For the last three seasons Delhi High’s boys soccer team has done considerably well, finishing in the upper tier of the Southern Athletic League standings and earning post-season appearances. But as a wise man once said, “If you’re not first you’re last,” and that’s exactly how head coach Armando Salazar feels this season.
After watching Gustine High claim the SAL title with undefeated seasons two years in a row the Hawks are ready to claim the crown as their own.
“We’re hoping this year will be the one to bring us the SAL title,” Salazar said. “Our goal is to finish first and anything else after that is icing on the cake.”
This year’s Hawks squad returns a handful of last season’s starters, notably Sergio Escindola, Eric Tapia, and Raphael Macias, but also consists of a couple sophomores and more than a few first time players. The youth on the team has thrust the responsibility of leadership on Escindola, Tapia, and Macias as well as tasking Salazar with the challenge of finding the right mix of talent and ability.
“They know what’s at stake so they help push the players,” Salazar said of his veterans. “We look good so far but we’re still working on finding the right combination of players.”
As it has been in the past, Delhi’s strategy revolves around an effective passing game designed to keep its opponents off balance and out of synch. To dethrone Gustine and fend off others like Mariposa High the Hawks will have to do much more than passing, however, they must be able to finish; something Salazar has stressed to his team during pre-season play.
With matches against Manteca and Hilmar High already in the books Delhi plans on continuing their growth against Ripon, Hughson, and Livingston High before its Sept. 17 match against SAL rival Denair High.
“It’s going to be a very competitive league this year,” Salazar said.