HILMAR — Maybe it was a good thing that the Hilmar High boys soccer team held the postgame meeting in complete darkness. That way, no one could’ve truly seen the sadness in the faces of the coaches and players.
In a breathtaking playoff matchup that had loads of twists and turns, the Yellowjackets were the unfortunate ones and lost 5-4 after a 4-1 shootout to Capital Christian High of Sacramento in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Tournament on Tuesday at Joe Mattos Field. By the time the game was over, it was difficult to see.
Since the days are shorter after turning back the clock over the weekend, darkness began to creep over the small crowd, players and coaches toward the end of the second half. The Hilmar soccer field has no lights available, making every play and possession crucial for both sides. Hilmar held a 3-1 lead before Capital Christian’s Keenan Armrust knocked in two of his four goals to tie it up before the end of regulation.
“When we were up 3-1,” Hilmar coach Louie Bettencourt said, “that’s when we should have shut them down.”
But the Yellowjackets stayed competitive. Hilmar’s Kurtis Bettencourt participated in an elated celebration — in which he lifted the bottom of his jersey over his head and before knocking into teammate Jacob Behem, who finished with three goals. Kurtis nailed the 4-3 edge minutes into the first overtime.
But Armrust struck again. This time, he got some help from Hilmar. The Yellowjackets were called for a handball inside the box, giving the junior standout his fourth goal of the day on a penalty kick to make it 4-4 just a minute into the second and final overtime.
By now, it was nearing pitch-black darkness.
That meant game officials instructed both sides to make the shootout quick. The Cougars capitalized, knocking in their first three penalty kicks. Hilmar, however, was less fortunate and missed its first two attempts before finally getting one in.
In the end, Capital Christian (14-4 overall) was just too much to handle and just needed one more penalty kick. And the Cougars got it, which resulted in the players and coaches celebrating happily on Hilmar’s midfield in complete darkness.
“Hilmar is a good team,” Capital Christian coach Ab Alvarez said. “They’re notoriously at the top, so we’re happy with the win.”
The Cougars also got some long-overdue revenge. In 2004, Capital Christian lost 3-2 to Hilmar after, coincidentally, losing in a 4-1 shootout in the semifinals of the Division IV tournament. Alvarez said this year’s squad dedicated the win to the 2004 Cougars team.
After the game, the Yellowjackets (15-5-4 overall) met on their side of the field in the dark and talked about the loss. Everyone was disappointed.
“We beat ourselves,” Coach Bettencourt said. “I hate to sound like I’m whining, but we beat ourselves. We got stupid cards, which I had talked about that we needed not to get. We made one or two mistakes that gave them goals. They didn’t understand the situation we were in. (Capital Christian) wasn’t going to give up. They’re a very good team.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.