The No. 3 Hilmar varsity girls’ soccer is back in the playoffs after missing it last year, and they took advantage of their opportunity with a first round victory over No. 6 Venture Academy on Wednesday afternoon.
Hannah Sanders scored the first goal for Hilmar just 16 minutes into the game, however VA would respond just one minute into the second half to tie it at one apiece.
Eventually the high pressure from Hilmar led to an Emily Vieira assist to Betzy Chavez who then plunged in the game-winner with 22 minutes remaining to give the Yellowjackets a 2-1 win in the first round of the Division-V Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“Probably wasn't the best match as far as possession but the energy and the pace of the game was quick,” said Hilmar head coach Doug Delay. “Therefore, it forced us to play a little out of our comfort zone with possession but very proud of them and hopefully we can get a win Friday.”
Hilmar advances into the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2013 when they won their first-round game against Calaveras 5-2, but lost the following round 3-1 to Liberty Ranch.
“I like our chances. When we play our style of soccer I feel we can be in every match,” said Delay. “Certainly, we want to win every match, but I felt good about today. The girls warmed up really good and they were focused and ready to play.”
It took just 16 minutes for Hilmar to break the stalemate when Sanders found the back of the net on a finesse shot from inside the 18-yard mark to the near side corner.
Hilmar was able to create a few more chances, including a set piece at the 27-minute mark when Juliann Machado crossed a ball to Chavez on the far side post, but the ball just skimmed over her head despite a wide-open net.
“The first half I felt we rushed our play a little bit, which led to errors on our part and turned the ball over a bit more than we had hoped for but it’s the adrenaline and playoffs as well,” said Delay. “Energy is high and I felt for most of the second we settled down and possessed the ball much better.”
Hilmar started to press in the opening seconds of the first half which led to a broken play on the corner that paved the way for VA to notch the tying score one minute into the second half.
Tied at 1-1 Hilmar began their offensive attack with a fury led by Emily Vieira, Machado, Chavez and Sanders.
Finally, at the 58th minute, Hilmar finally broke through the back-line after Vieira weaved through inside the goalie’s box and found Chavez, who essentially drilled the ball on the upper high corner of the net for the go ahead.
“The second half we had more chances to convert to goals; it didn't happen but we got the one that we needed but we learned from our mistakes and move on,” said Delay. “We are going to enjoy the night and go back to work. We will talk about what we could have done better in this game.”
Hilmar's next game will be against No. 2 Capital Christian who hasn't lost since Dec. 20, at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
“Playing at Capital Christian, its turf, we like turf, this team excels there. Doesn't mean we will win but we play better on turf and we will enjoy this,” Delay added. “We will try to clean up the mistakes but I am very happy with the ladies and their season; how can you not root for this group, they work so hard together, just very proud of them.”