A second place Trans Valley League finish and a first round playoff appearance were the fruits of Hilmar High’s boys soccer team’s labor last season but for head coach Louie Bettencourt and his players it wasn’t enough. Now, with four returning starters, the Yellowjackets are back and ready to take another crack at the TVL championship.
Jorge Aguilar, Vincent Barrera, Devon Medeiros, and Andres Moran constitute the core of Hilmar’s experience but with no JV team this season the Yellowjacket squad will also boast a lot of young talent; providing much needed depth in the competitive TVL.
Freshman Adrian Yepez and sophomore Gabriel Texeira have separated themselves from the rest of the newcomers during pre-season play but the majority of Hilmar’s positions remain open. One such position, and arguably the most important, is the goalie position. Hilmar’s inability to establish a keeper has resulted in shoddy pre-season play but Bettencourt is confident that the constant competition at practice will forge a defensive anchor in time for league play.
“In order for us to get better the players have to make everyone around them better,” Bettencourt said. “I can see it coming; it’s just going to take some time for them to gel together.”
Hilmar’s lack of cohesion and established personnel were apparent at the Pitman Varsity Tournament over the weekend where the ‘Jackets scored only one goal and fell to all four of their opponents. Luckily for Bettencourt, his team still has five pre-season matches before their Sept. 10 season opener against Hughson High.
“We’ve done a good job of applying pressure so far but what we really need to work on is our timing and tempo,” Bettencourt said.
Hilmar travels to Atwater High today to take on the Falcons and will be on the road again Thursday to face Los Banos High.