The Hilmar High boys soccer team completed a regular season sweep on Tuesday afternoon from home when they shutout Hughson for the second time this season after a 4-0 final. Despite the shutout victory, the Trans Valley League contest was much closer than the score records.
“You never know, and you always want to get these kinds of games out of the way. This was a bad game for us, we did come out with the win, but at the same time we can’t be giving up the easy shots, and I think it was a learning experience for us,” said Hilmar assistant coach Antonio Aguilar.
“I told my kids that 2-0 is a scary score at the half, but I told them that we had so many chances that if you don’t score it will come back to haunt you and we just didn’t finish today, a little unlucky as well,” said Hughson head coach Tevin Jones.
In their first matchup back on Jan. 7, Hilmar came away with a 6-0 win.
This time around it was a much different game, however.
It took 11 minutes for the stalemate to be broken once Miguel Padilla snuck a 22-yard shot from one corner of the goalie’s box to the opposite.
Padilla drilled a finesse shot to the opposite side as the ball nearly hit the top right corner bar with perfection as the opposing goalkeeper jumped up but couldn’t stop it and Hilmar went up 1-0.
It took four minutes for Hilmar to go up 2-0 after Jose Mora found the back of the net on a shot that bounced off the ground and sailed over the keeper’s head from about 14 yards away.
Despite failing to score in the first half, it was Hilmar’s goalkeeper Ethan Aiken who had half a dozen saves after the first 40 minutes of action.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Aiken was crucial after he made four saves in that span, saving multiple close chances, including back-to-back free kicks that proved to be crucial set pieces, which could have changed the momentum of the game.
“I told our guys that we need to get into the right mentality. We know where we stand and we know where they stand, but teams progress over the season, and I came in expecting them to be better,” said Aguilar. “We had a lot of mental mistakes and we just needed to get over that, and when we did, we started scoring, and got the ball rolling.”
Following multiple diving saves by Aiken, and a defensive effort that bent but didn’t break, Hilmar finally found some push.
Hughson continued to press and create chances to kick off the second half as they kept the ball on the attacking third for the majority of the time.
“They are going to be coasting at 2-0, and there was going to be at least 10 minutes for them to wake up, so I told our guys to take advantage and press high and push the ball down the field, and we did well, we just couldn’t finish,” said Jones.
By the 53rd minute, Hilmar had finally found themselves on the attacking third and struck a shot.
Jose Guerrero of Hilmar scored the third goal for the Yellowjackets with about 18 minutes remaining in the game after he drew a penalty kick.
Guerrero scored his second goal with about four minutes left, to make it 4-0.
“They (Hughson) were definitely pushing in the second half, and had more shots on goal, but like I said, I tried to get them in their shape and form, but we knew they came out better and we were a little shocked. I told them to hold it down and keep it together,” said Aguilar. “Thankful for Ethan, he is a great keeper and he had a lot of saves… a lot of saves, so he really saved our butts today a couple times.”
Aiken finished the game with double digit saves.
“Just clinical finishing is what happened at the end, we have some nervous moments when it is one-on-one with the keep, or some free kicks near the box, but it is what happens in soccer, a little luck sometimes,” said Jones.
Hughson’s overall record goes to 2-11 and 1-4 in the Trans-Valley League.
Hilmar’s record goes to 11-3 overall and 6-1 in the TVL. The only league loss for Hilmar is against Livingston when they fell, 1-0.
The next game for Hilmar is a road contest at Ripon High at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Hughson’s next game will be at home against Riverbank, at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.