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Lady ‘Jackets win first TVL soccer title in six years
Hilmar girls soccer 1
Brisa Gonzales scored a pair of goals in Hilmar’s 8-1 win over Hughson on Tuesday night to clinch a share of the TVL title with Ripon (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The last time the Hilmar girls soccer team sat atop the Trans-Valley League standings, Betzy Chavez was a member of back-to-back league title-winning rosters in 2017 and 2018. This season, the former star midfielder joined head coach Guy Bettencourt’s staff, and on Tuesday, they saw the Yellowjackets win a share of the TVL for the first time since she took the pitch.

The Lady ‘Jackets cruised to an 8-1 victory against the Hughson Huskies at McSweeney Stadium on Tuesday evening to cap off their regular season with a 9-1 record. Over in Riverbank, the Ripon Indians also scored 8 goals in a shutout of the Bruins to also achieve a 9-1 record. Even though they are sharing the title, Bettencourt is finding comfort in the fact that they defeated the Indians 1-0 on Jan. 30 — Hilmar’s first victory over Ripon in four years.

“These girls, they’re young,” Bettencourt said, alluding to the fact that just six of his 20 players are seniors. “But they've played much more aggressively. They're playing more as a team. It's just been amazing watching these girls make history.”

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Hilmar’s Raylynn Mendoza battles for the ball with Hughson’s Melody Villanueva in the second half of the Yellowjackets’ 8-1 win on Tuesday night (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Leading the charge all season has been sophomore Brisa Gonzales, who Bettencourt described as the quarterback of the team. Coming into Tuesday’s match, she led the team with 21 goals. She increased her total by two against Hughson, striking first in the 33rd minute and again at the 50-minute mark. 

The Yellowjackets never trailed Tuesday night, jumping out ahead in the sixth minute of play when Emily Peterson found the back of the net. Less than 10 minutes later, Mikayla Arteaga pushed the Hilmar lead to 2-0. They experienced a slight scare in the 21st minute when Sophia Kelly scored Hughson’s lone goal of the night. Gonzales’ first score gave the ‘Jackets an extra cushion, and it was off to the races. Alexis Aguiar pushed the lead to 4-1 in the 40th minute before Gonzales’ second goal made it 5-1. Aguiar scored again in the 76th minute. Alyssa Colston and Litssy Barragan rounded out the scoring late in the second half. 

“It feels pretty good,” Gonzales said of being co-TVL champions.

The Huskies offense, meanwhile, was kept in check the entire night, only mustering two shots on goal. Despite not seeing much action in front of her, goalkeeper Kayden Elston drew the praise of Bettencourt.

“She’s the real deal,” Bettencourt said of Elston. “We’ve had her working with a coach to develop her skills, and she has made some big time plays for us.”

“I've come a long way since my freshman year,” said Elston. “I feel like I've gotten a lot better. As a whole team we've just gotten a lot better. We have a good dynamic together.”

The Yellowjackets will look to keep the good times rolling in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Brackets will be released later today, with first round games set for Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to the playoffs,” Gonzales said. “If we win all three (potential) games, that'll make history. It’ll put us out there and get colleges to start looking at us.”

If the Yellowjackets were to win a section championship, it would be their first in girls soccer since the 2007-2008 season.

“It’s been a few years,” Bettencourt said. “I want to wave that blue banner.”