Only one game for Escalon’s varsity Cougars soccer team this week saw them on the road at Hilmar. The trip did not go well.
“We took a 6-2 loss, it was kind of a rough game,” admitted coach Paul Silva. “We lost our composure a little bit.”
Finding themselves down 3-2 at the half, the Cougars were still well within their ability to catch the Hilmar Yellowjackets, but emotions seemed to get the better of the team, as they finished the contest down a man after receiving a red card. They also had a number of yellow cards for fouls during the contest, hurting themselves with the undisciplined play.
Hilmar opened the scoring at the eight-minute mark, sending one into the net. Escalon tied it up 10 minutes later, on a Jairo Duran penalty kick. A minute later, Hilmar found the back of the net to lead it 2-1, the Cougars got the equalizer 22 minutes in, Guillermo Alvarez scoring the second and final goal of the day for the Escalon team.
The tally came as the result of a ball that did a lot of bouncing around in front of the net, with a scramble by both sides.
“Guillermo is very composed inside the box,” said Silva. “It was bouncing around in there and he calmly put it in.”
It seemed as though the Cougars were going to settle in then, but Hilmar regained the lead with about eight minutes to play in the first half, converting to go up 3-2.
Silva said his team was uncharacteristically over-aggressive on the defensive side, often making the decision to lunge for the player with the ball but more often than not taking out only the player and not getting the ball.
“We took a yellow card right away,” Silva said of putting themselves into a tough situation, having to pull the carded player off the field for a few minutes. “We took a second yellow, the second one on the defensive line so we had to do a lot of shuffling to try and keep the defensive line intact.
“That cost us a little bit.”
Hilmar, he said, came out fast and aggressive and forced the Cougars into a similarly aggressive style of play.
“We didn’t have good positioning,” Silva said of troubles during the night.
In the second half, goalie Ismael Gonzalez got a yellow card so he was pulled, Fabricio Gallo going in while Gonzalez sat out.
“Fabricio then challenged on a breakaway, he went out and took the guy out, he had already had a yellow card so that was a red, that put us down a man,” Silva said.
Also adding to the troubles, Hilmar converted on three of four penalty kicks they had on the night.
“We were a step behind, out of rhythm,” Silva said of the unusual game. “Our undisciplined play kept us from getting into our normal flow.”
Ironically, the coach added, it was after Gallo was red-carded and the Cougars had to play the rest of the game with just 10 men that they finally settled in to more of their usual game style.
“We played better a man down,” he agreed. “We created more chances, the last part of the second half we started playing better.”
Falling by the 6-2 final, the loss was Escalon’s first in Trans-Valley League play and puts them a point behind Hilmar in the standings.
“It was so unlike this team,” Silva said of the contest. “They usually play harder and smarter.”
The good thing, the coach added, is that they will get to see Hilmar again, later this season at home.
At 4-1, the Cougars were slated to host Riverbank on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and will play Thursday, Oct. 15 at Ripon.
The JV team, which did not have a game this past week, as Hilmar doesn’t have a JV team, will get the chance to play both Riverbank and Ripon this week, along with their varsity counterparts.