance at a goal for Hilmar.
The second half saw the Hawks grow more and more comfortable in the match while the ‘Jackets continued to struggle to adjust to the increased ball speed caused by the field's artificial turf. In the end, speed wasn't the deciding factor, however-mistakes were.
Both of Liberty Ranch's second half goals came at the expense of Hilmar defenders. First, a miscommunication between keeper Rebecca Sanders and a teammate left Sanders out of position inside of the box and lead to a partially deflected Hawk goal. The final mistake was perhaps the worst, though, as Sanders let the ball roll between her legs and into the net on a routine pick up.
"It happened the way it happened, but I'm very proud of my team," Bettencourt said. "I was very pleased with the entire season. The girls were dedicated and we both had high hopes. On another day, maybe it goes our way."