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SAL showdown ends in draw between Hawks and Coyotes
Delhi v denair girls pic2
Denairs Litzy Delacruz (center) celebrates with her team after scoring the only goal for the Coyotes with 13 minutes left in regulation. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Monday's cool and wet weather made the Southern Athletic League clash between Denair and Delhi High girls soccer much more dramatic than a normal game.

After 66 minutes neither side was able to find the back of the net. Finally at the 67th minute, Denair put a score on the board. With less than three minutes remaining, Delhi responded with a goal of their own, tying score as both sides ended their first draw of the season at 1-1.

“To see the goal, I don't even know how to explain it... just a jump in the air excitement,” said Delhi coach Angel Flores.

“I think we played well. We could not put away our opportunities at all. The girls seemed to be getting nervous in front of the net and it’s something we are going to work on,” said Denair head coach Cherrie Gresham.

Altogether, Denair finished with over 15 shots for the game.

Denair falls to 0-4-1 overall and 0-1-1 in SAL while Delhi goes to 0-6-1 and 0-2-1 in league play.

“Both teams played well with the ball hanging in the middle most of the time, but the girls have to take the chances when they get near the 18-yard mark,” said Flores. “Defending was good; just need to take shots, if you don't take shots you can't score.”

Delhi was limited with single shot attempts, especially in the second half, while Denair controlled the tempo and managed to maintain a consistent push throughout the final 40 minutes.

“I am proud of the intensity we played with,” said Gresham. “We've been working on that, but we just really need to be composed and put away our chances. We had so many and didn't put it away, but kudos to Delhi's goalkeeper as well, she did a good job back there, and we just have to get better.”

Danielle Valdez is the Delhi goalkeeper who added seven saves in the second half alone, but couldn't contain the goal from Denair that happened in the 67th minute.

After a barrage of attacks from the Coyotes in the final third of the game, they finally capitalized after Litzy Delacruz powered a free-kick from 30 yards out and forced it just past Valdez's hands and into the side netting to give the Coyotes their first lead of the season up to this point.

Exactly 10 minutes later, as Denair continued to press forward, Delhi exploited the mismatch on a counter where Marysol Martinez found herself with a breakaway one-on-one situation and managed to get the ball in the back of the net to the far side to tie the game.

“That goal came out of nowhere,” said Flores. “It came as a surprise to me because Marysol has not been here, she was gone in Mexico so when we saw her back today, first game back since preseason, and scored a goal... wow.”

Denair snapped a six-game losing streak while Denair snapped their four-game losing streak.

In their first meeting last season,  on March 17, 2016, the game ended with a tie also at 1-1. Denair went on to win five league games while Delhi won six and earned a postseason berth in the Division-V Sac-Joaquin Section tournament.

“This is the same thing that happened last year, so at least we tied,” Gresham added. “We had possession in the final third, and did not get back. We managed to control possession, so to tie it after working so hard most of the game, it’s a bit disheartening but hopefully we turn it around.”

“It's kind of challenging since we rarely have a complete team and all the girls are still learning about positioning and it takes time to get used to the positions and still learning,” Flores added.

Delhi will host Le Grand at 6 p.m. Thursday. Denair will host Mariposa at 6 p.m. Thursday.