Hilmar’s varsity girls soccer team is one win or draw away from capturing the Trans Valley League title after they shut out Escalon for the second time on Monday, 2-0.
It was senior night and the penultimate game of the regular season for the Yellowjackets, who clinched a playoff berth last week.
“We have to tie or win to get the TVL for the last game, so we have to be successful Wednesday, it’s close this year, not over yet,” said Hilmar head coach Doug Delay. “We knew the significance, Escalon is always a tough game physically and it can always get us out of our game, it did last year. For the most part, we stayed composed this year and just played.”
Hilmar has been able to dominate in the TVL this year, allowing just a single goal in nine league matches so far. They have shutout eight of nine league opponents.
Their record improves to 17-1-6 overall and 8-0-1 in the TVL.
“First thing is first, we don’t want to look beyond where we are at,” said Delay. “Right now, we are in the TVL, we want to do the best we can. We want to go into that game focused and try and close it out, but nothing is ever given to you, nothing is ever solidified until it’s over. We have Riverbank first, I told the girls they need to get mentally prepared for that.”
Before doing that, they had to take care of rival Escalon.
The game was a physical battle that extended into the closing minutes and resulted in multiple yellow cards called against Hilmar in the second half.
It took a whole 20 minutes for Hilmar to get on the board, then sophomore Emily Vieira ripped a shot from about 16 yards out and hit the back of the net on the far side corner.
Vieira and Lexie Avalos nearly found the back of the net on multiple occasions in the final 17 minutes, but the score at halftime read 1-0.
Five minutes into the second half, Hilmar’s senior captain JuliAnn Machado put her team up by two when she struck the back of the net on a free kick from about 30 yards out. Machado placed the ball in the upper right corner with ease to extend the lead to 2-0.
“I think overall our possession was pretty good. As long as we can stay in that mindset and not get out of our game, I think we can put ourselves in a good situation,” said Delay.
The defense for Hilmar held on for the remainder of the game, maintaining possession while goalkeeper Mikayla Schmidt finished with four saves. Offensively, Hilmar took 20 shots for the game.
Hilmar will close out the season with a chance to clinch the TVL title against Riverbank on the road at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“Regardless of what happens on Wednesday we will be top two, but we want to control our own destiny, we want to go to Riverbank and play well and that is what we are looking at,” Delay added. “We are not looking at playoffs, we will match up with Ripon, there is a good chance, but not good for either team since we played so many, but we will lineup.”