The girls of Hilmar High were stung a week ago when they were handed their first Trans Valley League loss by none other than rival Escalon High. Despite outshooting the Cougars 12-3, the Yellowjackets were shut out, 3-0, and left with a bad taste in their mouths.
Though no longer undefeated, Hilmar (5-1 TVL) resolved to bounce back and reassert itself as the team to beat in the TVL. The ‘Jackets got their opportunity on Thursday and seized it, defeating Ripon High on the road, 3-0.
“It was a sweet one. I was looking for the girls to regroup because I knew they’re better than that,” Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt said. “It was a good win; it got us back on track.”
Hilmar’s guide to righting its ship was to embrace its aggression and pressure the Indians (4-1-1 TVL). In the 15th minute that plan materialized in the form of an 18 yard, Oliviah Gemperle goal that was misjudged and mishandled by Ripon’s goalie. As the first half continued, Hilmar’s assertive play began to wear on Ripon who found itself quickly trailing 0-2 after Jaimee Rocha knocked in a handball penalty kick in the 30th minute.
“That loss was a test for us,” Bettencourt said. “After that we knew we had to go toe to toe and win the ball first. We did that and took advantage of our chances this time around.”
Gemperle found the net again around the 65th minute when a Janessa Mitchell corner kick crossed the box and ricocheted off of the towering senior’s head and past Ripon’s goalie.
“It was just her day,” Bettencourt said of Gemperle.
Hilmar is now tied for first place in the TVL with Escalon as the field prepares for the second and final round of league play. Though the Cougars (5-1 TVL) have an edge on the TVL title with last week’s win, the ‘Jackets aim on settling the score and the standings when they host their rival on April 24.
But Hughson and Ripon are still in position to ruin Hilmar’s championship dreams, something its coach is well aware of as the team gets ready to face the Huskies (1-2-2 TVL) in their next match on April 10.
“Any of these teams can be in contention. It’s just who wants it more,” Bettencourt said. “We’re only going to get what we put in, that’s why we’re working hard.”