Hilmar High traveled to Dixon High on Thursday, one game away from the SJS Division V Championship game. With a Trans Valley League championship already under their belt, the Lady ‘Jackets strived to bring another section title to Hilmar, but in the end it wasn’t meant to be. Hilmar and Dixon fought hard in regulation and overtime but it was the Rams who emerged victorious after a penalty kick shootout, 4-2.
“We should have put them away in the first half,” Hilmar’s head coach Louie Bettencourt said. “They were a good team but we could have put them away.”
With heavy winds and an unfamiliar field to deal with, Hilmar struggled to find its usual rhythm early in the match. Still, the ‘Jackets found themselves in scoring position several times in the first half but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. After several wide shots, blocked shots, and a close, cross bar shot; Kinsey Pettigrew finally found the net for Hilmar. In the 30th minute Pettigrew broke away from Dixon defenders, drove the ball towards the goal, and beat the Ram keeper for the go ahead goal.
“The loss was such a heartbreaker because everyone played so well,” Bettencourt said.
Dixon responded in the second half when, in the 50th minute, a Ram attacker, the wind, and a little bit of luck came together for the tying goal. After driving the ball down the field, Dixon took a shot which deflected off a Hilmar defender, bounced off the field, and then sailed over goalie Rylee McCown’s hands.
After the tying goal both teams displayed stout defenses, dragging the match into overtime. Finally, the 20 minute overtime period expired and the penalty kick began. Dixon stepped up first and found the net on its first kick, Hilmar did not. Dixon’s second kick was blocked by McCown but the subsequent Hilmar kick also missed its mark. The ‘Jackets finally scored on their third and fourth penalty kicks but failed to keep the Rams out of the goal on their fifth kick, thus ending the game and Hilmar’s season.
“We had a hard time adjusting to the field,” Bettencourt said. “That’s why playing on your home field is such a big advantage.”
Although his girls were highly disappointed with Thursday’s outcome, Bettencourt is confident that the loss will be a source of motivation for next year’s squad. McCown is the only senior starter on the team so Hilmar will enter next season with an experienced group.
“I knew we were going to go far from the get go,” Bettencourt said of this season’s team. “We have the talent to go all the way next year.”