There were mud puddles all over the field on a cool, cloudy and damp afternoon.
That was the scene of Monday's Trans-Valley League clash between Hilmar and Hughson High girls soccer at the Huskies soccer complex.
Sophomore Korey Pettigrew checked in as a sub in the final third of the first half and scored the only goal of the game just before the half ended, as the visiting Yellowjackets of Hilmar secured their second league win in a 1-0 final.
“We have a very young and deep bench and they are all very focused on the team goals and when they come off the bench, they have speed and tenacity and Korey is one of those players,” said Hilmar head coach Doug Delay. “She comes off the bench and her effort is awesome as we saw today.”
With the win, Hilmar improves to 8-3-2 overall and 2-0 in TVL play. Hughson goes to 6-3-2 and 1-1 in the TVL. Hilmar has also won two straight against the Huskies dating back to last season.
Despite the slick, wet pitch, Hilmar was able to come away with a road victory after a defensive statement from the 'Jackets' backline anchored by Caressa Barros, Madisen Petersen, Sarah Alvarez, Ainsley Wood and goalkeeper Mikayla Schmidt.
“The backline are solid, just tremendous athletes and they play well together and they are very smart and that is what you need, smarts and discipline,” said Delay. “The few mistakes were field related, but they make good decisions and know where to distribute the ball and they play off each other very well.”
The victory also marks the second consecutive clean sheet for the 'Jackets, including their fifth straight win.
Since their last loss on Dec. 10, at the hands of Merced, Hilmar has outscored opponents 19-0 in the past five contests.
“We are happy with where we are with the start but we've got the rest of the first half of the season and then we have to play everyone else again,” said Delay. “So certainly happy with the effort from everyone, but we are going to continue to train hard and go after it and see where we shake out.”
Big contribution from the offensive side came from freshman Emily Vieira and Juliann Machado, who kept the pace up for all 80 minutes of the game, creating multiple chances.
“I would have liked to convert a few more of our chances, but I am very happy with the girls and how they trained. Our possession is getting better, so very proud of them,” said Delay.
Hughson started off the first 10 minutes maintaining possession, despite Hilmar nearly plunging in a goal in the opening minutes—the ball was held by mud and failed to cross the line by inches.
Hughson goalkeeper Mallory Maloney was able to rebuttal and dove on the ball, securing it from being scored.
As the game carried on, neither side looked like they were going to break, displaying tremendous defense on both sides.
The break for Hilmar came at the 34th minute after Cheyanne Cabral launched a ball from the top corner of the field and off the top of the post, which then ricochet and gave Pettigrew the open look for just a second.
“We had very few mistakes when it comes defensively, we had a lot of opportunities that we left undone,” said Delay. “Obviously, the field conditions played a role in the game as far as putting the ball in the back of the net, but overall the girls played solid from front to back.”
With Monday’s win, the 'Jackets also secure their sixth clean sheet of the year.
The next game for Hilmar will be on the road at Modesto Christian at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 18.