Hilmar relished its role as spoiler at Ripon High’s Stouffer Field on Wednesday.
With the No. 3 spot in the Trans-Valley League and a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth already locked up prior to the regular-season finale, the Yellowjackets battled tooth and nail as if much more were on the line in a 2-2 tie. They were jubilant in the victory, which ruined the host school’s shot at earning the outright TVL championship.
The game held more meaning for Ripon (9-0-3 TVL, 16-5-3 overall), which settled for a portion of the crown with Riverbank. It is the first league championship, shared or otherwise, by the Indians, who established their boys’ soccer program in 1997.
After being held in check for a half, Hilmar’s star striker Osiris Guerrero scored his team-leading 29th goal — the game’s equalizer — in the 72nd minute off a long ball delivered by midfielder Gabriel Teixeira.
“Ripon is a good team, they’re undefeated (in league) for a reason,” Guerrero said. “When we played them the first time we went up 2-0, but they came out strong in the second half (and won) 4-2. In today’s game they dominated and had more chances. Luckily, our goalie (Cirilo Guillen, 6 saves) was on and we were playing good ‘D’ when we had to. The chances we had, we just put them away.”
This was one Ripon understandably felt slipped away after dominating the first half with a 14-5 advantage in shot attempts. Even though they played the majority of the opening half on their heels, the Yellowjackets (7-3-2, 10-10-3) actually struck first with Cesar Aguilar’s head shot in the 32nd minute. He was set up by Adrian Yepez’s corner-kick cross.
“We should be happy,” said Ripon’s Roberto Alvarez, who scored both of the Indians’ goals in the 35th and 45th minutes but missed many makeable opportunities. “We made history, but we should have won this. They’re a great team. They fought for all 80 minutes and gave us a battle, but we had them.”