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Shut down defense key to Hilmar girls success, says coach
Senior Sara Theodozio of Hilmar will look to anchor the lady Jackets this upcoming season as one of the teams captains and leaders. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Hilmar soccer head coach Louie Bettencourt recently won a Section title with the boys team during the 2015 fall season, and now he wishes to do the same, but on the girls side.

“There have been a few girls that have mentioned the boys winning a Section title,” said Bettencourt. “I tell them it is very possible but it is all about having the right attitude and showing up to practice, work hard and you will be rewarded, that is what I preach.”

Although it is a tall task, it is a reachable one for coach Bettencourt and the Yellowjackets which are coming off a progressive season just a year ago.

The 'Jackets ended last season with an overall record of 10-7-3 and 4-4-2 in the Trans-Valley League, going 2-0-1 in their final three games, outscoring opponents 12-1 during that span.

“We should do well, if the girls focus on what they need to and challenge themselves, I think we can do well because we have a lot of new players that are pretty talented as well,” said Bettencourt. “Hopefully, they gel together and start to figure out that they can do this; but they all have to work together.”

Defender Claudia Delgado, goalkeeper Mikayla Schmidt and forward Sara Theodozio are all expected to be key contributors on a team that held league opponents to only six goals in their final eight games last year.

“We should be pretty strong,” said Bettencourt. “Seeing them last year, going off that, we didn't do that well but in every game, we needed one more goal, or needed to defend one more play.”

This year, coach Bettencourt said that he will make an immediate statement on being able to play shut down defense, just like the boys did in the fall season.

A strong back-line will be headed by Delgado and coach Bettencourt is hopeful that the others who follow on the defensive side will play shut down defense.

“You need to be able to not give up points because when you give up points it will be hard to make that up,” said Bettencourt.

The 'Jacket offense is one of the strong factors for the team.

“Right now I feel like we will be able to score a lot because we have some strong players, as far as attacking is concerned,” said Bettencourt. “And we are going to have to work on defense.”

Hilmar's first game will be against River City in the Pitman tournament at 10:40 a.m. Feb. 27. 

“We are going to play every game like it's for a championship and that is what I am going to get into their heads,” Bettencourt added. “Every game is a new game and you need to go in there and compete and never give up.”