The Hilmar High (6-3-1) girls varsity soccer team is only two wins away from tying last year's win total and league hasn't even started.
In Friday's final preseason game against Livingston, the 'Jackets managed to play dependable defense through a large portion of the game and with the help of captain Kinsey Pettigrew, they toppled the Wolves, 2-1, at home.
“I am happy, but to me there is always room for improvement,” said Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt after the win. “I want to keep things going, we have had our ups and downs but hopefully we can get everybody healthy — that is the biggest thing right now.”
Despite a red hot start, the 'Jackets will be missing three of their normal starters due to injuries when Trans Valley League play begins next week.
In Friday's game the team was missing four of its regular starters, but the young up and comers played well enough to secure the team's sixth win out of their last seven games.
“Some of our players stepped up because I had four out today,” Bettencourt said. “I told them if they want playing time to step up in situations like this...they did and that's the bottom line, work hard and you will be rewarded.”
The team was rewarded not just with the victory but a morale booster for a roster that had a rough time trying to find their identity last season.
It took nearly 30 minutes for either team to score with the game panning out to be the ultimate stalemate.
Luckily for Hilmar, it has Pettigrew. The team captain broke the game wide open with a side step fake and juke the other way that left two Livingston defenders in the dust as Pettigrew twisted her body the opposite direction for a perfect strike inside the 10-yard mark as she faked out the keeper in the box at the 30 minute mark.
With the 'Jackets up a goal and the defense playing shutdown, all that was needed was consistency and with the help of Griselda Mendiola, Claudia Delgado and Sierra Aldrin, the team received that despite a late second half goal from Livingston.
In the 61 minute, Livingston's Miranda Alvear knocked in her team's only goal after a free kick from about 35 yards went in the upper 90 and zipped through the fingertips of Hilmar goalkeeper Mikayla Schmidt.
Hilmar's Pettigrew kept pressing after working the corner on two occasions within five minutes.
She worked her way to the corner and struck a near perfect cross in the middle of the goalkeeper's box.
Finally with about five minutes left in regulation Pettigrew found her teammate Monica Madriz inside the opposite corner of the penalty area and struck the final goal to secure the win.
“It was a good win to pick up before heading into league, it's a good momentum victory to keep it going and build off of it,” Bettencourt said.
Hilmar will take on Ripon in its first league game of the year at 4 p.m. Tuesday.