The Hilmar girls soccer team is on the brink of elimination from playoff contention if they fail to win out all four of their final Trans Valley League bouts this season.
With a small margin for error, the Lady ‘Jackets began their hopeful run on Monday afternoon with a convincing home league win over Modesto Christian, 4-1.
“We have been in a dilemma that we have to win out for a playoff spot and I am challenging the girls,” Hilmar head coach Louie Bettencourt said.
Halfway through the first half, the ‘Jackets were able to nudge in the first score of the game when junior Kinsey Pettigrew blasted a shot from 26-plus yards out and struck nearly the bottom of the bar, just inches off with a perfect corner strike to take the 1-0 lead.
“She is a great player,” Bettencourt said about Pettigrew. “It is hard because she is used to playing competitive, and playing with girls that only play two or three months it is hard to play to her speed; she needs to make the girls around her work the same.”
The MC Crusaders then buckled down on defense and were able to hold off the ‘Jackets for only 20 minutes as Isabella Nunes weaved her way into the corner of the penalty area and found Taylor Marcelino on the opposing corner and tapped the shot into the back of the net to go up 2-0 into halftime.
Not even two minutes into the second, Pettigrew flung another shot, this time from about 20 yards out but it sailed away from her.
In the first 10 minutes of the second, Pettigrew struck at the net five times with four shots on goal but she would find the back of the net only once in the contest.
MC's lone goal came with 15 minutes left in the second half when a penalty was called and it was Carsyn Hoogendoorn who sank it to cut the lead to 2-1, but the ‘Jackets had none of it and went on a surge in the closing minutes.
Gia Barcelos sunk in the final two goals for Hilmar in the last 15 minutes of the game to give the ‘Jackets their third league win of the season and one step closer to nabbing a playoff berth.
After the win over MC, the tight race in the TVL continues as there are currently four teams with three wins, including Hilmar (3-3-2, TVL).
The next game for the ‘Jackets will be a critical TVL matchup at Riverbank against a winless Bruins team in league, set for 4 p.m. today.