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Yellowjackets shut out Argonaut to clinch D-5 girls soccer title
Hilmar girls soccer
Hilmar High’s varsity girls soccer team poses in front of the scoreboard at Elk Grove’s Cosumnes River College with their blue CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 championship banner after defeating the Argonaut Mustangs (Jackson) 2-0 on Saturday afternoon (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

At the end of each match for the past month, Hilmar varsity girls soccer head coach Guy Bettencourt had made mention of the blue Sac-Joaquin Section championship banner, regularly saying that he couldn’t wait to wave one. On Saturday, standing on the field of Elk Grove’s Cosumnes River College under the pouring rain, Bettencourt and his No. 4 seeded Yellowjackets (22-5-2) made their dreams a reality, hoisting the Division 5 title banner after defeating the No. 6 Argonaut Mustangs of Jackson (16-7-2) by a 2-0 score in the championship match.

The moment marked the first time since the 2007-2008 season that the school’s girls soccer program won a section title. They will now wait for CIF Regional brackets to be released on Sunday afternoon.

“We had two goals this year, and that was to win the TVL championship and to fight for a new (section) banner,” Bettencourt said, referring to the fact that his team also won their first Trans-Valley League championship since 2018. “This team, they just got better and better and more aggressive as the season went on to accomplish those goals, and we got it done.”

Saturday’s match was scoreless through the first half-hour of playing time. The Yellowjackets won the pregame coin toss and chose to play against the howling wind and rain during the first half. Very little offense was generated by each team early on as Argonaut generated just four shots compared to Hilmar’s three. 

The scoreless tie was eventually broken in the 33rd minute when sophomore midfielder Alexis Aguiar received a crosser that she fired in from in front of the goalkeeper. It was Aguiar’s 13th of the season and the second straight game in which she scored the first goal for Hilmar. Last Wednesday in the semifinal match against Sonora, who scored right before the end of the first half to cut the deficit to 2-1. They ended up winning 5-3 in double overtime.

“It was a crosser and I just went in to kick it in,” Aguiar said of her goal on Saturday. “I just tried my hardest to get us on the board. We just wanted to get up first.” 

Bettencourt said that, at times in the first half, he was doubting his own decision to have his team start off play against the wind.

“We made the decision to play against the wind, and I was second guessing myself during the game,” he admitted. “But it worked out [well]. We held them in the first, we struck first, and then the second half went much better for us offensively.”

In the second half, the Yellowjackets outshot the Mustangs 10 to 2. One of those 10 Hilmar shots was in the 78th minute off the foot of sophomore midfielder Brisa Gonzales, who came into the match with a team-leading 28 goals on the season. She struck the ball from the far right corner of the pitch, a similar distance to that of a corner kick. The ball curved directly over the head of the goalie into the back of the net.

“Honestly, I was trying to cross it in, but it curved. The wind helped me out there,” Gonzales said. 

The goal marked the 11th consecutive game in which she has scored a goal, dating back to Jan. 11 against Ripon.

“I’ve never had a streak like this, in lower levels or in club,” she said.

Gonzales also earned praise from Bettencourt for her defensive efforts, consistently running back to help direct the ball back to midfield and to the Argonaut side of the field for the majority of the game.

“The defense kept us in the game,” he said. “From Teygan (Horstmeier) to Lilly Brewer who came back from injuries and did a great job and all the fullbacks. Even Brisa running all over the field to help on defense. It was a great team effort.”

As the players rushed the field to embrace in the rain, some couldn’t help but feel emotional.

“I’m just at a loss for words,” Aguiar said, seemingly fighting back tears. “It really means a lot because we've worked hard since the beginning of the season. We've come really long together as a team. We've been building it up, so it's just really great.”

“We deserved this. We worked really, really hard,” Gonzales added. “This is history.”